Mother’s Day is a day on the calendar that is of great importance for everyone. Mothers are the salt of the earth, they’re the true heads of families, tireless workers and not one of us would be here without them. Every Mother’s Day is a special and sacred time and on Sunday just gone it was a day that encompassed all of that plus so much more. It was a day that restored my hope for humanity.
I witnessed something on Mother’s Day that gave all in attendance an enormous and welcomed sense of nostalgia. It sparked community outbreak in a non-covid positive way and it sent reminiscent tongues wagging.
While for us Freo fans a win at the GABBA…. wouldn’t have been preferable given the importance of the day and the celebrations of all Mums, but let’s say on a lesser scale may have momentarily been in the vicinity of comparability, it was the actual scene at the Peel Estate Winery in Karnup that I now wouldn’t trade.
Firstly it was jammed packed with revellers celebrating Mums and, something specific that probably wouldn’t please everyone but it did me, not one mask was in sight and social distancing….. well it was like a foreign term. It was heartening and encouraging but it wasn’t the highlight of which I am intending to get to.
And before I go on, I should say, in my opinion, the Peel Estate Winery isn’t one of the ‘how do you do’ wineries where the Polo club cronies ponce about wearing cardigans draped over the shoulders, cravats, and matching boat loafers while sipping half-filled glasses of obscenely priced wine paired with a plate of escargot appetisers, chatting about art, the theatre and the opera regularly using terms like ‘good lord’ and ‘poppycock.’ No, it’s not one of those wineries that my esteemed Restump Podcast host and colleague Brett “JoJo” McDonnell regularly frequents and swans about at. It’s a winery for the real people, one where you can purchase an appropriately priced bottle of shiraz, bring your own meat and cook it on the BBQ’s during a kick to kick of the footy on the oval sized lawn!
So, with a now instilled sense of the venue, I can tell you the vast crowd set up their picnic tables and blankets around the outside of the lawn area leaving room in the middle for an old-fashioned all in school yard two packs type of kick to kick set up! The sun was shining, the vino was flowing, the steaks were sizzling, the smell of the freshly cut non-Rioli-type grass was in the air and there were collective feelings of excited anticipation for what was about to unfold.
It started off slowly with a couple of kids kicking a single footy back and forth. But it grew rapidly and within the blink of an eye there were around a dozen footies and two packs of punters consisting of about 30 people in each.
It was then on for young and old as the sky was filled with a mixture of Sherrins and Burleys flying every which way, shades of a more friendlier version of a certain middle eastern conflict. It was a wonderfully entertaining but good-natured war zone! “Good natured war zone” may well be an oxymoron but you get the point. The fact was it didn’t matter whose footy was whose. It was simply see ball get ball and hope to not get hit by another ball.
What impressed me most was the sudden picture of togetherness, an ironic oneness if you will. Despite the fierce but fun contests, it was the real “we’re all in this together” affair and I’d go as far as to say there was a rich organic return of the community spirit, we’ve been severely deprived of.
I saw the majority thumbing their nose at the narrative that has been thrust upon society and, if even just for the day, the indoctrination could have been pronounced as deceased!
The two packs were made up of all ages, numerous races and the two genders. All different heights and weights and abilities, no quotas were required, there wasn’t a pecking order to adhere to or intrusive governmental directive to obey, it was actual non-contrived true inclusivity! An all walks of life melting-pot.
Without any AFL in WA that day, the Karnup Kick to Kick filled the void a little too well. Sure, it’s safe to say the skills on display wouldn’t have generated any notepad scribbling by any prospective talent scouts in the Mother’s Day crowd, but no one was judging.
There was the odd seemingly impressive thirty metre precise pass that hit a chest but considering there were at least thirty chests to hit, the actual target may have been missed by 15 metres, yet no one was the wiser. However, that’s not to say there weren’t foot skills akin to elite AFL players…. because there were! Admittedly they may have contained a striking resemblance to Nat Fyfe kicking for goal, but it was Fyfe-like none the less!
There were not only kids but half-cut adults trying to emulate Shai Bolton’s hanger a couple of nights earlier at the MCG and while their efforts couldn’t be questioned, you could safely suggest the results were a lot more Darling-ish than Bolton-like! Consequently, those that positioned themselves front and centre saw plenty of the ball.
But while as entertaining and as exciting as it was, everyone was thankful the Shae Bolton parodistic performances ended on the paddock and not in the Peel Estate Winery tasting room later that evening handing out knuckle sandwiches.
At one point tensions did unfortunately boil over when, for no apparent reason, a 14 year old kid disappointingly clocked a little 9 year old in the face which saw a blood rule enforced. Now I can’t confirm it so don't quote me, but sources close to the 14 year old said his defence was, “but uncle Andrew did it to that Freo guy.”
Further warming the cockles of my heart was the feeling that society has realised the error of its ways. It was as if it could see how it had somehow drifted drastically off path because Sunday gave us a glimpse that we may well be entering the correction stage of the cycle. There were definite embryonic green shoots of a generational shift in parenting.
And by that, I mean there were times where a kid didn’t get a kick or he or she got knocked over and would go crying to their folks. It was the response of the parents that filled me with hope. I saw numerous occasions where the Mum and or Dad said, “dust yourself off, run your syndesmosis injury off and get back out there and win yourself a kick.” I even heard renditions of the late great John Kennedy’s “don’t think, do” inspirational rev up!
We could see it was nearly time to wind things up when late in the afternoon a few of the Grandmothers and Grandfathers, charged up on a cocktail of daylong sunshine and copious amounts of the Peel Estate Winery’s 2020 Chenin Blanc, wondered onto the field in the hope of reliving their glory days. It was difficult not to admire their courage, Dutch or otherwise, and thankfully no hip replacements needed replacing. But those of us who witnessed the sea of bingo wings and carpet burns may suffer long lasting mental scars!
Yet it did nothing to deter the enthusiasm of everyone involved in the day. By the end of it I had tears in my eyes and not just because my lack of awareness and poor peripheral vision resulted in me copping a Sherrin in the face. No., they were tears of unbridled joy.
While I may have slightly theatrically embellished the day’s events, it was genuinely a momentary return to a more enjoyable time. It took us back and reminded us of our youth, a care free time when kids were kids without the all controlling addictive electronic devices occupying their attention. There was less oversight, no bureaucratic regulation and no soul-destroying frivolous health and safety rules.
Admittedly when the dust settles over the following days there will be a shedload of 12 day concussion stand-down's and the MRI pathologists will be building additional wings on their holiday homes, but as the day came to a close and the adults limped and hobbled towards the car park, there wasn’t a face without a beaming smile on it.
Mother’s Day, families, a winery and footy, is there a greater combination?
(disclaimer – the owners of the Peel Estate Winery may not agree with my somewhat melodramatic view of their establishment but it’s a family-oriented venue that is warm and welcoming)