AFL Round 23 – Western Bulldogs v Melbourne: Aaron’s farewell and farewell to a crap season that had been rolling negatives since Lord Jim’s death

By David Bridie

We all gathered at the Mission to the Seafarers on Flinders St for an hour before the game. A Korean Women’s choir sang in the chapel next to the beer garden in between the community hall where the bar that served beer at VFL prices was. They were singing thanks for the good times to Aaron Davey. They were singing sorrowful songs in honour of Big Jim and calm down your troubles songs to Liam Jurrah and maybe I caught a glimpse of a sacrificial Chris Connolly on the altar.

 

There was a dozen of us. David Danger, he of the Tom Scully money jacket, thrown out of the G that day for having a sense of humour. Shane Christmas, a fine writer and person who finds soul and merit and humour in barracking for a side that puts the capitol G in Greek tragedy. Robbie Craw, a close friend of mine, he of Huxton Creepers fame,who spent most of the game writing a song about Lynden Dunn to the tune of “On the Road to Gundagai”, Paul RB who has pledged to impose a media ban on all things MFC related this Summer to avoid the “it’ll all come good next year” complex, and a bunch of other wonderful Melbourne faithful.. …mostly crew who would gather at the Rose Hotel in Fitzroy for the interstate games, some kindred spirits,a thrashing and a pot. Discussion mainly centred around how we are reliant upon a spoilt kid named Tyler to determine whether we would get our $2 million dollar coach, one whose major claim to fame was a polished mullet hair cut and the ability to make a side with Michael O’Loughlin, Barry Hall, Tadgh Kenneally and Adam Goodes play like a rugby league team but have wonderful camaraderie.

I am 9 days into an alcohol free zone (akin to donning a hair shirt given the way Melbourne are playing, the election is this Saturday ) so meeting at a bar was not necessarily a great idea, but nor was going to Docklands…the things we do for love.

 

The Docklands represent everything that is bad about corporate football. Its only saving grace is that it is not as yet sponsored by Gina Rinehart but after Saturday anything goes. Channel ten, Docklands, same thing. We had the twilight game, we had the work experience umpires ,we had the roof closed even though it was a perfect spring day. And as luck would have it, the infrastructure at the ground could not handle the massive 20,000 crowd, so we missed the first friggin twenty minutes waiting in line for our tickets..For the first time all year, we kicked 4 goals straight in that first twenty minutes and for the first time all year  that I can remember we were still in the game at quarter time, in fact we were in front…

 

We were positioned close to the action next to the cheer squad, four seats back from the fence. It was like watching in 3D, especially in the second quarter when the Doggies kicked 9 in a row to our end. Wil Minson is huge, especially from three metres away. I hear he is an intellectual, and he reckons he’d have a persuasive argument on any given topic as he is three metres tall and one metre across the shoulders, (though the shaved chest mutes his imposing frame…(we saw that when Jordie McKenzie doubled his game contribution by ripping off his shirt in the half time melee; twas was a pretty emotional fight..in front of the Dogs members who made a hell of a noise in the tin temple of stoush…though given the Dogs had just slaughtered us I thought that the MFC faithful giving the team a standing ovation for showing some fight was indicative of the problem at our club….it doesn’t take much to please us given what we have been through).

The head of the Melbourne cheer squad is a doppelganger for the late departed Carl Williams. I admire his perseverance and enthusiasm. I hope he is being paid well. However #Note to the cheersquad…”let’s go, Demons, let’s go, clap clap”…is not very good…it is LAME. Get rid of that next year along with Tom Gillies and Cameron Pederson. Also singing “We are the Demon, the Demon  army’  taken straight from the Balmy army chant also is just SAD…what is about Australian sports chants…we are bloody embarrassing…

Where are the “We’re fat. We’re round, three dollars to the pound” writers.

Twas a fast-paced game, Melbourne did try to take the Dogs on and as was typical all year, if not for a disastrous one quarter we may have had a chance.

Aaron gave us a chase-down forward-line pressure tackle, the kind he invented….it was a blast from the past..and brought with it the loudest shout of  “ball…yes” from our neck of the woods…and in the last quarter he sprinted towards goal, his curly hair a-flutter, his legs working again, took a bounce, sold a dummy, swung round on to his left foot from about forty metres out…we were on our feet…and then he bloody handballed it to a player in what certainly was a better position…but as we know when it comes to kicking accurately, no-one in our side is in a better position. Aaron was the postman, he always delivered…there were games when everyone in our side could not kick the proverbial barn door and Aaron would deliver a pass through the eye of a needle. Injury harmed his last four years. He was the mentor for Liam, Aussie Wona, Neville…he took the role seriously…he felt Liam and Aussie’s pain severely. Aaron has soul.

 

The second half we held our own. In fact we won quarters 1,3 and 4 .Yes,Melbourne came back but too late…we lost by four goals,and like the reaction to the melee,we were kinda pleased that we only lost by 4. The game gave us some wonderful cameos….Jeremy Howe took his usual two cracking screamers…you can jump higher at Docklands also…the roof closed makes it like the moon. One of Howe’s was over the boundary line so it didn’t count. The other was in the back pocket and he had to play on straight away  and nearly passed it straight to the opposition twenty metres out…so that didn’t count either. And he took it when we were 9 goals down. The high mark is almost irrelevant in the play on modern game unless you take it within goal kicking range.

