My Dad has always told me that I am one of the luckiest kids alive.
My dad grew up with plastic school shoes and a plastic soccer ball. He never saw a Geelong Cats premiership until he was 44. I saw my first at 6.
From the things listed, my life has been pretty different to dads. So, I’ve written this story in honour of my dad and his passions.
Dad grew up in the quiet suburb of Brighton East. In Milroy Street, to be exact, where his parents spent over 50 years living. He lived in his humble home with his Mum, Dad, Sister Penny and Brother Paul.
Dad lived for soccer. I guess you could say it was a Greek thing, but my dad had a real talent for the game. He would always be outside kicking a ball up against the wall or playing with it at his feet. And yes, maybe there were a few broken windows here and there, but without his tireless passion for the game of soccer; he would have never given me ‘the passion gene’ for AFL.
Dad grew up playing soccer. He was playing under 11’s at the age of 6 and Under 16’s at the age of 12. He always had a natural talent and passion for soccer.
When he was at Wesley College, he was playing soccer full time, in and out of school. But, at the age of 18, dad made a drastic change. For Year 11 and some of Year 12, Dad had been playing First 11 soccer, but switched half way through the year to First 18 Australian Rules, with no AFL talent whatsoever. He was a natural.
Now that dad had discovered his passion and talent for Aussie Rules, he joined an Amateur Footy club on Albert Park Lake, Powerhouse AFC. And, long story short, he ended up spending every Saturday down at Albert Park, played 300 games, coached and is now the President.
When Dad married Mum, he was spending every other weekend at Powerhouse on Saturday and Old Wesley and Caulfield soccer on Sunday. He was fully engrossed with both games.
By the time that James (my brother) and I were born, Dad was busily working full-time, spending time at home with the kids and playing sport on the weekends.
My brother and I are completely different. James has never had an interest in footy or soccer and never really played them as a younger kid. I on the other hand was intrigued by the game of AFL. Dad took full advantage of this. I was in full blue and white colours from the day I was born and went to my first game at 4 months old.
By the age of 4, I had been to many Cats games with my dad. He taught everything there was to know about footy: clearances, hard-ball-gets, goals, defence and every player on the Geelong Cats’ list. We use to recite the names and numbers of every player.
One of my favourite things that I will always remember my dad doing would be leaving me notes after every Cats win. When there was a late night game, dad would always leave me a note next to my bed for me to see in the morning. The notes would read: “CATS WIN! By 2 points! What a game!!!!!”
Another moment that I will cherish with my Dad will be the Cats premiership wins, especially 2009. Dad and I sat in the cheer squad and when the final siren went, we jumped into each other’s arms and cried for 10 minutes.
Of course, there are many memories in between all the glorious wins and disappointing losses. Just going down to Geelong with dad is special and will be a memory cherished forever.
So, I’d like to thank my Dad for everything he has done for me, for standing by my side in wins and losses on and off the field.
And, even though my Dad shares his birthday with some of the most amazing people like Anne Frank and Morgan Freeman, no one is more amazing than my dad.