Saturday, September 27, 2008

Egalitarian Spirit

How I long for the halcyon days. Suburban grounds and the sound of the crowd in my ear as I ride my bike around on a Saturday afternoon. Those were the days...

When I was a kid we lived pretty close to a grand old arena called Windy Hill. It wasn't called that because it was sponsored by the Windy Hill Corporation, but because that's where it is; on top of a hill that gets a bit of wind.

We lived so close to it that I could kick a footy around the back yard on a Saturday and pretend that the crowd was screaming for the goal I just kicked. It was fantastic. A kid's dream. We didn't need to listen to the game either (you couldn't watch it on the tele back then), we just watched everyone walking home or back to their cars. If the old lady that lived up the street was crying when she went passed, we knew Essendon had lost and that was that.

In those days it only happened on Saturdays too. They played all the games in one day and they played them in the heartlands where the common folk had cheap and easy access. There was no "Optus Oval" (Princess Park) or "Skilled Stadium" (Kardinia Park) but there was always the MCG, the ground you aspired to play at (except if you were playing Melbourne at home of course), but all the finals were played there because there was no home ground advantage, unless you were Melbourne, but that didn't happen very often.

We used to pack 110,000 in that ground for a grand final. You could take a full Esky and just about everyone, man, woman and child, did. What a stadium and what a day it was (but then so was boxing day in bay 13 for an Ashes game). You think the atmosphere is good these days? Well it isn't bad, but literally 100,000 people screaming "BALL!!!" is truly a sound to behold...

But times change and then business gets involved and a game "evolves", or more to the point, is stolen. Pretty soon the suburban grounds have been left for more salubrious venues, membership costs are prohibitively expensive and only 26,000 of the 90,000 seats available for the grand final, are available to the common folk. There'll be no meat pies and beer in the outer this weekend, but plenty of chardonnay, long macs and an a la carte menu in the corporate box. Back in the day, the only thing that resembled a corporate box was the members pavilion, and nuts to them!

Well, so much for "the common man's game". Just 26,000 seats this year. It's a disgrace! I heard that there were still some available though, for about $1500. The common folk have been shut out by cost and distance, but most of all by business. I call it the "Rollerball" syndrome...

12 Comments:

Dikkii said...

I've been meaning to post this bit from an email that I was sent supposedly quoting Sam Kekovich from a speech he supposedly made on Grand Final day at the Centre Sqaure function at Punt Road oval.

I may post it anyway. Incidentally, is there any truth to the rumour that the MCC turned down millions of dollars in sponsorship from a global fast food corporation to rename the MCG the McG?

Plonka said...

Dikkii:

I haven't heard that story, but it wouldn't surprise me. I doubt there's enough money in the world to get them to change it.

Plonka said...

And hopefully Sam gets stuck right in...:)

Dikkii said...

Sam goes berzerk.

I'll post it.

Mikki said...

Plonka:

Now that post had a sense of déjà vu about it. I have heard that explanation before as to why Windy Hill is called Windy Hill and for a moment there I thought I was listening to the same person.

They only care about revenue. It’s all about how much money they can make, the rich get richer and the poor well they just stay poor. Since we were kids we have always watched the Grand Final and Boxing Day Ashes on the tele. I must admit though I’m not too enthusiastic about watching the tests now, it’s not the same without Warnie, Gilly and McGrath. They bought something to the game just like Lillee, Thommo and Marsh did back in the 80’s, they were great games.

Your post also made me reminisce to when I was kid. My brother used to play AFL for Concord United (wearing St Kilda colours). They also used to play on Saturdays too. One day they were short of players and required one more player so they didn’t have to forfeit. Well my brother told me to play and at that point I pretty much started to panic because I was 11yrs old and the boys were at least 14, they were land of the giants compared to me. Anyway my brother had told me to watch him and pretend we were playing in the park as we normally did. I played forward and he guided me around the park. My brother mainly used me as a decoy, getting me to run one way to suck in the defence and he would go the other and score just about every time. We won the game that day, I scored 7 points (a goal and a behind), and my brother pretty much scored most of the rest. Everyone in the team was real proud of me that day. Thanks Plonka for taking me back to a proud moment in my childhood.

If you turn the M upside down in MCG what does it spell?
WCG (Warnie Cricket Ground). Now that’s what it should be renamed to, well it’s a lot better than McG after Ronald McDonald. I’m only joking I know they won’t change it.

Aren’t the Bombers the team that everyone loves to hate? Well I say go the Swans or St Kilda!

Plonka said...

Mikki:

without Warnie, Gilly and McGrath

I felt the same when Lillie and Marsh left, not to mention Walters and Redpath. But as Jackson Browne has been known to sing "All good things, gotta come to an end...."

Aren’t the Bombers the team that everyone loves to hate?

No no, that's Collingwood (the Magpies)...

Mikki said...

Plonka:

No no, that's Collingwood (the Magpies)...

Sorry I don't like them either...

Gryphonn said...

Geez mate, I didn't fork out all those dollars on this laptop to read month old posts about the woes of modern commercialism!
Good to see your ascii again Plonka. Hopefully we'll be more active online again real soon. I'm just breaking this little Acer in...a 5520-502
It's got enough speed, ram, graphics grunt and storage to keep us happy for a while and we only paid $1100 for it.

Indica Man said...

Well there you. Two years late reading this post, but hey...
It's the same with QLD and rugby league. I was once a sports (Aussie Rules) fan and could watch league. However, I no longer take an interest as the game is all about the $$$$. The players play for money, not the sport. The games raise revenue for the elite few.

It aint sport no more boys...

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