AFLW Round 7 – Western Bulldogs v Melbourne: Gorn, Gorn, Gorn

I’m off to see Robert Plant at the Palais in a week or so.

 

I can’t wait.

 

His recent recording output, starting with Mighty ReArranger in 2005 has been great to outstanding. I would venture to say, IMHO, that these albums could challenge Led Zep records for imagination, instrumentation and melody. At their best they’re better.

 

In the last week or so several of us Almanacers had a bit of banter on Twitter. One Almanacer posted a link to a review of Springsteen’s 1982 album Nebraska. Another Almancer replied, “I prefer Pony Face’s version”. Pony Face are a current Australian band and they covered Nebraska as an album a couple of years back.

 

Aint it funny how our views and tastes of music or film and TV can be so varied and individual and we can live with that. Yet when it comes to sport, well footy, there is an unidentified standard and if something don’t reach that standard then it’s damned. Or “critically analysed” to within an inch of its life.

 

Anyway, I went to the Dees vs Dogs AFLW Round 7 match at Whitten Oval on Saturday night. And man oh woman, what a game. You know the old saying, that the Prelim is sometimes the Grand Final? This was that. In bucketful’s.

 

But the game (as good as it was) is only half the story. This is the first 2018 AFLW season game I have been able to attend. Family, work and the hodge-podge timetabling fixtures hobbled me. I watched three games on my phone and tried desperately to find a game on the telly (I don’t have Foxtel so I lucked out). Apparently the sport that caught the public’s imagination last season wasn’t deigned important enough for it to be given stacks of free to air oxygen. You know, to capitalise on 2017’s successes.

 

Being at the game reminded me what I love about the AFLW.

 

It is the vibe. The sense of community.

 

The unfettered lightness of a village leaning into heroic ideals. Being at the game reminds me of what I love about footy. The joyous symbiotic relationship between fans and players.

 

We walked to the ground from Seddon, past the Middle Footscray train station, under the Freeway, up the concrete steps and through Gate 2. With a melange of supporters. Communal, that is both marrow familiar yet new like a fresh cut lawn. You reckon our suburban identity has been captured by Howard Arkley or Dave Warner or the march of fans from Jolimont station down through the carpark to the G? Reckon again.

 

The ground is abuzz with anticipation. The top two sides playing for a spot in the Grand Final. The two sides that singularly raised the profile of women’s footy, playing exhibition matches for a couple of years before the AFLW kicked off. Two Victorian footy clubs who have had the least success in AFLM until the Bulldogs dreamed the impossible dream in 2016. For me, the ground is also abuzz with conviviality. Something AFLW’s “far superior” redheaded stepbrother lost long ago to an ego saturated desire to look, sound and smell like an Americanised version of its least-convincing self.

 

In the blink of a ‘wow would you look at that, this is a concert sized crowd’ and just as accommodating, the game is on. The Dees looked pumped. (The Dogs probably do as well but I don’t care, they’re the opposition). The game is played under a purple sky. The damned clouds just won’t open up, leaving me trapped with a great line I can’t use. So the game is not played under a purple rain.

 

Jakobsson, a Blues first round draft selection in 2016, picked up by the Dees this year and definitely a gain for both player and team, is a standout player in the first. Another of the Dees best, Rocky C, who has thrown herself into every contest gets the Dees first goal from 45 out with a dead straight kick. The Dees are looking terrific (albeit, they have the wind) when injury strikes. Sarah Lampard goes down with a game ending injury. This is a pressure that impacts on the game’s result. Dees may lead on the scoreboard but it’s the Dogs quarter. Most of the game is played north of the Dees centreline but they only have 1.1 for their effort.

 

The difference is the second quarter. The Dogs use the wind much more effectively, efficiently and oh shut up Rick with your stupid business phrases. Every time the Dogs got possession they ran. They were faster off 10m and they had more options going forward. Katie Brennan, well held gets a free and scores the Dogs second.

