Mozz: exert a malign influence [on someone]; jinx. Australian informal. Etymology: mozzle, from the late 19th century, Hebrew, mazzle for ‘star’ or ‘luck’.
I have a confession to make. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Late last year, I was making my plans for where I would be in 2014. I was speaking with my mother – calling her from Leiden, Zuid Holland, The Netherlands to Glen Iris, 3146 Victoria, Australia. ‘When do you think you’re coming home?’ she asked. I thought home was where I was calling her from, but, no, she was right, ‘home’ is not only about the past, but, also about where one imagines to be in a few years and where one can imagine the delightful and oppressive thing called the future. (‘Home, pick me up and take me there’ – David Byrne sings in his Talking Heads song, This Must Be the Place.)
But, forgive me, dear readers, this is where I made my mistake. Forgive me: I made a mozz. From nowhere, from out of the blue – like a Gowser long ball to Timmy Cahill right after Arjen Robben’s goal – the mozz descended and I verbalised it, without realising what I was doing. I said. I said it. I. Said. It. ‘Probably around late August, early September, for around a month.’ I was timing my stay in ‘Melbourne Home’ to coincide with the bloody finals. I said it: ‘and I can’t even begin to mention what I might happen then’. A gentle mozz, indeed. But, my mother knew what I was talking about. What I was imagining was this: a Brett Deledio long bomb on the run sailing through the goals at the Punt Road end to confirm Richmond’s place in the Prelim and thus giving them a shot at the Granny. Not so much to ask, imagine, hope for, really?
From another galaxy, far far away
I should have just bloody said it literally: I’m coming back to Melbourne in September 2014 to watch the Tiges play in the finals. I expect them to reach the preliminary final at least and I expect it to happen at the MCG and I expect myself to be there, replica jersey + scarf + whatever else. I expect to drink a beer served by a breasty blonde at the Royal beforehand, even though I don’t drink, just to gauge the mood of the fans. I expect expect expect demand demand demand. I expect to meet TTBB founder and champion Dugald and Collaborator Chris and commentors and others.
But, my plans for August/September 2014 have changed and I won’t be in Melbourne. And so have the plans and expectations of Bachar, Ivan, Brett, Trent , Steve and others. Not to mention esteemed Damien and venerable Peggy. Brendan, I guess he would have been planning to be in Melbourne too. Methinks there isn’t another World Cup happening in Brazil in September. But, maybe there is. Perhaps there is a handball world championship happening somewhere else. Perhaps there is a Real Tennis world championship – perhaps Mr.Rob Fahey already wants to defend his title only after a couple of months and break with long-standing, anachronistic tradition. I’m not coming back to Melbourne for the Flower Festival, the Comedy Festival or the World Championships for Best Bloody Barista and Coffee Artist. I put the mozz on the Tiges and I apologise. Moreover, I didn’t even stick to my own schedule of August/September 2014 – do I really have any right to expect them to win 12 ++ games? Why should they stick to the schedule I imagine for them, if I’m not even able to stick to my own schedule. Richmond FC, Damien and Trent and Brett in particular, I ask for your forgiveness for mozzing you. For befalling that mozz upon you. I repent. I apologise.
And so we, yes, we – all of us – all 40 odd players, all hundreds of staff, all 60,000 members, all of those who pressed the ‘like’ button on the RFC Facebook page, we’re now 3 and 10. If you asked me before the season what 3-10 was I’d say it was the train departing Richmond Station for Glen Waverly from platform 9. I’d say it was the price of coffee at Flavours of Lakhoum on Swan Street from a few years ago made by that master Barista Chris Phillips who can’t help himself but draw portraits on your cappuccino or long macchiato. That man’s a genius let’s not muck about. ‘3-10 to Yuma’ is a film by James Mangold and gets a score of 4 stars on IMDB. I’m not sure what the hell 3-10 helix is but Google and Wikipedia tells me that such a thing exists. Do we, all tens of thousands give a damn? Let’s look at that roll-call of glory. Lame losses to Gold Coast, Western Bulldogs, Collingwood, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Melbourne, Freo and the latest to the team formerly known as South Melbourne. And let’s not forget the lameness of those three wins: fledgling GWS, who-knows-what and who-knows-when Carlton and wooden-spoon favourites Brisbane Lions. What the heck it was probably the Brisbane Lions who mozzed the Tiges. Let’s imagine their board meeting last years: ‘wow those Tiges down south are doing great. Let’s get their defensive coach as our main coach. Woooh-hoooh! Hello September!’
