First published on 8 Mar 2012. Updated on 1 May 2013.
It’s that time of the year again when writers like me trot out that same old line, “It’s that time of the year again” and then add, “when the nights grow cooler and the leaves start to turn and the Easter gardens are in bloom. Our hearts turn to football.”
We trot it out because it’s the best way of describing what happens in Melbourne, and has happened here for about eight generations (which is a lot). And just as the local vicar reads the same verses from the Gospels time and time again, so footy writers (those invited to be a little lyrical on occasion) say the same thing.
Because it’s true.
This city thrives on footy and the excitement and expectation it brings, and it is now that we start to find the routine of our winter ordinariness. Which includes being in the car at the same time each week to hear a footy segment on the radio, dropping the kids off to their sports training, being in the pub to get our tips in each Friday afternoon, getting off to the MCG and Etihad, reacquainting our minds with the mind of Sam Newman.
Following the footy; really following it. Because it’s what we’ve always done. Hoping for our own.
This year, despite retirements and injuries and a crap coach, the draw looks all right and there’s this big kid who's come over from South Australia and last year’s draft picks look bigger and stronger and, well, we’re a chance. We can make the eight. Maybe the top six.
And we’re going to win the footy tipping competition, not to mention finish ahead of the obsessive in the next office in Dream Team.
But most of all we’re going to savour the game that we’ve loved forever. Laud our stars. Whip the umpires. Grudgingly admire the champions. Doing it the same way the scarfed family next to us in the tram does.
And will do for a long time long after my quill is dry.
For more from this column's writers, go to The Footy Almanac.