Invasion of the Bomber Snatchers

Terror isn’t normally a word thrown into the mixing bowl of footy adjectives. Yet it’s the first word flashing across my mind on this freezing Sunday morning reflecting on last night’s game. A savage final quarter of football so chock full of impending doom that even now, in full daylight and knowing the result, I can’t bear to watch the replay in case my heart gives out. Some roads must only be travelled once and now the only way to rid myself of this curse is to copy it to DVD and pass it on to some other unsuspecting sucker.

It all started in spectacular fashion.

Matchups against this old foe have always been close run affairs. Adam Goodes’ failed effort after the siren late last season particularly sticks in the throat. The Swans track record at Eithad is not that great either; our typical style of play not particularly suited to larger grounds. And with The Enemy coming off a shock loss to Melbourne last week everyone figured we were in for another bruising slug fest of stoppages and roving mauls.

So like all the best thrillers things went off in an entirely unexpected direction.

For three quarters the Swans dished out some of the best football I’ve ever seen them play. There was a peculiar but satisfying quick rhythm to the game, The Enemy feinting and probing but Richards, Grundy, Mattner and Shaw linking up to hold the fort. The return pressure being applied was terrific. We seemed to have extra players where it mattered and they were in sync, creating the overlap and opportunities. The fact we were being belted in the contested ball and entries into the forward 50 meant nothing. Their forwards weren’t leading at all and coupled with ghastly inaccuracy were providing us with quick rebounds. Sam Reid seemed to have finally broken his hoodoo with two goals in the first quarter. Lewis Jetta used his pace to evade and break downfield. My God I thought this may well be the year he kicks a goal through the roof or out of a stadium entirely.

At the start of the forth The Enemy had only two goals. A text came in ‘If you lose from here you should tear up your membership.’ Too true I figured. Just gently apply the blow torch for another twenty five minutes or so and we’ve got perfect Bomber Brule. Even with an angrily reluctant Hannebury being subbed off due to a head clash we were 47 points up. What could go wrong?

Apparently everything.

The final term was a horror movie where the dumb victim descends the stairs into the dark cellar where the maniac killer lurks for no good reason other than they feel compelled to. Either we were dead on our legs or The Enemy decided a taste of our own medicine was in order but we were suddenly a disorganised rabble. Under siege our structures crumbled and instead of taking them on resorted to flooding the backline, creating stoppages, looking to bleed the clock dry; an inexplicable abandonment of the parapets. Three cheap goals given up in about as many minutes before Bolton kicked one in return to try and stop the rot. The Enemy responded with another two.

I’ve long given up trying to decipher these rotten umpiring decisions. Frees they were ignoring all night were suddenly paid against us. I’d raged on Friday night during the Carlton/Geelong match about getting 50 for running through the mark when the player kicking doesn’t even have the ball. As if on cue Mike Pyke does exactly that. Bang, another Enemy goal and I was on my knees cursing the TV.

Mattner made a terrible panicked kick out and The Enemy swooped in for another major. A ridiculous soccer snap found its way in and my utter disbelief turned into horror. What in the name of seven hells was going on here? There were ominous references about lasers and The Weapon. Had James Hird spent all night in the coaching box perfecting some mind altering ray, only coming down to the sidelines periodically to test it out?

We somehow managed to get the pill into an attacking position with Jack in the clear. He overran the simple scoop and my heart nearly stopped. Jack recovered, fisted it to Jetta and we got one back. The Enemy weren’t done with. Of all the times to take a pack mark and it was another six points to them

Enemy fans were going berserk; all eyes fixed on the clock. We were staring down the barrel of the biggest comeback ever. The final bounce; whoever won this clearance potentially had the game. The Enemy knocked it clear and they snapped it forward. They marked just outside the 50, the player wheeling around to boot it in and…

The siren sounded.

The Enemy had played on.

We’d won.

By four points, four lousy points.

It didn’t sink in immediately. I kept expecting some last second axe through the door. But we were suddenly breathing again, the fright and tension slowly dissolving.

For now…

About Tom Bally

Born in 1834 Tom Bally was instrumental in establishing the rules of the modern game. It's a little known fact and the rare times he talks about it all he'll say is "that bloody Wills chap got me full of grape one night and the next thing I know he's peacocking around Richmond Paddock like he dreamt up the whole thing on his lonesome. Still I got the last laugh didn't I eh? Introducing the Umpire and all that."

Comments

  1. shanefos says:

    Absolutely terrorfying match!. I’m still in shock. Although, rather than descending the stairs into the dark cellar it was like we’d hold up in the ricketty old shack, heavily barricading the front door but leaving the back door unlocked and all the windows open!

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