AFL Finals–Week 1: Carlton capitulation leaves me stunned

We have finally reached the month of September and of course in AFL circles this signifies the finals series.

September brings out the best and worst in all involved with the football world as the Top 8 teams strive for that elusive premiership cup. Two of those sides, the Brisbane Lions and Carlton, are to battle for survival in the Elimination Final. In the lead-up to the game I feel a tinge of nervousness as this is clearly the biggest match for the club in eight years. The preceding results from this weekend have been somewhat predictable and I am hoping the trend can continue as the Blues are slight favorites with several of the Lions key players under an injury cloud. The group that have been dubbed the ‘Three Amigos’ in Cameron Cloke, Eddie Betts and Jeff Garlett are returning after serving their controversial suspensions, which enhances the Blues’ chances of recreating their Gabba victory mid-season. For the Lions, key position players such as Simon Black and Daniel Merrett are named in the side despite suffering from injury. But the Lions enter the finals in relatively good form after prevailing fairly comfortably through their last two matches.

As a result of our loss last week to the Crows the Carlton side are forced to ascend almost halfway up the country to clash with the Lions at the Gabba. Thankfully I can witness the game live on One HD. As I settle myself on the couch the annual national anthem and detailed previews occur with Tim Lane highlighting the importance of the two bulky forwards in Jonathon Brown and Brendan Fevola; hopefully the latter can repeat his effort from Round 11 with another eight-goal performance.

As the ball is bounced on the greasy turf the players are pumped up with neither side tasting finals success for a long period of time. After a fairly physical display in the opening minutes the Carlton midfield clicks into gear and bolts out of the gate with Andrew Carazzo booting the first goal for the night. As Matthew Kreuzer slots through a running goal the Carlton supporters go off their nut as it looks as if the side has brought their A game. The Carlton midfielders certainly have to provide the X Factor tonight and so far Gibbs, Murphy and Judd are on cue displaying pin-point accuracy. Ryan Houlihan makes his presence felt by following up a sensational smother with a goal and I begin to think that this match may well be cakewalk.

As has often been the case for this season the opposition refuses to lie down against the skilful Blues as Jonathon Brown kicks the Lions’ first. As Daniel Bradshaw converts his first for the night, Terry Wallace’s description of the Carlton midfield as “downhill skiers” may be proven correct as the centre men aren’t showing enough accountability to provide help for the inexperienced defenders. Gradually the Lions pull back into the game with Justin Sherman showing great endeavour by manufacturing inspirational second efforts in the contest as well as thumping through a sausage roll from 60 metres. With important tagger Aaron Joseph departing from the field with what appears to be a serious ankle injury I am worried as we lead by a bare margin of 6 points.

Juddy relieves the tension with another long goal early in the second term but it is the Lions midfield that is beginning to capitalise on Carlton clangers with Brisbane champion Simon Black showing no real sign of pain displaying almost a Best On Ground Performance with slick handballing and brilliant delivery. It is vice versa for the Carlton side as it is just irritating to witness our shocking disposal with the Tom Hafey method not satisfying the Carlton forward line. It takes Fev almost a half of football to impose himself on the scoreboard following his trademark one hander. Once again Bradshaw is proving a hassle for the Blues, caressing through another couple, enabling the Lions to hit the lead by the smallest possible margin at half-time.

The third term would undoubtedly be one of our best for the season as the Blues produced a seemingly match winning buffer of 22 points by the three-quarter time break. Two influential factors in the game, Marc Murphy and Daniel Bradshaw, exchange goals and then suddenly in an amazing twist of fortune Aaron Joseph is back on the ground running fairly freely!

This appears to be a grand omen for the Blues as Fev boots his second before allowing his teammate in Nick Stevens to exert some influence with a goal from close range. Stevens then produces a miracle goal of his own, threading a six-pointer from the boundary after a brilliant passage of play from half-back.

Despite the caveman-like Travis Johnstone providing some respite, the Blues continue to increase their lead with Cameron Cloke displaying a wonderful piece of improvisation, hooking the ball out of mid-air for a goal. The defence is holding up reasonably well thanks to the efforts of Bret Thornton and the pace of Shaun Grigg across half back. It’s looking rosy for the Blues as Fev boots his third and Carlton hold a 22 point lead and the smell of an MCG finals appearance is in the air, or at least in my living room.

