AFL Round 14 – West Coast v Essendon: Maintaining the rage

West Coast Eagles V Club Deroes

Stockbroker Stadium, 6.10pm Thursday###***!!!, 27 June 2013

I’ve had a prick of a week:

  • Bloody boss;
  • Bloody Labor Party;
  • Bloody pathetic Australian Cricket team;
  • Bloody 6 o’clock game start on a Thursday night;
  • Bloody greedy TV and money driven AFL;
  • Bloody drug cheats;
  • Bloody gutless AFL.

My Eagles put in their best performance of the season last Friday against the classy Hawks.  Then we lost our best midfielder and small defender to long term injuries.  On the way to the game the Avenging Eagle and I heard that Luke Shuey was a late withdrawal following a hamstring injury at training on Wednesday.

Bloody hell.

Over the course of the week our chances had drifted like a shinny 2YO.  My expectations were low and my humour even lower.  I thought of my Nan and Pop who blooded me in footy on the western mound at Thebarton Oval.  Faced with the disappointments of life and a crap footy team (coincidentally also the Eagles) they booed the shit out of the opposition and even more out of the umpires.  This seemed to bond them.

There is unity and purpose in stupid defiance.

I thought of my Labor mentor – “in victory revenge; in defeat malice.”

The Deroes ran out on a still unusually mild desert evening for June, and I booed my lungs out.  I continued this for 4 quarters whenever the former Brownlow Medallist touched the ball or whenever Lord Jim came onto the ground.  I will leave my justification until later.  For now – I just had shit on the liver.

By half way through the first quarter the Cheats had jumped out to a 4 goal to 1 lead.  My spirits had now sunk to my boots.  I predicted this.  So I redoubled my booing, and cheered manically the Eagle’s sporadic flashes of good play.

Surprisingly my strategy started to work.  Our defensive zone tightened and we dominated possession in the last 15 minutes.  2 late goals had us trailing by a respectable 3 points at quarter time.

Under the weight of my encouragement some of our maligned fringe players were standing up.  Ashley Smith was solid across half back.  Recycled midfielders Dalziell and Hutchings were winning solid possessions.

Not all were listening.  Jack Darling reasserted his claims for mug lair of the year, with a stab/dribble on goal when clear in front 20 metres out.  It hit the post.   A solid hoof would have sent it straight into the first tier of the stand.  He thinks he’s the King, but most of this season he has played like the Crown Jester.  Not to be outdone my other fave Beau Waters changed direction running the ball out of defence.  He stumbled over his own feet, had an airy, and gifted a turnover for a goal to the Chemically Enhanced.

I mean I really do love both Beau and Jack; they are classy and hard at it – when on song.  But tonight and this season they have tested my patience more than I have tested the Avenging Eagle’s (and that’s a very high bar).

My maniacal barracking and abuse increased stentoriphonically (look it up – anything Harms can do……).  The Eagles lifted in response, and a late goal to the struggling LeCras gave us a 3 point lead at half time.  God I wanted – no needed – a win tonight.

The third quarter was a ripper.   We kicked 2; they responded to level it; then 2 more to us; followed by a response by Captain Criminal.  But we were flying now for 2 more quick goals.  Priddis was in everything.  His ball handling was miraculous, and his slow motion weaving left the Peptide Parolees grasping at shadows.  I was beside myself, and we were both screaming loudly.

31 minutes into the quarter and they kick out on the full in their forward pocket.  With exquisite skill we kick across goal in an attempt to run it out.  Mackenzie stands under the lob looking as comfortable as Federer, Nadal and Hewitt combined.  He smashes out of court into the hands of Carlisle who goals as the siren sounds.  Dohhhh!!!

We have played all over them.  Our run and spirit are astonishing.  A good side would have put the Dealer Dons to the sword, and led by 6 goals with our balance of play.  Our lamentable skills have us 17 points in front at Orange Time.  This is footy at its most exquisitely infuriating.  But surely we couldn’t.  They wouldn’t.  Not after the week I’ve had.

