There really is something about Round 1.
The obvious themes reveal themselves at first instance. Beginnings, potential, expectations, parity.
If you, like me, are fortunate/unfortunate enough not to be involved in elite sport, Round 1 may come around every January, every wedding anniversary, or every birthday. A celebration or lament of weight lost or gained, money saved or squandered, experiences rewarded or forfeited. Sometimes, trying to ascertain our mood is as confusing as listening to Basil Zempilas commentate.
Football season and life don’t exist in vacuums, devoid of context.
When I was young, Super Mario Brothers on the Nintendo was the thing to do. If something went wrong; you miss the mushroom, or get hit by a turtle, you simply press the reset button.
A clean, fresh start. All misdemeanours are forgiven and the slightly overweight Italian plumber (or his carb conscious skinnier brother if you prefer), are ready, once again to help you rescue Princess Khaleesi from the clutches of Smaug the Dragon while accompanying Harry and Hermione to return the ring to Mordor before Kylo Ren can get it (see what I did there).
Maybe that’s what is so attractive about Round 1: the perception of cleanliness, and the relief that past deeds don’t have an impact or lasting consequences. I’m not so sure that is a realistic analysis.
As those of you with children may have realised, a 300-thread count Sheridan bedsheet which has captured in whole or in part a “doozy of a two-sie” is unlikely to be exchanged for store credit at your local David Jones. The bedsheet will never be the same.
Similarly, a particular football club enters Round 1 with an angry red-head as its captain, and a couple of old players tasked with forming the club’s midfield spine. Stokes and Kelly should probably, in the interests of full and frank disclosure, inform the club that a spine with osteoporosis is unlikely to hold up in September.
That’s not a fresh start. That’s a great midfield in 2007. That’s the consequence of mismanagement.
You, me, and that club are the products of our decision making. Should individuals, families, and football clubs enjoy the benefit of wise decisions? If that is true, is the reverse equally congruent?
If only there was a time, a moment in history where someone or something was capable of having the slate wiped clean, where past faults are forgiven, where the natural order of things are as they were intended to be, an impossibly wide chasm crossed.
In this lovely daylight-saving averse state we live in, the celebration at 4:20 pm on Thursday afternoon as Round 1 commences will be disproportionate to the celebration on Sunday morning. It is symbolic of a society which craves a fresh beginning, a season of opportunity, joy and fulfilment, but looking and searching in all the wrong places.
Round 1 for us occurs every morning, but we celebrate the ability to have even the chance to play this Sunday. Thank God, not Gary Ablett, for that.