Footy – it’s history

It was a weekend of wallowing in a winless wallop. Out contested in contested possessions saw the Hawks ousted and deposed of its mantle as the team to beat. Out of the competition in straight sets for the first time in years, face book reminded me of my attendance at the preliminary finals game against Port Adelaide in 2014. No preliminary finals for the first time in 5 years. Then overnight United crashed away to Watford. Wat bloody ford. It was 0-1 at half time when I retired to bed, not heartened by the performance I witnessed but certainly too tired to soldier on, with the spectre of another busy week staring at me.

In the train on the way home after the game on Friday night, Tress and I, along with every other person on that train out of Richmond into Hawks country, were quiet and looked for tunes to whistle past the graveyard of football ignominy. It was good to read in the papers this morning, that any suggestion of an end to the Hawks dynasty ignores a number of factors. There’s hope yet in this old bird and I am already thinking about 2017 membership for another year of fantastic flights of fancy in the fiefdom of footy fealty.

Sandwiched between the twin defeats was a very lovely day at the Yarra Valley. Tress’ schoolmates from last century visited from Klang. On Saturday, Melbourne turned on its clear-blue-sky side and set up a weatherwise wonderful day for us to entertain our visitors. We drove into the city on Saturday morning, picked them up from their temporary abode in Collingwood, and headed back east into Victoria’s wine country. Both bachelors, Tress’ ex-schoolmates were contrasting characters. Both were pleasant and fun, Malaysian idiosyncrasies notwithstanding. Alex rang while we were at the chocolatiers’ joint and invited us to his home for one last weekend dinner party of sorts. They would be moving out of their present home to rent for a year while they build their new home in Balwyn.

They said it has been 10 years since they moved into their Doncaster home. I remember the December weekend when it was steaming hot and he had gone and bought a barbeque set from Bunnings for his new home. His pool was magnificent and it needed a barbie to complete the picture. Being a hot day – we had been freely imbibing on some silly brown liquid and by the time we thought we should start to put the barbie together we were barely able to read the instructions. We somehow managed to put the thing together and had a barbie but it was something to remember (or forget?).

Ten years hence, I’m at that house again, standing on his deck as he cooked for one last weekend. It was an unusual dinner party because Tress and I were their only guests. Their parties are usually adorned with more and better looking guests (Tress exempted) but it was good to just talk. We continued to imbibe but this time it was an 18 year old offering from a beautiful looking bottle, not freshly brewed brown liquid from browner and squat VB bottles dunny men used to skip over.

Michael Bird’s preaching on Sunday morning managed to just about jolt me out of my overnight acquaintance with a very good scotch. This rising superstar of a theologian – the heir apparent to continue the work of the likes of NT Wright – delivered without disappointing. How fortunate we are, to have such a talent in our midst, a member of our very own congregation.

The presence of the likes of Mike Bird in St Alf’s means I have had no urge to continue what I left off at MST. Access to Ridley College would be so much more pervasive for me now, but with teachings like what we had on Sunday morning, I could spend my reading hours on other stuff. Scrutton, Blainey and now Clark fill my reading hours now, interspersed by stuff from Tim Keller and occasionally, a novel or two. Even then, my next novel – once I get past Clark and maybe Henry Reynolds – would be Scrutton’s.

For sound theological exegesis from Romans 8, I could simply tap into local top notch offerings. Re-reading the text with Mike Bird’s sermon notes ringing in my head gave me fresh understanding of God’s grace and my required response. And this understanding informed my reading, including the clear allusion to Manning Clark’s disposition on celestial matters, even as I started to leaf through his “History of Australia” in the train this morning. The book I picked up from Nunwading library when Tress and I dropped in yesterday arvo, has already promised much.