AFL Round 13 – Brisbane v Geelong: A childhood dream fulfilled

No matter what skill you have or what level of football you have played just about every footballer has the dream of kicking a goal after the siren to win the match for their team. Some imagine that they are 70 metres out and they get onto a torp to make the oval shape ball go through the sticks, whilst others are on the boundary line kicking one from the impossible angle.

I pictured this many a time in my childhood as I would run around the front or backyard playing an imaginary game of football, commentating the match as it unfolded. Being from South Australia it was usually my team the Norwood Redlegs playing the arch enemy the Port Adelaide Magpies with me being all my favourite Norwood players like Michael Aish, Neville Roberts, Keith Thomas, Danny Jenkins and of course Gary MacIntosh. Most of these imaginary games were close with each team going goal for goal until right at the end I was the Norwood player that would mark the ball when the siren would go. As I lined up to kick the ball through the sticks (or the two gums trees in the backyard) I would imagine the crowd roaring, each of them on the edge of their seat waiting to see what would happen as the brown plastic K-Mart football  came off the boot and went sailing through the air. As the ball went through the goals (or the gum trees) I would imagine the crowd roaring as I had just won the game (quite often it was the ultimate one – the grand final). My imagination would run wild as team mates would come from everywhere and jump all over me before I was declared the hero of the match and lifted the premiership cup above my head.

Today reality of a different kind occurred as I lined up to play a footy slowdown organised by a couple of guys from the Lutheran Church I attend. Most of the guys playing were former footballers of some kind trying to play like they did when they were young. This usually meant being caught holding the ball as they thought they still had the agility to manoeuvre around an appointment or trying to take a screamer on the shoulders of their opponent only to realise that they had jumped about a couple of centimetres off the ground. As with all slowdowns it was full of comical moments as each person tried to play as if they were the gifted footballer of the past.

By the time I got home the game at the Gabba was about to start. Being a Lions supporter I was just hoping the team would put in a competitive effort against the professional unit that was Geelong. We had one of our strongest teams for the year playing, but like most pundits, I believed that we would be no match for one of the premiership favourites even if Chris Scott thought his team was not playing well.

Up until 4 minutes to go in the third quarter the match was going as most people thought it would. There were highlights from both sides but Geelong was better all over the field and because of this found themselves 52 points in front and ready for a percentage boasting win. It seemed as if the players also thought they knew what the result would be. As Jonathon Brown was lining up for goal Steven Johnson being the cheeky person he is tells Browny he bets him fifty bucks that he can’t kick the goal. That small fiscal amount must have put enough pressure on Browny to cause him to hook the kick and put it through for a behind.

Most soccer enthusiasts can remember where they were when the Maradona ‘Hand of God’ goal occurred in the World Cup Final, but will umpire Stuart Wenn’s “Golden Kick” be remember in the same way by all those who watch this game. No one would have thought that when Stevie Johnson kicked a mongrel punt in the centre of the Gabba that it would hit Wenn on the foot and dribble to Rich who would handball it to Zorko and a goal be scored. After all the Lions were still six goals down. But like all memorable comebacks some luck usually occurs and maybe that was the little bit that the Lions needed. Momentum had suddenly changed and for the rest of the match the Lions were hungry and the Cats just looked like they thought they could easily grab back control of the match and win the game as expected.

Being a right footer I have always marvelled at how magical it looks when players like Franklin swing onto the left foot and kick a goal from over fifty metres out. The same is with Daniel Rich so it was with no surprise that as he took that mark 55metres out on the boundary line with less than two minutes to go he would swing around on that left foot and kick a goal to make the scores dead level. Was I about to witness one of the best comebacks by the Lions?

Enter Tom Hawkins. As the Cats get the centre clearance and kick it towards their forward pocket Hawkins takes a finger tip mark and looks like he could  be the hero. Hawkins has already had that childhood dream of kicking a goal after the siren to win the match fulfilled when he did it for the Cats last year against the Hawks. The Footy Gods know this and Hawkins kicks a point instead of a goal and the Lions still have a chance to win.

