Essendon

Get lucky.

ryder

I am the only Port Adelaide supporter I know. I’ve met other fans over the years but I’ve never had a Port friend that I could go to games with or sit with for hours over a beer discussing the fortunes of our team. I’ve always been a bit of a novelty (in more ways than one, I’m sure). As the bio says, I’m a New South Wales girl who lives in Victoria and barracks for a South Australian team. The “makes sense” I write at the end is clearly sarcasm of the highest order.

Usually I’m happy to go to games alone and will just sit restlessly somewhere near my people. This time though I managed to rope in a couple of friends to come along and I was seriously looking forward to the night, even though a Port Adelaide v Essendon game held all the promise of being as interesting and skill laden as the Benalla v Violet Town reserves. Both mates were Bombers fans, country boys, decent people with a good sense of humour who like a beer. The only difference was one I’ve been friends with for nearly 15 years while the other has been a mate for only really about six weeks. This should be fun.

Of course because this was the only time I’ve managed to drag friends along to a game this lovely lady called me up and offered me corporate box tickets. Which I had to decline because, well, it just wouldn’t be the done thing to ditch your mates.

We started off the night at a pub across the road from Etihad Stadium, my old mate and I catching up and keeping one eye on the Richmond v Fremantle game as we sipped our beers. Despite being friends for so long it was the first time we’d actually ventured to the football together. He’s naturally a bit of an introvert but I was cautious that a few beers in he might unleash. I also warned him about my new mate and said I had no idea which way he was going to go so if it got embarrassing then we’d just go to the toilet at quarter of half time and never come back. New mate is a bit of a smart arse, possibly more so than me. When I’d asked him what sort of person he was at the footy he replied, “Mature, modest, witty etc. I’ll let you fill in the blanks”. I tell you what, I could fill in the blanks and I was worried they weren’t going to be complimentary.

Eventually the three of us united and after exchanging the appropriate introductions and pleasantries headed off to buy our tickets. Etihad confuses me, I always end up somewhere I think I’m not supposed to be and Saturday night was no different. We were in a carpeted bar, drinking more beers and talking shit. I reckon I spilt about a third of mine but not to worry. Before we knew it the siren had sounded and the quarter had started so we made our escape to find seats.

For a game between two teams languishing at the bottom of the ladder it did its best to stay entertaining. Wingard almost took mark of the year and the goals were flowing fairly freely in both directions. Even the three of us managed to behave ourselves. I’m a nervous football fan and my natural exuberance tends to go out the door a bit when I’m at the game. The pair of them were pretty quiet too, though later I found out it was more likely because they’d been bordering on hypothermia for most of the night. (On the other hand I am from Goulburn where it is, to use a particular turn of phrase, “fucking cold and windy” all through winter. Also I’m tough.) It was the four middle aged Port Adelaide supporting women in the row in front of us that provided the most entertainment and probably the least insight on the game.

I have a bit of a thing about mobile phones when I’m doing things with people. Real people = real conversations and I always put the phone away. After going to get beers, coffee and food at half time – and running my trusty “do I have anything on my face?” joke with a giant smear of mustard across my cheek – I checked my mobile mid-way through the third quarter. Three missed calls and two messages asking me to call dad urgently. A message from my brother in Canada asking me to call my parents urgently. Shit. This is not likely to be good. You don’t leave messages like that for anyone who’s part of a police family. I bolted down the stairs and started calling, my dad answering with the news my brother had been involved in a serious collision. He was riding his scooter and the car opposite was indicating a right turn before the driver changed their mind and went straight. My brother had begun the turn and was collected, left sprawled on the road with the bike in disrepair. Mum and dad were at the hospital with him now. He’d been wearing his full face helmet so a CT scan was only a precaution, but turns out he’d broken his foot and his upper arm. His back hurt and they were worried about the potential for him having cracked vertebrae, though it turned out to but three broken ribs instead.  He could still move everything, which was the best part.

They don’t call motorcyclists ‘temporary citizens’ for nothing. He’s so bloody lucky.

