The time I became fundraising BBQ coordinator for our local rugby club.
It’s been a while since there’s been any news from the sidelines but believe you me it’s only because I’ve been too slack to write it up.
Let me fill you in on just one component. There are many. I know, even I’m waiting with baited breath.
Think Field Marshall meets Iron Chef and you’re getting close. Who am I kidding, it’s a glorified sausage sizzle but I’m determined to make it fabulous… with hotdogs and rolls, not just bread. Kicking.all.the.goals.
Every year the U14s go on a father son trip to Fiji. One of the fundraising activities that gets them there is the Friday Night BBQ at the clubhouse. You get all the littlies and their families coming up after training and then the crowds who roll in for the handful of games that are on that night. From where I sit it can be quite the money spinner. Well, I’m going to make it as such. Just you wait Henry Higgins just.you.wait.
Blessedly this year they decided the job needed to be split between two people – that one person has run it solo in the past is knowledge that does little to alleviate my anxiety. So me and Matt are the 2014 U14s Father Son Fiji Tour BBQ Coordinators. I’m contemplating getting cards made.
Friday was our introduction and a gentle one at that – just training, no games. We not only earned enough for a working float we made a profit.
The hardest part of the gig is ensuring the families rostered on to help out actually turn up. But I have my charming albeit slightly threatening and definitely guilt-inducing way with words to make.it.happen.
Well last week was quite a week. The media storm following dinner with the PM was quite something. Is there really that much anger and hate in people over something so inane? Really?
It occurred to me that perhaps more people would be swinging by for a look see so if you have, hi!
Of course, the next thought in my head after “smile and wave boys, smile and wave” was don’t fuck it up. I mean, it’d be nice if you did swing by that you’d like to come back again.
So naturally I have the most spectacular case of performance anxiety. In fact, my inability to think of anything erudite to write has only been outdone by my ability to scoff hot cross buns with lashings of butter as compensation. What, it’s a symbiotic relationship. Clearly.
My brain is now in that awkward place normally reserved for parties at which you know no one and join a conversation just as it ends and a painful silence ensures. Just.say.something.
Behold a bigger crisis than a busted back:
The oven door has been “clicking” when it opens for a few weeks. I totally busted it on Sunday night and then broke it some more on Monday night just for good measure.
Someone’s getting pretty plum tuckered with this five days a week of school:
Felix has confirmed that playing rugby professionally is something he wants to do. He’s also mentioned heart surgeon so you know, he’s keeping his options open. This announcement and wanting to play rep footy means I now have somewhere to unleash the Show Mum in me. Part 1 of this involved this:
Oh yes I did. Chef and I attended a 3.5hr evening learning the ins and outs of being an assistant referee (an AR if you don’t mind) for rugby union.
Safe to say, I will never EVER be an AR. Not without at least 20mg of valium under my belt.
God FORBID if I had to try and comprehend whether a ball was “in touch” when the player was in the air/on the field/off the field/in the dressing room/running straight for me while the ball was moving/not moving/had touched someone or someTHING.
OR grasp what constitutes foul play (note for fellow rugby lovers – rucking, you know, where you ram your studs into an opponent, is TOTALLY legal so long as you are clearly looking to “progress the ball”. Stomping however is not. So get your leg action right to get away with it.) AND how to report it to the referee.
Seriously, I’d be lying down playing dead within ten minutes of the first whistle if I had to fulfil AR duties. That or yelling at the crowd for someone to find an adult.
Do NOT get me started on the arm gestures or USE OF A FLAG.
Apart from the stress of it, I now proudly own my limitations and well, give me a list of rules and I will implement them to the letter. Handy if the world’s ending and we need to keep order for the survivors camp upstate but probably not ideal in a game where the whole purpose is to keep the ball in play.
This tendency to love a rule and carry it out no.matter.what was no better illustrated than my role as a School Monitress and then as a Prefect. Yes, I capped those two titles. I attended an exclusive private girls school in Sydney and would, by today’s funding model, be the aberration that allows an exclusive private girls school on many many acres on Sydney’s Leafy North Shore to claim it was educating children from family’s suffering financial hardship. That’s right, my presence at that school was doing them a favour and I said thank you by carrying out the rules to.the.letter. Let’s just say part of the school uniform was wearing a hat and well, if you didn’t have that hat on I would write you a blue slip quicker than you could say what a dork. No matter your year or social standing. I was stupiddedicated ruthless.
