AFL Round 4 – West Coast v Carlton: Night of my nemeses

Carlton playing West Coast to me is like following a Liberal leadership battle or watching Chelsea playing Manchester United in a cup final…I don’t want to see a winner. A bit harsh but when those two teams were part of the unholy alliance that put Geelong to the sword in 3 or the 4 hellish grand final losses circa 1989-1995 then there has to be some scar tissue.

A good friend I grew up with, Dave we’ll call him, was always Carlton through and through just as much as the rest of his family were surgically attached to the South Fremantle FC Members Bar and the Rockingham Branch of the ALP. Being the supporter of a fellow Victorian team we would often have to circle the wagons in the midst of Eagles and later Dockers fans haranguing us for being non-believers in the great WA footy manifesto and traitors to our great state.

We watched the ‘95 Grand Final together after travelling on a boat down the Murray from Mandurah to Ravenswood and if not for winning $100 on a horse named after a U2 album at half time it would have been a hellish experience for me. The boat trip back was mainly spent defending my scarf or myself from being thrown in to the water by gloating Blues in some bizarre Footy version of a Joseph Conrad novel. The only CD on board an ELO ‘best of’ with the sound of Jeff Lynne’s voice which still gives me nightmares and a nervous tick to this day as some permanent reminder of the pain the Blues had caused.

Still, despite us growing apart in many ways Dave and I still catch up for a few games a year. This was a must win for both sides at Subi but Dave had long given away the trip up to watch them following a car accident and left that to his partner to sometimes head up and fly the flag and verbally stoush with any Eagle within her orbit. Arriving at his house it’s like a Carlton trophy case somewhere in the vicinity of coordinates 37°47?2?S 144°57?42?E in Melbourne and not in suburban Rockingham. I walk in and there’s Dave with a bourbon, his Carlton scarf, the phone off the hook and a look of dogged determination that it would be a Blues win that saw him bet the usual number of cartons and Lotto slikpiks with others.

After the high standard of the previous nights’ match up in Sydney the initial opening stanza is grotty and slow to say the least. It takes a cracking and unsurprisingly accurate goal from the Cervantes boy Mark LeCras to liven up the crowd and the game with Brian Taylor’s commentary having all the hallmarks of an attention seeking child trying to win their parents gaze at a family BBQ.

There’s something off about the Eagles though and it’s not because half of the team having beards and cheap tatts which makes them look like gypsies that have come to town with Circus Del Soleil. They have injuries but their kicks spray, their legs seem to weigh a tonne and tackles don’t stick. They’re powerful forward line is also all over the place. Carlton plays to their strengths and above all work for each other which they had been doing in the past few weeks but against more in-form competition. Despite not having a key forward Carlton manage to run in goals instead and exploit the Eagles’ static defence with Yarran’s 17 minutes burst the difference that splits the game apart from a ho hum borefest in to a result that will pose more questions than answers. The Eagles work their arse off just to get inside their forward 50 (and miss) with the Blues walking (or running) it in to theirs and getting 6 points. It was almost a year to do the day since the Eagles had another sludgy effort against the Hawks with a similar scoreline, something to do with the equinox?

Carlton 20 points up at half time and the Eagles 3.14.

Dave is still restless yet satisfied as there only seems to be one team in it. “They’re shit without Natantui and he’s shit and all” is one of contradictory pearls of wisdom he spouts as he cooks up a grease filled storm to satisfy the merch clad children to keep them quiet during the second half.

Carlton try to tighten the noose in the second half with Henderson and Jamieson using their telekinetic ability to read the play between each other and repel West Coast attacks. This deflated the crowd who had seemingly been deflated since the bouncedown. Maybe it was the white noise of Brian Taylor’s commentary that drowned out the crowd on the coverage but their usual wall of noise and baying for the blood of an umpire or some other scapegoat when they’re in a tight game was replaced by mild pantomime booing for Judd and not much else.

The Blues were rarely left in a one on one situation in the Eagles but the Eagles were now starting to click slightly and outscored the Blues (or the Diet Blues as remarked by Dave for their away shirts) by 4 points thanks to a three straight goals in the lead up to three-quarter time to still leave the game in the balance. Dave wasn’t happy yet nonchalantly walked outside at 3 quarter time and threw a deckchair across the lawn as a token bit of frustration at not being able to close out the game after being statuesque during the term.

“Close quarter that” was the excuse upon his return after a nervous ciggie or three.

He had no need to be nervous though. Carlton ramped up the pressure in the final quarter and once again exposed the Eagles’ weaknesses by making their attack look limp and supposedly star midfield rudderless with a 24 point win the final result. Just beforehand Dave put the phone back on the hook and began with the Carlton arrogance I’d known since later in the 1993 season.

“This could be the million. Can pay for my grand final trip” was one Elliotesque quip in reference to all the lotto opportunities coming his way this week.

Not the most enjoyable game to watch but both teams are 1-3 and a long way from mine at the moment which was comforting to know as I listened to Dave’s boasting and claims of what would happen this season with a probability percentage of 5% or below as I made for the door.

Another game of purgatory for me but the Blues had their first win and the WA Media were ready to carve up the Eagles all week. This was only the beginning.

 

West Coast      2.5 3.14  7.18   7.23  (65)
Carlton            2.8 7.10  10.15 12.17 (89)

 

GOALS
West Coast:LeCras 2, Gaff, Hams, Kerr, Darling, Shuey.

Carlton: Yarran 4, Walker, McLean, Armfield, Garlett, Lucas, Simpson, Robinson, Rowe
BEST

West Coast: Selwood, Shuey, LeCras, Priddis, Masten,

Carlton: Murphy, McLean, Yarran, Garlett, Carrazzo, Armfield.

Umpires: McInerney, Farmer, Fila.

Official crowd: 38,674

Our Votes: 3-Murphy 2-Armfield 1-Yarran

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    Wonderful game, that ’95 GF Dennis.

  2. “They have injuries but their kicks spray, their legs seem to weigh a tonne and tackles don’t stick.”
    Got it in one Dennis. We are looking for a coach. Are you up for it?
    I thought it was a terrible game – 10th versus 14th was my summary. How did you see the standard of both teams as a dispassionate observer?

  3. Dennis Gedling says:

    I unfairly compared it to the game from the night before but the whole game including the crowd and that awful away strip of Carltons all seemed not up to it. Not sure what it was like at the game, might not have heard the crowd that much because BT’s commentary was screaming in my face at close range.

    The Eagles still lack a good in and under midfielder. They have plenty of seagulls ready to take the pass and hit a Kennedy or Darling in the 50 but who’s that grunty midfielder that wins the ball. Scott Selwood?

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