If you’re lucky, you get a hotdog

Never in a million years would I have dreamed that a stressful week might culminate in a game of rugby and that it would be just the tonic I needed. But life can have some odd twists and turns in it and sometimes those turns include men running around after a ball.

How did I, a dyed-in-the-wool non-lover of sporting events, end up at a huge rugby game on a Saturday night? Simple really. My sister and her family were in town for one night only and what time we had together was limited. They were making the most of the visit to Canberra (which was for visiting our dad in hospital – he’s ok, although we’re still waiting on test results) by including a Brumbies match in their itinerary. In order to spend more time with them it was obvious to me that I had to go with them to the game. I could take my knitting right?

The last time I recall sitting and watching a game involving men running around after a ball is probably the late 70s. It would have been a damp Saturday afternoon in small town Tasmania, perched on the bonnet of my dad’s car watching a local football team running around the oval. I don’t recall anything more than that. I would have been less than eight years old.

I do recall watching on TV the (possibly AFL?) grand final during my exam preparations in Year 12. I would have done that to avoid studying. It was 1990.

So yeah, not a lot of football/rugby/soccer watching in my life. Or cricket. Or baseball. Or golf. Or netball or basketball. Contrary to popular opinion I don’t hate it. It’s not snobbery. I just don’t understand it. I watch any sport and my eyes glaze over. I think I’m missing that gene. Last week, BoB Carr was rightly smacked around the head for declaring that if you love sport you can’t also love literature. Or words to that effect. I have a number of very well educated friends, big readers, who would testify to the contrary.

Last night, rocking up to Bruce Stadium with thousands of eager fans, I got a sense of what I’ve always been told – that being there in person is something else entirely. Like the difference between listening to a CD and seeing the artist performing live. I never really doubted that since I’ve experienced the exhilaration of crowd before – I just didn’t think that I’d feel it around thousands of sports fans.

But I did. I really did. I was excited.

It helped that I was in uniform. I borrowed a Brumbies jersey from Alice’s dad. It was amazing  how I felt somehow less like an intruder in the right gear. My sister’s little boy, Willem, was in uniform too, as was his dad. We belonged to the tribe and isn’t that what it’s all about?

Ready for the rugby!

As we walked into the stadium, I explained to Willem that I didn’t have a clue what the game was about and he might have to help me understand. With the sharp insight that comes with being nearly seven, he gave me a line I’ll remember always.

“Aunty Bells, there are two things you need to know. You have to shout ‘Go Brumbies!’ really loudly and if you’re really lucky, you get a hot dog.”

Honestly, as someone who couldn’t give a toss about the rules of the game, I think that set me up for the night. I did indeed get a hotdog. And beer. And I took my knitting.

I was completely content.

at the rugby

It’s true that I had to be told when something exciting happened (not that scoring helped; the Brumbies suffered a record breaking loss, so I’m told) and I felt that there was a lot of standing around (that’s called a penalty, apparently) it didn’t matter a bit. All around me were people cheering, eating, drinking and talking. The sky turned from daylight to dramatic cloud cover then darkness and overhead there were enormous lights that allowed me to keep knitting.

I’ll go again. Really I will. And you know, maybe next time I’ll take in a little more of the actual game.

In the morning, Willem got up early with me and helped me with chicken duties. For the first time, he picked up a chicken and was proud of himself for managing to catch one. It warmed my heart.

willem and chicken

And with that, the weekend came to a much needed end, quietly and calmly. Just as it should.



26 thoughts on “If you’re lucky, you get a hotdog

  1. Pingback: Roller Derby « Bellsknits

  2. Bells, you know I love you and your writing. But Willem’s quote tops it all. I’m taking that one with ME always. Thanks for sharing!!! And love the jersey. It’s a great look, second only to your hand knits. 🙂

  3. I have never understood why some people believe that loving Art, Literature and sport are mutually exclusive? Weird, you just like what you like I think. And you are so right, experiencing sport live is so much better than watching it on tv, the atmosphere can be quite amazing!

    I am a HUGE rugby fan. Love it! And I even played women’s rugby at Uni, it is very physical and was loads of fun! I also have a soft spot for the Brumbies (courtesy of George Gregan) but my heart will always lie with the Queensland Reds.

    So glad you enjoyed it Bells. 🙂

  4. you and will look adorable together! i like the way you describe the rugby experience in terms of uniforms and tribes! so true. i have little interest in watching sport too, but have been known to sit through an afl grand final (televised) as long as friends, food and knitting were involved. did willem get to pick up shirley? glad your dad’s ok, hope the test results were good ones. jx

  5. As someone who was dragged to countless games to watch my dad playing rugby as a child, sounds like you got the best rule description ever:)

    Plus you get to watch men in fairly tight shorts running about…

    Hope your dad is ok.

    • Oh yes the shorts! 🙂

      My dad has had a cancer scare- asbestos related. He’s been released after surgery and we’re waiting on biopsy results. Been a bit worrying.