I turn to Paul, the Avenging Eagle’s boss, who has come to the game with us tonight.  He seems a nice man for a Carlton supporter.  Rationality briefly grips me.  I tell him that “this must remind you of Carlton’s game against The Scum a few weeks ago, when you had them done to a dinner at 3Q time.”

This is really tempting the Footy Gods.  Beau Waters overhears me so he starts the quarter with a 40 metre cross goal floater to the eager arms of Davey who goals. “Beau, Beau, Beau – why do you test my love so???”

Paul, who I am meeting for the first time, shifts nervously in his seat.  “Don’t worry the Avenging Eagle understands me,” I reassure him.

Priddis has run himself to exhaustion and the Rocket Racer’s start to get on top at the clearances.  Like Laurie Connell’s chemically enhanced gelding,  the Bad Men look like they could go another lap on the bit.

The former Brownlow Medallist goals to put them in front half way through the quarter.  Jack the Lad charges into another open goal and decides to show us the ‘run at 45 degrees and screw it back over your left shoulder for a point’ routine.  Marcel Marceau applauds.

No matter – a scything pass from Gaff, who is having a blinder, hits LeCras who calmly slots it from 30 out.   We are 6 points up at the 22 minute mark.  Please, please, please.   I will go to communion, mass, temple, ashram every day for a ………..while.  Promise.  Please let the good guys win.

I hear the rattle of rolling dice in the heavens.  The Archangel Gabriel chortles “its snake eyes.”  At the 25 minute mark Carlisle marks on the 5O, right on the boundary in the left hand pocket.  I’ve seen this movie before.  Why did the Avenging Eagle bring a Carlton supporter to foretell the ending?   Carlisle slots it to level the scores.  Snake eyes.

The final minutes are madness.    Some tool sitting behind me with an I-thingummy is watching the game on Foxtel, and is counting down the time left.  3 minutes.  1 minute 55 seconds.  Roger Sterling kicks a point.  The tumbrel appears.  The ball is constantly being wrestled out of bounds.  In our panic to rush it forward, we inevitably gift a turnover.  Joan Harris flounces into goal to dribble the winner off her stiletto in the final minute.

I am packing up the sandwich boxes and the coffee cups.   The Bad Men have won by 7 points.  The momentous decline of my week has continued unabated.

But I feel strangely uplifted.  My depleted Eagles and my lunatic self have shaken our feeble fist in the face of the fates.  We are overwhelmed but unbowed.  I am proud of us, and clap us both off the ground.

I realise I have been unfair in all the scorn I have heaped on Captain Creatinine.  Lord Jim wanders onto the field, brushing his flowing locks in foppish delight.  I realise how much more I detest that thief in the night.  The smiling countenance as he picks the pockets and hearts of honest footballers everywhere.

That is the gloriously irrational version of my night and my week.  To finish I will try to put it in a rational perspective courtesy of Ian Whitchurch at The Roar website (second best Aussie Sport site to the peerless  Almanac):

“There’s three legs to this triangle (or perhaps tripod).

We want to get bigger, faster, stronger and have more endurance. This means we need to train harder than the human body is arguably meant to.

The first one is a brutal preseason. Cue The Weapon, stage left.

The second one is a healing promotant, to deal with all these brutal niggles. Something like beta thymosin-4.

The third one is to up the calorie intake, because all that running and weights is burning a lot of energy. But we don’t want this to turn into fat, so we use a fat burner, like AOD-9604, only we inject it to maximise bioavailability, because the trials done show taking it as a pill doesn’t work.

Note: it is entirely possible that muscles might react slightly better than ligaments to this process. Don’t blame me for a rash of soft tissue injuries.

Note 2: This is as illegal as all get out under WADA. Please do not do this if you are a professional athlete subject to the WADA code.”

I love the transparent struggles and morality plays of top level sport.  I hate the steely-eyed gimlets who would prostitute, debase and demean that which I treasure.

