AFL Grand Final: The 2012 ‘Mopsy’ Fraser Cup (from far far away)

Greetings Tipsters

When we checked into this hotel yesterday I had one question.

“Do you have the Australia Network?” Yes, they do, but I insisted on confirming it before we booked in. After all, one must have one’s priorities in order. The Sparkies were playing in another Grand Final.

I’ve never really liked the Mayblooms. Partly it’s the urine-and-faeces coloured strip, mostly it’s the attitude of a lot of their fans I encountered on the old and much missed Hill at the SCG many years ago. They were a graceless lot and took their mid-90s fall from grace with an undisguised ill humour. So there are few teams I would less like to lose a Grand Final to than this mob.

‘Gimmie Shelter’ was heard over the PA at the MCG while the players were running out onto the ground. I considered this a poor omen. The song was, for many years, Number One on my personal Hit Parade and it has a air of fearful foreboding. I was also troubled by the aspect ratio of the television – I have had many an OCD moment over aspect ratio – and the players were shorter and chunkier than they are in reality.

Perky Girl and I were much cheered by the unexpected sight of Lingy wearing a tie and a lurching, drunken camera pan immediately following Marina Prior, the new Julie Anthony, singing the nat ant. Then it was game time.

The opening minutes were a congested maelstrom as each team sought to find its level. Sam Reid coughed it up and Budd kicked his first behind, as noted by the first woman to officiate in a Grand Final. The teev reception was a little dodgy, the visuals smeared like an impressionist painting, the players sometimes indistinguishable regardless of team, the ball often invisible. It made for a new type of viewing experience.

First goal to Hawthorn and for a moment I didn’t want to watch the game. I wanted to go out and do something else for three hours and come back and check the score. Malceski kicked a goal and it was 1.1 each Bud kicked a poster, the game was mostly being played on the Body Fluids’ terms. The Sparkies couldn’t get the ball out of their back half.

In what would later seem a defining moment, young Dan Hannebery dropped back to take a valuable mark and was flattened. He took a while to get up but never flinched or took his eyes from the ball.

Bud finally kicked one, one of those that you just know will be a goal well before it’s kicked. In a moment of symblism, Jetta and Cyril had a race along the boundary and Jetta won but the bad guys were clearing the ball far too easily. Two goals in 20 seconds and they were out by three goals at the first break. This seemed too much of a margin this early in a Big ‘Un.

Pretty soon, though, Josh, the Kennedy the Mayblooms didn’t want, kicked a goal, the Sparkies were working harder and getting deeper into the game and then there were three goals in a few minutes, it was now the Sparkies game, young Sam, maligned for his goalkicking, kicked a boomer to put his team in frount, young Alex was doing a pile of valuable work down back, young Lewis was getting some important touches, the Mayblooms had hardly had a sniff for a long time and a Sparkies flag was starting to starting to look like a real chance as bookies across Australia were rubbing their hands thinking of all the money they were gonna get to keep.

Still, it’s only the second term. Shane was slow and having little influence, Ted seemed a bit too propppy, Adam’s knee was troubling him but an inability to run didn’t stop him trapping the ball deep in the forward line and getting a handball to journeyman Mitch who wasn’t touched while he danced around and kicked a goal. A few Mayblooms’ were looking a little less keen than they ought to and we entertained ourselves with thoughts of what Clarko would have to say to them.

Seven goals four to four goals six at the long break in the Sparkies favour. Who’da thunkit?

Some bright lad or lass having decided that we truly desired halftime entertainment, we were then treated to The Temper Tantrum, something like that. I had never heard them before, I will ensure that I never hear them again. They had a go at the U2 schtick, laboured away at some horrible MOR ballad with the usual crap guitar solo, they “got down” with a lousy samba-like thing and pulled those “Man, we’re really getting it on now, aint we!” faces and wound up with another dull, unimaginative ballad vocalised by a whiny falsetto. They were truly terrible. 77 Sunset Strippers should’ve got the gig.

