Raiders of the Lost Goal

by Tom Bally

Flicking through the new AFL photography book ‘Our Great Game’ I’ve been thinking a lot about actually being there at historical points in time.  The tome, a 300 page hardback slab of glossy pics, serves both as a fantastic  archive and as a tool to bludgeon Thugby League supporters with.  However it got me reflecting that although I’ve seen a fair few memorable things since getting into this cult of a sport when would I witness something truly historic in the flesh?  Yesterday it finally happened.

Sydney burst out of the gate on Saturday afternoon with a performance reminiscent of their attitude in the Carlton game a few weeks prior.  I’d had a good feeling about this game going in.  The sun was out and we were back at the SCG; a venue that despite the staggeringly large percentage of punters who a) are unable to turn up on time, b) match ticket to seat numbers and c) cannot sit still for even one frigging quarter, remains a great place to watch footy.

During the first half The Enemy’s spirit was clearly left behind over the border in a broken down van while we showed such a level of cohesion and precision that I could barely entertain the idea they’d maintain it over the entire game.  Normally more reliant on kicking our boys handballing accuracy was up and everyone was having a crack at goal.  Jetta slipped past The Enemy early in the quarter but his efforts were only rewarded with a behind.  Goode’s digit wagging protest turned a high tackle free into a 50m penalty.  C’mon ref, harden’ up mate; the scary, wary finger won’t eat you!  Up and comer Trent Dennis-Lane (TDL) came away with a goal.  Towards the end of the first, several thousand groans erupted as another Jetta effort shaved the post.  An impressive start and we were twenty-seven up.

The matchups were superbly maintained during the second, especially with Richards and O’Keefe nullifying The Enemy forwards.  Whatever game plan The Enemy had entertained was out the window as they were unable to string together any consistent movement of the ball.  We seemed to have all the answers.  McVeigh got one.  Jack a behind.  Jetta marked near the boundary but curled it in too far for behind number 19.  You could see his disappointment and I felt bad for him.  Will this kid ever kick one?  Meanwhile the onslaught continued.  O’Keefe, Jack, TDL for his second.  Kennedy slotted one right on half time to take us up to a forty seven point lead.

If you were feeling sporting you had to hand it to The Enemy for effort in the third.  I wasn’t and began to worry about a comeback.  Their pressure kept us mostly contained in the back half and down to just three goals.  Panicky moves and analysis paralysis on our part resulted in The Enemy clawing back the difference.  The mood seemed to shift again though when the ref paid a 50m penalty for a late slingshot tackle on Malceski.  Goodes took a great mark and kicked a goal.  Jetta scrambled forward in the dying minutes of the third, the ball sailing between the sticks.  Everyone erupted only to realise he’d kicked it after the siren.  Somewhat deflated we watched the boys huddle in the final break only up by 30 points.

The Swans tried to soak up time early in the forth with a blood pressure inducing kick around in the back 50.  Even so The Enemy was not letting up.  We did have a lucky escape at one point which White capitalised on.  Then we got back into it with some great passages of plays and consecutive goals.

Twenty two minutes into the forth history was made.   An Enemy fumble saw McGlynn take off passing it to Moore who handballed to Mattner.  His quick chip saw Jetta mark in the pocket.  He hesitated then darted round to a better angle to snap a banana off his right boot.  It went high but there was no mistaking it that damn ball was finally through the big sticks.  Twenty nine thousand people stood up roaring.  I sprang up so quickly I nearly plummeted over the seat in front as the team mobbed him on-field.

The Enemy took advantage of our slight easing off the gas pedal to try and stage a comeback but it was too late.  Their kicking inaccuracy ultimately finished them off as a serious threat.  DTL sealed up The Enemy’s coffin with a long nail just before the final siren.  Two rousing renditions of the club song and we were cheer, cheering the red and the white back into town.

Jetta’s first goal is hopefully the start of a deluge and something I’ll remember for a long time.  I’m definitely glad I witnessed it live it rather than peering at a photo and wishing I was there.

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.”

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