  6. I adore rugby – even more so since they brought in those new, snug-fitting jerseys. I believe there is also something to do with moving a ball about on the field. 😉

  7. I love Willem’s version of surviving a football game – sounds so simple and a lot of fun really, a bit of cheering and then a hot dog! I’m not much of a football fan but find myself watching the AFL grand-final most years since I’ve been away from Australia (some kind of home-sickness gone awry I think).

  8. I’m not one for sports either but have had fun at games. I don’t know what’s going on but that’s somehow ok. There’s always someone willing (and eager) to explain everything.

    That’s such a good shot of you and Willem!

  9. Hahahaha! Love it! Cheer and get a hot-dog! My hubby was also at that game. He goes with a few mates, it has never occurred to me to go, but after hearing your fun adventure, I just might!:-)

  10. Obviously you asked the right person to explain things to you.

    The mob gestalt is amazing, isn’t it. Even when you have no idea what’s going on, the excitement is contagious.

    Splendid, splendid photos! I especially love Wills and the chicken!

  11. Once upon a time, I thought I didn’t like football. Then I started dating my future husband, and I knew Sundays were his day to watch football, and I respected that. Our second winter dating, the only day we both had free was Sunday, and I wanted to spend time with him, so I sat on the couch next to him. Eventually I began asking questions, and he was a willing and enthusiastic teacher, and once he had begun to explain it all to me, not just the rules but the nuances, and I began to understand how incredibly smart the players were, not just athletic–it’s amazing, really. He got me hooked. I’ve only been to a football game in person once, though, way back when we were dating. I have this hazy plan that maybe for our 15th anniversary we’ll get to go together again.

    Glad you had a good ending to the week, Bells!

  12. I have’t been to a football game since I was in my mid-teens: we watched Western Suburbs at their home ground (which was then Lidcombe Oval). They were probably playing North Sydney Bears (my dad’s team all his life until they were pushed out of the NRL).
    WM watches NRL on Friday nights and sometimes Sunday afternoons but I always head for the computer! Life has been more “interesting” on the football scene within the family as SIL is a Union supporter but also watches League.
    Glad you enjoyed the game and got a hotdog! Kind of them to make the lights bright enough for you to knit! LOL
    Really, it was all about family, wasn’t it?

  13. Oh gosh.. completely get the lost gene thing and eyes glazing over ! I’m with you I would rather be creative that sit and watch all that sport, however I will admit (not that I’ve been) that it must be more exhilarating actually being there.

    love what William said, he pretty much summed up the important bits 😀

  14. aww, look how proud Willem is?! that’s fantastic 🙂

    i was never a sports person either, but roller derby has shown me the positives to team sport, and belonging, and community… so I guess I see the appeal now?

    a night at the rugby sounds like it was just what you and your family needed, so hurrah!

    hope your Dad’s ok, too ❤

  15. I love Willem’s philosophy. I hope you were both lucky and got a hotdog!! I am glad the outing cheered you up. I remember watching the men play football on the gravel oval at Queenstown. They were real men, real men with quite a lot of grazes!!!

  16. I LOVE going to the Brumbies. Believe it or not, it gets better as the weather gets colder – something about layers of wool and scarves wrapped round and round and beanies on your head. Love it. PJ has been a member since… a very long time (he has SO many team caps) and he goes with his mates and their commentary and sledging and sing-song-antics just take it to the next level. It’s just good fun, is what it is. The image of you in your Brumbies jersey with your bag of knitting just makes me smile 🙂

  17. Bells, my three sons are amazed that their mum actually likes watching union, even if she doesn’t know much about it. They are surprised because they know I hate violence, but I find watching union is a great stress buster. At a pinch I can just make myself watch league, but I’d rather union which they consider more violent than union.

    Yes, drk, sport and literature together is perfectly possible. I like cricket but haven’t watched this year because of the setup here, but will watch some football when I move.

  18. I have to admit I occasionally enjoy a basketball or American football game. However none of my three men is terribly interested, so I don’t watch often. Things really are better when you are there!

  19. Oh I agree with you on all levels, I never got the sport gene either, but I am in this annual social tipping group where I tip by proxy and go to several live games. I never watch a single play, but boy I have a good time! Beer, dinner afterwards, lots of cheering and atmosphere, plus it’s always chilly and the air is crisp and clear (if we’re lucky).

    Apparently (so I’m told) the basketball is even better, atmosphere wise. Who knew?

  20. Willem looks very pleased with himself (and the chicken) – I’m not sure the chicken is so keen, heh!

    And Kylie is right, you do look right at home at the footy! You’ll have to go again!

  21. Sport and literature in the same head, indeed it is possible! I think rugby is one of the best games to watch live, lots of rules, but definitely the most interesting. And that’s a great stadium. The brumbies were robbed tho. So glad you had a good time. And you look right at home!

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