Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A Ghost of Optus article - AFL/Carlton

For the Supporters:

Football would become a business, a cold, heartless expanse of turf and flesh that kicked the almighty dollar around for the benefit of sponsors and sporting apparel designers: Would be this already if not for the supporters; the people who really pump the lifeblood around the clubs. The people who take all the hurts and store them up for Grand Final victories where they are unleashed at the game like millions of helium filled balloons.

These people are determined to maintain the true spirit of football, the essence of what it felt like all those years ago as a kid to dream the dream, to have a kid with some mates, to take a ‘specky’ or roll around in the mud. Without them football clubs would have sold their souls to the devil decades ago. Without them a jumper would be just so much nylon, a logo just a sponsorship deal, a new talent just another wealthy player in the making.

Luckily these people do exist, and not only exist but, with a stubbornness
a striking welsh miner would be proud of, refuse to budge. All clubs have them, even if they do not cherish them. People that hang around the fringes watching the boys train, cooking snags for other onlookers, setting up unofficial websites for supporters can meet for a chat, joining the VFL and supporting the Bullants, helping the kids, chatting to them, letting them know supporters still love this wonderful game, still love to see a kid get a kick or take a grab: That we are not rabid dogs who'll turn on them at the drop of a coin (or a game). These supporters are essential to the health of a club. they turn up to the functions and help the players maintain a sense of perspective, they are mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, successful businesspeople and people who struggled to pass any year levels. They are supporters of the club and of anyone who dons their preferred jumper.

At Carlton we have always been blessed with these supporters. People like Mr and Mrs C who turn up to club functions like the sponsors night, who sit with some young players and have a friendly chat. People like a certain sailor who spreads his nets far and wide, gathering titbits of gossip to share with fellow Bluebagger desperates. Mr and Mrs C are at VFL games, TAC games, and of course, the Carlton games, supporters each and every time, aware of flaws or problems yet never denigrating, always offering support and hope; hope, the flame the keeps all clubs burning bright even in the darkest winters of discontent.

This article then is for these supporters, the Mr & Mrs C, the website moderators, the gossip fossickers, the TAC followers like a certain golden hawk I know, the people who give up so much time because they love this game, they love it in a pure sense, even happy when a bright star shines for another club, for football is bigger than everything, bigger even than this great club, without it all clubs perish and our winters would return to humdrum affairs, to cold, meaningless weekends spent navigating the cold, wet daylight hours until Spring returned to us.

To these supporters I say thank-you; though you are anonymous you are not unnoticed. The effort you put in makes this game stay above the petty desire for the almighty dollar. Yes it is a business. Yes it is about money and debts and credits and balanced ledgers. It is about this but it is about so much more. It is about a kid flying high, trying to take that specky in his very first gamer. It is a about a veteran with sore knees rubbing in the liniment and preparing his battle-scarred body for another confrontation, another wrestle with that fullback called Time. It is the cheering from the stands the clapping of hands the screaming of ‘Fev!’ as he kicks another goal from the boundary line.

Football must always remain more than just a business or it will surely die, it will sink under its own inflated opinions until the stands remain empty and the grounds unused but while we have supports who are so dedicated to this great game, people from all walks of life who cannot think of a greater joy than watching the odd-shaped ball spinning over and over even when the losses might pile up thick and fast, like refuse outside a late night takeaway, they still maintain a gleam in their eye for they might be hurt by the loss, by the failure to play with passion, by the leaving of a certain player, but they never despair, never lose sight that it is the game they cherish, the game they spend hours nourishing as it in turn nourishes them.

To all those supporters we owe a large degree of thanks and it is a pity they are not the ones the media turn to, to show how we feel about the game, they might not sell the papers or make the headlines, but they are this game as much as any Unmoveable Centre-Half Back or fleet-footed Midfielder.

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