Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
Life has a way of turning around suddenly and giving you a big uppercut to the head. One can quietly sit on the lounge and avoid the punches or one can embrace a desire to push the envelope, leap off ledges (metaphorically speaking) and releasing the branch that holds one from flowing with the torrential River of Life.
When VB expressed a desire to come to the footy with me to catch the Round 1 game between the Roosters and the Rabbitohs I was filled with a mixture of dread and a cheeky enthusiasm.
VB is a feminist lesbian.
While I am only just beginning to understand her, I honestly thought there was a potential for a serious clash in ideologies which fuelled my feelings of dread. What do feminist lesbians think of ?footy people?? What will they be thinking of her? me?? How will VB tolerate the language, The Burrow?s behaviour...? My behaviour??
My thoughts, really, say more about me than anything else but that was the thread in my thinking but my feelings were to relax and just watch what happens.
I confess it was presumptuous of me to think VB was the only feminist lesbian at the ground that day and it was also presumptuous of me to think that my friends in The Burrow may not be able to handle VB. VB can be very upfront in a politically feminist way and makes no bones about expressing them. I know that in the heat of a moment footy fans can say and do things that VB (or anyone) may find objectionable. I sometimes see and hear things that were once reasons for not wanting to go to the footy back in the mid 1980?s.
I nonchalantly introduced VB to a couple of Burrow Bunnies at the club before the game as ?This is my friend VB, my mother-in-laws partner?. It?s a pretty loaded introduction when you think about it. I was declaring VB as a friend AND a lesbian. Both true but the first can be assumed and the latter unimportant as a way of introduction. It?s not like I?ve ever said, ?here, this is my fat mate Dave? I found myself wondering why I felt it necessary to introduce her so. Was I warning my footy faction friends to be careful of what they say or behave? Was I sticking labels on VB? Have my footy friends never met a lesbian before? Was I trying to be cool? All of the above?
The more I thought about it the more foolish and dumb I felt. The uppercut came when the reply to my introduction was ?are you talking lesbian?? ?Yes? I replied, beaming with pride. ?Cool!? exclaimed Kylie. I was gob smacked but I shouldn?t have been.
I sat quietly, listening to an animated conversation as decades of learned conventional perceptions, clich?s, stereotypes and attitudes came tumbling and twisting and re-arranging themselves into something yet to fully take form in my mind.
I don?t really understand why I thought a feminist lesbian wouldn?t like the footy crowd. I appreciate that it doesn?t matter what or who you are and that you can enjoy the footy but being part of the crowd is different. Knowing that footy fans can be blasphemous, homophobic and hostile some reservations are reasonable.
Knowing how VB can be militant, brash and upfront even more so.
There was a time when I thought League was a waste of time and effort. The crowds seemed to represent the lowest of demographics, intolerant to anything ?different?. I have a pretty good idea where I learnt to acquire these thoughts and beliefs from and since going back to the footy in 2001 I adjusted my beliefs accordingly. Sure, the stereotypes are still there but footy crowds have changed. Attitudes are different and footy crowds are representatively diversified. I thought I had developed too until a little feminist lesbian and a couple of hundred Burrow fanatics delivered a pretty strong uppercut to the head. I deserved the wake up.
VB enjoys the footy as much as I do. She loves the atmosphere footy passion can stir and she appreciated the guy who called out ?you cat? instead of ?you c#nt?.
A great footy crowd can change views and perceptions if you approach things with eyes wide open and natural forces will find a way of delivering an uppercut to the side of the head when you least expect it.
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