Day 47: Pirate Footy


Pirate Footy
Matt Zurbo


This is a bat. I’m Iggy.
(Big fruit bat hanging from a tree, down and to the left of it is an eight-year old kid, with real mop of blond hair, looking up at it. He is wearing a yellow footy jumper with black slash and bat emblem on shoulder, t-shirt underneath.)

It’s the emblem of my Dad’s footy team. Bats 4 Life! That’s their motto.
(Father, long blond hair, beard, walking, with yellow t-shirt B4L and jeans, we can just see top of Iggy’s head walking next to him, Iggy is throwing/catching a footy in air to himself.)

No, the Bats aren’t an AFL team! The AFL have Tigers and Bombers and Lions.
(Iggy walking past super fit Richmond (black with yellow sash), Essendon and Brisbane players, ball under his arm. Dad, denim jacket on, sight belly roll, looks scruffy in comparison.)

Or a country football team. They have Chookas, and Davos and Johnos.
(Country players, half in work gear, half in footy uniforms, as Iggy and Dad walk past)

It’s a music football team!
(Back of Dad, arms out in casual greeting, facing all sorts of odd bods, many holding musical instruments. Some dressed square, some cool, some different. All nationalities, both sexes. Footy kit bags with them. Iggy is in foreground, tongue out in effort, kicking footy, that dingo is leaping to bite.)
Our league is full of band members and their friends. There’s also an opera singer, tradies, a 50 year old psychiatrist, and at least 1½ comedians!

Nobody takes it TOO seriously…
(Footy cards of players in the race. Some hanging upside down, some climbing its wire. One poking eyes out from side. Other three or four serious. One of serious has someone else’s hand reaching into frame to put wet finger in ear.)

They train on Sundays. My most favourite part of the Bats is all of us driving around, looking for an oval we won’t get kicked off!
(Iggy looking out car wind, of cool old car, as other Bats, crammed into cars, sitting on laps, arguing, laughing, digging music, etc…)

That’s because were a renegade club in a renegade league! Nothing we do is official.
(Coach, with leather jacket on, scratching head, looking at map (upside down) While two other Bats, half in footy gear, odd socks on one of them, point in different directions)

We’re like the pirates of footy!
The team laugh a lot and don’t have to be fit. None of them have uniforms. (On Sundays, they look a bit shabby for some reason)
(Team, half of them warming up, half sitting on ground, wearing this and that. Ones training doing terrible kicks. Dingo with no collar is running around. Just barely enough players wearing a Bats yellow and black jumper, or socks, or training with beanie on, to make it clear it is the one team. But only just.)

I join in half the drills. So does Dodge – he’s a dingo!
(Iggy, laughing, jumper much too big for him, flapping in wind as he runs hugging the ball, Dodge running beside him. Tall, fat and hairy, male and female legs behind them.)

My favourite player is Big Dan! Bats come in all shapes and sizes.
(Iggy looking up, smiling at HUGE, barrel-chested man with very short hair and massive red beard, who is smiling down on him. Behind Iggy is very small, mousie man with big, curly/permed hair. In background is overweight man with greying black beard sitting on ground, getting breath back.)

Zella Bella won the Bats best player award last year. She’s pretty cool, too! Oh, and so is Dad of course! Sorry, Dad!
(Tall Malaysian woman going for a mark, while Iggy watches in love, and Dodge barks. Dad behind, hands on hips looking angrily at Iggy.)

On game day, I get to do the warm-up with the Bats! (and Dodge!). Usually in a car park!
(Ball going through Iggy’s awkward hands, setting off car alarm, Dodge startled)

We do a pre-game chant! I feel like a warrior… or a caveman!
(Tattoo covered man with slicked back hair, and neat black beard, veins popping, yelling in middle of circle of screaming Bats players, all in different socks and shorts, some broadshorts, some bathers, etc…. Iggy is standing back-to-back with him, fists held wide, grimacing. Text above players: WE’LL BASH AND CRASH, BANGERS AND MASH…!)

Also best is running down the race! The games aren’t long. Every team in the league plays on the same day, so the players from the game before line up for us.
(Iggy running, huge smile, through honour guard of team on left wearing anything mostly black – t-shirts, singlets, jumpers. Other team wearing light blue-and-white striped jumpers. Both teams women and men. One of the blue and while men is wearing a tutu. One of the black team is wearing an old school leather pilot’s helmet.)

On the oval we do the warm-up while music blares over huge speakers. If we are the last game of the day, the other teams are already cheering and dancing!
(Huge speakers in grandstand, people dancing and eating, cheering, some standing on seats, in isles. No crush. In bottom/foreground, we can just make out a few Bats warming up, Dodge chasing one of them. Iggy, ball under arm, is watching the crowd)

Today we’re playing the Unicorns! They never win and everybody loves them! The way they run onto the oval is hilarious!
(Unicorn coach, overweight, female, clipboard under arm, has one arm out, fist clenched, with wooden spoon as if it was a sword, and is wearing Viking helmet. Rest of team, wearing white t-shirts, singlets, tank tops, etc, but all have same rainbow socks on. They are behind her, crouched, each of their hands is clenched except for the pinky and thump stretched out wide, one hand in front of the other, pinky to thumb, nearest thumb on forehead, so their fingers look like a unicorn horn. They are doing a chant, except for one or two with trumpets and a longhorn. Somebody standing to the side, is blowing bubbles.)

The team that wins all the time thinks it’s about winning. Not in a renegade’s league! It’s about having fun!
(Woman in Green and red striped jumper arching towards goal, ala Jack Dyer, looking very serious. Man with big bread from same team, shepherding no one aggressively while shouting. Two unicorns behind him, chatting to each other. One in front of, but back from woman, recoiling in fright.)

The games are just amazing! Giants everywhere!
(Iggy, looking small, in water boy vest, carrying two water bottles, watching a spoil in a marking contest featuring Big Dan and a few others)

When the Bats DO win, they sing their song! And go crazy as if it’s a premiership!(Team in rooms, going nuts, roaring, fists in air, water splashing. Iggy on his father’s shoulder. Chalkboard says 2.10 vs 1.5)

Then, and best of the best things about the Bats, we all go to eat together!
(Bats, a rag-tag bunch, some still in footy gear, or jumpers over cloths, walking down street. Iggy happy, running alongside, Dodge behind.)

Every club is there! (Except the team that wins all the time!) Dad says we’re like a tribe! A homeless community.
(Double page spread. Everyone from all teams (bar red and green team) around a roof BBQ, eating meals, players from opposing teams chatting. Some on stage, playing music, again, mixed team colours. Dodge is eating off someone’s plate. People playing table tennis. Lots of other kids about. Iggy on shoulders of his dad as he and Big Dan are talking, AFL is on small, portable telly in the background. Everyone is ignoring it)

But we have our home. The Bats! B4L! Bats for life! The only footy team that will have us!
(Iggy, under table, flopped back on everybody’s footy bags and backpacks, as if they are a throne for a tired king. Dodge is nestled in them, sleeping.)

Dad says we’re just as important as the AFL! That we’re its heart, unknown, roaming. It takes all sorts of leagues… He says ALL footy is golden!
(Iggy, pulling out a Bats jumper, Unicorn kid, happy with oversized Viking helmet on, and dingo, behind him.)

Golden and black – like the Bats emblem!
(Close up of Iggy’s jumper, Bats emblem, on crest being held out by Iggy, his smile in the background.)


The End

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