The 3:10 to Flinders St
But no, seriously, I need to think about this thing called ‘the mozz’. The mozz exists. The mozz is real. Hell knows commentators are always talking about it. Not just commentators too but those folks in the stands: ‘you mozzed him’. ‘You put the mozz on him.’ I did what? Where did I put it on him? How come I can’t see it? It’s abstract, invisible, intangible. A curse perhaps. A curse? My god, are we all potential witch-doctors in waiting? But, being a witch-doctor is no ordinary skill. It takes years of practice and learning to be able to keep Cristiano Ronaldo out of a World Cup with a knee injury. Or, at least, threaten to ruin his world cup by giving him knee problems leading up to the World Cup. Come one: some guy sitting up in the Northern Stand saying, ‘I reckon he’ll kick this’ is hardly equal to some sturdy knock-about fella who can walk on hot coals and not get burnt, sleep on nails and swallow poison without becoming sick. Nup methinks that fine art of witch-doctoring is something else.
Let’s not forget the ‘reverse mozz’. This is something I learnt from the esteemed anthropologist Dermott Brereton. I think he is a Professor, so he no-longer bothers with the titles of Dr or PhD this or that. Anyway, Brereton theorised the possibility of the ‘reverse mozz’: this is what happens when, rather than talking up one’s chances of kicking the bloody captain’s goal, one utters a statement which denounces its likelihood of eventuating. ‘The ball shall not sale through the uprights’. ‘His legs are suffering from a temporary inflammation caused by over exertion. The trajectory shall be wayward.’ I can’t remember in which journal the article appeared – forgive me – I aint not a scholar. But Brereton said it and I believe it: the reverse mozz is just as likely, but a whole lot rarer, than the typical, traditional, conventional, orthodox mozz.
Dermott Brereton, anthropologist, doing his fieldwork
‘The mozz’ is most generally used in the phrase ‘to put the mozz on [someone]’. Or, in the Tiges case, a whole bloody team. When Richo played, I made sure I never watched him kicking for goal from a set shot. I’d look downwards or towards the pockets and wait for the crowd’s reaction to tell the story of whether or not the Pig Skin had penetrated the Uprights. I admit: on one or two occasions I had such unflappable belief in his right-leg that I would watch him project the Egg-Shaped Ball towards the Perpendiculars. Maybe it went through; probably it didn’t. Such occasions only reinforced my suspicion that I shall not watch him. Fine, if he kicks a goal on the run – spontaneously and accidentally – all well and good – I can watch that; that, afte rall, leaves no moment for a mozz to be placed on him.
And this is what I couldn’t believe: throughout the whole 2013 season I kept on putting the mozz on the Team in one way or another – believing we could win when it seemed obvious we would cave in at the last moment. Watching a game live when it would have been safer to check the score first and then watch the replay in the safety of knowing that we had won. I mozzed them repeatedly. But the team bucked my mozz; they were impervious to it. Until that bloody second half against those spoilsports from Carlton. I sat in dumb silence at the sheer bloody pleasure of that first half. The Tiges, oh Richmond, playing like Bloody Geelong, Sydney or Hawthorn – at home in the mild September warmth on that manicured surface of the Em Cee Gee. Oh you beauty; oh what a schemozzle. And I so I thought, no problem, I’ll just go and tell me mum that I is coming back in August/September to watch those Tiges in September and give myself the chance to go to a home final and, if lucky, a home-preliminary final. I mozzed them because I believed in them. I believed that I was insignificant. But this is how the mozz works: the more insignificant one is – in the whole bloody scheme of things – the greater the power of one’s mozz.
Peggy, Damien, Brendan, Trent, Brett, Ivan et al. I apologise. So – no, us Tiges haven’t lost all of these games because of missed goals, missed tackles, dropped marks etc etc. It’s because, me, I, myself, mozzed the team some time back in November 2013. My apologies, guys. I know it sounds self-important of me. But, that’s the reality. Hard to believe that my mozz could be more powerful than Brett Deledio’s biceps, Dusty Martin’s core, Ivan’s chest (let alone mullet). But it is. ‘It is what it is.’ ‘It is what it is.’ (Hehehehehe. I even know how to talk like a footy player.) I apologise to you too Dugald (next year’s No.1 Ticket Holder), Chris, Skippy, Trout, Glen, Mark, John, Peter, Roger. Whoever else. Those kids who were jumping up and down in the second quarter. You blokes in the cheer squad. You sheilas and fellas making the banner in school halls on lonely, rainy Wednesday nights. One and all. Apologies. My fault. My bad. The mozz it happens and once it happens it cannot be undone. Someone please, someone else, unmozz the mozz I carelessly, shamelessly, put – placed upon the venerable Richmond Football Club, the Tiges, our beloved Tiges.
What us fools, those outside of the four walls, think