There are few people who can deliver a cracking tale like Kate Millar and even better when it’s over a couple of beers. I mean, the girl’s partied with rock stars and even Robbie Williams has a personal nickname for her (in the best possible way). She’s a passionate Melbourne Demons fan, a big V supremacist and possibly the only person who still has Shane Woewodin up on a pedestal. I’m just devastated she couldn’t find the photo of her sitting on his lap. I met Kate when we worked together a few years back and I still maintain she would have been an excellent detective, though that’s definitely a story for another day…
Name: Kate Millar
Recruited from: Essendon
Occupation: City of Melbourne comms ninja
AFL team followed: Melbourne Demons
All time favourite footy moment: 2000 grand final appearance
I go for the Melbourne Demons. I think my first words were “Go Dees” as a toddler. My mum is major Demons, my nanny was major Demons and there is a bit of a joke in my family that both my nanny and my mum converted my Grandpa and Dad to be Melbourne supporters. Both my dad and grandpa said it was just going to be easier that way, because mum and nanny were both such fanatic Dees supporters. So me and my brother are true Dees – we had little choice. I remember when I was a toddler sitting in the car and my parents saying to me “Go Dees! Go Dees!” My parents have a lot to answer for because it’s led to a life of heartbreak.
I’ve gotta say, if I was ever going to stop barracking for Melbourne it would have been in primary school when I went to Essendon Primary School, which was at Windy Hill. About 95 per cent of the kids there went for Essendon and I felt like one of the only people in that entire school that went for the Demons. And there was a fair amount of kids pressuring me, saying things like “Errr why do you go for the Demons? Who goes for the Demons?”. Growing up it felt like, apart from family, I was the only person of my age in the suburb to barrack for the Demons. I can’t explain why I still go for them but if I was strong enough as a 10-year-old to stand against every single kid at Essendon primary and say “No I’m not changing teams” then I’m strong enough to still go for them now. We’d go to footy clinics at Windy Hill with Kevin Sheedy and all the Essendon players and I’d be the only kid in a Demons jumper. My parents got into our minds young and it worked, it definitely worked.
The first time I went to the footy was a sad day. It was Melbourne v West Coast and would have been in probably about 1994, I want to say. I went with my uncle who is a massive Dees supporter. We were sitting really close and it was really exciting. We were a good team back then but we lost dismally. But that’s OK, I was still really excited to be there and I remember it quite vividly. It was the start of something for me.
Going to the football now… So, this is a contentious issue. Growing up, I went to every single home game without fail and I was a gold member. Then come about 2008, things started to go rapidly downhill for the Dees – I was still a member and I might go once or twice or three times a year, but then I dropped off to the point where come 2012 I couldn’t even name half the players in the team. When I say I was a passionate supporter as a kid, I was over the top. Not only did I know all the players, which is normal, but I knew their heights, their date of birth, I knew every stat about them. I was fanatic, absolutely fanatic. So when they lost, I don’t want to say I’m a bad sport, but it cut deep. It cut really deep. Especially watching them lose to Essendon by 100 points. I’m not proud but I did drop off a bit. Now I’m back on board – though this year I haven’t been to a huge amount of games – I think three. I also still havent renewed my membership. I abandoned my gold membership about five years ago but I’m a few years off getting my MCC membership so I’ll hold out. I want to support the club so maybe next year. I should.
I’m a really nervous, anxious, chew my fingernails type of watcher. I don’t like close games. Sometimes I feel like I’d prefer to lose a game by 50 points than two points, because I get so anxious. If it’s really close and we’re behind then I have to distract myself and just get on Twitter and look at Titus O’Reily to make myself feel better. I’m like, you know what, this will play out the way it needs to play out but I don’t need to be engaged in this right now because I’m too anxious. But I’ve gotta say this year, even if it’s a close game, I still get excited even if we lose. I go into the game thinking we’re gonna lose and so if it’s really close, that’s a good thing – though, don’t get me wrong, when we lost to St Kilda with 19 seconds to go there was a tear that came out of my eye. But for the Dees to play a really competitive game, that’s exciting because Melbourne haven’t been that team for eight years. Eight years. That’s eight years of my adult life, I was 21 the last time Melbourne were even competitive. So for the first time in eight years we’re competitive and I’m excited.
