To give you an idea of just how little we know about football, we were watching the recent Roosters vs the Knights game and the clock stood at 5.21 before the kids and I worked out for sure which team was which.
I’m just plain bad at watching football. I’m missing the footy gene.
My father was bad at football but in a different way. He took my mother on a date to watch him play a game and running onto the field for the second half he was waving at her when he tripped over the bloke in front of him and had to be stretchered off the field. That’s generally how us Devereaux men win our women over – sympathy.
On that note, here’s my top ten list of things I’ve learned during this family experiment of watching football with the kids:
1. I was right not to go professional. Watching the teams run onto the field I couldn’t help but feel a little inadequate. Those boys are built in much the same way bankers generally aren’t. They’re the Apple iMac to my pocket calculator. I daresay they could beat me into submission with a firm handshake, let alone slamming me into the ground. They want the ball? They can have it. I just want to retain the use of my legs.
2. My nephew is nuts. I’m basing this on him playing football. Mentally, he’s good. He’s 13 and this year played both under 14 1st division rugby league and began school rugby union in Brisvegas. He does a great job of it too, not that this is surprising. There’s a strong history of league on his mother’s side of the family – his grandfather played for Norths, his great grandfather and grand uncle played for Qld. But family history aside, I think you’d have to be nuts to run a ball at those huge walls of muscles I see on the screen and if my nephew really wants a team sport to excel at I’d urge him to consider tunnel ball. On the bright side, now I’ve actually sat and watched a couple of football matches I’ll have an idea what he’s doing out there on the field when I go along to watch him play.
3. Football has improved. I’m probably going to upset the thug-like purists, but football has improved since I was a kid, sitting beside my dad, eating hotdogs, and watching the Magpies lose. There’s less spectacle and more actual football. It seems to be more about the game these days and less about resembling a pub brawl.
4. I have a mean streak. One of the first games we watched had a player being dakked in a tackle. We saw it from every angle and even in slow motion. After the initial shock, my kids were in hysterics and spent the next few days giving spontaneous reenactments. A couple of months ago a message appeared on my Facebook page forcing me to do something I can’t remember ever doing before – I flicked the telly over to the State of Origin. “Tracey! Come in here! Apparently there’s a streaker!” There was. But this is where having preconceived ideas about something can let you down, because it was a bloke.
5. Watching football is exercise. The kids hardly sit down during a game – they jump up and fist pump the air and do happy dances. They talk to each other more than with any other telly show, including Barbie’s Island Princess, which usually has Master8 being very vocal. And by talking I mean shouting, yelling, mimicking, teasing, screaming, bellowing. Sure, some of it is the standard ‘your team is losing’ put down and some of it is the obligatory ‘your team is cheating’ response, but it’s all said with good humour and fun and mouths full of chips.
6. Cheering is hungry work. I kept up a steady stream of dips, chips, chicken kebabs, pizzas, pies and microwave popcorn, all purchased from our local IGA, for my kids throughout our matches but inevitably I’d still find one of them standing at the fridge after the game looking for a nibble before bed. It must be all that jumping up and down and punching the air which burns off the energy.
7. Girls can like football just as much as boys. It’s not just my sister-in-law who likes footy. When we set out to watch a few games I really expected, after the fun of picking teams and getting their faces painted had worn off, the girls would lose interest. I fully expected them to go to sleep or wander off to their rooms at some point. I mean two hours in front of the telly is a long time to watch some guys kick a ball around. But instead, they all watched and enjoyed every minute – cheering on their teams and caring about the score. I was genuinely surprised and it’s crossed my mind, as I’m sure it has yours too, there will be future husbands out there who will thank me for this one day.
8. Football is educational. And not just because it teaches them to count to six. My kids are learning big new words and phrases, like body-slamming, penalties and, because I’m catering, baba ganoush. And the new footy related terms are starting to make their way into our every day conversations. The shed is now ‘out of bounds’, for example. Then there was the popcorn incident. When I continued to tell Master8 off for spilling the bowl he made a square signal with his hands and asked to get the video ref involved. Not that he’s got all the terms worked out yet. He raced into the kitchen during one game to tell me his team were about to get two more points so long as they “get it between the thingies and a bit higher” by which he meant kick a goal.
9. The crowd is educational. There was a girl in the crowd of the Roosters vs Knights game giving two big birds to the ref after a decision didn’t go her team’s way. Any thoughts I had about hoping this woman went unnoticed by my kids was quickly dispelled when I turned around to find both Miss7 and Master8 giving me a double whammy of ‘the bird’, with Miss3 trying to copy them but, thankfully, getting it wrong and simply pointing my way. “We were just showing you, Dad,” they grinned.
10. I could follow the action. Much to my surprise, I got involved. I even found myself making involuntary exclamations when the team I was barracking for did something fantastic or made a blunder. At one point, when the Sea Eagles went over the line, I stood and yelled, “You little beauty!” in a bizarre subconscious tribute to my father. It was, I must say, a little embarrassing, and I slunk away from the screen and filled another bowl of chips.
This has been a fantastic family experiment, and one I’ve enjoyed immensely. I’d like to thank IGA for sponsoring us and encourage you all to head down to your local store for all your food requirements in the upcoming NRL Finals – Roosters vs Sea Eagles. Not only is their range fantastic (I found duck!) but they’ve got awesome specials on at the moment. One aspect of shopping at IGA I’ve enjoyed, and I didn’t even realize how much I missed it, was the service, with real people putting through my purchases and bagging them instead of me struggling to do it all on a cutting board sized counter while my kids fight for my attention.
If you don’t know how good your local IGA is, or even where to find your closest store, here are some links to help get you started.
I’m looking forward to the final. It promises to be a blinder. I hope you and your families enjoy the camaraderie and banter and food as much as we intend to. And may the best team win 🙂 Go the Magpies!!
When not typing away over here and checking his stats every two minutes Bruce Devereaux hangs out at his ‘BIG FAMILY little income’ Facebook Page.
’raising a family on little more than laughs’
This post was sponsored by the good people from IGA – thanks guys.