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Footy mania has claimed the unlikeliest of victims - me

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18.05.2019

In the lead-up to each winter I get a flu jab. It's a habit I learned from my parents, immigrant doctors from Hungary, where the cold brought lethal risks. Melburnians, however, are exposed to a virulent seasonal contagion for which no vaccine exists, one that writer George Johnston diagnosed in 1967 as "a fever-disease like recurrent malaria and evidently incurable".

As I discovered to my profound shock last weekend at the MCG, when the Blues met the Pies, this mania can strike at any stage of life, claiming the unlikeliest victims.

Darcy Moore of the Magpies, left, takes on Charlie Curnow of the Blues.Credit:AAP

For nearly half a century, I've enjoyed inherited immunity to the Sherrin. My folks came to Melbourne in the early 1960s, worked Saturday afternoons, clustered with their own kind. Before his defection from the communists, dad was a doctor for Hungary's soccer teams so if he watched any sport while I was growing up, it was soccer on SBS, or tennis. He does an amusing impersonation of an umpire's goal signal, but that's the extent of his engagement with Australian Rules.

When I joined The Age as a trainee journalist in 2000 I had to complete a rotation in the sports section. On my first day, the editor asked, "How's your football literacy?" "None," I mumbled, to which he rolled his eyes and asked why the f— the powers-that-be send him the useless likes of me. For a period I compiled the injuries list: "Libba (knee), I........

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