Seasons pass

As published in The Footy Almanac, 17 April 2012

I hope technology never catches up with the trusty old season’s ticket.

You know, some kind of fingerprint or retina detection device at the turnstiles, hooked up to a central database.

It’s not out of the question.  After all, stadium security would love to better identify miscreants whom CCTV might’ve previously pinged for stacking their empty beer cups (yes this is an ejectible offence, at least it is at the cricket).

Although the first game I remember attending was the ’81 Prelim Final, to my regret a smallish stash of deteriorating Footy Records is the only record of my spectating career until 1989, when my collection of membership cards begin.

I’m somewhat proud of my unbroken chain, even if the club‘s records short change me by five years.  My slab of cards are safely lined up in date order in a small box in my bedroom drawer – a not-so grisly version of Dexter’s blood slides (granted the 1999 wooden spoon year was murder).

What the old cards lacked for creative design, they made up for in authenticity.  Edges resembing Joffa’s smile were a badge of honour.   There was no fudging one’s hardcore bona fides, the gate attendant saw to that.

Although in the days before barcodes, I’ll never forget the brouhaha caused by my late father’s card being punched incorrectly at Waverley.  Several weeks down the track things got a little hostile at the turnstile at Vic Park.  After a few pre-match nerve settlers, it wasn’t a wise move by the blue coat to take his honesty to task.  A willing exchange ensued, but thankfully another whole punch was avoided when he simply snatched back his card and marched on through.  Issue settled!   As someone with an aversion to confrontation, it was an unsettling preliminary to the main bout.

When Micky McGuane was jigging around the ‘G at his best, as the previous year’s Copeland Trophy winner he became the first player to adorn a season ticket in 1993.  Subsequently there have been a few unexplained exceptions.   For example, Paul Licuria can probably count himself unlucky to have been bumped for Josh Fraser in 2002, and a couple of times Chris Tarrant’s unprecedented popularity with (female) fans had the marketing and membership department in his thrall.  At least the great Dane this year (bad luck Pendles) has some merit, even if Copeland trumps Charlie according one-eyed ‘Pies.

There have been low points.  Little went right for Collingwood in the late ‘Nineties, and in 1998 the card featured the logo of would-be telecommunications giant Viatel.  The newly signed major sponsor went belly-up before a single card required scanning.

More annoyingly, by 2002 the fixture was no longer a fixture.  In the age of playing anytime, anywhere, it was kinda handy to have that information in your wallet rather than a stagnant magnet on your fridge at home.

There are of course two priceless season tickets.   Hopefully Swannie, absent from last years’, is the lucky charm to make 2012 another collectible for the grandkiddies.  Notwithstanding luck has yet to enter the equation, and if things don’t pick up soon there might be a few disgruntled members frisbeeing their cards into the Yarra Park ether.

I must say, whilst memberships are trumpeted as the be-all end-all by clubs, to me they have lost some of their lustre.  A plethora of membership types to suit every demographic, including the dubious 3-game variety, have seen to that.  I’ve even been unreliably informed GWS have an interstate baby pet rock category.  Consequently, no longer is ‘show us yer membership’ much of a comeback to clueless loud mouths.  As for the Grand Final and blockbuster games, a Magpie membership is often worth less than the plastic it’s printed on.

That said, my season tickets are possibly my most precious item of Magpie memorabilia.  At least on a par with my jar of rancid Victoria Park mud from the ground’s farewell match in 1999!

Good times                                            Bad times

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