When the final siren sounds on the AFL grand final on Saturday afternoon, there will be at least one group of footy fans still left wondering about the result.
The diehard Tigers fans among Melbourne’s Orthodox Jewish community will be strictly observing the Sabbath, which prohibits them from attending the match or watching on TV.
Checking the score via a phone or radio is also forbidden from sundown Friday until Saturday evening.
But that’s not to say they won’t be enjoying the drama of the grand final with the game still in the balance.
David Werdiger, an Orthodox Jew and mad Richmond fan, calls it “lockdown”.
On Saturday afternoon, he will host 15 or so people at his house in Caulfield to shut out the world so they can watch the match without knowing the result when Sabbath is over at 7pm.
Not being allowed to use technology means maintaining a media blackout is relatively straightforward.
Some lockdowns will also have rules that prevent people from leaving and coming back, to avoid an inadvertent leaking of the score.
“Some people are really, really strict about it. They’ll say you have to get into the house by the start of the match and you must stay until the end,” Mr Werdiger said.
“In this situation, you want some additional safeguards to make sure that you can maximise your enjoyment of the match, watching it a few hours after it’s finished.”
It’s not quite the situation of 2017, when the grand final fell on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.
On that day, as Mr Werdiger’s beloved Tigers were about to end a 37-year premiership drought, he was in the synagogue praying and fasting.
“A lot of my friends thought I would sneak out or something like that,” he said. “And it just did not enter my mind, I wanted to do the best I could to have a meaningful Yom Kippur.”
Despite this, the news still made its way through.
Another believer found out the score and tapped Mr Werdiger on the shoulder in the middle of the service to whisper that Richmond had won.
“That night we broke fast, seeing family members, and we didn’t say anything, because we weren’t sure if the other person knew,” he said.
The most famous Yom Kippur grand final was in 1966, the last time St Kilda won the premiership.
Much of the Saints’ large Jewish fanbase missed the win and are still waiting for the next one. Jewish Saints player Ian Synman was said to have gotten special permission from a rabbi to play in the historic win.
In terms of Jewish fans, Mr Werdiger says Richmond trails St Kilda, Carlton and Collingwood by a long way.
“I remember my family cousin, who was a big Carlton supporter, he used to say ‘how can you barrack for a Catholic team like Richmond?’.”
While matches are now played right across the weekend, meaning Orthodox fans have the chance to watch them live, Mr Werdiger says he can remember the days when football was only played on Saturday.
Outside synagogue, he would watch the cars going by with scarves hanging out to see which teams got up and then go home to watch The Winners with Drew Morphett.
“We’ve got two religions in this country, football and whatever your faith is,” he said.
“Don’t sacrifice one for the other, you can have both.”
This was also posted at [The Age].