Round 22 – Melbourne v Brisbane Lions: Rub His Bald Head

Demon supporters have become very nervous over the past weeks. Our joyful realisation that we might scrape into the finals has also dredged up the hideous possibility that we might not. The past dark years have taught us that hope too often leads to despair. This is a game we must win.

 

My three adult daughters and I are at the MCG on a calm, brisk, sunny day, our hearts racing with anxiety, hoping that the Nathan Jones bobble-head dolls the club gave us for attending seven home games will bring us luck According to my girls, you have to take Nathan out of his plastic wrapper and rub his bald head for the magic to work.

 

Although Melbourne has overcome many of its jinxes during this season, today we must overcome another one:  we all know that the Dees never win when we are overwhelming favourites. (Both North and Fremantle beat us). On the positive side, we have an improved team inspired by passionate, experienced players and energised by young, fast, talented kids who aren’t weighed down by previous failure.

 

I fear for Jesse Hogan, back in the side three weeks after shoulder surgery. Allowing him to play so soon could be taunting fate to strike again after his horrendous year of tragedy, health scare and injury. When the players run onto the field, I shout, ‘Good luck, Jesse!’ before joining the roar, ‘Go Dees!’

 

From the start of the first quarter the Lions look strong and confident, marking well and controlling the midfield led by Dayne Zorko, but goals by Hogan, Pederson and Garlett take us six points ahead at quarter time. A series of inexplicable fifty metre penalties given to the Lions for our players’ infringements on the mark bring the Dee supporters to their feet in righteous indignation. For the rest of the game we demand fifties of the umpires whenever there’s the slightest chance of getting one.

 

In the even tussle of the second quarter Bernie Vince collides in separate incidents with both Beams brothers, Dayne having to leave the field for a short time. We wonder if Bernie is deliberately targeting players with a superfluous ‘Y’ in their first names, but Dayne Zorko escapes unharmed.

 

At half time, the Dees are only three points ahead, and none of our supporters are smiling as they eat their hamburgers and chips. There are no cheese platters in the Olympic Stand, despite the running joke about a guy in the MCC area who dined in style at last week’s game. Perhaps the story will replace the old myth that Melbourne supporters go to the snow when their team loses.

 

Jesse Hogan celebrates his 50th game and his return from injury by playing with exuberance, courage and skill, winning marks and kicking goals that make our spirits soar. One of my daughters, who remembers the years when it was usual for the Demons to play finals, says excitedly, ‘It’s like having David Neitz back again!’

 

A moment of comic relief breaks the tension when a glitch in the replay on the big screens shows Bernie Vince returning to the bench backwards and at double speed like a snippet from The Benny Hill Show.

 

By three-quarter time we are feeling more confident, 15 points ahead, the Dees surging forward. To ensure that we win, we give the Nathan Jones dolls another rub on their heads. On closer inspection they look more like Paul Chapman, and that might be a bad omen.

 

The Dees race ahead into the final quarter with three quick goals from Petracca, Hogan and Harmes. It’s Jesse Hogan’s 6th  goal, and we love him. Surely with a 32-point lead we can’t lose from here?

 

But the calm Lions, with nothing at stake but pride, outplay us and score three quick goals, despite Hibberd’s brilliance in defence. The Demon players seem as panic-stricken as their supporters. Melbourne’s lead narrows to 7 points.

 

The awful possibility that we might lose is unbearable. It’s time to cover our ears and pull our beanies over our eyes. Then Mitch Hannan gets a free kick, passes it to Angus Brayshaw, and he kicks a goal.

 

When the siren sounds half a minute later, we leap to our feet, shouting with joy and utter relief at our victory. Our aim this year has been to reach the finals. Now we are almost there, clawing desperately to our precarious 7th place for one more week until we find out for certain.

 

MELBOURNE              3.3    6.6    11.8   16.8 (104) 
BRISBANE LIONS        2.3    6.3    9.5    14.7 (91)   

GOALS
Melbourne: 
Hogan 6, Pedersen 3, Garlett 2, Melksham, Vince, Petracca, Harmes, Brayshaw
Brisbane Lions: D.Beams 3, Rockliff 2, Gardiner, Zorko, Hipwood, Barrett, Bastinac, Allison, Close, Walker, McCluggage

BEST 
Melbourne:
 Hogan, Jones, Pedersen, Jones, Oliver, Hibberd
Brisbane Lions: D.Beams, Bastinac, Zorko

Our votes: Hogan 3, Pedersen 2, Jones 1

Official crowd: 30,422

About Anne Chomiak

Anne Chomiak is a retired librarian who was born in South Africa and immigrated to Australia in 1972. She is usually regarded as a quiet and polite person until she goes to the football with her three daughters and screams encouragement to the Demons.

Comments

  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    I think the club skimped on the tatts on that doll Anne.

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