AFL Round 7: Freo break their Queensland duck

Carlton versus Fremantle

7.10pm, Saturday 9 May 2009

Carrara Oval (Gold Coast Stadium), Gold Coast, QLD

By Dianne Waddingham

A quick scan of the 2009 fixture had Fremantle’s first away game outside Victoria in the glitzy, high-rise world of the Gold Coast (and Warwick Capper). Carlton sold their souls for the mighty dollar to play a home game at Carrara. Could the Dockers break their Queensland hoodoo and shake off their derby hangover?

Considering Harvey had surfing legend Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew speak to the players before the game, was there to be a wave of success roll over the Fremantle Football Club? Under a dark velvet sky and a haunting full moon, I prayed that the Dockers would not suffer a wipe out.

Footy at Carrara is like a step back in time. There is a country feel about it with a small crowd and a dodgy siren that sounds more like my old grandpa passing wind. Even Carlton’s cheer squad lent a hand raising Freo’s banner. Though the Vic Cheer squad die-hards were outnumbered in the crowd, (there were more people selling donuts) we would not be deterred. Staying silent was never an option.

I thought it ironic that my beloved Fitzroy (the team that was so cruelly taken away from me by the AFL in 1996) beat the Brisbane Bears in the Bears’ first home game at Carrara back in 1987. Would my first visit to Carrara be a winning one? Could the team I now hold so dear win their first game on the road in 2009?

Fremantle drew first blood. However their first score in every quarter was a point. Fortunately they backed it up with goals at critical times. Though Jarred Waite’s three-goal burst in the second quarter made life uncomfortable, Fremantle’s midfield of Paul Haselby, Matthew Pavlich, Byron Schammer and Garrick Ibbotson (Chris Judd’s shadow) kept applying the pressure to keep Fremantle in front at every change. Carlton’s so called “fab four” midfield of Judd, Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs and Nick Stevens were always annoyingly good and made sure Carlton remained within striking distance.

I will be forever grateful Carlton’s first five scoring shots in the third quarter were behinds. Fremantle’s very own man mountain Aaron Sandilands gave a best on ground performance with what seemed like 85 hitouts, and made sure Carlton’s Matthew Kreuzer was sent back to ruck school. With some first-rate help from rising star Stephen Hill, and Brett Peake, Fremantle was establishing a mountain for the Blues to climb.

So much for Brendan Fevola’s input. Even though it looked like Fev had pulled a right fetlock in the first few seconds of the game, he pretended to be interested and hobbled around for four quarters for very few possessions. With thanks to Chris Tarrant (who has been transformed from nervous goal kicker to confident defender), Fevola’s influence on the game was minimal. Even Taz’s atomic wedgie on Fev was a ripper (George Costanza would have been very proud). The only highlight for Fev was his soaring mark over Taz, which saved him the embarrassment of not appearing on the goal-kicking chart. Only problem for the Dockers was that it came at a crucial time in the last quarter to ensure the Blues remained in the hunt.

The Dockers just couldn’t deliver the killer punch.

A dodgy 50 metre penalty against Roger Hayden, with only a few minutes to go, gave Jordan Russell a golden opportunity to put Carlton within a kick. The ball was touched off the boot (divine intervention) to ensure the final moments of the game were exciting and excruciating at the same time. For the Dockers players and supporters, it was agony, with the memories of last years’ heartbreaking losses fresh in our minds. Déjà vu?

The last five minutes were a blur. Unfortunately it was to be played out in Carlton’s forward line. The heart was ready to jump out of my chest. I could not possibly scream any louder. I couldn’t look. A snapshot by Carlton’s Aaron Joseph missed for another behind. Should I breathe? Freo led by seven points. I willed them to hang on (and for me to hang onto my dinner). Hill climbed up over the pack to fist away the ball. Freo survived to post a rare, away win. How sweet it was to silence the ten thousand or so pro-Carlton crowd. We had finally conquered Queensland. Three wins in a row would surely command some respect. But I did not care. Who needed a voice when you had purple blood pumping through your veins – proud, passionate and loyal.

I never knew champagne could taste so good.

Fremantle    3.4    10.5    12.7    13.10 (88)
Carlton         3.2    8.4      9.10    11.15 (81)

Fremantle: Schammer, Mundy, Murphy 2, Solomon, Peake, Thornton, Sandilands, McPharlin, Hayden, Hill
Carlton: Waite 3, Cloke, Betts, Judd, Murphy, Hadley, Yarran, Joseph, Fevola

Fremantle: Hasleby, Sandilands, Schammer, Mundy, Ibbotson, Thornton
Carlton: Judd, Murphy, Scotland, Kreuzer, Waite, Gibbs

Fremantle: None
Carlton: None

Reports: Byron Schammer (Fremantle) in the fourth quarter for striking Marc Murphy (Carlton) by umpire McBurney.

Umpires: McBurney, Nicholls, Millison

Official crowd: 10,294 at Gold Coast Stadium

My Votes : Sandilands (3)

Hasleby (2)

Judd (1)

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