AFL Round 7: (FPS) Buffalo Gals go round the outside

by Ramon Dobb

Ouch!  I’m not sure who had the tougher debut, Steele Sidebottom or myself. But I’ll do my best in the spirit of our new Ironman who can hold his head high after a good debut in very difficult circumstances.

con
?fu?sion

– noun

1. the act of confusing.

2. the state of being confused.

3. disorder; upheaval; tumult; chaos.

4. lack of clearness or distinctness.

5. perplexity; bewilderment.

6. embarrassment or abashment.

7. Psychiatry.

8. Archaic. Defeat, overthrow, or ruin.

Introduction
Of all the oppo rivalries, it’s the Aints that gives me the most confusion and weirdest mind games – so it’s only fitting that in the spirit of Sesame Street, the word for the day is “Confusion”.  As my pre-season profile suggested, I’ve got a considerable dislike of all other sides. Carlton
is obviously number one as anyone in the mid 40s age bracket will understand this unconditional hatred (kids, hate is a bad word, this is “footy hate” which is different to just “hate”). And every other team runs a close runner up to them in my book.    But with the Aints there’s some more complex psychological factors at play for me.  Firstly, it is my Better Half’s team of choice – yes, she was lured by the glamour of the Barker/Roberts/Lemon Rinse set in the 70s and  80s.  One of my closest life-long mates, is a mad Aints fan and almost a mirror image of me as a Pies fan – so I understand and relate to his mental anguish.  And to top it off I played my junior footy in Aints colours and grew up 10 minutes from Moorabbin which meant a mixed appreciation and lack thereof for their jumper.

Reasons to be Confused Part 1- The Prelude.
I’m confused….. Monday night football.  Why??? I repeat,, Why???  I know I have to get over my 70s & 80s fixation of 6 Saturday arvo games and I’ve grown to enjoy Friday night, the odd Saturday night, and even a Sunday game or two, but Monday night!!!?!?!??  It’s like being kept in detention after school – you have to turn up but your heart is just not in it.

I’m confused….. Pies and Aints at “Eddie Had a Stadium”. Why??? In November 08, just two months after we locked horns with the Aints in a Semi Final, I scan the fixture and notice the “replay” is at a ground with 50,000 capacity.  It’s not rocket science that the probability of a Pies v Aints match in round 7 might draw a reasonable crowd – so why at Eddie Had a Stadium???  And even whyer (kids, I know that’s not a Sesame Street approved word, but please go with me on it),,,,, why do we have the mystery that a Collingwood home game is played at St Kilda’s home ground.  As Tom Jones would belt out,,,, “Why Why Why Delilah???”

46,000 mad fans made the trip and I’m sure Andy Pandy and Adwian at AFL HQ will hail Monday night football a success.  Sadly, they couldn’t be further from the truth as it was of the lamest atmosphere I’ve experienced in my 700 game plus spectating career – even Drew Morphett could see that it was the Pies and Aints that people wanted to see in spite of it being a Monday night game, and he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.  Here’s an idea AFL, why not trial it with the Kangas and Port to see what a resounding success it is.

I’m confused….. we knew there would be no Didak, Anthony and probably Medhurst, but why do I get a text message at the pub 45 minutes before the game from big bro saying Neon Leon is out????  What’s wrong with him, where did that come from?  We’ve got the most advanced facilities at Lexusland and the highest payroll for footy ops but for the past 3 or 4 years it seems all our talent seems to be regularly in the stands injured, or suspended or on the pine with a dressing gown and a bandage or ice-pack.

Reasons to be Confused Part 2 – The Game-Plan and structure.
Three buffalo gals go round the outside, round the outside, round the outside. Three buffalo gals go round the outside….“.  One suspects that in Coach Micky Malthouse’s wild days in the early 80s that the number-one hit of his “inital-sake”, Malcolm McLaren, was his favourite song so he decided to build a game-plan around it.  If this MM conspiracy theory is unfounded, then one wonders whether as a little boy if MM’s parents told tall stories of the boogeyman being in the corridor of the family home that has him so fearful of The Corridor.

