This week we saw the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice at the Brownlow Medal count. So, congratulations to the hundreds of young ladies who made it to the AFL's night of nights.
The Brownlow Medal Count, as a televisual spectacle, is perhaps akin to the Eurovision Song Competition - but without the singing and dancing. That is, an auditorium is booked and several hours ensues of grey men reading out votes. To add a little colour, the footballers' wives (and girlfriend and dates) frock up.
This famous image of alpha-female Tania Buckley baring her flesh and g-string shows the origins of the Medal's name (ie fake tan and low-cut):
Who could have imagined a diamante encrusted g-string would lend a touch of glamour and class to the occasion? When you say it, it just sounds stupid. But when you see it ... Naturally, given the shit she copped, Mrs Buckley toned things down for subsequent appearances. Happily, while the artiste moved into the use of oils, she stayed within the confines of the theme ("brown" and "low"):
In any case, reams of Brownlow photos have been published in the press. I don't intend to add to the commentary on the ladies' frocks, having neither the expertise nor inclination.
What I will say is that the efforts of the footy groupies are often unappreciated. In the same way that the AFL players have their established hierarchy, their women have their own too. Clearly, marrying a famous, fit, millionaire is the end-game (as for Mrs. Buckley) - but how do they get there?
I don't know, but it must be a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, early in your career you have to get to know the players. Perhaps only briefly, in the rear toilets of the Cricketers Arms Hotel. On the other hand, too much, err, "familiarity" at this point could nobble any chances of later marriage: no self-respecting footballing great would marry a woman who's been with half the AFL. You have to walk the tight-rope between getting known, and getting a reputation. It must be tough out there.
Next, there's the leap frog, that is transitioning from an entry (or exit) level player to a one with better prospects. The say you shouldn't swap horse mid-stream for a good reason: it's dangerous. Yet, these are precisely the skills that will see Brownlow chicks get ahead. They know who's on the way up, who's on the way down and who's just going in circles. It would be a bad idea to enter a footy tipping competition with these women, with their formidable knowledge of player performance and prospects. (And, in a game where player's groin can take up hundreds of column inches, you should not bet against a group of people who have spent so much time face-to-face with this crucial region.)
So, while a young Brownlow chick might not have the best footballer this year, she can always position herself to have a better showing next year with a quickie in the loos. Be warned though: if you're too blatant (like Kelli Stevens during the Carey/Stevens Affair) it can back-fire.
Mutual co-incidence of wants?
No, really, it's their personalities that drew them together.
Many people deride these women with bleached hair, fake tans and desperation as "died, fried and put aside". Well, that may be true, but I say: Good on them! For one thing, they're performing a vital public service. By putting their bodies on the line and taking the big hits, they're absorbing a hell of a lot of sexual aggression that would otherwise flow out into the general public, where it's unwanted.
They also allow the buffoons on The Footy Show to make sly references to "predatory women" whenever a rape (or just a particularly sordid romp) goes public. Being able to spin the AFL players as victims provides valuable PR cover during such times, propping up the interests of the corporate-types at AFL HQ and the media.
Also, their rare and considerable capacity for personal debasement should not go unacknowledged. How many people would have the stomach to let a professional footballer urinate on them? Or put their own nascent sexual needs second (or third, or fourth ...) to satisfy the porno fantasies of a 19 year-old with some five-girls-in-a-spa action? Or get text messaged at 3am and told to come over to a stranger's house and "bring a girlfriend"? Or be shared around from player to player as part of club initiation and bonding rituals? Not many people would have the drive or ambition to put up with treatment like that, so these women are clearly exceptional.
And let's not forget the other hardships: how many meals were thrown-up in the months leading up to the big night? How many hours on the stairmaster or doing crunches at the gym? And the grooming - manicure, pedicure, waxing, plucking, tanning, hair, make-up etc - all come at vast expense to time, money and fragile egos.
So, three cheers for the young women of the Brownlow, who help make the game what it is today!
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