Since birth, I’ve been a footy head. Not just for my team though. I will always be open to watching any team, any time and any day. Saturday’s for me consist of footy for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a sprinkle for dessert too.
My little brother James on the other hand is the complete opposite. Every Saturday when you find me and Dad at an amateur or AFL level game, you’ll find James on the basketball court or belting out a new tune on one of his many guitars.
And today has been no different. Dad and I have been busy attending our local club – Power House’s game, while James has been carving it up on the basketball court. Except, there’s a difference. Tonight, is the eve of his 14thbirthday.
Dad and I, coming from Power House are meeting Mum and James, who are coming from basketball, for a pizza dinner at our local, a nice little celebration of fourteen years for our James.
We’re seated at an open table and my eyes immediately are drawn to the small TV screen mounted in the corner, wondering what kind of restaurant it would be if they didn’t broadcast the footy. I’m squinting, making out colours of teams and numbers of players. We’re sitting too far away.
They’re showing the Gold Coast vs Fremantle game up at Metricon Stadium and, even though neither are my team, I’m happily invested.
My attention turns back to James, seated next to me, scrolling through Instagram, texting his mates; growing up.
He already told us on the phone that he’d won his basketball game, never bragging about how he actually played. But I knew, even though I couldn’t watch many games live, that he was very good.
The game is starting as our orders are taken. We raise our glasses to cheer James, whose humour, wit, great stories and selflessness has kept us all sane for fourteen years.
A ‘quick bathroom trip’ ends with me situated below the TV, watching Gold Coast’s quick start with five goals. They’ve missed two scoring opportunities, however and kept Freo in the game with three goals straight.
If Freo can’t stop the Suns tall forwards, they’ll lose this game. But, the Suns ae missing their six best midfielders in Gary Ablett and co, so if the Dockers can beat them with their pace (which they can), the result will be in their favour.
I’m quickly whisked back into the world of James as I make the slow return to my seat.
It’s like any other family dinner, but all I can’t think about is how old James is getting now.
He’s come out of his shell this year. His birthday present – a brand new guitar, a Greg Bennet is sitting at home. He got it early because he just couldn’t wait.
He started learning guitar four years ago, as a nine-year-old. He had absolutely no idea what he was doing back then, but, over the years, he’s now actually really good.
Freo kick away in the second, booting six goals as our meals are served. James has his Ham and Cheese pizza as usual and, for a growing kid, I know will probably eat the whole thing.
We talk school and memes and jokes and I think back to the shy kid who loved movies more than himself, lacked confidence and had a bigger imagination than anyone I knew.
He’s changed, I think, but he’s still the same blue-eyed kid who reminds me of those Taylor Swift lyrics from her song ‘Best Day’:
‘…inside and out he’s better than I am…’
I look up after the birthday song and ice-cream cake (James’ favourite) to the TV, to see that Gold Coast are making a gusty second-half comeback. Touk Miller has stepped up these past weeks to fill the Sun’s midfield void and today is no different; he’s already notched up 20 disposals by three quarter time.
Their defence in the third quarter has slowed the Dockers’ high scoring down. They’ve held Freo to one goal and kicked three of their own. I’m suddenly interested again in the battle of the interstate, the two teams furthest apart from each other.
The growing Suns, written off last week for lack of midfield grit, stand up in the last term, led by Alex Sexton (25 disposals), Touk Miller (seven clearances) and Tom Lynch and Sam Day, who shared eight goals between them. Gold Coast win by a convincing 24 points.
And as this not-so young Suns team notches up yet another win for their 2016 season and manage to keep me invested in their growth, I look to my not-so young brother James and think ‘yeah, he’s turning out pretty great, too.’
GOLD COAST 5.2 8.3 12.7 16.9 (105)
FREMANTLE 3.0 9.5 10.6 12.9 (81)
Gold Coast: May 4, Lynch 4, Wright 3, Grant 2, Matera, Sexton, Martin
Fremantle: Walters 4, Langdon 2, Yarran 2, Taberner, Pearce, Neale, Griffin
Gold Coast: May, Sexton, Day, Miller, Grant, Harbrow
Fremantle: Neale, Walters, Pearce, Collins, Spurr, Dawson
Umpires: Stephens, Edwards, Jeffery
Official crowd: 8,933 at Metricon Stadium