“They’d be hanging from the rafters if Collingwood ever played down here.”
Or so says my aunt, an almost silent Melbourne supporter who seems to wear every Dees loss as a pseudo cilice these days.
Her heart might beat true for the red and the blue, but she’s also been to plenty of matches at Aurora Stadium in Launceston to understand that some colours are just more likely to fill a ground than others.
Her red and blue mightn’t be the kind of club to regularly pack a venue – in the manner of Eddie’s black and white Pies, to use her example – but people are already mentioning the prospect of Melbourne Football Club eventually playing matches in Tasmania if their current predicament lingers.
It’s reactionary hearsay and would never happen… unless Mr D says it should, of course.
And all that said, it was red and blue (and white) that ran from floor to ceiling and across Boot Hill at Blundstone Arena on Saturday as the Kangaroos hopped to it against the champion Sydney Swans.
With Hawthorn’s Launceston fiefdom still reaping rewards for the post-Kennet Hawks, North Melbourne’s early forays below the ‘Oatlands line’ also appear to be gaining a foothold in oft-ignored Hobart.
A little over 13,000 packed into the ‘boutique’ stadium formerly known as Bellerive Oval as the Swans took flight for half an hour during an astonishing 11-goal third quarter that proved enough to condemn the Kangas to a hat-trick of losses to start their season.
Doubtless there were groups of travelling fans in town for the match, Sydney’s first in Hobart, but the overwhelming majority of patrons were local footy fans – out to see their club battle for premiership points in a suburban ground.
Yep, a suburban ground – one of those almost-forgotten cornerstones of Australian football. Just ask Jack Elliott how important they are…
And whether from Arden Street to Etihad or from the Lake Oval to the SCG, both combatants had been around the houses before finding their way back to the ‘burbs on the weekend.
Local bias aside, it was a sight to behold.
The southern grandstand was awash in royal blue – Roos’ members in the main – while the terraced hill had a distinct red tinge that seemed to take on a purple hue as a murky afternoon descended on Clarence and the Bloods’ red was muddied with flashes of blue and white.
This was North Melbourne vs. South Melbourne and the romantic in me couldn’t help but picture other local sporting rivalries defined by red and blue.
I imagined staring out from the Liverpool Kop, flanked by red on both sides and with blue-shirted Everton supporters from across Stanley Park staring back from the other end of Anfield.
No round ball in sight, though, nor yellow card or linesman’s flag.
The AFL already has goal-line technology, too. This is the 21st century, after all.
Instead of diehard Toffees, the fans wearing blue in Hobart were behind the Roos – many decked out in 2013 scarves, this season’s jumper and/or caps sporting peaks with that ‘still new’, flat look favoured by Beliebers and members of other hard-to-like subcultures.
For their effort in going down by 39 points to an inspired Sydney, the Kangas pocketed somewhere around half a million bucks for the day out in Hobart – plus whatever they made in merchandise and good will.
Especially when you consider that hosting the same fixture at Docklands would most-likely have seen them finish down for the day.
And that’s reason for James Brayshaw and his fellow powerbrokers to celebrate.
Sadly for the fans in blue and white, however, there was no merriment at the final siren.
Even despite the loss, the Shinboners won’t have been as down in the mouth as diehard Dees on Saturday night – losing to a fit-and-firing reigning premier isn’t a disgrace, after all.
Still, the Roos will want to be winning soon.
Especially in Hobart where they’re 1-2 and already half-way through the current six-match deal.
It may just be that if they don’t start taking premiership points – as well as sponsorship dollars – away from Tasmania, the blue and red at Bellerive may well be on a Melbourne jumper in the not-too-distant future.
First published here