Happy Birthday Pop. My Dad turned 71 today which is amazing cause he doesn't look a day over 70.
This year a phone call was the best I could manage which is a far cry from last year's effort when myself, The Heir, BB the Accountant and my sister Vicki all flew over to Queensland to celebrate the milestone. We all had a great weekend together on the Sunshine coast and it's a bit of a shame we couldn't repeat it this year, but at least we had a visit from Dad for Jenna's wedding a couple of months ago.
I don't always see eye to eye with Dad, we disagree on many things, but I love him dearly and value him for his wisdom, experience, humour, generosity and love. (He reads my blog every day so I'd better say some nice things about him!!)
I have many many memories of times with Dad, right from when I was a little kid. He always took me to footy on Saturday mornings at the Geelong West YMCA Football League. My first year was in under 6's, there were only two teams, The Toughies and The Terribles and we played one another every week, wearing over-sized jumpers that we had to tuck in to stop us tripping over them. I was a Toughie and we played in green, the Terribles wore blue and it was typical swarm-ball football, all 36 kids chasing the ball at once trying to get a kick.
Later I played for The Terrifics in bright yellow jumpers with red collars and cuffs in the Under 9's. We won the Grand Final in 1970 and I won the best and fairest, I've still got the medallion on the pin-up board in my office. I'll never forget the Grand Final, we beat The Dazzlers by three goals.
I came 5th in the League Best and Fairest award that season, a kid called Ray Kwoon won it, one of the very earliest Asian kids to play Aussie Rules footy.
After we'd played in the morning, if the Cats were playing at home Dad would take me to Kardinia Park to watch Geelong. He'd stand on the hill behind the Barwon River goal and I'd swap between watching the game and sliding down the banks of the hill behind the scoreboard on cardboard boxes with all the other kids. My favourite player was Doug Wade who wore number 23 and played full-forward. He is one of only 5 players in history to kick a thousand goals in VFL/AFL footy although Dad reckoned he was a sulky player. Polly Farmer was in the ruck, Billy Goggin was rover, Denis Marshall was on the wing and the Cats had plenty of good players like Closter, Ryan, Newlands, Rosenow, Ainsworth and Andrews. They made the finals every year in the 60's.
Interestingly, years later my nephew Daniel was drafted by Geelong and played 17 games in an injury-plagued career and he too wore number 23. Now Nathan Ablett wears that jumper.
Dad was a Geelong supporter only by default on account of us kids and the fact we lived in the town. He started life as a Carlton fan even though his Mum, Nanny Falia as we called her cause she lived in the northern Victorian town of Nathalia which was a little tricky to pronounce, was a died in the wool South Melbourne fan. When BB the Accountant first took an interest in Footy he adopted Footscray so Dad started barracking for the Bulldogs who boasted Mr Football, Ted Whitten, and John Shulz and George Bisset amongst their players.
But, shortly after that, we moved to Geelong and BB promptly dumped Footscray to barrack for the Cats and I of course immediately adopted them. I was never old enough to have supported any other team so I'm proud to say I'm a life-long Geelong fan. Dad though must have felt a certain loyalty to Footscray because he stuck with them, despite the fact they haven't won a premiership since 1954! which is an even worse record than Geelong whose last flag was in 1963. My lone claim being that I can at least say they've won a premiership in my lifetime, even if I was only 2 and oblivious to them at the time!
In his latter years and with his migration to Queensland Dad has switched allegiances again, to the Brisbane Lions, and has finally cracked it for a successful team following their three Grand Final wins in a row from 2001-2003. Not that he goes to the footy any more, and has to put up with delayed telecasts and minimal coverage in what is still a rugby-dominated state.
Lots of good memories and plenty more where they came from.
Happy Birthday Pop, I love you.