I walked back to my seat in shock and I’m not really sure I processed it very well. I started watching the game again. I stopped drinking. We were all fairly silent. To be honest it didn’t seem quite real.

Port got ahead in the final quarter and Bomber-turned-Power player Paddy Ryder kicked a couple of match winning goals for us while the crowd booed him like he was Adam Goodes at a Hawthorn match. I remember reading something years ago that Aaron Hamill said after he left St Kilda to play at Carlton. “Why wouldn’t you want to be booed?” he said. “Why would you want to leave a place with everyone’s best wishes?” I think in context that’s so right – you want people to be disappointed that you’re not part of their club any more. Travis Boak had the ultimate captain’s game, leading by example and finishing with a couple of his own. We weren’t pretty, not by any stretch of the imagination, but we got there by 13 points. Essendon coach James Hird later said that Ryder had had a “lucky night” and had really no impact on the game until the end. Maybe, but he had an impact when it counted. You’re officially one of us now, Paddy.

After the final siren sounded and me and the two (by now) very cold boys stood up, we listened to the Port Adelaide song boom around the ground. Both of them agreed it was a terrible song but I don’t care, I’ve never tired of hearing it. We left, slowly and quietly descending the stairs with the other fans and then getting lost in the spill of people across the bridge to Southern Cross Railway Station. “What are you guys doing now?” my new mate asked and I told him I just wanted to go home and call my parents. Understood. We said good bye and he left to catch a train back to his hipster suburb and probably a few extra pieces of warm clothing or a heater. My old mate tried to convince me to have one more beer while the human traffic wanting to ride the trams dispersed but I just wasn’t up for it.

I sat on the 109 tram home, my head propped against the glass as I watched the suburbs of my adopted city flash by. Football and family and friends and just… life. It never turns out quite how you think, never goes how you expect. I still end up being surprised after 36 years.

And a “lucky night” in more ways than one, for more than a few people.

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“I’m normally, you know, a pretty reserved kind of guy but I do tend to unleash at the footy.”

1993

Pretty much all of my best memories from the end of my time in Canberra have one bloke in them – Christopher Mark Iverson. Although Ivo was technically my brother’s friend, we ended up living with a big group of other people in a Melrose Place style complex in Kaleen and chaos soon ensued. He’s still one of the best damn alcoholic Trivial Pursuit players I’ve ever met however his penchant for singing tones rather than words on SingStar continues to get under my skin. What I’m trying to say though is that Ivo’s a good bloke, despite the fact he’s a) a Bombers supporter and b) a lawyer. Now that we both live in Melbourne we catch up now and then for Coronas jammed into bowls of frozen margarita and, of course, to talk about football.

Name: Chris Iverson

Age: 33

Recruited from: Albury Wodonga

Occupation: Legal eagle

AFL team followed: Essendon Bombers

All time favourite footy moment: 1993 grand final

“I go for the Essendon Bombers. Why? That’s a good question. Footy is a big part of my family; my mum never followed football until she met my dad and then was quickly indoctrinated into the football way of life. My dad goes for Collingwood and my mum now goes for Brisbane – she’s from Brisbane. Who knows why my dad goes for Collingwood but he does, and he goes for them as all good Collingwood supporters do, he’s one eyed. I have three older brothers and two of them now go for Richmond and one goes for Collingwood. It was a big thing within my family for me, the youngest child, to pick a side. There was two and two – two Collingwood and two Richmond – and my parents and my older siblings were all trying to corrupt me. Anyway, it was a big thing. Family friends also tried to make me go for Sydney, but basically by the time I was 11 my best friend at school was a mad Essendon supporter and he and his dad brought me down from Albury Wodonga to Melbourne to go to an Essendon v Carlton game. I don’t know if you can recall the Essendon/Carlton game in the 1993 early rounds but basically Sticks Kernahan took a mark after the siren and just needed to score a point to win the match. He took the mark 35m out, slight angle and kicked it out of bounds on the full. It was a draw. I’d never been to such an exciting game. To top it off, my mate’s dad knew someone who got us into the Essendon rooms so I then went and met Sheedy and all the Essendon players, got all their autographs and I thought “Oh I might become an Essendon supporter.” Then we came back for the Essendon v Adelaide preliminary final that year and Essendon were down by about 45 points in the third quarter and basically they came back, stormed home, won the match and then the following week won the grand final. I thought, “Yep, that’s it, Essendon.” I wandered between Collingwood, Richmond, Sydney for a while in my youngest years, but then 1993 Essendon, that was it.

