I have these dreams where the past won’t let go and keeps returning to haunt me in different guises. Different lives. Different wives. But each time I wake trembling with regret and insecurities.
Now these dreams haunt my days as much as my nights. On Saturday afternoon I tremble over my four foot putts like Adam Scott at Muirfield. The pro shop has broomstick putters on the ‘going out of business’ rack. It is full of sticks that look skinnier than an Eagles midfielder.
On my Sunday morning walk I puff and stagger like Cadel Evans going up Mont Ventoux. And then when I try to put the Australian cricket team out of my mind, they turn up in blue and gold guernseys at Subi on Sunday afternoon!
I thought my Eagles were turning the corner in recent weeks. Honourable losses instead of humiliating defeats. We were in it up to the last quarter against the Purple Scum Old Enemy at Trent Bridge last weekend.
Today the freezing desert morning gives way to a baking sun by early afternoon on a hard, fast track at what used to be St John’s Wood (Woosha is now more sinner than saint). We have won only 2 at home this season and have lost our last 6 against the Swans. St John will need to produce a lot of loaves and fishes from his meagre basket of available talent to feed the 35,000 in the starving multitude (did I tell you it’s the smallest home crowd in the last year?)
There is a strange familiarity to how the game unfolds:
Day 1 – We are surprisingly competitive. Perhaps this will be like the previous Test, where we fight relentlessly against a better credentialed opponent? The game is open and flowing. While they have the best of it and rack up more possessions, we are only a goal down at the break of play.
Day 2 – This is a slow motion train wreck. I write ‘scarey’ in my Record at the 8 minute mark, and tell the Avenging Eagle that we will be 10 goals behind by half time if we can’t find someone to do some heavy lifting at the stoppages. Their hulking midfielders all look trained by Bart Cummings. Ours by Jenny Craig. There is a metronomic certainty to Sydney’s play as they ruthlessly demolish us. Their passes skim 40 metres onto chests. Ours float 30 metres to a vacant outfield. Where have I seen this ineptitude before? When all seems lost there is a late flurry and we go to the break only 5 goals down. I feel relieved that we are hapless not hopeless.
Day 3 – This is the slow relentless grind. More “A Comedy of Errors” than “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Subiaco Oval is being torn down soon, with its replacement ready by 2017 on the banks of the Swan River near Packer’s Palace at Burswood. This will come as a great relief for late afternoon games where the low winter sun sets in the eyes of those of us seated at the eastern end of the ground. Subi was foolishly built on an East-West axis. Fans and farmers alike always pray for cloudy skies at 2.40 games. After half time, I couldn’t see the game. I didn’t want to see the game. Time and mercy called an end with the Swans 6 goals in front.
Day 4 – A brief flurry and then familiar humiliation. With the sun in their eyes the Sydney defence offered some unfamiliar turnovers, and 3 quick goals to the Eagles had us wondering “we couldn’t, could we?” Of course we couldn’t. Sydney lowered their eyes and before you could say ‘DRS’ they were 7 in front again, and merely toying with us. A last wicket stand by the extraordinary Josh Kennedy (both of them) got us back to 6 goals behind as Old Father Time said ‘enough’s enough’. The Avenging Eagle stood to clap her boys off. I couldn’t muster applause or abuse; I just thought ‘how the mighty have fallen’. Where have I heard that before?
- The Ashes Holders:
- Kurt Tippett – Foreign import with impressive physique who bats 4 and is always dangerous. Unloved by fan and foe alike.
- Daniel Hannebery – Sandy haired accumulator in the middle order who collects possessions like Bell collect centuries.
- Jarrad McVeigh – A safe pair of hands behind the stumps, whose constant chatter and example inspires attack from defence. It must be the designer stubble.
- Josh Kennedy – Like Jimmy Anderson there’s nothing he can’t do with the ball. Lovely kick. Tireless worker.
- Ted Richards – Bats at 3. Another import who rarely puts a foot wrong.
- Ryan O’Keefe – Solid opening bat and ‘leftie’. On-field leader who is unassuming but always reliable.
- Kieren and Brandon Jack – Joe and Billy Root. There is an endless supply of these fresh faced, sandy haired accumulators sent to torment us.
- Mike Pyke – Broad of beam, and destroyed us with both bat and ball. Strong marking around the ground and kicked telling goals.
- The Faded Glories:
- Nic Naitanui – Injury prone quick bowler who can tear an opposition apart, but is struggling for form and direction at the moment.
- Josh Kennedy – Like Siddle – the hardest working man in a team not noted for spirit and work ethic. Ran himself to exhaustion at Centre Half Forward with 20 disposals and 4 big ones.
- Darren Glass – Always contributes. Leads by example. Keeps his head when most around him are losing theirs.
- Matt Priddis – Like Ryan Harris is the workhorse of the team. Always does just enough to beat his opponents.
- Mark LeCras – Burst on the scene as a brilliant attacker a couple of years back. Now kicks for goal with the haunted look of Phil Hughes facing Swann.
- Adam Selwood – Our keeper only catches the gifts these days. Feet and reflexes not what they were. Gets a game to add experience not runs (you could add Cox, Kerr and Embley to the list as fading lights of other days).
Sport should be a release from the worries of the day, not a reminder.
“To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come?”
Not this year. Maybe next.
WEST COAST EAGLES 3.4 5.6 6.8 11.13 (79)
SYDNEY SWANS 4.4 10.8 12.9 17.11 (113)
West Coast: Kennedy 4, Wellingham, Dalziell, Morton, Cox, Darling, Naitanui, Masten
Sydney Swans: Tippett 3, Pyke 2, Lamb 2, K.Jack 2, Hannebery 2, Kennedy, Parker, White, Bolton, Mumford, B.Jack
West Coast: Kennedy, Glass, Priddis, Masten.
Sydney Swans: Hannebery, Kennedy, McVeigh, K Jack, Pyke, Smith
Umpires: Margetts, Meredith, Foot
Our Votes : Daniel Hannebery (SS) 3; Josh Kennedy (SS) 2; Josh Kennedy (WCE) 1 – I always wanted to do that.