So yeah. I have realised my limitations and accepted my ideal role is that of Field Marshall.
I just ate an entire packet of SAOs with butter and vegemite in the space of two days. Note to self: do not buy what you can not control.
Friday night saw us having a home game with Felix’s U12 rugby union team. There’s only three Friday night matches in the entire season so they’re like the birthday, Christmas and wedding anniversary parties with the ultimate present being a team win.
The Newport clubhouse is set up on a hill with a wide veranda so you can pull up a stool, chug down a cheap Coopers Pale Ale (or a vino OR even a champagne) while your kids mainline Passiona and tuck into your sausage sanger/hamburger/hotdog or fancy schmazy chicken tandoori ON.A.ROLL. I mean, what a sensation. We ALL had one! With yoghurt! AND there was salad and tomato on offer as well. What on earth will they think of next to outdo that culinary MASTERPIECE I ask you.
Being at home also means you can really hone your negligent parenting skills. Seriously, I didn’t see several of my million children all night, except for the occasional ‘oh there you are’ and ‘just go and do a wee behind that tree’. Winning.
At some stage I realised the game was almost underway and hot-footed it down to the sideline to get my yell on. The yelling I witnessed in the early trial games were all I needed to know we were home. You see, parents and coaches yell at rugby.
Like REALLY YELL.
Even better is that you only need a couple of core phrases to really get into it.
DOWN LOW DOWN LOW DOWN LOW is to remind the boys NOT to tackle other players above the waist. It’s a polite way of saying to the boys mid-flight FOR THE LOVE OF GOD NOT AROUND THE NECK.
This is also a fine lesson in just how lazy many of our professional sportsmen are in their repeated offenses at head-high tackles. JUST BEND OVER YOU LAZY FUCK AND TACKLE HIM AROUND THE LEGS.
Anyway. The other core phrase is GO OVER GO OVER GO OVER.
This comes hot on the heels of DOWN LOW which has seen one or twenty boys all collapse on top of each other on the ground.
From what I can tell, at this point if you had the ball under NO CIRCUMSTANCES LET GO OF THE BLOODY BALL. Instead, wait until several of team mates run and stomp over the top of you, thereby pushing the other team back so you can push the ball ‘out the back’ to one of your team mates.
What can I say, it’s not MENSA.
I am totally addicted and I’m not sure just how my nerves are going to survive the whole season.
See, here’s the thing. Felix has the build and brain for rugby union and I can not tell you just how awesome it is seeing your kid find.their.passion. He loves all the plays and strategies (because apparently it IS more complex that get the ball, run, pass the ball, score a try. I know. I’m learning All.The.Time.) and in what has been one of the biggest revelations in my parenting of him – he can actually run.
Because this is still so new and shiny to me (Felix! Running! Not playing Minecraft! Muscles not atrophying on the lounge from all the Xbox inaction!) I tend to get quite carried away when he gets the ball. And by carried away I mean screamy.
Combine that with the fact he is a full forward and therefore gets the ball quite a bit AND that I have the MOST excellent, loud, holy shit we can hear you four suburbs away parenting voice it’s like I’m a pig in shit.
Which brings us back to last night’s game.
It had only just got underway when Felix ‘got a touch’, found a gap and was going for his life. Naturally I assumed full voice and bellowed a ‘RUUUUUUUUUUUN FELIX RUUUUUUUUUUUN’.
When I realised the entire ground was remarkably quiet.
And looking at me.
Blessedly there was some mirth in it. I explained it was so rare to see Felix run that when he does I get a little carried away. And then I hear, ‘I’d know that voice anywhere.’
And there was my uber chic old boss from the days I worked in a PR firm that rhymes with Hill & Knowlton. She was with her sons and husband from the basket weaving capital of Australia, Balmain.
Suddenly I felt less like Foghorn Leghorn and more like the Fisherwoman from The Magic Far-Away Tree.
Needless to say we had a potted history catch up – her family all fine, mine like a cart missing a wheel – before they headed off to cross three bridges and return to their hamlet while I totally missed Felix scoring a try. I know. I jog it in every single.
We went on to absolutely cane the opposition – meaning we’ve only lost one game this season.
So yeah, now I’m one of “those” sideline parents – loud, screamy AND smug.