That said, it’s hard to keep going for them now. It’s too late now to change teams – my family gave me grief in those early years for changing and it would be even worse now. I think when you’re seven or eight then you’re entitled to take a little bit of time to work out where your allegiances lie – it’s such an important decision! Once I made the decision to commit though, that was it through thick or thin. I’ve got no time for people who switch teams or get on the bandwagon, that sort of thing. Our mutual friend Jimmy, he’s the worst. He has gone for pretty much every team in the NRL; the Chargers for a while there, St George – when I first met him he was a St George fan, then the Canberra Raiders for a bit, then he switched to the Titans when they were first formed and said “Yep, this is the team for me and I’ll never switch again,” now he’s back with the Raiders again. Literally he changes teams all the time. (To be fair Jimmy’s girlfriend is a Raiderette aka Canberra Raiders cheerleader so his most recent switch is probably understandable.)

The past three years have been tough, very tough. It’s been hard to admit you’re an Essendon fan. The drugs issue is such a polarising issue with people. And when I say polarising, that kind of makes it sound like there’s a 50/50 split either way but it’s not. It’s – how many teams are there in the comp? – it’s 17 against one usually in term of the views on the issue.

When people hear I’m a Bombers fan they usually roll out the “drug cheats” line. It’s all about the drugs at the moment and has been for the last three years. People didn’t tend to say too many bad things about Essendon in the years before that; everyone had teams that they hated like Carlton or Collingwood and not to say that everyone liked Essendon, but people didn’t hate Essendon the way that they now seem to. I think it’s ridiculous, when this all happened in 2011 and we have the current players in 2015, to think they are still now benefiting from taking some type of illicit substance. Half the players aren’t even there. Even for those who are still there, I don’t think that what they took was necessarily, on a worse case basis or even on ASADA’s case, something that was going to have a lasting effect. So I think that’s a bit unfair that people are still talking about them doping or being on drugs now. Anyone who’s watched any of our last two or three games would know that’s not true!

I’m also not saying that we didn’t do anything wrong – of course we did.  But, at present, the only thing we’ve been done for is ‘poor governance’ and I reckon that there’d be quite a few clubs that have subsequently taken a close look at the governance of their supplements programs and made a few changes.

I’m not necessarily on either side when it comes to Team Bomber or Team Hird. To be honest I thought last year when Bomber was in charge and there was pressure on the club to get rid of Hird or for Hird to resign himself, I was thinking yeah, maybe Bomber should stay on. It was just going to be too divisive for Hird to come back and Bomber has a proven record as head coach at Geelong. But then I just wasn’t all that happy with the way Bomber went about it at the end of the year and since then he’s been wanting noting to do with the club it seems. I’m kind of thinking that maybe we made the right call. I mean, the jury’s out on whether Hird’s actually a good coach or not and Thompson’s got two premierships to his none, but he took a bit of gloss off his record. He was the favourite son all through last year, right until the very, very end.

Absolutely this has damaged Hird in the eyes of Bombers fans. He was the absolute golden child, could do no wrong and even giving him the most favourable assessment now you can’t say he’s still the golden child. You just say he was a great player and leave it at that, I think people tend to agree. I don’t think he deliberately set out to do anything wrong in 2011, I think he was probably naïve and took some bad advice from someone who he thought was a guru, who had certain qualifications and who had worked at lots of clubs in the NRL – turned out he was probably nothing more than a charlatan.

