FINALS FEVER

“Maybe it would be better if we only had finals every second year….”

Said me, to my dad, about thirty seconds before kick-off last Saturday night when we were about to watch the boys play (nay, smash) the Tigers.

Dad rolled his eyes.

“Do you think?” he said, humouring me. “And what would be the point of the seasons in between?”

“You know….fun….” I trailed off meekly.

I’ll admit it. It was not one of my finest moments. In fact, it was a downright ludicrous idea.

It’s just that I can’t believe finals are here already. It seems to have come around so quickly. One minute Hoff and I were gallivanting across the US, preparing to move home from Wigan and the next minute it’s round 26 and finals are mere days away. I don’t know if I’m ready. I’m so nervous. Hence the outrageous suggestion.

Fortunately, Hoff is ready. In fact, he’s chomping at the bit. Thank goodness.

My nerves aside, I have to admit; this is a pretty exciting time of year.  The calendar flips over to September, the weather gets warmer and eight teams have the opportunity to play their way into the history books. Best of all, our team is one of them.

Everything ramps up at this time of year. There are more training commitments, more media commitments and around our house, we pull together to ensure that footy is the focus. For the rest of the year, Hoff and I purposely spend time away from the game because we believe that balance is important, but we suspend these efforts for the month of September. If there was ever a time to tip the scales in favour of footy, it’s now.

It’s such a unique time of year, not knowing what is going to happen from one weekend to the next. As a partner, it presents a host of new questions that we don’t deal with throughout the season.

For example, if the boys have to play a semi-final, preliminary-final or qualifier interstate, do I go? On the one hand, it’s a big occasion, and I want to be there to support Ryan. On the other hand, if I go, am I insinuating that I think that it will be the only opportunity? Maybe staying home is a show of faith that says that I believe that I will need to pace myself for the Big One. I am sure this is a quandary that fans can relate to as well.

We also forget about a normal social life for this month. If we get invited to anything throughout September, the RSVP conversation goes something like this: “Thanks for the invitation. At this stage we’re not sure if we’ll be there. Well, I might be there. But Ryan probably won’t be. Hopefully he won’t be. What? No! Of course he wants to come. But he might be otherwise engaged. Hopefully. Depending on scheduling. And winning. Do you know what I mean? No? Never mind. Shall I bring a salad?”

I also find it a little difficult not to dwell on the elephant in the room – post-season. Don’t get me wrong, I love that Ryan has a career that I can share in, and that has the potential for great excitement and reward. But a small part of me wants to chew his ear off talking about all the fun things we’re going to do when we get our weekends back for a couple of months. And that’s an unnecessary distraction. Only if we’ve booked our place in the Big One do we get to be a little excited about what comes after. Before then, it’s a case of being careful what you wish for. Too much dwelling on the post-season might encourage it to be a reality a little earlier that what we all might wish.

Ultimately, these next four weeks have the potential for great excitement, or great disappointment. And it’s the tension between the two possible outcomes that makes finals such an exciting and nerve-racking time of year. I’m so proud of Ryan and all the boys for giving themselves a shot at the ultimate reward, and I can’t wait to sit back, relax and watch them do their best.

Actually, that’s not strictly true. I can’t wait to on the edge of my seat, rigid with nerves, and watch them do their best.

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