 

A highlight (for someone not enjoying the Dogs purple patch or the local crowd getting more boisterous) was a young boy shouting out, ‘hi Daisy’, as she came off the ground having given her usual 150%. The sky turned slowly from purple to a black and blue (which may have mirrored the way Dees on the ground and in the stands were feeling). We did save some face when late in the quarter our best player, Paxy took a ripper mark deep in our forward line and goaled.

 

The unfortunate highlight and metaphoric difference between the two sides came in the third with Newman’s exhilarating run from the wing into the Dees goal square. This would have been one of the plays of the year, a play replayed into the next season. But Newman shanked it for a point. If the Dees needed to send a message to the Dogs it was in this play. Newman is one of the Dees best. She did a similar run against the Blues. In that instance she was the star. But this was the game that the Dees needed a hero. And we were with her the whole run. We were riding her moment. When it failed it took the wind out of our sails. I can only imagine how it felt on the ground.

 

The game has come alive. The crowd, relatively relaxed for the first half, is now surging with the contest. Dees can’t split the middle but the crowd keeps willing them forward. Except for the Dogs fans (the majority) who are unwilling the Dees. Doggie supporters are so full of vim.

 

At the three quarter break the Dees hold a five point lead. I don’t think it’s enough, considering the wind advantage to the Dogs in the last. The Dogs goal early and take the lead. They play a better, defensive game on the Dees, getting up in their grill, invading their “personal space”. They hassle the hell out of the Demons. Then the wind picks up.

 

How the Dees keep their spirits up is beyond me. But they do. Then against the run of play Kate Hore (first season) kicks a goal and Dees take the lead. It’s as if a fairy-tale is about to happen. The Dogs (crowd) are on fire. They are literally baying. The game is as tense as. Less than six minutes in it. The lead has changed a number of times through this tight contest. For the next four minutes the two teams bash out a no surrender contest. Dogs defence is rock hard; it’s been the difference between the two sides tonight. Dees defence has been solid too. Lead by Jakobsson. Then in a moment that makes a game Doggie Lockland, AFLW’s leading goal-kicker but held tonight, runs on to a handpass with a slice of space and time, and without so much as a how’s your father, off her left boot scores the match winning goal. It lights up the night sky like a champagne bottle popping. And deflates the weary Dees on and off the ground.

 

The Doggies steal the game with 90 seconds on the clock. They deserve the win that’s for sure. Kearney, their captain, is best on ground tonight. They have good players down the spine but Kearney is everywhere. They head into the Grand Final as (deserved) favourites. They play a terrific brand of footy. As for my Dees, well they played better than last year. They had their chances through the season and even in this game, right down to the wire.

 

But they didn’t give enough.

 

And to misquote a Robert Plant cover of a little known but great Everley Brothers song, now they’re gorn, gorn, gorn.

 

Our votes: 3 Kearney (WB), 2 Paxman (M), 1 Conti (WB)

 

PS – the Katie Brennan Tribunal ruling is a load of toss. Just stupid. Let’s hope her last chance appeal is met with a slightly more enhanced Socratic logic than has been demonstrated thus far.

 

About Rick Kane

Up in the mornin', out on the job Work like the devil for my pay But that lucky old sun has nothin' to do But roll around Heaven all day

Comments

  1. Yvette Wroby says:

    Thanks Rick. And it will all be over in two days. No Katie and the Doggies have to play like they have all year. The Lions are definitely favourites.

  2. John Butler says:

    Nice work there Trucker.

    “Its least-convincing self.” I think that nails what’s wrong with all the ‘game day experience/fan engagement’ crap. It’s not our natural culture.

    This was a great game. Ballarat was having its White Night at the time. We watched the final quarter on my phone in a pub in the midst of it all. The excitement came through even in that circumstance.

    Cheers

  3. Great work, Trucker.
    That was the game of the year for mine.

  4. Peter Fuller says:

    Rick,
    You’ve conveyed the drama of the match so well. Your observation about the atmosphere at AFLW matches is spot on. That was never more apparent to me than sitting through Carlton’s embarrassment at Whitten Oval, the night of the Pride match, so I can imagine what it was like in a fiercely-contested match with so much at stake as this one. Smokie is right on the money also.

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