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My career in oil industry had led us to live overseas and we wouldn't give back a minute of it, but I still miss my footy!
Singapore was our first exciting posting, but alas, Australian football didn't stand a chance of making it onto Singapore TV screens. Mr. Lee Kwan Yu didn't want his people corrupted by such unhealthy western influences. Jakarta (surprisingly, to some) was much more liberal. In early 90's we received "VFL Match of Day" live on TV Australia. It was great to lie by pool and watch it, with a Bintang (Indonesian beer) in hand and an eager houseboy ready to bring another when required.
The following year we couldn't pick up any footy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Dr. Mahitir was still peeved with then Australian Prime Minister Keating for his ill-considered "recalcitrant" remarks directed (correctly) at amazingly smug and arrogant Malaysian Prime Minister.
We were living in New Orleans, Louisiana, in '95 when Cats made Grand Final against Carlton and were ecstatic to find a live telecast on U.S. cable TV. It was broadcast late on a Friday night in New Orleans. Denise even made small Aussie meat pies. I hunted down adequate supplies of Fosters Lager and convinced some (somewhat reluctant) American friends to view spectacle. We even dressed our apartment in blue and white and had special t-shirts printed up for occasion. Ah, what a party it was to be.
Well, it didn't take long to see Cats were in for a thrashing, our friends wilting from power of real beer (Vs their watered down variety). We all ended up drowning our sorrows, in my case anyway, they simply enjoyed beer. But at least we saw game (such as it was) live. The Yanks thought game was a free-for-all. All they remembered next day was beer and pies.
Alas, as French do not want their airwaves or cables fouled by dreaded "parley Anglaise" they do not allow satellite dishes needed to pick up signal in Paris. In fact, we couldn't even pick up audio BBC clearly, even though it is just across channel.
No doubt about it, Aussie TV is best in world. It must be. It carries loads of footy, free to air no less, to placate fanatical fans.
Maybe AFL will one day become IAFL (the "I" being International) with teams from perhaps, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland and The Pacific in competition. Then we might get to see truly international coverage. I'm dreaming again. Or am I? I really do think game has great international potential.
Yes, there is a lot to be said for excitement of living in various parts of this wonderful world, but there are also great advantages in staying where your roots are, growing up with lifelong friends and enjoying great lifestyle a city like Geelong and "Gods' Country" Australia, offer.
If you intend to travel you should not miss Paris. It is a truly wonderful city, with great architecture, character, colour, love, life, audacity, vibrancy and charm, as well as French, who make Paris what it is.
As for my footy, I'll just have to try to be in Melbourne, at "G" on that special day in September to shout my encouragement until I'm hoarse again and watch mighty Cats bring home flag.
Then I will reluctantly board yet another plane to return to expatriate life and a part of my soul will stay behind in Geelong, as it always does.
The French have a much-revered saying, which is always stated with heartfelt sincerity and patriotism, "Vive la France."
This may still be year of cat ("chat" in French) so I say, with even greater reverence and lots more hope. ... Vive les Chats!
Ron A. Welsh
I am lifelong avid follower of the Geelong Football Club after growing up in Geelong in South Eastern Australia. I have followed the "Cats" from 10 countries as an expatriate working in the oil industry and now work as a writer from Brisbane.