AFLW Grand Final – Western Bulldogs v Brisbane: Game and Throne

Western Bulldogs v Brisbane

 

Western Bulldogs v Brisbane
11.35am, Saturday, 24th March
Ikon Park, Melbourne

 

Jamie Simmons

 

 

My Grand Final week started on the Sunday previous and quite inauspiciously: Sweats, fever, cramps and vomiting. I’ve never had to barrack for Collingwood before and I can’t say that I cared for it much.

 

I was desperate to watch that game alone but as soon as I heard my fiancé Mel pull up outside I was forced to quickly run into the bedroom and put on some of her lingerie to help lessen the embarrassment.

 

I’ve done things that I’m not proud. I once purchased MMMBop by the flaxen locked minstrels Hanson, on cassingle. I wore acid wash jeans deep into 1991. At least I could offer youth as my excuse for those decisions.

 

Nevertheless, the Pies did their job and I will be forever grateful and by forever, I mean until Round 1 of next year.

 

I pull a wage in Yeronga, less than 200 metres from where the AFLW Lions call home so it gives me the ideal opportunity to sneak around the corner on Monday night to combine two of my great passions: AFL football and avoiding work.

 

It occurs to me as they begin their session with light stretching, that this may be a closed session. I appear to be the only person here not immediately involved with the team. Some of the players have begun to assess me with the same regard as…hmmm, how do I put this…well the way most women tend to look at me: With quiet suspicion.

 

Mel later suggests to me that perhaps they thought I was an opposition spy. It’s an intriguing proposition but given the disheveled state of my work shorts and shirt I suspect they were more concerned that I might try to steal loose change from of their cars.

 

Game day begins like any weekend for me, with a quick trip to Bunnings. The problem is, since leaving The Apple Isle (largely at the request of authorities), some 20 plus years ago, I have never properly adjusted to life without Daylight Savings. So, with northern timepieces fixed firmly at 1 hour and 30 odd years behind the rest of the eastern seaboard, I’ve been caught short again.

 

It annoys me that nobody up here knows how to re-set a sundial.

 

My AFL phone app whistles the signal to start the game. I beat a frenzied path to the Bunnings exit, clutching a shiny new toilet under one arm and fend off a girl scout trying to sell me raffle tickets with the other. Dodging bronzed tradies and wide eyed children brandishing sausages with too much sauce, there’s no time to properly secure my load.

 

The Dalton Dual Maxi-Flush slides briefly across my rear view mirror as I push the Sportage to its limits, turning corners into chicanes.

 

I’ve missed the first goal. I resolve to drop everything and abandon all usual pre-game routines. This means leaving a shiny new toilet in the middle of the lounge room. It may come in handy there.

 

It looks like heavy conditions. Thick grey clouds waddle across the Melbourne skyline. It’s a pity. The game’s showpiece deserves better weather but Brisbane have waded knee high through their last two home games. Perhaps this affords us some advantage.

 

Kearney is chaperoned by Exon. It’s a contest that could shape the game. Consequently, Blackburn revels early in the anonymity. You can’t tag them all.

 

It’s a ferocious contest. I’ve written often about the intensity and passion of women’s AFL. It’s what hooked me from day one. The incredible second and third efforts from players like Conti, Blackburn, Kaslar and Bates are inspiring.  I remind myself that many of these women still hold down full time employment. I admire them deeply.

 

Half time brings welcome relief for both camps. These girls must be exhausted.

 

Deanna Berry, from outside 50, ties things up on the other side of the break with a kick that corrects my lazy posture. This ball has a sense of theatre about it.  It slides and tumbles a little before pitching just long enough to give the Lions defenders hope, then gives a little shimmy before wobbling over the line.

 

Then Kirsten McLeod tiptoes unchecked around the back of a contest shortly after to pinch an easy goal late in the third. On days like today, these are the ones that hurt the opposition the most.

