Um, AFL? Do you have a couple of minutes?
We’ve always said that we’d be honest with each other, right? Right, yes, so umm I think we need to talk.
You should get comfortable…
This isn’t easy to say, so forgive me if I stumble through this.
I know you know I’m really fond of soccer, right? And you know that I’m really fond of the Thoroughbreds and the Greyhounds. You also know about my man-crush on the NFL.
Well, something’s happened and it’s caused me to really re-think our entire relationship.
You need to know that I’ve been unfaithful to you. I guess I should be following that up with “I’m sorry”, but the truth is, I’m not.
It’s someone I never planned on getting involved with.
It just, y’know… it just happened * shrug *
It’s something I can’t be quiet about any longer.
With whom, you ask?
Well it’s someone you hate, frankly. I know that that’s probably going to hurt you even more, but there’s no way around it.
It’s someone we’ve known about for a while and you’ve always felt threatened by them.
It’s the NRL.
We spent Friday night together. The Melbourne Storm was playing St George Illawarra and good god, it was exciting!
There were 24,000 of us there and we were all cheering as one. Sure, there was some Dragons fans amongst us; there was maybe a thousand of them scattered around the ground but you couldn’t really hear them.
It was electrifying, it was fast, and the noise of the crowd was so passionate it made it sound like there was 74,000 people there, not 24,000!
And the game? The two teams wanted to take each other on, not play keepings off. They wanted to score, not play stacks on (and then penalize the bloke at the bottom of a ten man pack for not moving the ball on) and they wanted to keep the ball in play, not send it over the boundary line just so the other mob couldn’t have it for two hours.
Shit, I woke up this morning with “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC in my head. On the other hand, I hear you’ve invited Meatloaf to our end of season party in October this year, true?
But AFL, what was I supposed to do?
You’re making it hard for me to love you lately.
Since you made friends with television, you seem to care more about keeping them happy than keeping our friends and I happy anymore. Sometimes, it’s like you don’t even want to listen.
For example, our friends keep telling you they prefer our end of season party on a Saturday afternoon, but you’re fixated on one day turning it into a nighttime dinner party, because your TV friends want it.
It’s not nice to say this to you, but you’ve become quite arrogant since you’ve become close to the television people.
A guy at our Melbourne office, Dean, was sacked recently. When asked about it by someone, he told us that one time while he was working he didn’t do everything he could to win a game because losing meant he could get his hands on better resources next for the next season. Some of our friends call it tanking.
To your credit, you’ve argued vehemently that teams don’t tank. In spite of Dean’s admission, you still refused to accept tanking may exist. George Orwell couldn’t have been prouder of the way you told us we were all wrong and the bloke wasn’t admitting to tanking. Evidently, it was our error. We apologise.
You also seem obsessed with what people think of you. Especially with the kind of people who are afraid of letting their kids getting hurt; the kind of people who are scared to let kids be kids.
You’re manic about wanting people to like you love you to the point that I’m not sure you even know who you are sometimes. You change things on a whim to pacify inconsequential squeaky wheels demanding oil and often, the ferkakta changes you introduce make no sense. They just frustrate our friends even more.
You seem to love your new office at the Docklands more than the home we built at the MCG where twice as many more of our friends can come and hang out with us.
You designed the new office to attract the kind of people who care more for aperitifs and degustation, than for the kind of people who’ve made what we have so popular after years and years of work. Our Collingwood friends moved from Collingwood to the Olympic Park precinct and when they did, the managed to attract even more dollars into their club without arse-kissing people who call it “the footie thing” as opposed to our friends who meet up with us at “the fooddy”
AFL… and this is the part that truly breaks my heart. Saturday afternoons used to be our time. No matter what happened through the week, I knew I could count on the fact I could catch up with you at around two o’clock on Saturday at the MCG. We’d just hang out together – us and anything from 20 to 90,000 of our friends. Now, you tell our friends we’re going to meet them at Docklands even though you know we’d all rather be going to Jolimont. Shit, you don’t even give us a choice.
The entertainment you put on there of a Saturday afternoon often has about as much interest as a public lecture focusing on a critical analysis of Bukowski’s influence on Interpretive Dance (with apologies to those who love to discuss Bukowski’s influence on Interpretive Dance on Saturday afternoons).
You can’t deny that we have so many more special memories we’ve created at the MCG over the years. Remember when close to 100,00 of our friends came along to watch Kevin Bartlett play his 400th game?
Remember Jimmy Bartel simply having to register a score against Hawthorn a few years ago to win one of the best matches sever seen in a home and away match?
Or “Sticks” Kernahan in a similar position to Jimmy Bartel in 1993 and inexplicably putting his kick out on the full, causing the game to end in a draw?
Remember when Teddy Whitten and Ted Jr. were driven around the MCG while Ted Snr. was as crook as a dog, blind as a bat and Ted Jr. telling him how not one single person was sitting down and not one person didn’t have tears in their eyes? I saw you crying just like I was, don’t deny it!
But its like you don’t care about our time together at the MCG on a Saturday anymore. Why should I care if you don’t?
Relationships evolve, I know, but I don’t know if I like how you’re evolving. I know there’s people who had relationships with the NRL and could say exactly the same about them as I have about you. But the fact is, you were once so different to them. I loved how you could see 30 or 40 goals kicked in a match. That hardly happens anymore. Sometimes we only see 15 to 20 goals. And then you bag soccer for being boring and low-scoring.
But you’ve been seduced by the folks who seduce the NRL, except I like what they’ve become more than I like what you’re becoming. You never know what’s going to happen in one of their games. There are matches where the half-time score is 28-8 only to end up 28-30. That’s awesome huh? It shits all over the walkovers we see these days in some AFL matches.
I’ll always love you. I still do. You’re special to me and you always will be. Sadly, I sometimes feel like I don’t know you anymore. You refuse to believe in, or accept sporting polygamy. You refuse to accept that anyone could love you and NRL equally.
Given that’s your stance, I just need time to figure out if my heart’s in this relationship anymore.