Distractions or “The Lions, The Fridge and the Walk Probe.”
Fremantle v Brisbane
4.05pm, Sunday, 12th February
Fremantle Oval, Fremantle
Denied a home game for another week by AFL fixturing, writing from within the confines of a domestic setting is never an easy task for me. I’m a method writer. I’m like De Niro in Raging Bull, only minus the prosthetic nose. I need to be immersed fully into the sights and sounds of the fray to properly represent it accurately in print.
My memberships arrived earlier in the week (male and female… don’t worry, separate lanyards and supervised at all times). I want to fan myself with them geisha style en route to the ground but alas, I must exercise patience.
I long for the siren’s wail and the intermittent clacking of seats. I yearn for the smell of cryogenically frozen chips, reanimated once more into life in the hope that present day food vendors can cure them of their staleness. I ache, physically ache for the scarfed and jumpered droplet that is me, to once more join the coloured tide that flows toward the ground on game day. For that, and only that, is how I obtain football Qi.
All that said, the Lions themselves will not be averse to playing outside of Brisbane this weekend. The End of Days has descended on Brisbane in the form of unbearable heat and authorities are strongly discouraging all (camels and volcanologists excluded) from considering outdoor exposure.
The difficulty in writing from home, for me anyway, lies in the distractions. Twilight descends, which means there are dogs in need of walking. Our labrador fixes me with an unwavering stare. She’ll forgive my tardiness. She always does. It is every bit the same gaze of love and unconditional adoration that she offers a tennis ball. This is high praise indeed. The pug is more stoic and therefore harder to read. In the fading light he looks a little like Walter Mathau in a trench coat but aside from the odd sigh of disapproval, he plays his cards close to his chest.
The commentary wastes no time inflating Fremantle’s chances, introducing West Australian football dignitaries and examining at length the profiles of many of the Dockers line-up. I’m beginning to wonder if a Scarlet letter has been attached in secret to Brisbane’s jumpers. Perhaps this will be consistently applied to the home side throughout the season. I certainly hope so.
The pug sighs impatiently. It’s a rare display of histrionics but we’re now an hour passed walk time. I swear they can tell time.
Focus Jamie! That’s easier said than done. My partner Mel is away, which is problematic. I am yet to learn the means by which she is able to prevent food from remaining raw so malnutrition could become a factor.
The crowd is capacity. Why wouldn’t it be? Fremantle Oval is picturesque.
Today, unlike last week, there is nary a monsoon in sight. It is likely to boast quick transitional football, set against a colonial backdrop of sandstone walls and sprawling oak trees. What an idyllic way for locals to complete a weekend.
Weustschner opens Brisbane’s account with a clever left foot snap. She is the 3rd prong of a potent forward line and Fremantle may well lament Ebony Antonio’s sanctioned absence from defence today.
A 50 metre penalty gifts Fremantle their first goal, through Gabby O’Sullivan. I emit a loud puggish sigh in discontent.
The refrigerator stirs without warning. This has become an unhappy commonplace. Its sporadic grumbles and whistles are the death throes of a loyal servant reluctantly aware of its own mortality. It is old, seriously old. I seem to recall the instruction manual was written in Aramaic. If it could, it would lumber off into the scrub to expire but that is not an option right now. There’s still a week’s worth of shopping in there and ice-cream to be nurtured. Hang in there big fella. Just two more pay days, please!
Another 50 metre penalty against Brisbane, and yet another resulting goal. This could cost us dearly.
The 50 metre penalty in women’s football is brutal. With scoring opportunities less frequent in the women’s competition, an unimpeded shot at goal is like… well, I won’t say gold, that may be overstating it slightly. More like cashews. I mean seriously, have you seen the price of cashews lately? In sporting terms I feel that it eclipses the double fault of tennis but sits somewhere short of soccer’s: own goal.
I put it to you that the league should consider a 25 metre penalty until the players themselves display a clearer understanding of the rules surrounding infringing upon the mark.
I briefly consider the list of odd jobs Mel left for me before abandoning me to fend for myself for the weekend. Regrettably, briefly considering the list is about the only patronage I have given it. I started enthusiastically enough but soon exhausted myself in the morning vacuuming dog hair out of the rug. Perhaps if I can just train them to lie in the one place, there will be less area for me to vacuum. That is either the stuff of pure genius or it’s the malnutrition talking.
Sabrina Frederick–Traub is a rare commodity. A bigger body that can dominate in ruck before heading forward to mark and goal. Her value could not be measured in cashews alone. She is beginning to influence this game and I confidently predict this won’t be the last time those words see print.
There is so much more to appreciate about the women’s game when it walks hand in hand with weather conducive to fast flowing football. Kate McCarthy is seriously quick. If there’s a Grand Final sprint, McCarthy, Catherine Phillips from Melbourne and Fremantle’s Makur Chuot would put on quite a show. Chuot was a sprinter of some note in her native South Sudan. She moves with a consummate elegance. I doubt that she ever leaves footprints.
The three quarter time huddles are a mass of nodding ribbons, scrunchies and other fasteners. Pleasingly the “man bun” has been usurped and is back in its rightful surroundings once more.
Tayla Harris is an unmitigated superstar and it is she who determines the course of this game. I squeal a little when she flies for a mark and clap involuntarily every time she holds on to one (which is often). It’s just a little crush but it’s one I will need to get under control before next weekend’s public display of support. The pug yawns. He’s seen it all before.
Siren! They’ve done it again. And on foreign soil… again! Perhaps now respect will find them.
There is still work to be done though. Not all is perfect with their 2-0 start to the season. The game’s 5 leading possession gatherers are Dockers and we have been clearly taken to task around the stoppages. Another superb defensive effort has set them up for a win but how long before that is not enough?
Conversely, all is not lost for Fremantle. They are a decidedly better outfit than zero and 2 suggests. With a more definitive presence up forward their fortunes will change. With a few kilos to her light frame, I can’t help but wonder if Chuot could become that X factor.
Some belatedly pro-Brisbane commentary arrives and focus moves briskly to euphoric scenes amongst the victor’s ranks.
Pfft… you want to see euphoria? Follow me into laundry and watch me pull two dog leads from the cupboard.
Fremantle 1.1 3.1 3.2 3.5 (23)
Brisbane 1.2 3.3 4.5 5.6 (36)
Fremantle – O’Sullivan, Bresland, Barr 1
Brisbane – Wuetschner, Harris 2 Frederic-Traub 1
Fremantle – Filacamo, Bentley, Cain, Hooker, Chuot, Barr
Brisbane – Harris, Frederick-Traub, Bates, Hunt, Virgo, Wuetschner
Umpires: TBC Crowd: 10,000
Our Votes: Harris (B) 3, Filacamo (F) 2, Frederick-Traub (F) 1