Late on Saturday night time, Cath McDonald known as MePACs private alarm service to allow them to know her mom was staying with them at their Victorian dwelling close to the South Australian border.
“Welcome to MePACs, you’re speaking with Skye, how can I help you?” the decision started.
That’s when Cath’s husband Paul jumped in.
“G’day Skye … we won the f***in’ premiership!”
Cue waves of laughter: Relieved, breathless, euphoric laughter.
“Oh Skye, Skye, excuse my husband,” Cath started after a short second to compose herself.
“My Mum has just exited the bedroom, she is Kath Atwell, the grandmother of Tom McDonald, who has just won the grand final in Western Australia.”
Like many Demons supporters, Paul was intoxicated on way more than alcohol that night time.
He’d simply watched their eldest son Tom be a part of the Melbourne Demons AFL group that gained the 57-year-long drought-breaking premiership.
Tom will eternally be remembered because the participant that kicked the match’s remaining objective after the siren, securing the ultimate margin of 74 factors, the Demons’ greatest win ever in a grand remaining.
It marked the highpoint in an emotional rollercoaster of a yr for the McDonalds of Edenhope, characterised by lockdowns, border closures, good neighbours and contemporary begins.
Try and script it
Tom was drafted in November 2010, debuting late the next yr. It was a tricky time to be related to the grand previous flag.
“There was one year there where they won two or three games,” Paul mentioned. “They’d go into the rooms and get spat on and called ugly names, and that was the lowest I can remember Tom.
“To see this … she’s worth it.”
Kath remembers Tom “could not cease smiling” when he called them after the game. “It was simply stunning,” she said.
Melbourne told Tom to “search different choices” at the end of 2020. Two weekends ago, they re-signed him for three years.
Tom’s story is now one of many that people are reflecting on how the club turned it around in less than 12 months.
“He mentioned to us he by no means thought he’d play in a grand remaining,” Cath said. “We thought we’d see him sooner or later, however yeah, this was a pleasant reward.”
“Better than good,” Paul said.
“I believed they had been going to make all of it the best way from midway by means of the yr. They confirmed indicators of elite-ness (sic), gamers like [Luke] Jackson got here of age.”
Tom’s younger brother Oscar plays for Carlton, after Melbourne did delist him last year.
“That was actually a bittersweet second,” Paul said. “When each [Tom and Oscar] had been drafted, we had been in the identical room and Oscar had his mates round and it was simply ecstatic. For him to be delisted — I walked in and the TV was on and heard it had occurred — I used to be in tears.”
Oscar played the first round as the AFL’s first ever medical sub, kicking two goals after coming on after half time.
A third child, Sasha, plays with the Casey Demons netball side, a training partner of the Melbourne Vixens. Cath is confident one day she’ll make it to the next level.
‘It helped us through’
Edenhope has a population 950 people and is 40 kilometres away from the South Australian border.
Like dozens of other border towns like it, COVID restrictions have disrupted even the most basic daily tasks like crossing the state line for community sport, education, grocery shopping and vet services, just to name a few.
The McDonalds, who farm crops and sheep southeast of the town, have not been immune to the disruption. They’ve missed a few fishing trips to Port MacDonnell.
Cath joined the local netball side Edenhope-Apsley — where Tom played his junior football before heading to Ballarat — at the start of this year to get out of the house more.
But further border closures conspired to starve the team of players, and eventually the local netball season was cancelled for a second straight year.
It meant the family was able to follow Tom’s exploits over TV across an entire season — all the way to the highest achievement. It’s made a big difference to their mood this year.
For Kath, the Demons’ mighty season turbocharged her gradual transition to a footy tragic that started when Tom was drafted.
“I grew up hating it as a result of my family had been passionate soccer followers for totally different groups. There had been so many arguments and I did not become involved,” she said.
“[Now] I completely dwell from week to week for the soccer — I find it irresistible. I feel it has been good for folks my age to have one thing to stay up for.”
Forever purple and blue
Outside, nearing harvest season, the canola fields are yellow and green.
Inside, you can’t keep your eyes off the red and the blue.
A giant Melbourne-scarf-wearing teddy bear greets you on entry to the McDonald house.
Earlier this week, Paul dressed up some rams he just bought from nearby Kaniva in Demons hats and scarves.
The day after the grand final, he invited Reg Burgess — a local who played for Essendon in the 1959 grand final — around for a few tins.
Why not? Anything goes after you’ve been waiting 57 years to celebrate.
The piece de resistance is a painting of Tom’s two children Bella, one-year-old, and Leo, three months, with the words “Go dad” painted by their neighbours, the Fergusons.
Tom has previously lamented to the ABC he hasn’t been around for more than half of his son’s life due to matches being relocated from Melbourne during the pandemic.
Cath says he and the family are grateful for the shows of support, and for the premiership.
“It was a becoming finish to what has been a number of ups and downs,” she mentioned.
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