Hey Gringo! Tales of a Dees supporter in Brisbane

It can be lonely being a Melbourne supporter. We’re not the club with the biggest membership nor do we regularly appear in the footy primetime. But as I entered the public bar of Queensland’s most famous pub, The Breakfast Creek, just before kick-off of a Super Rugby finals match involving the Reds, well, it doesn’t get much lonelier for a Queensland AFL fan. Let alone one that is a Melbourne supporter.

So it wasn’t quite like an old western where everyone in the bar turns and looks at the gringo walking through the bar, but I definitely felt a little out of place. Maybe if it was a Lions game I was there to watch it would be OK. But Melbourne vs Port Adelaide? From Darwin? “Not in here mate. Its the Reds on everywhere. Try the private bar.”

And like a mirage, there it was. In a dingy corner outside the toilets was one small television with the Dees-Port game on. I quickly sat down in front and checked the score. It was now 20 minutes into the game and the Dees had kicked five straight. Unheard of this year. If only my three-year old had gone to bed on time.

By the end of the first quarter, the scores sat at Melbourne 5.0.30 to Port’s 2.5.17. The Power’s inaccurate kicking obviously made the score look a little rosier than it truly was. Nonetheless, Brad Green was presenting well on the lead and the likes of Nathan Jones and Colin Sylvia were working well in close. That first beer tasted real nice and I actually looked forward to the next two hours. More than I could say for the natives in the public bar as loud groans and moans told the story of the Reds being two tries down already.

It seemed like God rebalanced things in the second quarter though as Port started winning the stoppages with ease and were moving it from coast to coast out of the Melbourne forward line. The likes of Green and our reluctant key forward Jared Rivers were still presenting but the kicking inside 50 was abysmal and the Port backs were having a field day intercepting and switching it down the other wing.

A couple of goals put Port in front as they controlled the footy but their goal kicking yips continued to get to 5.10 40 at the half. In contrast, the Dees would have been happy with having the yips that quarter as they didn’t even trouble the scorers until the very last minute. And yep, it was a point so they sat at 5.1.31. So despite the ineptness and horrible decision-making of the last 25 minutes, the Dees were only nine points down. Who’d have thought it?

The second half began where the first left off with the likes of Travis Boak and Dominic Cassisi winning the clearances and this Dees supporter gulping his beer down way to quick as the Melbourne midfielders continued to not man them up. All of a sudden a cheer erupted nearby and I knew at least the Reds at scored. Another gulp. But this time in celebration.

As the quarter progressed, the Dees actually started to win some ball and it was spending a lot of time in our forward line. The bad decision-making continued though and the game was turning into a real match of aerial ping-pong as each side’s defence was dominating and sending it back down opposing wings. Troy Chaplin and Alipate Carlile doing the damage for Port, and Jack Grimes and Tom McDonald doing it for Melbourne.

The big moment in the third quarter was that man Jeremy Howe again taking his weekly speccie. It came out of nowhere as it looked like just another long bomb into the forward 50 but Howe rose magnificently and used Stefan Martin as a stepladder to get even higher than his famous one at the SCG earlier in the year. A better mark for mine therefore, particularly as it was amongst a pack and required so much more to get the ball. Sammy Blease also chipped in with what is becoming his weekly left foot snap from an impossible angle. Sammy seems to be a one-trick pony at the moment, but oh what a trick it is.

Melbourne kept on creating the big moments but unfortunately not all were good. Colin Garland was having an indifferent night chasing Brett Ebert around but towards the end of the quarter he did something that made me stand up from my stool and swear loudly. Lucky no-one else was nearby so security didn’t turn up nor did the barman refuse me further service.

The incident in question? Garland, standing a few metres from his own goal line decided to kick the ball off the ground rather than pick it up and kick long down the line. He miskicked it though and ball landed safely on the chest of Port’s Paul Stewart who looked as surprised as everyone else to be lining up for goal for what would be his fourth goal for the night.

In the end, neither side would be proud of their third quarters despite those few highlights with skill errors and fatigue turning the game into a mistake-fest. The US Marines that turned up in the crowd on a little R&R must have been thinking the ball was coated in oil or something. “Those crazy Ooozies” you could imagine them saying. So the third quarter scoreline read 7.5.47 to Melbourne and 8.10.58 to Port. The Dees were still in it and once again I had some foolish expectation that just maybe we’d put in a decent last quarter after a number of late fadeouts over the course of the season.

And Melbourne started the quarter really well with Sylvia willing himself to every contest and Grimes showing some real polish off the half backline. The ball was getting to our forward 50 due to some great effort and tackling pressure but once again the lack of precision in our skills and the taking of the wrong option meant the Dees just couldn’t convert. And then the inevitable. Port finally got it past the centre line and bang, they kicked a goal against the run of play. I knew it was on the cards but it was hugely deflating nonetheless. Just like the other punters around the pub as I caught a quick glimpse of the rugby. The Reds had lost. 30-17. Ouch.

Melbourne were still in striking distance though and were attacking once again after the next centre clearance. But yet again after a few minutes of us peppering our forward line, Port got it out and went coast to coast to kick another goal. And then another. And then another. It was drowning sorrows time now as the bar began to empty even further. The only flicker of life when yours truly yelled another obscenity at the tele after Boak was again left unmanned at a crucial stoppage.

Really, I’d known it pretty much all night but it was now confirmed. All the brave tackling (doubling Port’s tackles) and hard-at-it contested footy just wasn’t enough. In the end you need to run and to spread and to carry and to hit targets with your foot and with your hand. Port weren’t precision-central either but they had it when it mattered and ended up being deserved winners when the siren finally sounded. Final score being 8.8.56 to the Dees and 12.12.84 to the Power. And the votes going to Boak (3), Grimes (2) and Stewart (1).

So after kicking five goals in the first quarter, Melbourne could only manage three for the rest of the game. As I trundled outdoors into the cool Brisbane night, I couldn’t help thinking that only the Dees could manage that. And just maybe that’s why it feels so lonely to support them sometimes.

Comments

  1. John Harms says:

    Simon, Yes, it was all the REds in SEQ on saturday night. I can just imagine them at teh Brekkie Creek.

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