Nannas 3 plays someone 5
Att: CB, DC, CG, JH (MOM), RH, TH, TK, AW (MOM)
A night of nostalgia. That’s what it felt like looping in with Gilla for the 8:40 game. The drive from north to south was hot. There was traffic too. Gilla skirted it with ease (something I am not sure he would have done 15 years ago). We crossed the Yarra, feeling like it could have been 20 years ago (has it really been that long?).
Then we arrived, not at the Pits, but at the Maori Chief (would have done it the other way around in the past?). It was open (though) at that time of night, so we took pictures to send to our brothers in arms, and walked in. The place was the same, albeit, it had more screens, and less people (not sure how it stays open). We ate (steak sandwiches), we drank (well, I did), and played pool (I took the first game, but from there it was all downhill, as Gilla sensed himself challenged and firmly rubbed that challenger [me] into the dust).
So, we got to the Pits, about half an hour early. It was hot and still, and the moon (half mooned) hung cold and distant in the sky. Underneath, little groups of mixed teams hung around (it could have been 16 years ago, and a Sunday).
Other Nannas arrived in dribs and drabs. First Chas and Kondo, and then the riders: Cocky, Coach and Captain. We had ourselves a team (I am remembering it like it was 17 years ago, except for the loss and greying of hair). We kicked the ball around, we bought gatorades and sugary snakes, talked shit, and waited for the game to begin (definitely 17 years ago, but without the butterflies we had back then). And, and, Andy, turned up late (pick your date) but didn’t play.
The game started at 8:40, seemed like an appropriate time for the Nannas given our history, except now, most of their children can look after themselves, our wives/partners (mostly) aren’t eagerly awaiting our return (to help with said kids), and (most) Nannas aren’t exhausted from getting up at 5 am each morning.
Yet, inexplicably, some Nannas appeared exhausted, disinterested even (no timestamp here). They were statues, standing, rooted to the spot for the most part (I won’t put a time stamp on this, as this has been happening forever). Chassy said afterward, well I think he said this, that on court he is constantly aware of his surroundings, and where everyone is, so he can move in accordance with the game and be ahead of it (well, that’s what I took him to mean).
We were better than the opposition. I don’t remember them really getting the better of us, in terms of their skill or their play or tactics (sort of like the Nannas, pick your date). Yet, they hustled and bustled (the Nannas of five, maybe ten years ago). They took their opportunities (sometimes, sometimes not for the Nannas). They also were constantly after us, locking us down (again, sometimes, sometimes not for the Nannas).
The Nannas on this night wanted to play with smiles on their faces (timestamp here is on and off, as this is not really the Nanna way, unless we are winning). But the question should be asked, does shit football make you smile? Oh my god, I am so sorry, but there was some pretty shit football out there. We really should have done better.
On recent previous occasions (that I have played, at least) we have had possession and used the ball well (no time stamp here, as this is relatively new for the Nannas), we have had cohesion, even teamwork (multiple timestamps here, as backing our Brown Brothers has never been in question), we have even played skilfully (intermittent timestamps here). Not on this evening.
Maybe the heat had overcome us. Maybe the directive to play with a smile on our face was making us feel fake. Maybe the inherent anger that would be our lot if we offered (offered is probably not the most accurate word) a teammate criticism (even if there was also congratulations and encouragement mixed in with this) was overcoming us, clouding our judgement. Maybe it was Tao, who didn’t want to play (because, apparently, he had been so angry last time and needed to go have a long, hard look at himself), had made us feel like we were missing something, something from our past (fierceness, ferocity, fury perhaps)?
Sure, we have to temper (pun intended) that and him (and me alongside him), but just saying, outright and arbitrarily, to always play with a smile on our faces, is just stupid. We are Nannas with emotions, especially on court; it’s how we use these emotions to our best advantage, or bring them back from negativity, is the trick.
Anyway, after, we tried to go to haunts of times past, but the Chief was shut and the Railway was shutting, as was the next place. It did seem like the Bars/Pubs of Melbourne were saying to us, ‘you have too much history, we can feel your dark, downtrodden, mixed feelings from here,’ and closed their doors to us.