I wish Jobe no particular ill will.  He and his team mates are fools not crooks.  Though why any half bright person, would think 40 secret abdominal injections were kosher is beyond me.  I hope they all get 6 months, and have to stand out most of next season to teach others the consequences of wilful blindness.

I hope Lord Jim, Shifty Thompson and any other medical/conditioning/coaching/management staff complicit in this grubby subterfuge all get 5 years.

There I’ve said it.  It has been a naufragous week for me, and an Annus Naufragous for my West Coast Eagles.  (Malarkey copyright acknowledged).

Maniacal, irrational faith in each other and their hapless West Torrens Eagles kept my Nan and Pop together for 50 years.  I hope it does the same for the Avenging Eagle and me.

 

WEST COAST         3.4       6.6          12.10     13.13 (91)

ESSENDON             4.1      6.3         10.5       15.8 (98)

 

GOALS

West Coast: Darling 3, LeCras 3, Dalziell 2, Kennedy 2, Kerr, Priddis, Cox.

Essendon:  Winderlich 3, Watson 2, Carlisle 2, Davey 2, Merrett, Ryder, Dempsey, Crameri, Goddard, Heppell.

 

BEST

West Coast: Priddis, Gaff, Cox, Naitanui, Dalziell, Masten, Glass, Mackenzie, Kerr.

Essendon:  Pfizer, Danks, Bandidos, Merck, Sharp and Dohme.

 

Umpires: Margetts, Kamolins, Chamberlain

Attendance:  36,451

MALARKEY VOTES: Priddis (WCE) 3; Stanton (CD) 2; Gaff (WCE) 1.

 

 

Comments

  1. so this is worse than the clergy abusing children then?

  2. Andrew Fithall says:

    Great stuff PB. Excellent and timely report. It was fascinating watching the game on TV and following the arguments on twitter.

    And I could hear your boos from my loungeroom in Melbourne.

    AF

  3. LOve the tone. I read it as it was written – through clenched teeth.

  4. PB – excellent work. I’ve never watched footy in Perth probably because I’m yet to go there. One day. What’s it like over there when the home team loses? There are no opponents mouthing off (not many anyway) as the fans exit the stadium. Therefore is your losing experience incomplete?

    I ask this because when Freo beat Geelong at the G last September I found the exit very depressing because there was hardly any noise. No exuberant supporters with anchors on their jumpers yelling “Oh oh FREO!” It was all wrong.

  5. Thanks guys. Very perceptive comment Dips. I don’t really like the atmosphere of any ‘one team’ stadium. The Avenging Eagle doesn’t really understand this because she has not really experienced the difference.
    As I said in the piece, I was brought up on the SANFL of the 60’s and 70’s with my maniacal Nan and Pop. They couldn’t help themselves, so they would not go to Port Adelaide games at Alberton Oval as the Port fans would belt you not abuse you back.
    I idolised the stories of great barrackers like Yabber at the SCG.
    I have never booed Chris Judd. Made disparaging remarks about Cardboard Captains and Raheen Roubles, yes. But I respect his right to pursue his economic self interest. I also think the booing of Judd at Subiaco was largely panto ‘Punch and Judy’ stuff.
    Last night had a different tone. St Kilda stood down Milne largely to protect him from vitriol over a criminal/moral matter. Essendon and the AFL have no idea how much their cheating and immorality has offended what we all love about sport.
    If Watson didn’t want to be judged, he should not have naively confessed his guilt. We would then have all held our tongues until there was a formal judgement.
    The Peptide Parolees will not be booed at a home game against Port Power at Etihad next week, but I hope they get booed by Bulldogs and Hawks supporters in subsequent weeks – to demonstrate that our contempt is universal not parochial.
    The Essendon ‘leadership’ are Hollow Men.

  6. David Wilson says:

    Brilliant, PB. you can feel the emotional investment we all have in this game erupting like Vesuvius.
    How far from Pompeii is Windy Hill?

  7. Lord Bogan says:

    Great stuff PB,

    hell hath no fury like the righteous anger of the fan. Boos were well deserved and highly justified. This comp is a f$$$$$g shambles.

