Reading Slaughterhouse 5 before rocking up to events celebrating the past and the future can alter perceptions in ways probably entirely intended by the author.
This entry has the usual wearying digressions.
I missed the 2010 jersey presentation with the least troublesome of my many medical emergencies of last year. I was in recovery mode after having my wisdom teeth taken out. Insert corny joke about that being less painful then such events; it'd have been true anyway, as unlike many dental themed horror stories, I was under general anesthetic for the entire procedure.
Anyway, the 2011 version was back at Kinisi for the first time since 2008. Almost the entire crew I would have normally attended and fraternised with in the past was absent. The reasons were many and varied - illness, hatred of Kinisi, disillusionment and being halfway through a nervous breakdown, the last of which I learned this week is not an actual medical term. Even I probably qualify for several of those categories, but I'd already committed! Blast!
I was with Gains and Hellas Johnny though, which made the evening more than tolerable. I'll say this about the seating arrangements. Not that I wish any sort of harm to those in the bliss of romantic entrapment, but being on a table filled with single people and one obviously very much in love couple makes one feel like a recalcitrant of some sort.
The player auction didn't seem to really take off. Indeed, the majority of the evening seemed muted, as if, after the recent celebrations of the past and the apparent end to life on the slow train to financial oblivion, there was no more need or energy to be fired up about the club anymore. That perhaps we'd found a niche we could survive in and that perhaps everyone was emotionally spent. Or maybe it's just a transition year. No home ground yet, the major battles won but the war not quite over. A 50 year old suddenly feeling the full force realisation of its best years behind it?
There was also the panel discussion. There was no Q&A segment, which was just as well I suppose, as I had been shunted into the back corner of the room facing away from the stage. They perhaps should have put me behind a curtain just to make sure I didn't do anything stupid - in the past I had an awful habit of rolling my eyes at almost anything, such was my teenage cynicism. I'm better at that these days, I have a little more self-control.
Too much talk about the EPL and pandering to the imagined loyalties of overseas allegiances forged in the heat of a suburban loungeroom. Koutoufides and Christou had some interesting anecdotes - did you know they were both Collingwood fans growing up? - but for the most part their presence on the panel was more of a fifth wheel. For all Ljubo's theatricality, there is an eventual one dimensional aspect which comes into his rhetoric. Still, it was interesting to hear about how while he was in Switzerland, he was getting half the wage of his time at the Glory.
Unlike Les Murray in the past, Mark Bosnich at least had the courtesy not to humour our delusions of grandeur by being unapologetic about his and/or the FoxSports team's stance that change was necessary in the game and that we should be relegated to the toxic waste dump of Australian football. Nor was he sorry that the players reaped the benefits more than anyone of the television money revolution, even while the fans were frozen ever more out of accessing the teams they love. His point had some merit - players, like other workers, had been exploited for generations by their employers. But has the ledger in some cases swung too far the other way? There wasn't any chance to ask that question, or any other.
After all the formalities were done, we stuck around for a bit catching up with people I see on a weekly basis anyway. Hellas Johnny, being a starfucker, got a few photos taken with some of the luminaries. Then we left. East Richmond station is one of my personal favourites. In the heart of the inner city and yet skipped over so often. So it goes.
In all seriousness, I probably should be banned from attending such functions, since I seem to always miss the point. It's about the hobnobbing and fundraising, not about quarter-literate cultural critiques and the fact that the chicken was dry again.