I probably came down from the Murray once a year for the footy when I was growing up. We went to a lot of Collingwood games, I remember going to a game out at Victoria Park back in the 80s. I also think I went to the SCG a few times, went to the ‘Gabba in Brisbane, went to the WACA even – the WACA! They didn’t really tend to play much footy there, I went to the WACA before they started playing out at Subi. I didn’t go to a single game when I actually lived in Perth though – couldn’t get a ticket unless you were a Dockers or Eagles member! I probably go to the football seven or eight times a year now. I missed the first five weeks of this season as I was overseas or interstate but I’ve been to a couple of games so far. I probably went to seven or eight games last year and the year before, since I’ve been living in Melbourne.

I don’t have a membership. I decided when I moved to Melbourne I was finally going to take up a membership because having lived in Canberra, Perth, overseas, it just never seemed worth paying out for one. I must also admit that when I lived in Canberra I tended not to follow AFL as much as I used to and what I do now do because you just don’t get as much coverage there. So then when I moved to Melbourne at the start of 2012 I really looked at the packages and was pretty convinced I was going to get a good membership and go as much as I could. Then the so called “darkest day in sport” happened. That was enough to put me off – I didn’t think we’d even have a team at one point.

It’s not my best self at the football. Let’s be honest. I also get so nervous that I tend to have a few pre-game frothies. This is what I mean by not my best self: I’m normally, you know, a pretty reserved kind of guy but I do tend to unleash at the footy. I don’t tend to boo anyone for non politically correct reasons – I wouldn’t boo Adam Goodes for instance – but I do tend to have a go at the umpires and if I think they’ve made a bad decision, I will boo them. Which I know in current times is questionable but anyway, I still can’t help myself. My other thing I yell out is “Ball!” Just “Ball,” that’s it.

I’m not very superstitious by nature but until this year, there was a particular mate of mine that whenever we went to a game or even whenever we watched a game together, Essendon always won. Actually it might have been a game at the end of last year when it all fell apart and it hasn’t been any better since. But for the first 18 months I lived in Melbourne I was convinced that if my mate Kabe and I watched every game together then we would be undefeated for the season.

In terms of being there live, the best game I’ve watched is the 1993 preliminary final against Adelaide when we were down by so far them came back and won. It was outstanding. Watching on TV it was probably the week after, the grand final or the 2000 grand final. I’ve also been to quite an unusual number of draws. Another one against Carlton in the final round last year. They’re my highlights.

I can still remember my saddest day as an Essendon supporter. It was the preliminary final in 1996 when Plugger kicked the point after the siren. I remember watching at home with my family and with maybe two or three minutes to go we kicked another goal which put us up by two goals and I went nuts through the house. I was yelling out, “We’re into the grand final!” and I was doing laps of our house, screaming and carrying on. My parents and my brothers were all yelling at me to sit down and shut up. Their teams had all been knocked out and I don’t think they were all that keen on my team making the showdown. About 30 seconds later Sydney kicked a goal. And I then very quickly shut up, even though we were still up by six points. Then they kicked another goal and I went dead silent and there was this terrible look on my face. Then when Plugger took that mark for the kick after the siren, I ran to my room and I’m pretty sure I cried. It was a very, very sad day. I haven’t overcome that since – I won’t celebrate until the final siren (though I was pretty confident by quarter time in that game against Melbourne last year where we won by 150 points!). I don’t hate Sydney because they were kind of a bit shit for a long time, they did alright that year but then they were nothing again for a long while until the mid-2000s. I don’t hate them and if it was to happen with anyone then I kind of felt a bit sorry for the Swans because they were so unsuccessful for so long. And they still didn’t win that year. As soon as they beat us I was absolutely going for them in the grand final against the Kangas.

