I have loved the St Kilda Football Club for as long as I can remember.
I can remember almost everything about the first game I was taken to and the day I was signed up as a member; it was against Adelaide at the MCG in 1998.
A night game was very exciting for a 7-year-old, as it meant being out past bedtime. I was hypnotised by the glow of those iconic light towers.
It was great; Dad let me have hot chips, and, more excitingly, led me towards the merchandise truck when he noticed my widened eyes in its presence.
He said I could have whatever I wanted. I still have that $20 flag. It's so thin it can be seen through. The elastic bands that hold it onto the weakened wooden pole decay at the slightest touch.
It's my most treasured St Kilda possession.
I was hooked from day one - the hooting and hollering of the crowd, the swell of promise when one of our dynamic mids would charge inside 50.
I was the perfect mimic when demanding a holding the ball decision. I was taught never to taunt or boo. I was taught to embrace the highs. I was taught to deal with the lows - at that time, they came often.
The St Kilda Football Club is more than a football team to me.
It means family, connection and passion.
I care so deeply about this club, because I care about the tradition, history and sentimentality that the club means, not only to me, but to a sound army of other Saints fans.
Being a St Kilda supporter is difficult to describe to a fan of any other club.
It's easy to think about the conventional concept of success, considering the very lonely '66 Premiership cup that glistens in its pride of place at Moorabbin, but there's so much more to being a St Kilda supporter than that.
Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption says that "hope is a good thing, maybe even the best of things, and good things never die".
I believe this quote encapsulates the passion of the St Kilda fan; the fan who keeps turning up, who keeps buying their membership, who never lets on-field performance diminish passion.
Some years ago, I did the absolutely unthinkable.
I purchased a $50 membership for North Melbourne when they threatened to go under (alongside my Saints membership of course).
The thought of supporters who adore what their club means to them, having to endure a merger or collapse devastated me
I wanted to do anything I could to preserve a club with a steep history, as I would hope that the same would be done for me. For us.
I've read about Fitzroy. I know that there are supporters who have said that football died for them the day that the Lions merged with the Bears.
The documentary 'Year of the Dogs' highlights the fear that Footscray supporters faced under threat of merger or collapse.
I would be devastated if St Kilda collapsed.
Football would never be the same. I could never support anyone else.
This club ignites a passion in me that goes far beyond players on a field. To an extent, it's unexplainable, but I also feel that's the beauty of it.
It's like a higher power, and there's a majesty in the intangibility of love, loyalty and faith.
I am in such a privileged position that, in the current climate, my employment is stable and allows me to reassure the club of my membership commitments for the season; I will not request any refund.
I consider myself to be lucky every single day that this crisis persists and my heart breaks for those people who have to make some very difficult decisions in order to sustain themselves.
I know that there are so many who will need to forego their membership in order to simply put food on the table. It is unimaginable, yet completely understandable.
I think of my seven-year-old self all those years ago who began her journey of becoming a lover of football; there must be hot chips for young children, there must be sustained family traditions, there must be more football fairy tales, there must be football.
Being the tried and tested St Kilda supporter that I am, I am hopeful for the future. Hopeful of a flattening of the curve. Hopeful in the survival of our great game at all levels. Hopeful in a prosperous St Kilda Football Club. Hopeful for premiership number two.
After all; "hope is a good thing, maybe even the best of things, and good things never die".
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