In the spirit of lateral thinking, I’m wondering if we can employ some left field strategies to counter this current fixation.  Back in the 80s and 90s, our Pies thinktank proposed getting a cheersquad member to put on an oppo jumper whenever Jamie Turner would line up for goal, as he’d be certain to drill it onto his chest and straight through the middle.  In this modern era of 2009, one wonders if we could only replicate some white lines from the goalsquare to the centre circle, which I feel would result in precision leads up the corridor and pinpoint accuracy of our kickers.  

I’m confused….. I know JA, Medders, Neon and Dids leave a huge hole in our forward line and inside 50 options, but what’s with our structure? Pendles our most constructive clearance player seems to be anywhere but the centre square or at a stoppage. Stanners has apparently been our hard bodied clearance king in the VFL side and Heath our best rebounding HBFlanker and wannabe midfielder, but for some obscure reason they appear as the “great white hope” key forwards.


Reasons to be Confused Part 3 – The Game.
I’m confused…. with our inability to hit a target or kick the ball through the big sticks. We start the first quarter and a half with some good intensity and defensive pressure and have the Aints earning most of their kicks.  But yet again, like Sam from The Brady Bunch, we butcher opportunity after opportunity.  1 goal 5 points and countless other non scoring opportunities midway through the 2nd quarter and we’re 3 goals down instead of being in front.    To their credit the Aints disposal is clinical and precise to their forwards’ advantage and ours is up, down, round and round that has our makeshift forward line doing Aerobics Oz Style impersonations.  On the odd occasion that we do find a target, our finishing  leaves me bewildered – Weller’s brain fade play on from 10m in forward pocket which sees him play on 2 metres the wrong side of the mark so he’s kicking the ball from a worse angle than where he marked it – Daisy’s developed an outswinger that Terry Alderman would be proud of, but with all our training, can’t master the reverse swing to kick a goal from the opposite pocket when we need it – Ricky Junior (who, as an aside, bears an uncanny resemblance to Captain Kremmen) storms into goal 35 metres out and can’t make the distance!  Aaaaaauuugggghhh!

Whilst our intensity close in is admirable, we’re not running hard enough on the offensive or defensive, so once the Aints find some space despite our relentless pressure, they quite easily set up scoring chances. I’m confused….. How can you have the same amount of inside 50s and lose by 15 goals?

I’m confused with the rules and the umpiring. The “old holding the man after a tackle and get 50 metres” trick, seriously, is this the most ridiculous rule you have ever seen, oh sorry forgot about the hands in the back rule. Holding the ball, prior opportunity interpretation?  Is there any chance there’ll be any consistency on this rule? They blow the whistle and no-one knows whats going on. I watch the replay (for professional journalism purposes only) and hear again that Messrs Buckley, Matthews and Commetti are also confused, again.

I’m confused with the treatment of the respective number 23s. One (I’ll give you a hint, he was wearing black and white, with no red) seems to be being punished for a previous workplace bullying allegation and his opponent appears to be on a Return to The Workplace Scheme after 24 months sick leave and being looked after my the HR department. The other, and his partner in crime who appears to have taken James Hird’s crown as umpire’s Golden Boy, appear to be beneficiaries of some favourable treatment.

I’m confused with Clokey’s poor form – he was a gun in 07 and most of 08, but looks a million miles away from it now. I’m confused why Daisy’s lost his mojo – he’s running hard and trying his guts out but can’t take a mark or kick a goal. I’m confused with Marty’s sluggishness. I’m confused with Rocca’s attempts at kicking for goal. I’m confused how Harry could get toweled up by Milne and Schneider at various times (as a side note, I’m confused with that little $%#$%@#$% Milne’s “Lleyton Hewitt impersonation” celebrating a goal in the last quarter). I’m confused that most of our players can show promise and effort and then completely stuff things up with a fumble, clanger or brain-fade.

I’m confused because despite the horror of the night, I can find a couple of minute glimmers of positives, as follows:

Maxy – tried harder than a Reality TV Show Contestant, but sadly has the same level of talent so just like most of them, he struggles to make the big impact that we need from a captain.

Presti – was tighter on the Llama lookalike than Joan Kirner’s leotard, but both inevitably reached breaking point in the end.