  8. The Wrap says:

    Mr B. how could you let The Scum get up when you had them nailed? I honestly thought you had them in the third. You and TAE must be gutted. But could I suggest that booing their captain gave him a ‘presence’ on the field he wouldn’t have otherwise had from The Syringes local fan club? They’ve got hides as thick as rhinos out there at Melrose Drive, in fact it’s looking like they don’t give a rat’s toss bag what anyone thinks of them.

    As for the AFL CEO, he could walk into canberra and get a job tomorrow. At the top.

  9. Ripsnorter says:

    Peter,

    A fair summary of the game – I went last night as my daughter was in the Auskick at half time and as neutral found the game a corker, was going for the eagles as I had tipped that way and thought that over the last month they have started to play in great heart although injuries cost them last night as you mentioned.

    On the booing of Jobe Watson. For the first quarter and a half only a few booed, those I guess were the Eagles supporters who actually knew who Jobe Watson was. After this the usual other 70-80% joined in and not having a go at Eagles supporters in particular as all clubs are filled with these types but there are a lot of people who go to the football who have no idea and are that one-eyed it is pointless reasoning with them.

    The league will want this to come to a head in the next month or so as I can’t see how it is possible for the bombers to contest the finals series. If they are allowed to do this 2013 could well become a real blight on the game.

    Anyway it was a great game with the backdrop of two very powerful teams facing a lot of demons of their own in 2013.

  10. Stainless says:

    PB – Given your current emotional state I’d advise you not to watch a replay of this game in case you hear any of the Channel 7 commentary. Let’s just say their views about those who dared to boo St Jobe were somewhat at odds with yours!

  11. Superb piece PB. Every non-Essendon supporter will go through this until justice is served. Like you, I hope Essendon pays a heavy heavy price for their sins. And as for Jobe’s brownlow???????? If I hear another Essendon supporter whine indignantly about it being taken from him, I’ll spew a goat. Whether he was duped, misled, coerced or just plain niave, he didn’t win that brownlow on a level playing field. It should be taken from him this minute and Essendon should pay reparations to whomever came second place for being denied what was rightfully theirs. EOS.

  12. Andrew Else says:

    Peter,

    I enjoyed this piece. Particularly so because I knew how it ended.

    Good on you for booing. Were you sitting on the Mainwaring Wing? It added to the atmosphere and the story and if the majority believe he shouldn’t be playing, then they should boo away. All very harmless.

    If he/they/us have been found to have broken the rules, then punish away (yes, Brownlow included). If they haven’t, or if there is a loophole that allows them to escape, then all well and good. I think it’s that simple. Others don’t.

    What I don’t understand is the Tour De France analogies/comparisons or, worse, Milne comparisons that seem to be popping up. I’m glad you didn’t go down that path.

    Thankyou for describing the Subiaco experience with such colour. I’ve been to 5 non-Vic venues, but haven’t made it that far. I’m looking forward to it.

    Until then, I’ll keep enjoying these victories. And even if the points are removed in the future, they’ll never be credited to our opponents. Next year will be fine. Either way, I’ll be heading to the footy to watch 22 guys in Bomber jumpers. That’s what it’s about really isn’t it?

    Yep, I’ll just sit here and sip on my lemon and lime. And a re-read of your piece will complete the drink.

    Go Dons

  13. Sal Ciardulli says:

    Fantastic piece PB. Maybe Jobe didn’t deserve the treatment he received, all he did was answer questions honestly and openly. Pity the same can’t be said for those who implemented the regime. But as a result he became the playing face of the scourge that is the PED in AFL. All pposition fans have wanted an outlet to express their dissatisfaction not only with Essendon but also the exhausting drawn out process of the ASADA, WADA and AFL investigations.

    One hopes that was the message Vlad received as opposed to the sycophantic criticism of the Eagles fans from the TV commentary team. Perhaps a little peak under the covers and put themselves in the supporters shoes would help their perspective.