I don’t have any superstitions now but I used to when I was young. Not religiously, and it would really depend on the game, but if I was doing something at that time like eating a jam doughnut and we hit the lead, I’d be like bring me six jam doughnuts and I’ll continue to eat jam doughnuts. So superstitious in that sense. If I turned on the TV at quarter time and we started losing, I’ll turn off the TV. I’ll follow it on the app because I’m a bad omen. But I’ve gotta say, this year the games that I’ve been to at the ground, we’ve won. So perhaps I’m a good omen.
Best footy memory is easy. Got this one easy. So I’m gonna break it down to a year – 2000. Which is an obvious one for a Melbourne supporter and everyone will say, “Oh 2000, Melbourne made the Grand Final, oh so great, whatever”. 2000 for me was epic times. In about 1998 I developed an unhealthy obsession with Shane Woewodin. Prior to that I had my woollen jumper with an iron on number three on the back for Gary Lyon. I was at a game, maybe a year or two after Gary had retired, and Shane Woewodin caught my eye. I was about 12 years old, I was starting to get feelings I didn’t really understand, and I couldn’t get enough of this Shane Woewodin. He did something spectacular during that game and that was it, I took off my jumper and I started trying to rip off the number three to replace it with 22. Ripping off an iron on number on a woolen jumper is not as easy as it sounds, so I made a real mess. I still have the jumper but it’s tattered with a ripped number three on the back. So I went out and I bought a new jumper and I got 22 stitched on the back. I was really excited about this and I was going to the games every week. Then in 2000, in my memory it was beyond the odds, we made it to the Grand Final. I remember the prelim and the semi where we beat Carlton and North Melbourne (I think) and I remember the feeling. “Holy shit we’ve made it to the grand final”. That year Essendon was on the top and the only team that defeated them that year was the Dogs (I think). Yet we had made it to the grand final and I was the happiest. But getting into the grand final was only half as happy as I was that Monday night before the game when the Brownlow was on. I was watching on a little TV that we had in the spare room. I was in high school at that time and mum used to be pretty strict with watching TV and going to bed early and doing homework, so my brother and I used to secretly watch from the spare room. Shane Woewodin was the dark horse, total outsider, but yet he was slowly creeping up in points, and I’m knowing the stats and I’m knowing the games late in the season, so I’m thinking Woewy is an absolute chance here, he’s an absolute chance. Then when he won – I can’t remember if I cried but in my head I did – I was the happiest, happiest person. On my jumper I had about 10 player badges, remember how you’d get the badges? I removed every single badge except Woewy and I wore it right in the centre. I was just so happy. I went to school the next day wearing my jumper – I went to a private school, so I had on my footy jumper and my footy scarf with my uniform. That week I also went to the Herald Sun building to buy a photo of Woewy holding up the Brownlow. The original photo – I had to have it. I just could not have been a happier person that week. It ended pretty suddenly on the Saturday though, when we lost the grand final by an amount that my brain has repressed.
Woewy was an unhealthy obsession for me. I used to go to go to family days at Melbourne – actually, even worse than that I used to go to training at Junction Oval. I was “Woewy Woewy Woewy” all the time. I went to this family day and you could line up for a photo with Woewy. It was a weird set up, although I didn’t think it was weird at the time, where you sat on Woewy to get the photo and they’d print it out and put it in a card for you. It was my most prized possession. I used to carry it around on my person. I’d just whip it out and go, “See my photo with Woewy?” to everyone. Then when he won the Brownlow, on the opening page of the card I put the Herald Sun photo that I’d purchased. I used to go to training and every time Woewy would come past I’d ask him to sign this or that. I got every single player to sign my jumper but I’d put my hand over the centre of my jumper and say, “You can’t sign the point because that’s reserved for Woewy”. You’d get weird looks, whatever, I didn’t care. I remember asking Wowey to sign the photo of me sitting on his lap and then I went back 5 minutes later and got him to sign the Brownlow photo I’d purchased. I’ll never forget the weird look he gave me when I did that because he’d seen that he’d already signed the photo of me sitting on his lap, but now I was asking him to sign something else. I didn’t care. We were destined to be together. I still remember doing the maths in my head thinking he’s nine years older than me, so the age gap is not that big, this can happen. Woewy was my guy.