 

The jangling of keys announces Mel’s arrival home. She abandons her standard homecoming greetings in favour of a prolonged stare at the toilet that sits proudly in the room’s centre. I remain calm in the face of unfulfilled domestic promises: “It’s a Feng Shui thing sweetie. I read somewhere that it will bring good luck, ward off evil spirits, door to door sales types and other undesirables.”

 

Tell me I’m wrong: “Hello sir, would you care to purchase a copy of The Watch…Oh Dear Lord…what are you doing? Caleb, don’t look! Fetch the bicycles, quickly!” I think I’m on to something here.

 

Where would Brisbane be without Kate Lutkins? She boasts the lean and gentle frame of somebody more accustomed to pushing a wooden trolley around a library or chasing butterflies with a net but be assured, this lady is an astute and hardened competitor. She has repelled many a Bulldog advance today. Without her, this contest would already be over.

 

Lamb and Randall collide. Both are slow to their feet. Koenen is down now! The injured mount. The contest spits out broken bodies like they were tofu on a hamburger.

 

Wuetschner scrambles two last quarter goals of great cunning that lead me to announce my two certain requirements for our 2019 campaign:

 

  1. Retain Weutschner. Purchase a sturdy broom to keep the prying Tasmanians from our front door who would seek to adorn her in stripes of blue and white.
  2. Anoint Bates or Frederick-Traub captain for 2019.

 

It won’t be enough. A sad familiarity descends with game’s end.

 

Blackburn has been brilliant; Kearney bullish under close attention and Conti has offered the spark when needed. Across the 8 week season (Oh how I yearn for the day when this stretches long into double figures), the Bulldogs have been the best team and deserve the silverware. I am nursing back to back disappointments but remain lucid enough to know that my girls have given their all.

 

Conti is christened best afield. She’s been a livewire but I feel for Lutkins. The reality is that defenders just don’t win major awards. They’re like janitors really. You’re vaguely aware of them without ever really noticing them…until the one time they overlook that tiny piece of pizza crust under some wheezing sales rep’s tired looking chair and you’d swear it would herald the next onset of Bubonic Plague. Or maybe that’s just our office.

 

If nothing else, at least the addition of two new teams next year will give the media the opportunity to have us finishing even further down the ladder than normal. We’ll just have to prove them all wrong once again I suppose.

 

Until then, all I have left is my imagination, hoisting the porcelain throne shoulder high and out of the lounge room as though it were the cherished silverware. It’ll have to do. Well done Bullies!

 

 

Western Bulldogs 0.1  0.1  3.2  4.3 (27)
Brisbane   1.1   1.1   1.1  3.3 (21)

Goals:
Western Bulldogs  – Berry, McLeod, Conti, Kearney 1
Brisbane – Wuetschner 2, Conway 1

Best:
Western Bulldogs – Conti, Blackburn, Bruton, Birch, Kearney, Rennie
Brisbane– Lutkins, Kaslar, Anderson, Stanton, Wuetschner, Koenen

Umpires:  Mirable, Howorth, Adair                Crowd: 7,083
Our Votes: K.Lutkins (B) 3 M.Conti (W) 2 E.Blackburn (WM) 1

 

About Jamie Simmons

Born in Melbourne, a third generation Fitzroy supporter, in 1972 before emigrating to Tasmania during The Great Broccoli Famine of 86. Leaving my island lodgings, largely at the request of locals, to settle once more on the mainland in 1997. These days living out a peaceful existance on the outskirts of Brisbane, where I spend most of my time serving as a fashion warning to others.

Comments

  1. Yvette Wroby says:

    Thanks Jamie,
    I will forever have the vision of the toilet seat plonked in your lounge area as a means for getting rid of non-wanted door-to-door people. Wish they had a version for the phone people…I just leave the phone there and let them talk to themselves for a moment or two.

    I did feel for your Brissie girls, I know the feeling of two years as runner ups. They could not have done more. I think the Bulldogs were polished all over the field, and the best team all year. It will be interesting to see the changes that 2 new teams will bring.
    Thanks for all your reports. Always fun to read.

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