There must be something about getting it from one end of the Gabba to the other that the Lions know how to do when the game is on the line. Last year they did it to win a match against the top of the table Eagles and tonight history is about to repeat itself but in an even more dramatic fashion. With only 20 seconds to go Daniel ‘Roger’ Merret takes a mark just on the goal square and  plays on only to find himself in trouble. He somehow gets a handball to Yeo who on his non-preferred foot manages to get a kick to Black. Still deep in the back line Black with graceful and skilful poise kicks a pin point pass to Patful. With around 10 seconds on the clock it still seems impossible that the Lions can kick a goal. Patful manages to find Adcock in the centre of the ground, who on his knees and falling forward gets a handball somehow to Zorko running through. I can’t believe what I am seeing. Zorko puts natural instinct to the side and rather than bombing the ball forward finds Ash McGrath who marks with a second left on the clock.

The siren goes. Ash McGrath is now in the position every footballer imagines one day might happen to them – lining up to score a goal after the siren to win the match. Not only that but he is going to do it on a night when he reaches the milestone of 200 games. What a fairy tale this could be. He looks cool and calm as he makes his approach. It’s as if he has done this a hundred times before. Does he not know that every Lions supporter is on the edge of their seats? As the leather of his boot hits the leather of the ball I watch the ball move through the air. It is like it is all in slow motion. As the ball gets closer to  goal it looks like it is either going to go through for a behind or hit the post. A draw looks like the best scenario for the Lions, but the footy Gods have the last say and the ball slowly drifts to the left.

IT’S A GOAL. Pandemonium occurs at the Gabba and in every household around Australia where there is a Lions supporter present. Ash McGrath’s childhood dream has become a reality as the whole team mobs him. As I am jumping up and down in the lounge room it’s as if I have also lived out my childhood dream, as if I have kicked that winning goal. This is what footy is all about – fulfilling as many of those childhood dreams when you were kicking the footy in the backyard as you possibly can.

BRISBANE LIONS   3.2    5.4     7.8     15.13 (103)
GEELONG                5.3    9.7  13.10   14.14 (98)

GOALS

Brisbane Lions: McGrath 3, Moloney 3, Rich 2, Lisle, Patfull, Brown, Zorko, Adcock, Hanley, Golby
Geelong: Hawkins 3, Christensen 2, Motlop 2, Johnson 2, Mackie, Guthrie, Murdoch, Blicavs, Podsiadly

BEST

Brisbane Lions: Moloney, McGrath, Rich, Black, Redden
Geelong: Bartel, Johnson, Blicavs, Selwood, Stokes, Enright

Umpires: Donlon, Bannister and Wenn

Crowd: 24,164

Our Votes: 3 Moloney (Bris) 2 Rich (Bris) 1 Black & McGrath(Bris) – the milestone men

 

About Andrew Weiss

Andrew is one of the few Brisbane Lions supporters that lives in the Adelaide Hills. He still has bragging rights over any Crows or Port supporter by mentioning the back to back to back premierships the Lions achieved in 2001-2003. After playing for over a decade for the mighty Adelaide Lutheran Football Club better known as 'The Doggies' he now spends his Saturdays running around footy ovals as an umpire, getting abuse no matter what decision is made. Coaching is probably next on the agenda as his two sons have started to play the great game of AFL. Andrew is a sports fanatic who when not watching or reading about sport is teaching secondary students about Biology, Nutrition and Psychology.

Comments

  1. Glenda Ellis says:

    Great report, Andrew! I don’t know how you can pinpoint the ball movements in those last seconds so well – must be a boy thing. It is still a blurred image of cheers, shouts, screams and physical agility for me.

  2. Great report.

    Got to say, if I miss a game live – which I did this time – I never watch the replay if the Cats lose. I had to see this one though to see what happened.

    Watching the last quarter was like prodding an ulcer with my tongue. It hurt, but I couldn’t stop it was inexplicably satisfying. High quality football and great tension.

  3. Andrew Weiss says:

    Thanks for the comments Glenda and Pete.

    Glenda when it comes to remembering those last 25 seconds I don’t think it is a boy thing, but rather something as dramatic as what occured is now fully imprinted in my mind. Over the last couple of days when reading, driving and even teaching my mind wonders to those last 25 seconds of the match. Last night when driving my two boys home from school the images appeared again as if I had the TV on in front of me with the replay on. When the image of the ball went through the goal I did a little fist punch in the air and yelled out “Yes” much to the bewilderment of my two boys in the back seat who looked at each other before asking me why I just yelled out ‘Yes’

    Pete I think the way you have explained how how you felt watching the game was just fantastic and oh so true.

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