A beginner’s guide to enjoying a day at the footy on your own

Aussie rules football is the sport that makes Victoria tick. I’ve never been a massive footy follower myself, but when I moved to AFL heartland a year ago, I decided it was time to try harder.

I joined Carlton, and usually head along to matches with an old school friend who’s a lifelong bluebagger. He explains the rules I don’t understand, fills me in on the Blues’ glory days, rubs his hands with glee at the thought of the Judd twins wearing navy blue guernseys in 18 years’ time, and bemoans Levi’s inability to kick straight when it matters. All good fun!

But what do you do when he’s jetted off to Bali on holiday with his family? You go along anyway and make your own fun. Here’s how.

1. It’s all about the prep

Joining a club is a great first step – it’s better value entry to matches, and helps you to identify with others when you get there. Don’t forget, it’s always cold at the MCG! Layers, layers, layers; the more navy blue, the better.

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2. Choose your seat wisely

The worst thing about going solo is the risk of being a lone fan surrounded by nasty opposition supporters. But you’re also more likely to find a single seat in a crowded bay. Get there late-ish when most people are settled in, and look for groups of women and men who are showing their support for both clubs playing that day; there’s much less chance they’re going to be boorish ugly neighbours.

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3. Be bold – part one

Try talking to those around you. Last match I went to, I ended up chatting to the bloke next to me, Simon, and his dad, Rob – we bonded over Carlton’s not-quite-there game. They were both from the inner west too. Now, we’re friends for life. Easy peasy.

4. Have a back up plan

Not everyone is friendly. But never fear: solo enjoyment of sports is where Twitter comes into its own. Every match has its own hashtag, and you can find out what everyone else who’s watching the game – whether they’re at the ground, home or the pub – thinks about the action. It can add that level of “conversation” you might be missing. Don’t forget the back-up charger for your phone!

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5. If steps 2-4 fail or you get bored – go mobile

Get around the ground and check the view from different sections. There are usually general admission seats available at ground level and in the rafters, and it’s interesting how you get a different atmosphere and perspective on the game depending on where you sit. Fun fact: there’s a sneaky shortcut route above MCG Members’ that joins the Ponsford and Olympic stands. Check it out.

6. Be bold – part two

If there’s a post-match member’s function you can attend, do it!

Yes, even if you’re worried you’ll be a sad billy-no-mates! Late last year I plucked up the courage, and found myself queuing for the bar behind Dave Lawson, from the ABC series Utopia and funny Toyota cricket and footy ads. We got chatting. He was hiding his Melbourne scarf under his coat, but nice guy all the same. Dave was there with his friend, #1 Blues fan, radio/TV star and event MC, Andy Lee, and another random guy called Rick who complemented my woollen Carlton jumper, so I didn’t mind him crashing the selfie; much later I discovered he was Rick Davies, from TV series Offspring and the movie Oddball.

Voila! I now have evidence of my grand day out AND three new celeb buddies. Going solo ain’t so bad after all.

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8 thoughts on “A beginner’s guide to enjoying a day at the footy on your own

  1. I love the lack of condescension in this post. It’s especially appealing to people like me who seem to have missed out on the footy gene. Having been introduced to the AFLW earlier this year (Go Doggies), I think it’s time I tackled the boys’ version. This blog is a great how-to guide for unaccompanied women. Stay high viz girls!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Yvette. I’m a Western Bulldogs supporter and I love the atmosphere at the ground, which also extends to the train there and back. Next time we play at the G I will try the secret passageway! See you there in Round 17, maybe?
    Can I add a tip? If you’re a football newbie and don’t know what a ‘speckie’ mark is or why the crowd sometimes yells ‘BALL’ repeatedly, I recommend embracing your inner elderly aunty and taking a transistor radio (sigh, or smartphone) with you to listen to the live commentary. Use headphones, though, unless you want to drive away your newfound friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Claire – yes the radio commentary is a great tip to add in, but the smartphone isn’t much use I’ve found because digital signal is nearly ten seconds behind the action! Old fashioned transistor radio is the only way to go. 🙂

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  3. Billy-no-mates — ha ha, we used to say Scott-no-friends.
    Great tips that can be extended beyond the footy field. I mean, who hasn’t found themselves in the situation where they wanted to go somewhere but couldn’t find someone to go with them.
    Scoping the crowd before you sit is brilliant advice even if you’re not on your own.

    Like

  4. Billy-no-mates — ha ha, we used to say Scott-no-friends.
    Great tips that can be extended beyond the footy field. I mean, who hasn’t found themselves in the situation where they wanted to go somewhere but couldn’t find someone to go with them.
    Scoping the crowd before you sit is brilliant advice even if you’re not on your own.

    Like

  5. Really been missing the footy lately so I have loved loved loved this! Not only makes me feel better about going solo, but I love seeing women so comfortable in the footy scene on their own! Go Swanies ❤

    Like

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