Stories and weapons in Anna Krien’s Night Games

Night GamesAnna Krien’s Night Games is a fascinating exploration of football, rape and the justice system, and like Krien’s previous works there are no easy answers to the questions it raises.

Night Games focuses on the trial of a young man, Justin Dyer*, for the rape of a young woman, Sarah Wesley*. The incident took place early in the morning after Collingood’s AFL Grand Final victory in 2010. Earlier that night, Sarah had had sex with or been raped by three other men – two of whom were Collingwood’s Dayne Beams and John McCarthy.

The question of whether Beams and McCarthy raped Sarah is never answered, because they are not charged and the events of earlier in the night are shaded out of the narrative told by both defence and prosecution during Justin’s trial.

The case thus neatly sidesteps the AFL players involved and instead focuses on the hanger-on, a young man who is a player in the VFL and who is immediately dropped from his team when rape charges are laid. Continue reading

Book review: Eleven Seasons by Paul D. Carter

For outsiders, the attraction of Aussie Rules football is hard to understand. In WA it hovered at the edge of my consciousness in winter, and I chose a team as an easy way of identifying my allegiances to the north or the south of the river.

In Melbourne, football culture assaults me with the presence of loud fans in the city after games. Wide-eyed children on the tram, bedecked in team colours with a parent by their side, bring to mind memories of my mother’s stories, of going to the football as a teenager with a much-loved older cousin who has long since passed away.

Bruce Dawe’s poem ‘Life Cycle’ gave me something of an insight as a youngster into what it meant to grow up with football in Melbourne. Now, Paul D. Carter’s Eleven Seasons, which won the The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award for 2012, has added a stirring contribution to the way I understand the culture of AFL, revealing both its problems and its power from the inside.

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