By Anna Pavlou: Year 5 (11 years old)
Dedicated to my Dad, for always taking me to the footy, no matter what happens.​

I’ve waited 11 years for this. That’s right, the train down to Geelong. No drive in the car would ever beat this.

I began my busy Saturday with my usual netball game. It was fantastic, really. My netball is something I love, but not as much as footy. We won the game 13 to 10, and it sure was rough. I got 2 goals during that game. But there was something I was waiting on…

When I arrived home, I showered and got ready to go down to Kardinia, a very different way.
For a special surprise, Dad was ready early. Believe me, I was in shock.

Then it was time to go. We walked all the way to Bentleigh Station. As we were approaching the station, the boom gates were going down. “THAT’S OUR TRAIN!!!” yelled Dad, sounding horrified. We sprinted to get on the train and did, the last carriage, huffing and puffing getting on. This wasn’t the Geelong train, just the one to take us to Southern Cross station – so we could get on the footy train.

As the train pulled into Southern Cross station, I was ready to bolt onto the Geelong footy special train.

“Tickets, tickets” said Dad under his breath. We went up and down and all around in search of tickets for the train. When we did find them, there was a massive line. I looked around while we waited; it was very quiet around me. At last the silence broke out. A man started to yell “GEELONG SOUTH FOOTY EXPRESS!!! Get your tickets here”. Yes! I rushed as Dad walked (maybe he was STILL tired from our run to our first train!).

When we got our tickets, I decided to get some treats; Skittles and an Aero mint bar (Dad and my favourite), did the trick.

It was now time. We walked to Platform 4 and found a train, peaceful and nice. Dad and I were walking and finally found a carriage, some seats (2 facing front and 2 facing back). I looked down, there was a carpeted floor, a bin and up ahead, a toilet. I’m in heaven. It’s like I’m on a plane!

On the train was wonderful. When we stopped, my dream stopped, I just wanted to stay on there forever.

But that was okay, we were in Geelong and here to see the footy.

When we entered, it was packed with people yelling “FOOTY RECORDS! GET YOUR FOOTY RECORDS!” and “PIN TO WIN! BUY A PIN TO WIN!” it was crazy! I just wanted to get inside and get to our seats, because we were very early.

“Yes” I whispered as Dad said I could go and get face paint. After that it was game time.

Geelong was in a tight position by Quarter time. Sydney was very close – too close. I just prayed for an end-of-season win, just so we could be in a good position.

I was hungry, so I took a look inside the Cadbury Freddo Frog Cooler bag that has been through each premiership since 2007: The mud, rain and heat. There were many things to snack on but I chose the rest of the Mint Aero bar, delicious.

When the 2nd Quarter started it was when Geelong kicked away but it was still a good contest. I remember my Dad teaching me about the footy tactics when I was only 6 and I haven’t forgotten from there.

Half time was a good breather and I had just enough time to get my Geelong Footy favourite – A Baked Potato. My Dad is always happy to buy them for me, as long as I eat it all and always enjoy it!

Finally, the third Quarter started and Geelong was ahead, I prayed for the win. 3 Quarter time we were up 12.7 to Swans 7.12. “Just win Cats, win!” I screamed with all my might.

As the final siren blew for the end of the game, I cheered with all my footy friends, singing loudly. There are these 2 old ladies who always cheer really loudly yelling “WHOOP WHOOP!” It’s really funny and all my friends around laugh. There are 2 good friends we met this year, too. We always shared tactics and all, every single game.

As we walked out of the ground, arm in arm, Dad and I, we prepared for another exciting part of the day – staying overnight in Geelong.

My Mum and brother James picked us up and we went to the Hotel, then straight out for dinner. Before we left, I just couldn’t help taking a couple of photos of my face paint, I just didn’t want to rub it off!

As we all walked down the calm street looking for a place to eat dinner, we approached a Pizza and Pasta restaurant. We stopped out the front, even knowing it was already full, we saw something that was even better. Harry Taylor and his family were sitting inside, enjoying a meal. Taylor was drinking his beer out of a Cats stubby and that made me laugh. As we walked off he smiled at me, and I smiled back.

After dinner in a seafood restaurant, we went back to the Hotel and fell asleep.

I woke up at 3.00am in the morning, to see Dad sitting up watching the Cats vs Swans replay, no surprise.

The next morning was an all-you-can-eat buffet. It was great to eat some great eggs on toast and just relax. My family and I packed up, checked out and went somewhere my Dad likes to call “The Church”.

When we reached the church, we all realised it was Kardinia Park, our church. We walked around inside and out, admiring and remembering the best times we have had there. As we walked out, Tom Lonergan followed us out to his car, I needed to scream!

After a play down at the Waterfront, a stroll around the market (where I introduced my brother to the famous Baked Potatoes), we left Geelong in a hurry.

As I arrived home, it felt like I had been away for years, in this case, I sort of had.

Footy is footy and that means tradition. But sometimes, breaking a tradition can bring a new one into your life…

Before the game in 2012- Celebrating Mitch Duncan’s 50th game and Tom Hawkins 100th game