First blood of the premiership quarter to the Sparkies. Their lesser lights were playing a lot better than the Mayblooms’ lesser lights, who were quite dim, really, and this would prove to be a major factor in the eventual result. LRT laid a crunching tackle and a minute later kicked a goal after the best sequence of play in the game. Nine goals to four and the Sparkies were cutting the Mayblooms to pieces.

All tides must turn. Hale, who has something of a Roman hairdo, kicked a goal and the comeback loomed. We all knew it would come eventually. The Sparkies mucked up a goal chance and as soon as it was cleared from fullback I knew it would result in a goal at the other end. Five goals in less than ten minutes, five goals from 22 kicks, the Mayblooms grabbed the momentum and ran with it. With the floodgates threatening to open, Sam Mitchell gave away a stupid free kick, made of it a 50 and Jarrad steadied things with a captain’s goal.

30 seconds left in the term and he got another well-timed free that halted a Mayblooms surge in the nick of time.

Ten goals five to nine goals ten to at the last break. Bad Kicking is Bad Football. The Sparkies have the wind and the scoring end in the last. They’d hung on grimly when they had to, would they continue to do so?

The Mayblooms kicked the first of the last. Big Shane was subbed off – a no-brainer, really. My notes are scrawls, “Han – one kick, Goodes does it, – judgement. Tension. Mort and Jack – scores level. M concede a point, S’ lead.

“Pyke marks.

“Goodes goals!”

That’s a moment that will haunt Jordan for a long time. Giving up the lead in a hard-fought Grand Final is bad enough, but to turnover from the kick-in and fall seven points down is much, much worse.

“Ted holding Bud.

“Poster

“LRT marks.

“Jet at the death.

“34 seconds

“10 points.

“Centre bounce

“Christ, we need this bounce.

“5 4 3 2 1 YEAH!!!”

There’s a lot of great stories in this win. Jude “just so long as I can stand up” Bolton playing when he needed a knee reconstruction, the gangly LRT becoming one of just five Sparkies to win two flags and my personal favourite, Mike Pyke, the Canuck who became a premiership hero with a great game, a tremendous last term and some vital marks, none more so than the one which would turn out to seal the victory. The Sparkies ensured that no cameraman would be in the circle for the team song, and good for them.

The better team won a great Grand Final. The Mayblooms seemed to think they only had to turn up to win and left too much to too few. The Sparkies don’t have passengers, it’s not their style. Like 2005, this flag seemed to come out of nowhere, I didn’t seriously expect it say six weeks ago but the possibility grew with each week until a team with a lot of youngsters, a few old heads, some journeymen, a team that has had a look of beautiful balance about it throughout the season, had only one more match to win – and win it they did. Fourteen goals seven to eleven goals fifteen.

I’ll write that again especially for the’best attack in the competition’ and the ‘silky-skilled left footers’. Fourteen goals seven to eleven goals fifteen. Defence wins premierships, kids.

Perky Girl just came back from a walk, she found a bar that sells bia hoi for 3000 dong a glass. That’s fifteen cents a beer. It’s time to celebrate.

About Earl O'Neill

Freelance gardener, I've thousands of books, thousands of records, one fast motorcycle and one gorgeous smart funny sexy woman. Life's pretty darn neat.

Comments

  1. Peter Fuller says:

    Earl,
    That’s an excellent account of the game, and your emotions accurately reflect the confusing flows of the match, as the ascendancy swapped hands.
    In the interests of defending a bloke who had a horrid day, Mitchell didn’t concede the free that brought the Swans the only goal during Hawthorn’s dominance late in the 3rd and early in the last. McVeigh tackled Young and won the holding the ball free; Mitchell was responsible though for the critical 50 metres, when he carelessly picked up the ball and tossed it back in McVeigh’s direction, but not directly to him. I didn’t think it significant at the time because that fortuitous goal served only to emphasise how powerfully momentum was then running with the Hawks. Hawthorn kicked 6.4 in about 28 minutes during this phase, and that goal was the Swans’ solitary score in that time.

  2. Great stuff Mopsy. I gave the Red Fox Medal to McVeigh. Stood tall whenever they were shakey. Rock solid under pressure. GF’s are a walk in the park after what he has faced. Certainty of effort overwhelmed fear of failure. Enjoy.

Leave a Comment

*