ON SUNDAY I watched my younger brother Ollie play his first AFL game and it was an experience I will never forget.
My family and I were lucky enough to be invited into the Port Adelaide Football Club rooms prior to the game to watch the debutantes be presented with their jumpers.
The atmosphere was buzzing.
I am going to be honest and admit that I was very nervous for Ollie.
Despite his size, 187 centimetres and 87 kilograms (his team mates call him Quadzilla), he will always be my little brother and the vision of fully grown men slamming him into the ground made me feel sick.
Luckily for the person sitting in front of me I had nothing to worry about.
To sit in the grandstand, at the home of football, the MCG, with my family and watch Ollie run out in a white, black and teal jumper was surreal.
I have been to my fair share of football matches, but looking back on the experience I can’t remember ever being as vocal.
It is difficult to explain, but every time he touched the ball there was this stirring feeling inside of me that wanted to will him on. To make him kick the ball further, run faster, jump higher and tackle more ferociously.
During his second attempt at goal I held my mum’s hand.
The grandstand went quiet and I think everyone held their breath.
As the ball sailed through the two goal posts my mum and I rose out of our seats and started fist pumping the air.
I turned to mum and she had a huge smile plastered across her face.
On cue I recieved a text message from my dad, who was seated a few rows across.
Before I go on there is something I should explain.
My dad Tony refuses to sit with anyone at Ollie’s football matches.
He sits by himself, his ear phones shoved into his ears, his foot tapping restlessly against the ground, trying in vain to calm his nerves.
After the goal I looked across and saw him wiping a tear out of his eye.
I glanced down at the text message, which read: “I have tears in my eyes”.
I think this is the first time I have ever seen my dad cry.
Another aspect of the day which strikes me as memorable is the number of family and friends who turned out to watch Ollie.
I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say almost the entire population of Echuca turned out for the game.
It took our breath away.
While most of Ollie’s closest friends sat in the crowd at the MCG, his number one fan Brian Gretten-Watson watched the game on television.
I could have sworn I heard his booming voice release a cheer of elation when Ollie tackled David Roden into the turf.
But you know what? Despite the marks he took, the goals (and points) he kicked and the shepards he made, the best part of the entire day happened after the game.
Ollie, along with all of the people he loves the most shared a victory dinner at a Chinese restaurant.
During this time I sat back and watched Ollie, the boy who is too scared to take the rubbish out at night, be Ollie.
While stuffing his face with mongolian beef he swapped stories with his best mates Tom and Hugh and told jokes to the Eishold girls.
He laughed out loud with my brother Harry and chatted casually about the game with my mum and dad.
Ollie was in his element and I think that is the memory my family will cherish the most from the day.
■ Time Out columnist Eloise Johnstone will return next Thursday.