From the Outer edited by Nicole Hayes and Alicia Sometimes
I approach writing about football with a degree of trepidation. The game is rich in vernacular and this often seems to result in an exercise in extreme verisimilitude that underwhelms in charm and overwhelms narrative. Fortunately, From the Outer presents a range of perspectives that haven’t suffered this plight. Tony Birch’s reflection on the demise of the Fitzroy Football club held me enchanted. One of my best mates was a Fitzroy supporter and we went to many of their games, storming the oval and flattening the fence when Quinlan kicked his hundredth goal at the Junction oval in 1983. I saw what Birch so beautifully explains as being ‘worse than following a football club that cannot win a game. And that is to have no club at all.’
Immersion in AFL/VFL and following a club is a big deal in Melbourne, and the importance of this is articulated repeatedly in this collection. Jason Tuazon-McCheyne’s explains his pursuit of LGBTIQ acceptance through Essendon’s Purple Bombers supporter group. Stan Grant’s expression of grief and anger over the ‘crescendo of boos’ that followed Adam Goodes is a profound rebuttal to those who chose to pretend that race played no part in an affair that was entirely about race. Alicia Sometimes’ stream of consciousness riff on Hawthorn’s path to the only grand final ever held at Waverly is a stunning piece of contemporary history writing, a few pages that had me reliving that year and that time with pulse-quickening clarity.
There are too many contributions to cover in such a short review, but they are all worth it. For anyone who has ever played the game, risen with the crowd to be one with thousands, played kick-to-kick on the ground after the final siren, or simply wanted to be part of it all and to belong, you’ll understand. From the Outer offers personal perspectives on this, but for better or worse, footy binds us, and these are all of our stories.
Robbie Egan is the operations manager for Readings.