The God of the Old Testament was rather vengeful. When fired up, his wrath knew no bounds.
I’m not sure what Brad Scott got up to over the summer but I’d say it was dastardly at least: it was obviously worse than fraternising with women in fig-leaves, worse than the eating of forbidden apples, worse than the building of large towers and golden calves.
God knew Brad Scott, being a Scott, would handle pesky gnats, frenzied flies, crook livestock, festering skin sores, damaging hailstorms, swarms of locusts, and general darkness. He would deal with aimless desert-wandering, and general pestilence would have been of little concern.
Instead God made Brad Scott the coach of the North Melbourne Football Club.
Not only has he made Brad Scott the coach of North, he has then toyed with him. God has blessed Brad Scott’s charges with loads of talent, and then taken the capacity to think clearly from every single one of them.
The psalmist David would drop to his knees and weep, “Why me? Why are you doing this to me?” And he was a king. Imagine the morbid lines he’d have written if holed up at Arden Street.
Brad Scott had to face it. He thought he was through it all. He thought the depths had been plumbed. He went to Docklands last Sunday believing his lot could not get worse; that Mark Neeld was lucky by comparison; that all he wanted to be was a simple man with an alibi as well, instead of the burden of unfulfilled talent.
He got one of the most remarkable ten minutes of footy you will see.
We had dinner guests and, as we were preparing the Mexican slop and chicken burritos, the wireless was on. North, easily. The guests arrived and it was turned off. Just before we sat down to dinner we checked the score: North by 30 points with about 7 minutes of playing time left. All over.
Kids dispatched Mexican food to all parts of the dining room table and floor. They were very hard to set a field to and at one point, while topping up the guac, Lorenzo (a North supporter), turned the TV on. The final siren was just sounding. “The Crows have won,” he exclaimed.
“Oh know,” was the general call, especially from anyone who had a knowledge of The Fall. My mind turned immediately to Brad Scott: what atrocity has he committed! And what of those young men? This is Geelong of ’06, only worse. These guys are talented. But there is something fundamentally wrong.
Later that night, with the kids all down, and the Mexican cleaned from the far-flung reaches of our home, I sat down, with the remnants of the bottle of red, and watched the replay.
It’s a superb study. If you listen to the commentary, Bruce and Dennis knew it was on. The discourse is a discourse of brittleness, and almost inevitability. Footy games have moods. Footy crowds have moods. The commentators nailed this one.
They suspected it was a chance. But a couple of things confirmed it.
Scott Thompson, an outstanding defender, highly-regarded by Cats fans from his days in the Geelong seconds when he looked like Matty Scarlett and occasionally played like him, made a terrible blue. A simple chip pass – he just had to pop a soft kick in the air from 25 metres – sailed over his teammates head. If your rock is wobbly?
With about six minutes to go young Wright could have taken the air from the Crows sails. But didn’t.
Then Kerridge doesn’t miss, snapping across his body to cut the lead to 17.
Wright gets another chance, and misses again.
Douglas goals on the fly quite spectacularly in that way that would have the joint rocking at a country footy game.
There’s already a sense the Roos are in strife. What is troubling is the amount of open space there seems to be – all over the ground. Have some of the players started a poker school in the forward pocket? Why the space?
It is now a complete and utter frenzy. Lynch sidesteps and shoots for goal. As his kick drops short Kerridge (who is this bloke?) takes a mark in the goal-square. An uncontested mark? It’s now just a goal the difference.
Dennis is almost amused in the way you’d expect of a man with his sense of humour. Bruce is feeling like the Crow he tries not to show, but this is a near-impossible test for him. Cameron Ling has got the Oh-no of a man who has experienced a semi-final loss in Sydney.
Dangerfield gets the clearance – as Lingy predicts. Petrenko crumbs and snaps. A point. There’s still a minute and a half to go and the Roos are a study in jelly. They are elite jelly. I think that makes it worse.
Petrie marks at half-back. But they can’t hold the footy.
The Crows win the footy and force it forward. They fly for the mark and the footy spills over the back to…to Petrenko. What’s he doing there? He can reach down and pick it up. It’s all so quick and yet…he has time. Instead he opts for the mid-air kick on the left. He hits it sweetly and the odd-shaped ball never deviates. It’s a goal.
The Crows win in a memorable match.
I watch the last ten minutes again. If you watch it closely it is an example of the combination of the elements which make this game so compelling: skill and chance. There are numerous moments where the ball falls perfectly for Adelaide, where it bounces perfectly, where somehow a single Crow surrounded by four Roos winds up with the footy. But then, once that has happened, the Crows used their skill – and they never gave up.
Even Petrenko’s kick is a victory over Chance.
Brad Scott was a study of ostentatious why-me in the coach’s box. He looked resigned to it all. This I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening approach. Well, shake your fist at the Heavens and do something about it.
Yet, I feel terribly sorry for him. I know how he felt. We knew it at Geelong for decades. We wondered what atrocities we’d committed to deserve such wrath. Such grief.
But something happened at Geelong.
And I’m not telling you what it is.
The main reason: I don’t really know.