Our room has windows that stretch from the carpet to the ceiling. They must be nearly three metres high and they curl and tower around the room like a slips cordon. Through these windows is a glorious afternoon filled in by marshy terrain, golf courses, beaches and four scoops of sky. There is also a maintenance shed which is rather prominent, but that’s easily overlooked.
The wide, swerving expanses narrow in the distance until the land almost becomes a juicy, fast bowlers wicket leading to the horizon. On the leg side is Port Philip Bay, on the off side is Bass Strait. At least I think that’s what it is. Maybe I’m confused because I bat left-handed and because it’s footy season anyway.
On the carpet in front of the window is a table. On that table is two half-full champagne glasses. Next to the table are two chairs. One of the chairs is accommodating my feet, the other is nursing my backside.
My eyes are transfixed…on the Foxtel iphone app.
Our weekend getaway to Cape Schanck was made possible through a bye for the thirds team I’m currently coaching. Given we are finals-bound, I had suggested to my wife that we have this weekend away to relax before a (hopefully) hectic September. I realised that this also included missing the Essendon game, but with probably 30-40 live games of either AFL or local footy under my belt this year, I was happy to have a week off…as long as there was a radio or iPhone in sight.
I should note that Mrs E is no long-suffering footy widow. As a Fitzroy fan, she attended the Western Oval on a bi-weekly basis and never once left early. As a Brisbane fan, she’s attended 4 Grand Finals and makes an annual trip to the Gabba. Right now, I believe she’s kicking herself that she didn’t follow through on her hunch to get a piece of ‘Squizzy’ Taylor at $13 for the Rising Star two weeks ago.
So, I can’t pretend that I’m ‘facing the wrath’ by eschewing some romance for live action from the Docklands. Truth be told, I was only able to get a hold of the iPhone after a certain someone watched the final minutes of the Roos v Crows game as it was a crucial encounter in her footy tips. I fetched the bags from the car during that time.
What should also be pointed out is that this ‘app grab’ was a last resort. I didn’t want to be here (as in this frame of mind. The Cape was lovely). The plan was to follow the game on the radio while we were in the car, and to make socially acceptable glances at the scores whilst we were going about our day. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting Essendon to smash the Suns, and I proceeded with caution in the early stages, but when a four goal lead was established early in the third quarter against a team that had been running on fumes for months, I expected the Bombers to ‘flick the switch’.
But, really, what ‘switch’ does Essendon have? With Daniher in his early years and Carlisle also relatively young and not quite consistent, we just aren’t able to score a glut of goals when required. What is also glaringly obvious is the lack of a small forward. As effective as Winderlich can be, he is retiring for a reason. He just can’t do it every week. As irritating as the diving, goal-hanging, joe-the-goose antics of a Betts, Milne or Thomas can be, a good small forward can mean 30-40 goals plus almost as many assists for the season. The two metre radius around Joe Daniher’s feet should be posted by Essendon on Domain.com.au for sale to the highest bidder as there is no other area with greater scope for growth potential and return on investment in the Essendon side.
That’s not to say that Dell’Olio, Collier or Fantasia couldn’t do it one day. It’s just that they can’t do it right now. And as good as Paul “Pick 84” Chapman has been, he’s not playing as a small forward. I’m actually not sure where he’s playing. I just know he gets 20 touches and one goal a week and that he loves last quarters.
What Essendon do have, incredibly, is a midfield with depth and class. If you’re Essendon fan, you’ll know why I threw ‘incredibly’ in there. It’s been a while since that could be said. Another statement that may have once seemed fanciful is that the Bombers struggled once Cale ‘The Superfood’ Hooker went down. What reliable hands he has.
Despite some brain-fades and some unwanted buffering and signal drop outs, the Dons got over the line and the weekend could proceed as planned. As the night set in, bursts of lightning flashed over Bass Strait and lit up the windows before darkening so quickly it seemed that someone had pressed the lock button. We bypassed Hawks v Cats for a feed at the Flinders pub. That was an easy decision.
Sun, clouds, storms…whatever. It’s all worth watching.