It seems wrong now to say James Hird was my favourite player growing up but he was a champon player, even if there are huge questions marks over his coaching. Matty Lloyd as well, obviously a powerful forward back in the day. In recent times I think Jobe has not just been a great player on the field but off-field as well, he’s really matured a lot as a player and a person. I actually didn’t think he was much good when he first started out – he was a pretty terrible kick.  But he’s worked so hard on his kicking which is why I admire him more, it’s not just natural talent with him.

At the moment I’d take Nat Fyfe but I think Gary Ablett Jr is the best that I’ve seen. I know that Carey was a fantastic player in his time but the ease with which Gary holds the ball, tackles, shakes a tackle… When he’s at his best I just am in awe. Carey might have taken a good pack mark and all that, which Ablett doesn’t tend to do, but for everything else I think Ablett’s the best. And, dare I say it, better than his father who was absolutely one of my heroes growing up.

I’ve definitely got some rivalries. Richmond, for family reasons I always enjoy beating them. Likewise Collingwood but who doesn’t? Those are probably the two biggest ones. West Coast as well just because we’ve had some fantastic games over the years, the Sheedy incident waving the scarf and sticking it up them that day and I’ve been to a couple of games against them since then and it’s always good. Then there’s the moment where Hirdy hugged the bloke when we played West Coast – that was fantastic that moment.

Things I hate… I hate the war on Essendon. I hate the advertising. I hate the LED signs at Etihad Stadium because it’s such a distraction. I don’t know if I like the sub rule. I think I’d scrap that. I mean, I’ll still keep watching the game whether they have that or not, but it’s one thing that if I was on the rules committee I’d get rid of. I don’t like it. Personally I think it cheapens your games record if you’ve spent 95 per cent of the game sitting on the bench. I kind of get the impact of being a man down, with rotations and things if you just have four on the bench, but I don’t know. I just never warmed to it when it was introduced and still haven’t.

I struggle to even answer why I love footy. I love everything about the whole experience, AFL more so than any other sport. Living in Canberra I got into league for a while and union as well in a big way but that tends to be quite polarising in terms of you either like one or the other – there’s still so much class warfare attached to both. Whereas AFL is a great leveller I think, particularly in Melbourne. It’s something which just permeates through the whole community. Going to the game and having such massive crowds, it’s a great experience. It really is the greatest game of all.”

“I think people give up too easily on coaches or players and they don’t give them a chance any more.”

beck and bombers

Beck Angel is one of those people it’s almost impossible not to like – she’s bright, bubbly and pretty with an infectiously charming personality. That said, she does barrack for Essendon. Hard. So I suppose no one’s perfect. Beck’s also one of the rare people who grew up in the heartland of the club she’s supported all her life (except for one week) and it’s been a difficult couple of years for Bombers fans. I had a chat to her about Jobe, peptides, Jobe, attending the Brownlow, Jobe and why she yells out “Napkins!” at every game. And we also touched on Jobe.

Name: Beck Angel

Age: 31

Recruited from: Airport West

Occupation: Communications superstar for Toyota

AFL team followed: Essendon Bombers

All time favourite footy moment: 1993 and 2000 Grand Finals, meeting Jobe Watson

“I go for Essendon because I have to. It’s a family tradition to be an Essendon supporter. I grew up in the area so it’s Bombers for life. It’s certainly not the peptides that keeps me going for them now; Jobe Watson keeps me going. Except for three in-laws – one aunty and two uncles- everyone else goes for Essendon. For a week in oh, I think it would have been about ’94 or ’95, I barracked for Carlton. That was because my best friend Rosanna barracked for Carlton. My grand dad lived around the corner and I went around to see him and knocked on the door for him to open up, then I said “Grand dad guess what? I barrack for Carlton!”. I thought he went to open the door but he locked it and told me I wasn’t coming in until I barracked for Essendon. So I soon earned the error of my ways.

Because I grew up in the area, a lot of people I know went for Essendon. The local shops were always Essendon, people my dad worked with worked at the Essendon footy club, my next door neighbour worked at the Essendon footy club. In my area it was all very Essendon.