The Blues pick up where they left off in the final term as Cameron Cloke resorts to the old barrel which sails through the big sticks for his second and the Blues are a seemingly unassailable five goals. Just as I think about purchasing finals tickets big bustling Jonathon Brown, who is sporting just the one eye in the second half, kicks his third.

“Oh, well, no big deal, what’s the number for Ticketek again?” I think to myself.

Suddenly out of the blue the relatively quiet Hooper snaps a ripper followed by another from big J. Brown and its back to 10 points!!!

“Surely not!” I exclaim out loud.

The recently inaugurated NAB Rising Star, who has had one of the worst nights of his fairly brief football career, emerges from the darkness and bangs one through the middle as the Gabba crowd comes to life, it is back to 4 points with ample time remaining.

Even our very own Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is dancing under the night sky which in my opinion is just as embarrassing as John Howard trying to bowl a cricket ball!!

Suddenly Daniel Bradshaw puts them in front and snaps another after running away defender Paul Bower, who appears as if he is limping on one leg.

The Carlton midfielders try valiantly to revive our chances but the dreaded siren has sounded and in a matter of 5 minutes the Carlton season has capitulated in front of my very eyes.

I sit still on the couch NUMB, not knowing what to comprehend. Even as I currently write this report 24 hours later, I am still in shock as we have lost the almost unlosable final and for a brief moment I start to realise how the Essendon contingent felt back in 1999.

In just a blink of an eye Carlton’s season is over.

We simply BLUE IT.

Brisbane Lions         4.4       8.7       10.10  16.15 (111)
Carlton                     5.4       8.6       14.10  15.14 (104)

GOALS
Brisbane Lions: Bradshaw 5, Brown 4, Sherman 2, Johnstone 2, Rich, Redden, Hooper
Carlton: Fevola 3, Cloke 2, Stevens 2, Betts, Carrazzo, Garlett, Houlihan, Judd, Kreuzer, Murphy, Russell

Crowd:  32,702 at the Gabba.

My Votes: 3. S.Black      2.D.Bradshaw     1.C Judd

About Damian Watson

Hey,my name is Damian Watson and I am 14 years old. My ambition is to become an AFL broadcaster/journalist in the future. I am a keen blues supporter and I live in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I play and write for the Knox Falcons U/16's.

Comments

  1. Josh Barnstable says:

    Nice writing Damo, bad outcome.

    I never thought i would say this and it really pains me to say it but..

    Judd is a dirty player.

  2. Great Report :)
    OMG Josh, JUDD IS NOT A DIRTY PLAYER!
    He had a perfectly good explaintion for what he was trying to do. LOL
    Im sorry to say but i was jumping for joy when Bradshaw kicked that goal.
    if my Pies dont win the flag then i hope the Lions do.

  3. Steve Healy says:

    Why would you poke someone in the eye? Even though Judd is my Aunty’s cousin’s son (apparently) I’m no fan of his.

    By the way, great report Damian. Really well reported on the emotion of the match. There is nothing worse than losing a final from behind. I had the same experience when Essendon beat Melbourne in 2004. Although I can’t remember it that well.

  4. OMG that means ive met Steve’s aunty’s cousin!! LOL YAY ME :)

  5. opps that should be Aunty’s counsin’s son**

  6. Steve Healy says:

    When did you meet Chris Judd? Was it at that thing at Crown where you saw all the footy players?

  7. yep! :)
    He was so nice and all smiley! :)

  8. Damian Watson says:

    Thanks for the comments,

    Steve I remember that Melbourne-Essendon final. I think that was Troy Broadbridge’s last game before he passed away.
    Were you at that game?

  9. Michael Allan says:

    I don’t think Judd’s dirty. He was on my list of best players based on character. It’s great that he’s out for round 1 against the tiges! We’ll still lose anyway.

  10. Steve Healy says:

    Nah I wasn’t at that game. Troy Broadbridge was a sad story. A few months after his last game, where Melbourne got washed away, he literally got washed away.

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