• In 1957, aged 7, I watched my first game with my mother, quickly hooked by Carlton’s stylish navy blue jersey and the exciting, enthralling and exhilarating spectacle of  handsome, young males chasing a ball around a ground. Having no recall of who won, I was already “brainwashed” into the Carlton clan, developing a crush on player Johnny Chick, who had dimples like me and looked cute.
  • In 1961, I started attending weekly matches with other family members, mostly male, spending the following week perusing the “pink” Sporting Globe, The Sun News-Pictorial and the Herald to learn from the football pundits’ wisdom. Once trying to enter the clubrooms with my cousins, I was told very smartly by security as I walked down the race that “I couldn’t go in as I was a girl”!
  •  In 1964, angry and frustrated by Carlton’s most dismal display ever in their centenary year, it finished 10th on the ladder, I wrote a letter to the club’s coach, Ken Hands, disparaging the team having no fighting spirit in the last quarter and his indecision in making moves to enhance winning. With my chutzpah full flowing, I wrote what moves he should have made and unbelievably, he actually responded in two-pages, disparaging me as “a cheeky, sarcastic little girl who should be put on my mother’s knee and spanked”! Laughing at his disdain, most pleasingly though, was he took time to explain WHY he didn’t make those moves; at least taking them somewhat seriously! I felt vindicated at season’s end when he was sacked!
  • At 18, as a cadet reporter on The Sun News-Pictorial, I tried to cover a football match,  my request dismissed as unsuitable as a female. The paper’s football journos smiled affectionately as I privately fumed at the denial of equal opportunity. Refusing to accept rejection, I instead put my hand up to the Chief-of-Staff as someone who knew something about football when he asked the male cadets about it, speaking to various club trainers who rang the newspaper on Tuesday and Thursday nights reporting on the progress of injuries and the training. Then writing stories about the training, torn hamstrings, bruised calves and dodgy knees soon became popular parlance for me.
  • That same year, I saw Carlton win the flag by camping outside the G all night with male friends to buy finals’ tickets. A moment in history to see my Blueboys win the flag.
  • In 1969, missed seeing Carlton lose the GF against Tiges as I was working overseas. Taking a 10-month gap to reassess my ambitions, I also confronted how I hated the violence and thuggery on the football field, turning off the game in the short-term. 
  • Realising most players were not serial offenders, I switched back on to football, watching Carlton beat The Pies in the1970 GF standing in infamous Bay 13. Surrounded by a mass of black and white, hysterical, fellow human beings, I was tearful at half-time and considered leaving, but stayed to become similarly hysterical at the final siren. Tears flowed down my face in ecstatic joy; fighting spirit alive and well and thriving as I’ve tried to live by ever since.
  • In 1972, before WAGs, I dated a footballer, not in fantasyland, but for real. Remaining anonymous, we stayed platonic friends, kindly providing free finals’ tickets when he could.
  • As his teammate, I also met and talked to the first Indigenous person I ever had a sober and straight conversation with in Melbourne. Asking him about the racist taunts I constantly heard against him at grounds over several years, he replied he tried to ignore them. No further discussion ensued.
  • Saw Carlton win the flag again that year, my footballer friend inviting me to dinner at the Marquis of Lorne pub with other players and partners on the Monday night after the GF to celebrate the victory. Captain-coach John Nicholls was seated at the head of the table alone, while I sat ensconced with players I had so admired as role-models for a long time. I’ll know I’ve got dementia when I forget that night. It was Blue Heaven!
  • Shortly after, I departed for the UK working there for the next seven years. While attending a few soccer games, there was no emotional passion for the game. In 1979 returning to see Carlton win the flag and standing in Bay 13 again, it was another momentous occasion beating Collingwood. I did hear Wayne Harmes on one footy TV program years later admit the ball was over the line. Hearing Mike Brady sing Up There Cazaly for the first time, I shed a few tears, the song an inspiration ever since, helping me transcend adversity and fulfil my dream about belonging to a football commentariat.
  • After revelling in the ’81 & ’82 premierships, in 1984 I was able to nominate for MCC membership as a female on my own. Taking 20 years to receive it, I meanwhile used a male cousin’s Ladies ticket from 1981. Also an AFL member, I started attending many more day and night weekend games of various other teams, including all the GFs.
  • In 1987, I applied to Channel 7’s World of Sport to join its commentariat, being told by Head of Sport, Gary Fenton, I knew nothing about football because I didn’t know who won the 1930 Brownlow Medal. Finding out and ringing to tell him, he said the football coverage already had a female boundary rider, Dixie Marshall, and he wasn’t interested in another female. Ironically, I didn’t want to be a boundary rider anyway, with his bias and disrespect glaringly obvious and patently conscious.
  • Attended GFs throughout the 80s, rejoicing again in ’87 at Carlton’s success. In 1988, I met a woman who was the newly-appointed program manager of radio station 3AK which announced the broadcast of Saturday afternoon football for the following year. Imparting my dream of talking footy to her, I was auditioned over the phone by presenter Harry Beitzel to finally become a panellist on the broadcast at season’s start in 1989.