I can’t remember the year, it would have been probably ’91 or ’92 but I’m not really sure, but my first game was Essendon v North Melbourne. My dad took me and I went with all of my relatives. That was when I could walk and I was in the Southern Stand on the third floor, right up the top. My uncle was there who barracks for North Melbourne and the rest were Essendon. Essendon were losing but we got up at three-quarter time and then we lost. I was devastated. After that I always thought that if a team was winning in the third quarter then that means they have to lose, because that’s what happened to Essendon.

Probably the 1993 grand final is my favourite moment. I was very young and I was in Queensland with my family and we were watching it there. It’s more the lead up to it rather than the actual game. In Queensland we didn’t realise about the heat… Mum and dad took us to the supermarket and we got red and black balloons and streamers, and our 13th floor balcony was opposite the beach. We covered it on the morning with streamers, Essendon red and black, and put all out balloons up there then went to the beach. We kept hearing, “pop, pop, pop” and the balloons were all popping in the heat. Everyone was like, “What the hell? Who is this putting balloons up?”. Then we watched the game and we had our footy jumpers and our scarves on. When we won we were running around the pool, knocking on all the apartment buildings telling everyone Essendon had won. We couldn’t work out why no one in Queensland cared! It was just a very magical moment.

Worst moment was my first time at a grand final for Essendon, which was 2001. We lost and I was devastated because I missed out on the 2000 grand final. I went with my dad and I lined up for ages at the MCG to get tickets. Dad also wouldn’t let me get my face painted ’cause he sad he wouldn’t sit near me. I remember Vanessa Amorosi was playing and I was crying already at the start – my dad was very embarrassed that I was crying during the national anthem. And then Essendon lost and I must admit, I couldn’t bear to be there right at the end of the grand final so we left with about two minutes to spare. I couldn’t bear to watch the Essendon players down on their knees with their face in their hands and being very upset. It was my only grand final experience watching Essendon and it was shattering.

It’s been a tough few years to be an Essendon supporter. I feel for the players and football hasn’t been as enjoyable to watch. Even watching a game but knowing afterwards that James Hird’s going to talk about it or he’s going to be complaining about something in the media, or Caroline Wilson will be bagging Essendon for the fifth time that week… I don’t really like reading about it. I now think this season’s over for me after WADA’s appeal.

I don’t want to stray away from the club and I still love Essendon the same, it’s just not as enjoyable when the only thing people talk about when they find out you’re an Essendon supporter isn’t how they played on the weekend or how amazing Fletch is to still be playing at 40, it’s about the peptides. We’ve all heard it, you know when someone says “Uhhhh are you taking peptides?” and the joke’s old now. It’s certainly torn supporters and I think there are those who support Hird and those who don’t. I think everyone support the players and still wants to do the right thing by the club but it’s Hird who is splitting people.

Gavin Wanganeen is still my favourite player. He was my first favourite player ever and I loved everything about him. Most of all he was very good looking. I cried when he went to Port Adelaide. I cried myself to sleep for about a week but I was comforted by the fact he was going back home. I also love everything about Jobe Watson. I love watching Joe Daniher as well, I think he’s performing really well and he’ll continue to. I’m always interested in seeing him. But I really can’t go past Jobe Watson these days.

hodge and beck

There’s not so much another player I’d like to have at the club, I’m pretty happy with the Essendon team. There’s obviously some other good players out there, like I love Luke Hodge and I think he’s great. He’s getting on in his career but I think he’s great and he seems like a really good leader. But I’m pretty happy with who we’ve got. I’m happy we got Chappy (Paul Chapman) and I think we’ve stolen some good players, which is great.

On the field I hate Carlton, Collingwood and Hawthorn. I don’t like anything about those three clubs. I’m sure there’s nice things about them away from football but I hate them all and that’s probably because they always play well against us.

