Of the myriad of songs I play to kill time in the lead-up to St Kilda’s debut AFLW game against the Western Bulldogs, it's Oasis's lead single to Be Here Now that resonates the most.
All my people
D'ya know what I mean?
I carry with me a lot of the guilt that comes from being a transient immigrant, with the duality of living across two countries in my life.
Live in Australia? I don't make family commitments in New Orleans.
Live in New Orleans? I don't get to the footy…
I've had strange mixed emotions in the lead-up to St Kilda’s first AFLW game; primary among them is, "I should be there…”.
I missed Steve Gleason’s block against the Atlanta Falcons and it still chews me up inside…this is gnawing at similar emotive nerves.
Then it hits me: I am there.
Emotionally, not physically, sure, but there's no way this day doesn't belong to me, and the many, many Sainters who have waited with growing impatience for this moment.
Without St Kilda, I wouldn't have stayed in Australia as long as I did.
Without the kindness of strangers, without old ducks clocking my accent, giving me soup and letting me be a part of the St Kilda v Sydney game in 2002, I would have been back to New Orleans within weeks.
But this is MY club. I belong, immigrant guilt be damned.
This is my day, even if it is just flickering on the screen.
It's OUR day.
This was never going to be a particularly good match recap.
It's hard to bring you play-by-play action when you sit crying for 5 hours straight.
The live-stream opens with flickering, low-def images of Moorabbin days past, and then they transition to my favourite St Kilda player, Kate McCarthy, smiling and casually hand-balling a footy to herself.
In my state, I see my Twitter family member and confidant Shae out on the ground, a fellow Sainter, knowing what this day means to her.
I rattle myself so much I yell out, “HI SHAE!”, like she'll turn around and hear me, then giggle a little.
It proves my point though.
SHE is my people.
THESE are my people.
All my people
They know what I mean…
Our opponents are the Western Bulldogs, and they kick the first three goals of the game.
They've swung Bonnie Toogood forward to pretty devastating effect, and in an unforgettable moment after one of her goals, Daisy Pearce on commentary can't work out why Bonnie has TOO GOOD tattooed on her fingers.
None of this matters though, because of what happens next.
I had to check the highlights, because it was such a blur of emotions mixed into one.
Our young superstar Georgia Patrikios gets the ball 55m from goal, plays on with what I like to call our already trademark dare and kicks to Molly McDonald, who marks, plays on instinctively, and slots our first ever goal.
Cue a very incoherent tweet.
There's a passage in the book Fever Pitch where Nick Hornby talks about Perry Groves and Charlie Nicholas dancing behind the goals after the winner against Liverpool in 1987, and how they could never have imagined being frozen in time for that moment as their careers played out.
Our girls, our women, converge to celebrate our first ever goal, and there it is…our moment.
Right here, right now…
And a woman in New Orleans who grew up dreaming of somehow being quarterback for the New Orleans Saints witnessed a sporting dream play out in a very different land.
Our goal. Our people. Our club.
There's even some old-fashioned Saints mongrel, the kind we gravitate towards.
Kate gives the umpires plenty, we bury Hannah Scott on the wing in a tackle like she's a visiting player in the 80s, and after our second goal from Jess Sedunary (a cult Sainter if ever there was one), she lets Ellie Blackburn know all about it.
Ellie’s genuine "WTF?" look is priceless.
It later emerges after a different collision with Scott on the wing, that Nadia Von Bertouch has done her ACL, which is a surprise, because post-collision she gets up and jogs back on to finish the game like nothing has happened.
Saints tough, Saints mongrel.
Squint a bit and it's like the Animal Enclosure is reborn.
The Dogs are too good (no pun intended) on the day, better positioned, more experienced – especially their defence.
They read our kicks, they position themselves well, they score when they need to, they are a little bit more clinical in the midfield.
I’m being honest: I can't tell you the exact score without looking it up. But this day wasn't about that.
Then just like that, it's over, the Dogs sing their song and life moves on.
The lock-out crowd files out, and my overheated laptop needs a rest.
But genuinely, this is one of the best days of my life.
I take a moment to reflect. On not getting a team twice, on Team Angelica, on the disappointments, on the envy of seeing other teams run out.
On having another team, GWS (who I won't and can't abandon, there's that duality thing again) because we didn't have a Saints team to cheer for.
And then, on this particular day, we arrived.
We belong. I belong. They belong.
We have our team, our girls, our cult heroes, our colours, our hopes and our dreams, writ large: space they can't touch.
It's tribal, it's passionate, and it's everything.
It’s space trolls can't touch, space we understand, because life is more beautiful when you have to fight for something…stand for something.
And it meant a battered old laptop was drenched in tears.
All my people
They know what I mean…
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