NAB Cup: Carlton v Richmond v Collingwood

Signing out of the OneFM log sheet, I neatly scribbled by signature and wrote down 6:00pm next to ‘exit time’. Another two hour, Saturday shift was over and done, but today was different. I was going home to watch the footy, something I haven’t enjoyed since September, 2010. But, there was a catch. It was 6:00pm, the footy started at 7, I was in Shepparton, a good 38km from the telly at home. Mum came into the studio, and as we walked out, she stopped and declared she was going to the toilet. Ok, small hiccup in ‘operation get home ASAP’, but this was no ordinary case of the hiccups. I got in the backseat of the car, while my brother was in the front on his new iPhone. We waited, and waited. A good three minutes passed (seemed like 10) before Mum emerged, and got in the car. We stopped by my sister’s place for a ‘quick’ visit. 15 minutes later, we were gone again. 6:20pm, and just leaving Shepparton. About 34km from the telly now. Mum was stuck behind some huge 4WD on the highway. I contemplated leaning over the front seat and laying on the horn with my fist. I could hear Gerard Whatley on the radio from Etihad Stadium, I love his voice. It reminds me of footy. When you hear Gerard Whatley’s voice for the first time in a few months, you know something good is about to happen. Or was it? Could this Nab Cup kerfuffle really work? Three teams on the one night? I hadn’t seen/heard any of the previous nights match between the Power, Crows and Demons, so I didn’t know what to expect.

Mum rang the local pizza shop in Numurkah, and ordered a half meat lovers, half bolognaise. I really love my pizza, but I would’ve preferred if we just went straight home. Mum could feel my anxiousness. She kept looking in the rear-vision mirror at me to check if I hadn’t gone into some sort of delusional state. We finally approached Numurkah. We drove past the Riverland Oilseed Factory, planning to see my Dad at work. Sure, would’ve been great to see him, but I was silently happy when we drove past and didn’t spot him. Now it was just the pizza to collect, and home time. Sorry Dad, you understand. We came to the pizza shop. There was a park right outside the front door. Mum didn’t see it. There was a park two spaces in front, she didn’t like that one. We were going further and further away from the destination, and each centimeter we drove felt like another 10 metres away from the pizzeria. Mum finally found a park she was happy with, out front of the ATM. She got some money out, but made sure to check both of her accounts, just to keep me dancing around telling her to hurry up.

Walking into the pizza shop, we grabbed a bottle of coke from the fridge, and approached the counter. The ‘chefs’ didn’t notice us. I felt like banging the table to alert their attention. But soon they saw us out of the corner of their eye. We grabbed our tea, and walked back to the car. The green ford was way in the distance, when in reality it was only 25m. But still, I was 10km from the telly. And it was approaching 6:45. To my surprise, Mum did a u-turn from the shop, and went back to see Dad, where we sat in the car while we waited for him to come out. It was about 6:47 when he came out, and 6:50 when he went back inside. We were finally on the main stretch home. Back onto the highway we went.

It was 6:55pm, about 5km from home. The pizza was in the box, sitting on my lap. My hands couldn’t stop moving. Tap, tap, tap. I looked over the driver’s seat at the speedometer. Mum was doing 120km. “C’mon, stop going so slow!” I said in the nicest way I could. Time was ticking away, we turned onto our road, it was 6:58. Into the driveway, into the garage. 7:00. I hopped out of the car as the engine was still going, making sure to grab the bottle of coke from the back seat. I reached for the key, and came to the front door. I missed the keyhole about six times before I finally managed to open it. 7:01. I speedwalked my way into the loungeroom, where it was on the ABC. I dived on the remotes, changing it to Channel 10, and I saw Tim Lane’s wonderful face. Footy was definitely back.