  • The program manager initially titled my segment “The Women’s Point of View”, but some women called the station complaining about the title’s gender generalisation and my segment was renamed “Paulyne Pogorelske’s Point of View”. Spieling about current, contentious footy issues for about 10-15 minutes every Saturday around noon via the phone at home, my standout contribution focused on the importance of tackling pressure. A discussion then followed with panellists BT, Bryan Wood, Simon Beasley, the late Robbie Flower and Bob Skilton, who I intuited was the only one to be condescendingly arrogant towards me as a female. Simultaneously, while working as a journo at the Sunday Herald, I asked about writing a football column. Accorded some opportunity, my columns were drastically cut and poorly sub-edited, only staying at the paper for a few weeks.
  • In 1990, 3AK was sold by Channel 9 and went Italian, though the new owner agreed to continue the football, still with me. After season’s end, I applied at ABC radio and 3AW to be on their football shows, to no avail. I even tried to interest a female sports journo at the Sunday Herald to write a story about me, but she declined.
  • For the following seven years, I contented myself with attending even more games at the G, Waverley and Princes Park.
  • With the debut of The Footy Show on 9, I wanted to join its panel. As an occasional, frivolous flirt, I believed I could banter with Sam Newman with my own wit and wisdom about some male footballers. Ringing one of the producers, Andrew Oshtak, I was terse with my request, only to be rejected. A few weeks later, I rang again, speaking to another producer, Neil Kearney. Stating I wanted to be on the show, he replied: “We have huge names. Who are you?” Disgusted, I hung up as he did.
  • In 1995, I had a pre-GF party at home on the Friday night, and was talking to a recently met Carlton supporter who I told: “My whole psychology and philosophy of life is from the football” to which he responded: “That would make a great book. You should write it.”
  • Then working as a journo for Leader Newspapers, I shelved the book idea to the back of my mind, fronting it in 1997 after leaving Leader and deciding to write it.  Believing I needed to co-write it with a player/ex-coach/ex footballer to bounce ideas off, help access to footballers for interviews and have the perspectives of both fan and footballer, I approached several football celebs in the game and media to no avail.
  • The working title was “Lessons from the Leather- Follow That Football”, writing a detailed synopsis with proposed interviewees, questions and topics for discussion. After contacting five celebs, Justin Madden agreed to co-write it, receiving a contract from Simon& Schuster which I had arranged by myself. S&S offered us only $4,000 which was far too little for me to live on. I tried to get Madden to ring the publisher for more money, leaving him a voice message, but he never returned my call. Moreover, he had already told me: “You write it and I’ll put my name to it”.  I even discussed the idea with Ron Barassi having met him in 1971 at The Sun when he wrote his Column 31 and was coach of Carlton. He agreed to only write the foreward. For the next ten years until 2007, I kept trying different avenues and people, including AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, to no avail.
  • Interestingly, “Learning from Legends” by Bruce McAvaney was later published, a close adaptation I believe of my original title. Trying to contact McAvaney about the origin of his idea, I spoke to his assistant, Ann Johnson, as I recall her name, who told me it came from rugby player Jonathan Thurston in Sydney. It seemed a curious coincidence as McAvaney was a well-known and well-respected sports personality and who was I? Demetriou at least replied and I still have the letter. Surprisingly perhaps, all the research I did involved far more conscious and profound analysis about what I’d learned from football, the players and the essence of the game, enriching my life invaluably.
  • In 1998, I wrote a freelance article for Inside Football about what winning a premiership meant, interviewing Denis Pagan, Gary O’Donnell, Terry Wallace, Malcolm Blight and Steven Trigg, among others.
  • I also tried obtaining a job in communications/media at various clubs; seeing Jim Malone at Richmond, writing to Stephen Gough then at Carlton and seeing Greg Miller at North Melbourne, having no interview at Melbourne.
  • In 2003, I contacted ABC Head of Sport, a female called Susie Robinson, about joining its commentariat. Seeing me immediately the same day, which I found curious too, she told me to prepare a tape and send it to her. However, she evinced no interest in me whatsoever, asking no questions and replying to mine as if they were tediously boring. I didn’t bother with the tape!
  • A couple of times, I called the talkback supporters’ session after matches on ABC radio, doing a spiel to be cut-off when I disagreed with David Parkin about young players tiring early. I never rang again. I was also interviewed by Peter Helliar at Princes Park for the Channel 10 program then called “After the Game” for Wayne Carey’s first game with The Crows after his affair with Steven’s wife.
  • A female director friend also interviewed me on a video called Women in the Game. I still have the video.
  • In 2017, I so welcomed the AFLW, but having watched a few games, they were disappointing, unexciting and lack lustre, bearing no comparison to the AFL. The women couldn’t play well, and still can’t I contend, at least not yet. However, it’s promising that increasing numbers of little girls are now playing in Auskick and junior clubs and maybe in another decade or so, many young women will be able to play like the men. I look forward with hope!
  • In 2022, I want to join a commentariat, have fun, laugh, flirt and talk footy among other sports. As a cricket enthusiast, I have attended heaps of Tests and ODIs at the G, but am not into Twentycricket and the BBL. In London, I went to Lords for the 1977 Jubilee Test between Australia and England.  
  • I’m currently writing a book online: One Woman and an Incorrigible Addiction to Sport!
  • Fifty years on, I still occasionally catch-up with my footballer friend for a drink and some footyspeak.
  • FYI: I write an online magazine called The Femmosexual which includes several posts on football and sport you may find of interest.