Round 22 – Carlton v Melbourne: Dreaming of September

 

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Melbourne fans remember 1987 well.  Robbie Flower, our star player in no.2, had never played a final, and this was one last chance to get him there and break the long term drought.  We needed to beat Footscray at the Western Oval and hope for other results to go in our favour.  I was only 8 years old then, and I remember hearing the cheers echoing through on the radio – not about the game they were watching but about the final siren in Geelong – meaning another of the necessary results had been confirmed.  The Dees went on to finals and to a grand final appearance the following year.

In 2016 it really felt like we were building to a fairytale story again. A narrow win over the Suns kept it alive, a strong win over Hawthorn strengthened the belief, and a win over the Power meant we had two steps to complete to keep the dream alive into Round 23.  The Swans did their bit by knocking off North, so we now had to beat Carlton before attempting to seal our spot with a difficult trip to Geelong.  The modern version of the fairytale also involved a star player in No.2 who hadn’t played finals since his debut season ten years ago.  How we would love to get Jonesy back into September after the years of struggle he has had in the red and blue.

***

And so we arrive at the G in glorious sunshine hoping for the dream to come true.

Just like in our games against Collingwood and Richmond earlier in the year we were off to a hot start.  The Dees have really stepped up in the midfield this year, and have provided much more opportunities for our forwards to shine.  Their pressure is strong and helps build an early lead.

In the second quarter, Carlton has a mountain of possession but fails to convert.  There have been a few games this year where sides have piled on the behinds against the Dees.  Bad kicking is bad footy.  Gawn is gifted an easy goal in the goal square.

In the third quarter Melbourne maintains their composure, hitting targets by hand and foot, especially their star big man Jesse Hogan.

The loose man in defence mops up Carlton’s long bombs to nobody.  Someone should really man up on that guy.

In the final quarter, Carlton tries hard to get back into it but don’t look threatened. Wattsy is on his own and receives the ball without an opponent within 15 metres.  Carlton fans stream out of the ground in droves, not wanting to see the end.

***

But then the final siren goes.

Demons players are slumped over, on the ground, or with their hands on their knees.

The dream hasn’t come true.  In fact, it was nothing like the script.

It wasn’t sunny at all.  It was gloomy and wet.

It was Carlton who burst out to a lead, winning the midfield battles.

It was Melbourne who piled on a string of behinds, failing to capitalise on possession.

Melbourne repeatedly bombed the ball into the forward line to the hands of a loose navy blue player.

Melbourne wasted opportunities – whether from the goal square or failing to notice a teammate on his own.

Carlton supporters were the ones celebrating.  Melbourne fans were left wondering what might have been.

This was not how it was meant to be – and the atmosphere reflected it.  As the players trudged off the ground, you could see in their faces that they knew they had missed an opportunity.  The work they had put in commencing in November last year was suddenly for nothing.  The fairytale run was over. The hurt will be burning inside these guys into the off season and the next pre-season, and we Dees fans can only hope that the end of our nightmare run will arrive in 2017, and we can start dreaming of September again.

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About Joseph Ryan

Lawyer, amateur sportsman, and full-time sports-watcher. Follows Melbourne Demons and Melbourne Storm and is trying to be better at golf.

Comments

  1. grapevine says:

    Joseph,
    It really was awful to experience. Oh the highs and lows of 2 visits to the G : v Hawthorn and v Carlton.

    Thought Roosy was outcoached by the newcomer.

    Could it be that Michie and Neal-Bullen were given their last chances to impress?

  2. I thought Paul Roos’ post match comments were disingenuous. I realise the Demons are still building, but Roos has played the deflection game far too often in post match pressers this year.

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