We spent the weekend in Shepparton visiting the family. Little did I know that a secret held by my father for all of his adult life would come tumbling out, sending the assembled family members in to a tail spin of disbelief, and for me, relief.
We were talking about how we came to barrack for the footy teams we did. Mum was because she holidayed with a friend in St Kilda when she was young, Rae because she was born in to the tradition and Dad was because a mate of his in the army was one-eyed Collingwood and took him along to matches during the war, so Dad has had the supreme misfortune of being a Collingwood supporter for over 60 years.
Mum was busy retelling the story of how my Grandfather saved my soul and decreed I would follow The Mighty Tigers, as he had trained with them prior to joining the army, when Dad stirred in his seat.
“Son.” he said, “it’s time I told you a secret that I’ve never told anyone before.”
We all stopped, astonished that Dad had chosen now to reveal ‘it’, whatever it may be. A pin dropped in the kitchen and we all heard it.
“When I was a boy the only team I thought worth following was Richmond.”
No one spoke. We were stunned. Dad. A Tiger supporter.
I almost cried. All I could say was “Dad, it’s not too late. We will take you back.”
Dad just smiled. I know it’s because he was happy we all knew now and the weight had been lifted. He’s not a Maggie, he’s a Tiger at heart, and that means more to me than I could ever say.