Richmond v Carlton

Grabbing my pizza, I went into my room. The reception on the TV was poor, so I went back into the loungeroom, and watched as Richmond and Carlton lined up for the first game of Pool Two. Not a lot happened in the first few minutes, both teams were attacking, but were poor with disposal, especially by foot. Richmond’s exciting gamestyle of attacking at all costs eventually won them the first goal of the game, with Mitch Morton receiving from a hard-working Troy Taylor to snap (no surprise) the goal. Mitch Robinson, sporting a Mohawk of sorts, replied up the other end as Ben Nason was on the receiving end of a big hit from a Carlton rookie, and was helped off the field. Carlton’s kicking was really letting them down, it was clear they were missing Judd, Gibbs and Carrazzo, but against a side featuring over a dozen young cubs, they weren’t performing well. Morton took a good pack mark, although it was touched from my angle. He played on around the man on the mark and snapped a classy goal, before Dan Connors booted his first of the night to give the Tigers a handy lead at ‘half-time’ which should’ve been quarter time.

The Blues came out firing. Robinson ran into an open goal, before youngster Rohan Kerr showed plenty of dash and enthusiasm when he marked on the lead and split the middle with a perfect kick. He was then the recipient of a hot handball from Setanta O’hAilpin which put him in a bit of strife, managing to squeeze a kick away as he was crunched, with the ball floating out of bounds on the full. The umpire paid a free kick back to Kerr though, and he was to line up on a tough angle but only 10m out. The ball went straight back to where it was, in the forward pocket, no score and Richmond’s ball. The ability to use the ball from Carlton’s turnovers that they showed in the first half was gone though. It disappeared, like magic. Kerr was given another change, this time receiving a handball before running in to kick the goal. His prawn tattoo on the inside of his forearm was gathering quite the attention from the commentary box, made up of mostly Carlton supporters. The Blues were in front, Richmond had stopped to a grinding halt. Kade Simpson put the result beyond doubt with a perfect kick from 45m, then David Ellard finished the match with his name in the goalkickers list. The siren sounded, Carlton had won. They left the arena, trading insults with the 2010 Premiers as they crossed paths up the players race…

Richmond v Collingwood

The reigning premiers ran out onto the field in their all-white guernsey (should be their home strip) with two notable additions. Chris Tarrant, the prodigal son, and Andrew Krakouer, fresh out of prison. It was clear that it was a boys v men mentality, but it didn’t show in the opening half. Not for the first 12 minutes or so anyway. Richmond held their own for a good part of the opening half, restricting Collingwood to just a couple of behinds, but failing to capatalise themselves. Chris Dawes found himself with a chance after Matt White was the last person to touch the ball as it went out of bounds in the forward pocket. Stupid rule, rewards the player who stands back and watches his opponent dangerously try and navigate the ball back into play. Dawes prepared for a banana kick, but his shot was smothered by White at the last moment, and it was out of bounds. I got the mental image of Nick Riewoldt, sitting at home, remarking “Yeah, how does it feel?” Dawes soon found himself with the ball again though, and his snap tumbled through the air conspicuously, and it landed over the goal umpires head, before excitement started to rise as the goal umpire called for the video replay. Dawes’ kick was quite close to young Tiger Ben Jakobi’s hand, but the commentators were saying that it wasn’t touched. How stupid could they be? A kick like that doesn’t float through the air like it did without being touched. I’m surprised there wasn’t much protest from the Tigers, as Dawes was awarded the goal after a minute of deliberation. He had it a bit easier a moment later, collecting a clever Cameron Wood hitout in the goalsquare and bombing it into the crowd for his second, before Leigh Brown goaled from the next centre clearance. Collingwood had fired; they were suddenly leading by quite a bit in the context of the game as half time hit.

The young Magpies were impressing too. Alex Fasolo, wearing the number 35, found himself on the end of an unorthodox but strangely perfect Steele Sidebottom kick. He went back and booted the goal, before Dawes was given a free from the goalsquare, allowing him to kick his third, and in the process giving Collingwood a 35 point lead. Richmond had completely stopped, it didn’t look like they were going to kick a goal, but Brad Miller was given a free when Ben Reid tried to find Millers pressure point in a marking contest. The former Demon converted Richmond’s first, but it was straight back down the other end, with Beams (the Dayne with a y) kicking a long goal from just inside 50. It’s hard to imagine that Beams was the young teenager who had bad accuracy problems last year, struggling to convert when close to the big sticks, but it was a telling factor when he split the middle from long range. Margin back to 35 points, and it was time for another Magpie surprise, with young rookie Jye Bolton bobbing up to take a very impressive pack mark. With a playing weight of around 45kg (my estimate anyway), it was surprising to see Bolton fly in from the side and take the ball away from the bigger bodies. He converted the goal, and found himself with another opportunity as the siren sounded on Richmond’s night, but he failed to capatalise. Collingwood winning by a massive 43 points. Richmond went to the changerooms, counting themselves lucky that it was barely even half a game. Imagine what would’ve happened in 30 minute, 4 quarter football?