I haven’t had a membership in quite a few years. I used to always have one. The reason is my family stopped going to the football after we made the move to Etihad. My dad strongly opposed the move from the MCG to Etihad and went to all the meetings. Because of our fan base, he felt Etihad or whatever it was called at the time was too small. So I don’t have them to go with. My dad has been to Etihad once for a soccer game and he hates it. He refuses to go there for football. My other friend that I would always go to the football with, he moved to Queensland so I haven’t had a membership since he went up there. Of course I do occasionally get tickets through work.

If things go bad, I scream out “Napkins!” and repeatedly yell out “Napkins, napkins, napkins!”. When I was really young it worked, so in my head I just keep repeating the word ‘napkins’. I still do that now. I think it stemmed back to my nanna’s house and we did it while playing billiards. So I just repeatedly say it. When I was younger it was a little bit more out of control. This was actually when I was watching the games so people must have thought I was special. I also had different songs when different players got the ball. When Long got the ball I’d start singing, “Lalalala Long, lalalala Long, lalalala Long Long le Long Long Long” and when Harvey got it, it was “Harvey world travel, the travel professionals…”. I would have songs for a whole range of players and I’d sing them. I can’t remember what the others were. I try to forget. Now it’s only “napkins”.

When I’m not yelling “napkins” I get very stressed watching the football, but I can’t articulate myself. So I just move around in circles and just go “Oh nooooooooooo” in a really high pitched voice and just making noises because I can’t really say anything as I’m so stressed. I’m not good. My dad hates watching football with me and my brother hates it too. I can’t sit still.

I don’t have my jumpers any more because they don’t fit. I have my scarf and I will never get a proper scarf. This one has been my scarf since the early 1990s. I actually plait it as well and separate the red and the black then plait it when I’m getting stressed at the football. I always wear my scarf and then I just have other things around the house. Like I still have my Dean Solomon framed picture in my study. I had to throw out my Gavin Wanganeen stuff because it was too heartbreaking.

nat and beck2

I think footy is the closest thing to a religion in Victoria, it’s always about who you know and who you go for. I remember once I started dating someone and I asked him what team he barracked for and he sort of didn’t really have a team. He got back to me and said “I kinda go for this team” and the fact he didn’t say “I barrack for this team” meant we didn’t go out again. I was like, a man not liking football is not a man for me. I think it gets you passionate, you have your ups and your downs but it brings everyone together and you make friends just from common interests. Or you like to bag Collingwood or Carlton fans.

The thing that I actually hate the most about football is that I think people give up too easily on coaches or players and they don’t give them a chance any more. There are coaches who didn’t have a great start decades ago and then they built on their skills and became great coaches. Nowadays it’s very ruthless and I actually feel for the coaches and the players. I wish that would change and we got behind them a little bit more rather than always criticising them.

The Brownlow was the best day of my life, I now know what people feel like on their wedding day. It was fantastic to go. I couldn’t go to the toilet the whole time I was there because I knew a football player would be in the disabled toilet and I didn’t trust myself not to abuse them. And I felt that as a representative of Toyota, the AFL’s premier partner, that that would not go down well. So I couldn’t go to the toilet the entire time. I spent 15 minutes trying to find Jobe and I nearly gave up trying to get through everyone, but then I saw Dyson Heppell’s hair and it was the most magical thing I’ve ever seen. Because when I saw it I knew it was Dyson and I knew Jobe would be sitting there. I couldn’t get close enough to him so I shoved my friend in front and said you just have to tell him there’s a girl in a wheelchair that wants a photo with you. Jobe just saw me in the wheelchair and it was just… magic. He came over and smiled and I couldn’t talk to him, I was so nervous. But I got my photo.

I didn’t have a problem with the double denim. When I watched Jobe that day I was more concerned about his hair to be honest, than the double denim. His hair was… interesting. He needed product in his hair, I think and it needed to be a bit shorter. I was also getting annoyed because he didn’t have stubble, because I do prefer Jobe with stubble. I also kept looking at him dreamily and thinking, “Oh my gosh this is Tim Watson”. I love Jobe and Jobe is Tim and I love Tim. And then I dreamt about having dinner with Tim, Susie, Jobe and myself.”