GIANTS V BOMBERS, Manuka , Canberra March 8.
The summer has been long and lazy. I’ve spent it swimming in the cool water of Lake Jindabyne and lying in the hammock under the shady tree in the back yard. Football has been a distant thought – except when major scandal woke me from my slumber.
Autumn is my favourite time of the year . The change of season is subtle and glorious.
It’s time to think footy.
Essendon are my lifelong team and I’ve adopted the Giants.
There are certain advantages in following two teams. Essendon are an old established club and are expected to succeed. But if things are going belly up there I can divert my attention to the the fresh faced, enthusiastic Giants who have the football world in front of them.
And what luck it is that my first bit of football action for the year will be watching the men of the moment, Essendon, and the Giants, play at Manuka Oval in Canberra.
Despite it being a warm day with the temperature nudging 30 degrees, fans arrive wearing footy scarves. Because of the heat I decide to go neutral and wear my Footy Almanac t-shirt. The queue outside the ground is four people wide and extends across the road and a up half a block towards parliament house in the distance. Free NAB suncaps are handed out along the line and gratefully accepted.
The gates open at precisely 5 pm for the game to begin just after 6.
There are lights at Manuka now. It’s a perfect night for a game of footy.
Only half of the inside of white picket fence is covered up with advertising banners. There is no ear bursting music here. Merely the essentials, such as where you can sit (anywhere except the Bradman stand and the corporate boxes) and there will be kick to kick after the game, are broadcast over the speakers.
The atmosphere is relaxed and casual. Sheeds appears to be taking pics of the Bombers during the warm up.
I meet up with my uncle and auntie from Yass. She barracks for the Bombers, he for North . I point out the Giants to watch . Toby Greene in particular. The Giants have left out their promising young forwards, Cameron and Patton and Essendon Joe Daniher but otherwise the Bombers have a full strength side including Brendon Goddard.
The Bombers race away to a big lead in the first quarter and continue to dominate for the rest of the night.
I don’t try to get my head around the different scoring system or care too much what the score is. I’m content just to watch my first bit of action for the season.
Essendon look fit and kick to position well against the less experienced Giants, who make mistakes under pressure. Whether the Bombers will press the better teams in the competition remains to be seen though.
At least they have something to smile about tonight.
Some good news for the Giants was seeing Setanta O’hAilpin and Dylan Shiel back playing after suffering major injuries last season.
For those interested in the score . BOMBERS 1.16.14(119) to the GIANTS 0.4.4(28)
A crowd of 8,054 turned up to get into footy mode. The real thing is not far away now.