Andrew Johnston

By Riverine Herald

NOT winning an iPod shuffle party aside, I had a pretty solid weekend.

Actually, I can handle losing the iPod shuffle night.

I’m more annoyed that all three of my songs had come up before I even got to the Girgarre Football Club rooms on Saturday.

Trust me, no one would have enjoyed (You Drive Me) Crazy by Britney Spears as much as I would have.

Serves me right in many ways for not being there all day.

Because it’s a pretty damn good place to be right now.

After arriving at the ground on Saturday night, I had some long discussions with teammates about the club that I have only been a part of for a few short months.

The feeling among those people is pretty similar: it’s a great time to be at our club.

One of my teammates put it to me in a nice — though slightly corny — way.

‘‘You’ve got a job, you’ve got somewhere to live, mate. But out here, you have a home.’’

And the reason for that is the quality of people around us.

I think we have all had this kind of experience with a sporting club.

When you are involved in a sporting club, you develop strong relationships with those around you.

Think back to when you were playing club sport, the people that you were with.

Teammates, coaches, officials, supporters.

They become a big part of your life while you are there, and in a lot of cases those relationships last well beyond your time in the club, even in the game.

Often when you are in your twenties, you are away from home for one of the first times in your life, you don’t have the same support networks that you had when you were at school.

At this stage in your life, your mates become your support network.

In the past week, the AFL celebrated the beyondblue Cup, which is an important reminder to look after your mental health.

So having those people around you becomes incredibly important to looking after yourself.

This is true at every club in the country, in every community, but particularly out here.

There are times when people become isolated, and have to go through their battles alone.

That’s why having a community around you is important.

And few communities are better than a football club.

A friend of mine that I lived with when I was a poor uni student in Hobart said it about his footy club.

‘‘I know no matter what issue I have in my life, I have 40 guys here who I can show up at their door and they will help me. They’ll get some beers out and we will sit on the couch until I am feeling better.’’

We all need that at some stage in our lives.

It was a good night as people just stood around, played pool, had a few quiet drinks and enjoyed each others’ company.

I was by no means struggling that night mentally, but I still walked away feeling pretty mentally refreshed.

But seriously, I missed Everlong and I Want It That Way as well?