I have always been a bit of an authoritarian. I think it’s fair to say the writing was on the wall when I tied a ruler to the back of my Wendy Walker doll to keep her shoulders back. It was cast in cement during my power-crazed days as a Library Monitor, School Monitress, School Prefect and House Captain. I would hand out those blue slips (or maybe they were pink?) to girls not wearing their hats or wearing their jumper without a blazer on Gordon station like Daddy Warbucks throwing hundred dollar bills at anyone to DEAR GOD stop that kid singing about the hard knock life.
In my defense it was less about some desperate bid for power and more the burning desire, no need, for everyone to do the right thing. I mean, is it so hard, is it such a crushing blow to your sense of identity, such a smothering of your character to simply wear a uniform correctly? It mystifies me to this day.
University marked a bit of a lull in the quest for world domination but being the Orientation Week Coordinator satiated the craving somewhat, particularly the serve I dished out to head of the Christian student group (Kingsley Box if my memory serves me correctly) for going into an information session carrying a dead rat and proselytizing to some very wide-eyed freaked-out first years. Nor the serve I dished out to one Gabby Millgate for defending him via the uni newspaper.
OK, this is starting to look bad.
Of course, in my adult life I have found the perfect forum to instigate rules and met out punishment when said rules are ignoredlaughed at disobeyed, I became a parent. Better still, I became a parent to boys. Boys need order and structure and parameters and the unquestioning love of their mothers. I have created the perfect storm of parenting while satisfying my penchant for power.
Before that blinding moment of sheer driving terror I was, brace for it, Ground Marshall.
And I quote (my bolding for your viewing pleasure):
Ground Marshall duties are to:
o Make sure the ground is set up correctly
o Introduce yourself to the opposing team and the referee
o Make sure game is capable of starting on time
o Make sure no one other than authorised persons are allowed on the playing enclosure (i.e. Referee, 2 water runners per team, touch judges only). Please note, Coaches and Managers must be behind the rope during the game except at half time.
o At half time only coaches and managers may enter the field. No parents allowed. Only the Captain of each side may talk to the Referee at half time.
o Control of serious injury situations (Managers have sheets and instructions – familiarise yourself with these)
o Have a mobile phone available
o Call ambulances if necessary
o Emergency contact numbers are in the Clubhouse. P2 key opens emergency vehicle gate – see Manager / Age Coordinator for key
o Allow only Newport appointed, or at other grounds, designated trained professionals to deal with serious injuries
o Enforce the spectator code of conduct particularly in respect of referees who should not receive any adverse comments from the crowd or coaches. Only the captain may talk to the referee during the game (including half time)
As you can see, a role not to be taken lightly.
Here’s what I learnt:
1. There is a distinct lack of respect for the rope marking the boundary between “playing enclosure” and “spectator area”. DISAPPOINTING.
2. Coaches struggle with the concept, nay, rule: “Coaches and Managers must be behind the rope during the game except at half time.” Bless ’em.
2. Fathers have a belief that even though they are not the coach, nor the manager, and not even a water runner or touch judge but are, in this situation, “just a parent”, they can still come on the field at half time to take part in the coaching process. NEGATIVE.
3. A father begging to be allowed on the field at half time is not pretty. “I just want to talk to my son.” NEGATIVE. “I think it could help a lot.” NICE TRY. Not going to happen.
What can I say, I am a stickler for the rules and no, they were not there to be broken but to ensure everyone has a safe and fair game on match day.
Oh don’t worry, I kept it fun and upbeat, that was a lesson hard learnt years ago, the whole catching bees with honey vs vinegar malarkey. But they knew.
Our team manager, a dynamo of organisation and while also the mother of four children is alarmingly about the width of one of my legs, loved me. Informed me I was going to be on permanent Ground Marshall duty. That it had been an ongoing issue of other parents coming onto the field during half time and that I was AWESOME.
Sorted. That whole, “I really need a job” scenario SOLVED!
Then we turn up at this weeks match and I see one of the dads pulling on the vest, my vest and look, let’s be honest, I’m a little put out. One of the other dads makes a comment about how scary I was the week before but I know he means authoritative. Someone else pipes up they thought I was on permanent duties now – I concur. He reassures me that when it’s his turn I can resume my rightful place fill in for him.
As it was, Sunday was a cracker of a game. Two very evenly matched sides in quite the battle. Felix had a blinder – more touches on the ball than I’ve seen and man, did he bulldoze his way through. It’s awesome to see your kid find their passion. At half time it was 5-nil to them. At the final siren? 17-10 to us.