  14. Great piece, PB.

    So it’s in the minutes, I wasn’t booing Jobe,he was just the personification of all those involved in the debacle with less guts than him: his coach, his club, Demetriou, the AFL…

    Sport has really kicked me in the dick this week!

  15. Peter_B says:

    Andrew,
    I was waiting for a Bombers supporter to raise their head. Congrats on your courage and balance.
    When I got to the end of the piece, I realised I hadn’t said anything about any Bombers players. So here goes – Hurley and Heppell were both really poor. And to be fair Stanton was good in the first half, and the Captain as the game wore on. Davey was always a lively threat up front. Bellchambers and Ryder worked hard in ruck and got as close as anyone to Naitanui and Cox. Winderlich is underrated. Zaharakis looked proppy, but you already had a sub on. Carlisle has a freakish genius to him. My theory is that he is Dustin Fletcher’s secret teenage love child. When Fletcher was 16 he and a brunette had a **** behind the bike sheds, and ….. Check out the arms and the running style and the uncanny judgement. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree at Bomberland – unless of course he was an early test tube experiment in Sheed’s Baby Bomber lab.
    As to your Mainwaring Wing reference – I have never had any truck with the Eagles lunatics who continue to mythologise the ‘bad boys’. I have seen too much of the damage of drugs and addiction to glory in its sporadic pleasures. I spoke out about them at the time, when most Eagles were still in the ‘not legally proven’ camp.
    I refuse to go to the annual “Mainey” game for charity that CH7 relentlessly promote. He is a good example of the benefits of dying young, before too much of the sordid evidence of life’s excesses become public as you degenerate further.
    I really admire and we should promote people doing the hard yards of recovery, but neither Mainey or Ben (to date) have made the amends to deserve respect.
    Both the party boy Eagles of the mid 2000’s and the current Bombers deserve criticism, but Essendon deserve more because it systematically originates from the club management. That brings it closer to Lance Armstrong, but obviously to nowhere near the same extremes. PED’s have been a cancer in road cycling for a hundred years. Armstrong just industrialised it.
    In a few years we will understand that AFL was lucky to have identified this at an early stage, before everyone felt the need to emulate it to keep up.
    The Bombers are a 6-8 team, who are a couple of tall key position players off a top side.

  16. Stainless says:

    It’s a pity the drugs issue overshadowed what was a cracking game in its own right.

    I’m in the JTH camp on this. I’m sick of media ravings that are, frankly, little more than speculation and opinion, based largely on personal biases. The sooner the investigation is complete and some substantive evidence is produced on all this, the better.

    That’s what I found so hypocritical about Seven’s commentary last night. The media has fuelled this fire all week and then its representatives have the temerity to criticise passionate supporters for booing the player at the centre of it with mealy-mouthed platitudes about the presumption of innocence.

    If they believe in this principle so passionately, presumably we’ll hear nothing more on the subject until ASADA releases its findings. Yeah, right.

  17. Peter_B says:

    I think you are right Stainless. I will respect due process so long as the media, Watson, Hird etc all shut up about it and preserve ‘the sanctity of the jury room’ until after the verdict.
    I went for Watson because he clearly convicted himself out of his own mouth. Ignorance of the law or the substance administered is no defence. Otherwise cheats would have a long list of ‘patsies’ willing to take the fall or provide alibis.
    US Corporations call them ‘the Vice President in charge of Going to Jail’, so that the business survives. The Mafia calls them ‘fall guys’.
    This long investigation and due process shit is generally a conspiracy to ‘go slow’ so we can bury the verdict at a more convenient time after elections/finals/contract renewals. I’m sick of all this corporatist spin and hype from our ‘great and good’ in all walks of life.
    “I’m mad as hell”…… and I’m looking forward to the weekend footy, Wimbledon, the TDF in particular and my weekly golf round tomorrow. There are a half dozen golf balls going to get a big headache tomorrow. Phew.

