‘The Pies beat the Saints and the city of Melbourne was still cloaked in black and white crepe paper when the rumour of a pack rape by celebrating footballers began to surface … And so, as police were confiscating bedsheets from a townhouse in South Melbourne, the trial by media began.’
What does a young footballer do to cut loose? At night, some play what they think of as pranks, or games: night games with women. Sometimes these involve consensual sex, sometimes not, and often the lines are blurred.
In Night Games, Anna Krien follows the rape trial of an Australian Rules footballer. She also takes a balanced and fearless look at the dark side of footy culture – the world of Sam Newman, Ricky Nixon, Matty Johns and the Croa Sharks.
Both a courtroom drama and a riveting work of narrative journalism, this is a breakthrough book by one of the leading young lights of Australian writing.
Anna Krien is the author of Night Games, Into the Woods and Quarterly Essay 45: Us and Them. Her work has been published in the Monthly, the Age, the Big Issue, The Best Australian Essays, The Best Australian Stories, Griffith Review, Voiceworks, Going Down Swinging, Colors, Frankie and Dazed & Confused.
Following in the footsteps of Truman Capote, Janet Malcolm and, closer to home, Helen Garner, Anna Krien explores the facts, the claims and the ramifications surrounding a court case in which a Melbourne footballer was tried for the rape of a young woman. Anna Krien follows the arguments and assumptions that are made as the trial unfolds, her discussion spreading out in circles of argument and questioning to examine the wider contexts of this story. Krien’s interrogation of her own relationship to the events she is recording, and the validity of her role as reporter and commentator, is a part of this book’s achievement in opening up questions and judgements about the case rather than closing them down.
The book does not merely examine the trial and the events leading up to it, but, more significantly, uses that particular story as a way of engaging with wider contemporary debates about rape and consent, as well as about the powerful sub-cultures of the big football codes, and the attitudes to women that predominate there. Krien deftly and lucidly explores the grey areas: between experience and memory, between consent and rape, between the law and justice. While Krien maintains no pretence of objectivity about these issues or the perceptions, emotions and vulnerabilities of everyone concerned, she manages to step back from the action at each point to examine every facet of the trial itself and its wider implications: for the media, for society, for sport and for women.