Impossible? 1984. It had always been in everyone's conscious future because of the George Orwell book, but then it arrived, and now it's thirty years in the rear vision mirror.
I got the grand final video out for the boys. The colour is muted. It had been an overcast steel-grey day with patchy rain. I had walked to the M.C.G, of course; lived in Carlton then. Through the Carlton Gardens, across at Nicholson Street, past St. Patrick's Cathedral. And yes, I dropped in. Call it superstition. Could you seriously walk past when your team is in the grand final against the club that won by more than thirteen goals in the same game the previous September? Through the Fitzroy Gardens. Yarra Park. In.
I watched the video with the boys. The soundtrack is strangely muted. The old commentators let the pictures speak for themselves, waited for the goal umpire before calling the score. Essendon hopelessly behind all day, and then that electric last quarter that will live on in the memory of anyone who was there that grey day. I had been hemmed in in standing room like a tinned sardine. That's hardly even a simile. You could barely get an empty beer can to the ground. Yes, we dropped them in those days, but that was simply because you couldn't move. Also, you could bring them in.
There is a ghostly passage of play in the dying light of the last quarter, when Nobby Clark tears out of the back pocket and fires a pass to Merv Neagle. That passage might be on a frequent loop at the 1984 Essendon premiership reunion next month. Only way to get those two players there.