  18. Matty Q says:

    Boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

  19. Brad Carr says:

    Very well said, PB. I was in Perth for work and went to the game. Used a lot of the same language as yourself at times (though not “naufragous”).

    I didn’t boo Watson, but having heard of all the brouhaha since, I wish I had. As it was, my rational for not booing Watson was that (to be fair to him) I probably would’ve had to boo 20 others (the exception being Goddard, who obviously wasn’t there last year). And my vocal chords just weren’t up to it.

    I am disgusted by what Essendon have done to our sport, and by the fact that the AFL seems to be desperately trying to find a way to weasle out of having to do something about it. Some will trot out the benefit of the doubt and presumption of innocence point, but in my eyes you lose that entitlement when you keep chopping and changing your story – and then Watson’s confessional interview removed that doubt altogether anyway.

    Great sporting clubs like Juventus and Glasgow Rangers have been relegated for lesser offences, but obviously that’s in sporting leagues that have a concept of INTEGRITY, and have the courage to put that same integrity ahead of some short-term tv ratings and attendances. It both saddens and enrages me that the AFL is instead seemingly determined to stamp integrity out of the game we love.

  20. Dear all non-Essendon fans.

    Please, please keep booing Jobe. Boo him all night long, as loud as you can – boo long enough for him to get properly fired up and produce a massive final quarter like he did on Thursday.

    And he can give back the Brownlow – he’ll have the 2013 medal to take it’s place!

  21. Gregor Hedley says:

    I anticipated watching the game on Thursday night with a great deal of trepidation, given the absence of Selwood and Hurn. To discover that Shuey was a non-starter increased the degree of trepidaty. To see the dons take a 4 goal to 1 lead at the end of the first was not pleasant.but to see the endeavour from then on was glorious. Priddis is brilliant.Gaff has the start of a career.Dalziell and Hutchings will go far A good lead whittled down by a couple of clangers and a couple of suitable free kicks to the poor sports made the lounge room a place of high tension.
    Is Watson dumb but honest?Was he the sacrifice chosen because of his background,captaincy and Brownlow acting as a heat shield. Surely the AFL wouldn’t bring down one of the golden children…
    The outpouring of sycophancy by the Channel 7 commentators after the game towards the dons and jobe was nauseating and their response to the booing was predictable but wrong.Watson is a self-professed user of a drug which was not passed by any authority for use by humans in Australia and therefore illegal at that time.His team mates were weakly prepared to have him wear the flak when at least some of them have used the same drug.
    To recap,the Eagles fell by a kick. Heppell’s seagull swoop doesn’t count. Slightly better accuracy and 50/50s reversed would have meant an Eagle’s win.Would the Channel 7 commentators have mentioned them then?I wonder… I waited in vain to hear a single word of praise for them and their work.
    Which brings me to a pet peeve.If a team wins by a few points,their better players usually get the best player votes.If they lose by a few points,their individual efforts are usually not valued and yet they have played just as well if not better than anyone else and may not have contributed to the loss.Take Matty Priddis. He was the best player on the ground,but will he get the 3 votes.I’ll take the ubiquinone if he does.

  22. PS: Brad Carr, you cannot be serious about any soccer league having integrity. FIFA is just about the most corrupt sporting body going around (them and the IOC enjoy dukeing it out for that title), and European soccer leagues have an absurdly high amount of ingrained racism running through them!

  23. Brad Carr says:

    Sam, you are absolutely right about the ingrained racism in much of European soccer – but the leagues do actually punish clubs (and national sides), for instance making them play matches behind closed doors (has often happened in Italy, happened again to the Serbian national side recently). Could you imagine the AFL ever bing prepared to do that? I reckon they’d put the juicy gate receipts of a Collingwood game ahead of principle every time.

  24. To Peter B and all at the Knackery: keep up the good work; excellent pieces such as this one are the only footy stuff I am choosing to read whilst I travel.

  25. Brad, you make a solid point about the shut-outs they have when teams do continually break the rules.

    Don’t think Demetriou would quite have the balls to pull off a move like that!

Leave a Comment

*