When it comes to supporting your local sporting team there is a fine line between passion and pain — the latter for those around you in the grandstand.
Country football and netball fans are some of the most vocal in the world, with the emotional ties of family and close friends adding heightened drama to every action in every match.
But sometimes, well actually almost every time, somebody will take it too far.
Now I’m not talking violence or abuse (which is completely unacceptable), but incessant, inaccurate and overwhelming yelling and screaming from a one-eyed supporter who can only see the colour of their team.
You all know who I’m talking about, because there’s one at every game.
Usually disguised as a seemingly harmless grandmother or doting mother, do not be fooled by the calm exterior — these fans mean business.
They quickly shed their outer layer of niceties as the action on the field begins, with a primal ‘‘Go Bears’’ or ‘‘Come on Tigers’’ the first sign of what is to come.
Every time their team approaches the football the volume incretases, and Lord help the umpires or opposition if they are seen to be not favouring their relation.
A large bump from someone on the other team early in the game will draw cries of foul play all day, even if it was legal.
Eventually a gap in the grandstand will appear around the offender, almost like a force field of noise pushing outwards, as those around them begin to distance themselves.
It is never fun to be stuck near someone like this, as I find they usually do not realise the extent of their wrongdoings.
The only cure I’ve found works without fail is about a 10-goal losing margin — it has the power to quieten any fan.
But some methods of dealing with the loud supporter have evolved through centuries of trial and error.
A witty quip in response to a shouted rhetorical question like ‘‘Where’s his head’’, such as ‘‘It’s on his shoulders’’ garners laughter from the crowd, while loudly and ironically clapping every play your own team makes serves to create a wall of noise where individual words are lost.
Speaking of supporters, I have noticed a massive difference between the Goulburn Valley and Murray leagues in terms of fan base, engagement and atmosphere.
Murray games, especially now that finals are in the air, seem to have more of those intangible aspects that make you think back on a game and say that there was a huge crowd there.
Sprawling country grounds with picturesque settings and cars as far as the eye can see, coupled with boundary lines overflowing with supporters give the feeling of thousands of people packed in to watch football.
The parochial nature of the fans is also something to behold.
You might find one or two of the pests mentioned in the sprawling intro at GVL matches, but up north they cluster in groups of five or 10 to create a cacophony of noise.
Compared with the often sterile atmosphere of the GVL, it certainly makes the day more enjoyable.
Two major reasons come to mind when trying to reason the difference in the pair.
The Murray league helps itself by having more games of football and netball played on a Saturday, making every weekend a family affair with four or more supporters to every player.
In the GVL, Kyabram has won 41 straight matches, and inevitability is not a crowd pleaser when it comes to sport.
With the excitement of finals in the air crowds have clearly lifted everywhere across the region.
So for those of you heading out to the grounds for the first time this season or after a long hiatus, heed my warning.
Avoid getting stuck in the middle of a row in the grandstand or setting yourself up too comfortably around the ground in the early stages.
You never know when a one-eyed fan might surface and force you scurrying away like a cyclist in spring.
And if you’ve never heard of the supporter that I’m talking about, it might just be you.