I feel like I need to explain though how that came to an end. I woke up one morning and my mum actually came into my room, I think I was about 16. She said, “I need to tell you something” and she told me Woewy was going to Collingwood. I was so upset, and so mad that I called up the Melbourne Football Club. And when I say I called up the Melbourne Football Club, it wasn’t the first time I’d called them. And when I say called “them”, I mean I called the receptionist who’s name I think was Gail. I feel like Gail knew me as well – “So is there any training tonight, Gail?” So I called up and I said, “Gail what is happening, this cannot happen!” She was like, “I have no comment to make”. It was a year after Woewy had won his Brownlow, I didn’t know what was happening, I was genuinely devastated. So to express my devastation, I made a cassette tape about Woewy’s time at Melbourne. I had a CD called ‘My Heart Beats True’ and it had all of these different versions of the Melbourne theme song. The opening track had a selection of players talking about their experiences at the club. I’d listened to it a million times because Woewy talks on it – at the end of the track he says “I’ve started my career here and I want to finish my career here, finish my career here, finish my career here…” in an echo. So I made this cassette tape where I went through that CD and I just hit pause and record on all of Woewy’s clips talking about the Melbourne Football Club and how much he loves it. It was a Woewy compilation. Then I wrote this really heartfelt letter saying that Woewy doesn’t want to leave I can’t believe that you’re doing this, I’ve attached this tape, and you need to reconsider because listen to him, he’s clearly said that he started his career here and wants to finish his career here. I wish I had a copy of this but I don’t. I never got any kind of reply. It had a cassette attached to it! Right? It was heartbreaking. I was genuinely, genuinely shattered. After that I had to call my relationship with Woewy quits because I couldn’t love him anymore. So I don’t. Well I do.
My favourite player these days depends on the day. Bernie Vince is the obvious – he is arguably the new age Woewy. He is a stunning individual. He’s also extremely talented. Jesse Hogan is extremely exciting for me; he’s so young and so big and so strong and I just feel like Jesse Hogan is going to be the new David Neitz, right. We haven’t seen a strong forward since David Neitz and Jesse Hogan is the light at the end of the tunnel. He’s already strong but he’s only going to get stronger. So I’d have to say that Hoges is probably my favourite.
I am a big Watts fan. I think that Watts has been really hard done by – when Paul Roos says that the AFL set the number one draft picks up to fail, I completely agree with that. He has been targeted by everyone, even Dees supporters. Dees supporters can’t be all that proud of themselves over recent years because there was a time when they were booing their players off the race. Watts came in at a time when we were a really shit team and sure, he’s had bad moments but that’s not a reason to boo a player. You know what, he’s not the first number one draft pick that we’ve had who hasn’t been a legend. Travis Johnstone was a number one draft pick and he played in our premiership side so he wasn’t a bad player, but he wasn’t a superstar. If anyone was ever going to get holding the ball it was always Travis Johnstone. Jack Watts is the same. But I’m a fan of Watts and I root for him if he’s going for goal.
I don’t hate any team, but Fremantle are very irrelevant to me. I remember when they came into the league and I was thinking, “oh that’s cute”. Cool, we’ll get these purple guys in and even out the ladder, there’s going to be eight on top and eight on the bottom so cool, OK, whatever. I don’t know many Freo supporters but I can’t help but feel they have a pack mentality. They feel like they’re part of an untouchable army – they live on the other side of the country where 50 per cent of footy fans will barrack for Fremantle. Unless they’re playing West Coast, they dominate the crowd at home games, are surrounded by their own and carry on like they are at the FIFA World Cup. In Victoria, originally geographically everyone stuck to the pack but now it’s so fluid. My friends all barrack for different teams, we sit next to supporters wearing any colours at games. The Purple Army shout loud in Perth but it’s a stark contrast when they go to a game at the MCG, the only way they’re going to be surrounded by other Freo supporters is if they happen to walk into the urinal at a particular time when there are two other Dockers supporters on either side of them. Or when the five of them car pool to the footy together. They come from a different perspective of supporting footy than I do. They live in a pack. And they hate, hate, West Coast. Like, broaden your horizons. This isnt WAFL. I’m perhaps being unreasonably bitter the top two ladder positions are from WA, but if it’s a Fremantle v West Coast grand final this year it will be an irrelevant grand final for me.
I can’t really explain where the love of footy comes from. The other weekend I watched Melbourne beat Collingwood and that was great in itself because it’s Collingwood – everyone hates Collingwood. But the great thing was that there was some really good team play going on. The feeling that I get when I watch Melbourne, and I’ve lived basically my whole life watching Melbourne by myself unless I’m with my family, but you can’t match that feeling where your team is doing so well. Even if they’re not winning, it’s great ball play and they’re showing great skills and when they finish that game and they all come together, there’s just nothing like it. It just puts you in the best mood. It’s beautiful. Go Dees.