Pendles – is as polished as a Gunner’s boots and used his with the same precision. But unlike the Gunner, he lacked the killer impact on the night.

Sidey – like Jeffrey from the Solvol TV ad, Ironman showed some clean hands and had the vision of Fearless Fly (with glasses). Could be – dare I say the “p” word – a prospect.

Wellers – just like the 70’s version of Elvis, showed some flair. Another in the “p” word category with some good patches of midfield running and quality finishing.

Conclusion

As I return home to the Sunny Coast after a few days in my old home town, my beloved Better Half greets me with a smile and is happy. My best mate will honour our “post game 7 day no contact pact”, but I know he’s happy and also still dreading their likely usual implosion and my old Under 17 MDJFC footy jumper remains in mothballs buried deep in a box in the garage somewhere.

THE END.

That was strangely therapeutic for me to relive this traumatic evening, but I’m not sure that it’s of any help to you all. So in the spirit of Steve’s recent flashbacks I offer the following vignettes to help remind you of better times.

Moorabbin 1975 – just like Steve, I was there too and it’s clearly in my top 5 home & away games. My hero, Fabulous Phil, snagging 11 goals in his second game back from his broken foot. Pricey and Graeme Shephard (the white Gladstone Small and FOH – father of coodabeen Heath) came on at ¾ time and blitzed the midfield feeding the insatiable Fab Phil. We sat in the Aints Members Stand using friends tickets who couldn’t attend and given our loud barracking style, we unintentionally prompted sobbing from the locals and calls of “what are they doing in here?”. PS. Does anyone have this classic on DVD or video????

Daics in 79 – the birth of a genius who would help deliver the Holy Grail a decade later. 30 goals and a shellacking. A similar scoreline the following year.

BT Round 22 1986. After counting down every goal every week (Round 1, “99 to go”), the big Barge steered through his 100th and we yelled out “none to go” and gave us a good excuse to celebrate our cult hero.

1989 Vic Park. BT on fire with 9 goals while Plugger gets 2 up the other end. Daics has a field day with 30+ possessions and Clokey Senior’s running around like a wingman.

1991 draw at Moorabbin – sure it was a draw, but when Tony Francis kicked the goal deep in time on to put us a point in front it prompted one of the greatest pogos (ie. jumping up and down deliriously in celebration). Also, stood near the funniest blokes I’ve ever heard at the footy with best one liners and humourous vindictive comments (mostly at Brian Wilson and Russell Morris) that I’ve ever heard.

1991 Daics at VFL Park – sliced up Rice, Taylor and Frawley on a cold wet windy Arctic Park kicking 8 by ¾ time, while Plugger up the other end was having another famine. Daics just loved to pull out a big game against another power forward (eg. Plugger, Ablett and even Jakovich during his 15 minutes of fame).

1999 VFL Park. First AFL game for Daughter No. 2 (aged 4 years). D1 was already brainwashed Pies fan (with Better Half’s begrudging approval). D2 was neutral. We went as a family but due to miscommunication of meeting up after I had to enter thru AFL Members, D2 and Dad are alone. Siren goes, ball is bounced and D2 screams “Go Pies”. Later in the first quarter, she tells me if Pies wins she’s going to “send them a letter”. This was the game a week after “Rupertgate” at AAMI Stadium which I attended and the Pies storm home in second half with Tazz and Rupert starring. Dad, D1 and D2 jump around and sing the theme song with gusto and Mum looks on despondently.

2003 Docklands – the Aints play in, and play like, Lemons. Tazz in All Australian form takes a zillion marks and becomes D2’s first pin up boy.

About Ramon Dobb

A footy and cricket fanatic. A lifelong passionate one eyed Mighty Magpie fanatic. My writing is unashamedly written with one black & white eye open only – so please don’t take offence, it’s nothing personal, it’s just the black & white way! Also a lifelong player and member of Washington Park Cricket Club, the Mighty Sharks.

My 15 minutes of fame includes regular contributions to Hot Pies, the 1999-2004 Fanzine, and regular contributor to the Coodabeen Champions weekly competition from their heady 3RRR days.

Go Pies and Floreat Pica.

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