Carlton v Collingwood

The game everyone was waiting for arrived. Carlton v Collingwood. It was THE rivalry of the AFL, and despite being played at Etihad Stadium, under a roof, in the pre-season and in front of a crowd of 40,300 (still rather large for a NAB Cup game), it was hard not to get into the game. So it came to my surprise that I was starting to nod off and get distracted. In truth, I had lost interest in this whole tri-series halfway through the first game. But footy is footy; you take anything you can get in early February. Carlton started the game well, Andrew Walker promising in a new role up forward, kicking the long goal just minutes in. I looked down at my laptop. I was engrossed in Facebook. Dawes kicked a goal, but I missed it. Then someone else for the Pies dobbed one, but I missed who it was. I looked up just in time to see youngster Kirk Ugle snap a very good goal from the boundary line for the Pies, and a dull first half was over. (I soon found out the unknown goalkicker was Sidebottom)

Tarrant was shifted to full forward, his true position. Sure, he’s been transformed into a defender at the Dockers, but he was an All-Australian forward, I hope he makes an impact in the Collingwood forward line instead of the backline in 2011. Walker was even quicker with the first goal of the second half, snapping his second goal of the night to reduce the margin to four points. I was interested in the contest again. Jarryd Blair snapped a good goal from a congestion, with a bit of facial hair, a different do and a new number 11, he was starting to look very much like Shane O’Bree. Andrew Krakouer showed a glimpse of his enormous talent, snapping a ripper from the boundary line, taking the margin out to 16 points and seemingly sealing the game. Carlton kept coming though. Eddie Betts came out of his shell and booted his first, and Michael Jamison was shifted forward on the attacking Harry O’Brien, and he was given two shots at goal. One from a fair distance out. He missed. Second was from the forward pocket, about 15m away from goal. I don’t know what happened, but somehow he tried rolling the ball to the goalsquare, where it almost cleared the defenders, but it was a rushed behind. Jamison still has no goal to his name in his AFL career, not like a NAB Cup six-pointer would open his account anyway. Carlton were running out of time. A last minute super goal was their only option, but they were never in the right position. Collingwood won by seven points, going through to the second week of the pre-season competition, while Carlton would wait another week to see if they could become a wildcard choice.

A few of my questions were answered tonight. Does the ‘last person to touch the ball before going out of bounds is penalised’ rule work? No, it doesn’t reward the player who leaves his man to attack the ball on the boundary line. Does the video goal replay work? Not in this instance, but it will come in handy for more contentious decisions. Is the tri-team series any good? Not in my books. Bring on the real footy.

About Josh Barnstable

21 year old North Melbourne supporter from country Victoria. Currently living in Melbourne studying a Bachelor of Sports Media. Dreams of becoming a sports journalist and broadcaster.

Comments

  1. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    “Chris Tarrant, the prodigal son, and Andrew Krakouer, fresh out of prison”. That’s Gold Josh.

    Excellent summation. Definitely excited about Fasolo, Ugle and Keefe. Go Pies!

  2. I saw Tim Lane’s wonderful face- mancrush Joshy? :P

  3. Steve Healy says:

    Youre right Josh, this version of the game is very poor. Thanks for filling me in, since I didn’t watch much of it. However, seeing Miller in a Richmond jumper was scary, he looked too weird. You shouldn’t have worried, the actual game didn’t start till 7:15 anyway. I think that having 3 games makes it too long to watch, its like 3 and a half hours in the end. And I didn’t know you could get tea at a pizza shop!

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