By Sasha Lennon
Saturday night provided us with one of those ‘momentous occasions’ in footy.
The Gold Coast Suns played their first real ‘home’ game at the redeveloped Carrara.
Amidst the fanfare marked by the ‘shock and awe’ style fireworks which burst above the crowd prior to the opening bounce, the punters were giving the hosts little prospect of challenging the mighty Cats.
Most of the pre-match discussion centred on Gary Ablett’s first game as a Sun against his old side. How would Gary play? Would he be nervous fronting up against the side some say he abandoned? Which Cat would play on him? Would his former teammates rough him up? And so on.
Talk of Gary quickly gave way to talk of the Suns who showed what real potential they have after comprehensively beating Geelong around the ball and all over the ground during the first half to be leading at the main break.
But, perhaps as expected, the Suns faded in the second half as Steve Johnson lead the Cats to a 66-point victory which was, all said and done, as comprehensive as any.
But it will be that other momentous occasion which took place on Saturday night that I will remember most.
Karmichael Hunt, the ‘rugby league convert’ who has copped much criticism for all the reasons we’ve spoken of before, actually played a pretty good game.
Sure, he still looks a little awkward. But playing at half-back, Karmichael got six kicks and six handballs as well as two marks and, most significantly – for Karmichael, the Suns, the fans and the game – a goal.
And what a goal! As Michael Rischitelli switched the play from the wing to find someone moving forward into space, that someone was Karmichael.
Looking a little surprised that he’d actually managed to read the play, break away from his opponent and take a nice mark on the run, Hunt completed the deed with a lovely shot from about 55 metres out, the ball sailing through the sticks, bringing the crowd to its feet.
Watching Karmichael being mobbed by his teammates in front of an ecstatic Gold Coast crowd, it felt like football changed that night.
He may have a long way to go, but on a perfect autumn night under lights on the Gold Coast, Karmichael finally arrived.
As commentator Malcolm Blight said in his typically understated fashion “it was a good kick…he’ll get better.”
I think he will Blighty. And judging from the reaction of the Gold Coast crowd, I think our game will be better for it.
I witnessed Karmichael’s first senior AFL game at the Gabba in Round 2 and I have to admit, I was as critical as anyone.
So, based on what I witnessed on Saturday at Carrara, Karmichael, I take it all back. What a goal! What a game!
Sasha Lennon is a Brisbane-based Knacker whose writing can be found at http://sashasoapbox.blogspot.com/