 

Colin Garland and James Frawley (the Undertaker and Maurice to us) have classic defender poor posture…their mums would always have said put your shoulders back Colin, stand up straight. Defenders need bad posture, especially in the Melbourne back-line. They should both be All-Australian…they have done more defending than any other two defenders in the comp. And they are both wonderful players. With Tom McDonald and Dean Terlich (we debated whether calling him the Kraut was permissible these days, decided it wasn’t, but did anyway) We have a bac- line of note. Add in Neville Jetta (when your name is Neville,you don’t need a nickname, he played his heart out, is tough and fast, but prone to brain-fade moments but may have saved his position on the list today) and there’s something there. Now Lynden Dunn has another year left so he’ll be there, much to our amusement

 

“theres a hack, playin’ up back,

tries in vain to stop attacks,

and his name is Lynden Dunn”

 

 

His name sounds good in a bells of st clements kind of way.

 

We have another year of his contract  to work on the song.

 

Jack Viney and Jimmy Toumpass are future gold, Tyler. Keep them. Tough and skilled and next year will be…always next year. Chunky Jones should be All-Australian as well. He takes the best tagger each week, gets beaten and hit and never throws one back…even though he is bald and has the obligatory AFL arm of tatts. Some weeks he and the undertaker and a Jeremy mark are all we have.

Mid field-note …we clearly need a heap of them…

 

Up forward…abundance of injured riches…John Clark(e) and Brian Dawe(s) and (Paul) Hogan…the comedy threesome…chuck in Howe and Watts if Tynen decides that they can be best mates. (Watts kicked four goals, he just plays like a basketballer at ballet class…very aesthetically pleasing when things are going your way…they rarely are for us)

 

We have the ugliest ruck department in the comp…but they are big and funny. Fitzpatrick looks like Napoleon Dynamite, Jake Spencer  has been named “Betty” by Robby Craw, and Big Max Gawn may get a moniker associated with the German heavyweight Max Schmeling who took on Joe Louis in the 1930s mind you when your name is Max Gawn, you don’t need a nickname either.

 

Losing to the Dogs is palatable…great club. I spent a fair amount of time admiring Bob Murphy’s calm skill and disposal, and drooling at Ryan Griffen and the young Libba and Wallis’s skills. I’m not sure playing home games at Docklands helps any team’s quest for the ultimate prize…And the Dogs faithful cheered off Daniel Cross and Gia.

We did the same to Aaron,and then some lowlife idiot kick-hit this guy close to us outside the game, splitting his head open and Shane held his head together until the medicos came…and suddenly it wasn’t amusing anymore.

About david bridie

melbourne football club will win the grand final the year after I die

Comments

  1. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Great aricle David amusing and informative a shame about the Moron at the end

  2. Love this piece, dbridie.
    Many laughs. And sighs, too.

    You’ve nailed the Docklands.
    There seems to be a real opportunity to develop a witty, catchy, sing-along culture in Australian sport, but it’s not been taken yet.
    Lynden Dunn of St. Clements notwithstanding.
    Oi Oi Oi.

  3. Andrew Fithall says:

    An enjoyable read David. I like your nickname for James Frawley. An obscure football/music connection for you: the late Maurice Frawley is a cousin of Herb Barlow – father of Fremantle’s Michael.

    And next time you are scheduling shows at the Substation, stay away from footy finals. Although I am sure the show will go well. Good venue.

    AF

  4. mickey randall says:

    Wonderful piece. Most amusing.

  5. Andrew Starkie says:

    Great piece. Docklands is the Dungeon. truly horrible place.

  6. Sean Gorman says:

    great piece – Farewell Flash.

  7. Paul Edwards says:

    My Dad constantly went on about 10 premierships in 26 years. Melbourne won the flag the year before I was born. They made the finals when I was 21. And they are destined to win the flag the flag the year after I die. Toss you for it David.

  8. Neil Belford says:

    Well there you go – Michael Barlow is definitely a Working Class Ringo so it all adds up.

    David – writing – you are good at it. It occurs to me that the demise in support for the mighty Fuchsias is directly related to the demise of The Age as a publication and the loss intellectualism in our society. From my observations Melbourne supporters at-ground comments/abuse etc. has definitely been the wittiest over the years so don’t despair too much about the cheer-squad lameness. I think the Shining Path has been at work thinning your numbers. They would definitely do you in a heartbeat.

  9. Barbara Smith says:

    I really liked your article David. At least you have comrades and humour at the footy. (Much like prisoners of war I guess.)
    We will all be watching to see how Roos turns it around.

  10. I think the Shining Paths would be a great moniker for a football team…better than the Cougars or the Heat .
    Wonderful Michael Barlow connection.He is a good story.Working Class Ringo indeed.

  11. Nice DB. I think the Dees will turn it around next year……

    Yeah Docklands is horrible… that’s why we refused to play a final there. In my meeting with Demetriou I said: “We’re not playing in that dungeon, find us an oval in the country somewhere.”

  12. David, Shining Path was the name of the Peruvian Communist Party, during their revoulutionary heyday of the late 1980’s, early 1990’s. Sendero Luminoso, for those who know their Spanish.

    Glen!

  13. Wonderful piece.
    I too was shaken into consciousness at the end of the 2nd quarter by the melee, but will swear it was Jack Viney who climbed on to the back of Minson and removed the guernsey.

  14. A great view from the alcohol free zone.

    Down from Brisbane on the mission to see if we could avoid the spoon and being there in the 3D lounge for Flash’s last game and scoring 87 and losing by only 20.

    It was a memorable afternoon.

    Thank you David.

  15. Hey Jonathan

    was great to catch up and share what was a pretty memorable day

    catch you next time Im up in bris vegas

    d

  16. and rosemary,thats even better if it was young Jack

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