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Round 7 – Sydney v North Melbourne: Finding their old self

 

Thank you to the North Melbourne Football Club for wrecking my 40th Birthday celebrations. I will be launching a civil lawsuit seeking compensation to recover $400 in flights, $250 for the hotel, $14.90 for the pre-game crispy chicken burger (with bun baked in 1987) and $2 million for severe emotional distress!

 

Mrs D shouted me a trip from Melbourne to mark the milestone that now sees me taking warm Radox baths and making a weird grunting noise every time I lower to sit in a chair.

 

We dropped the Scallywags off with Nan and Poppy and boarded our flight. I was seated behind a certain AFL umpire in full ‘team’ kit. If I knew then that he would pay five suspect decisions in the first quarter alone (yes, I was counting) then I would have either slipped him $50 and asked him to ‘keep it fair’ or given him a knock on the knee Tonya Harding style.

 

Pre-game was bliss strolling around Circular Quay and then catching the Manly Ferry with Mrs D. The sun was shining and we were embracing the pure beauty of Sydney.

 

Time was getting away from us and we hopped on a bus from Hyde Park to the SCG. It felt weird marching to the ground with the Swans tribe. While we represent well in Melbourne, we are always still the minority.

 

We pick up a few Beanies for the Scallywags (an interstate trip demands pressies) and in a flash we are perched in the middle deck of the O’Reilly Stand. Great view. Great company. Nothing can go wrong for the birthday boy. The siren sounds.

 

There has been a lot of chatter in the last week about the state of the game. I’ve loved footy for 35 years and will stay the course. I am worried about the next generation. I hope for self-correction, yet fear intervention may be needed.

 

Old Mate behind me tells his missus 37 times in the first quarter that they have great seats. I’m tempted to intentionally obstruct his view, just so he has something different to talk about.

 

We go into the main break eight points down. There are few winners to be found. Hayward is providing a much-needed target up forward and Sinclair is doing a job on Goldstein. Outside of that there is not much to speak about. The Kangas are diligent and make more of their opportunities.

 

The ground MC tells us that our anthem conductor and No. 1 supporter Kenny Williams is having his 90th Birthday. Well done son. In 50 years will I be celebrating my 90th at the SCG? Most likely it will be watching robots through my virtual reality headset. With a bit of luck though Bruce McAvaney will have retired.

 

I spend half-time hoping for a spark. We found something down at Kardinia Park last week. Some Gatorade, a few snakes and a blast from Horse will get us back on track.

 

I can’t help but admire the quality of the SCG turf. I have four putted on greens that were not as pure.

 

The third quarter is a masterclass on how to turn the football over. The Kangas seem to be able to transport the Sherrin down the members stand wing at will. Wood is dangerous whenever he touches it. As usual it is Joey Kennedy who keeps us in it. The man just finds a way to get the ball when others wilt.

 

I am becoming progressively angrier in the stands. It seems a light year ago that I was sipping on a Crown Lager while peering at the Harbour Bridge and holding hands with Mrs D. Poor Mrs D is now looking sideways. She does rise from her seat to implore the boys to just ‘kick the friggin thing’. In her defence she does hear me say that 487 times per game, so perhaps it has just entered her subconscious?

 

Hayward lights up the start of the final quarter with a strong mark and a goal. Unfortunately he misses his second shot. We do have the momentum for a few minutes, however, we don’t make it count.

 

Jack and McVeigh start working over their opponents and Rampe is not deterred by the fact that he is three feet shorter than Ben Brown. The Kangas keep counter-punching though. This one is going down to the wire.

 

The lead is swapped and then Wood takes it upon himself to be the game changer – kicking goal number 4, with 29 minutes on the clock.

 

We blew our final chances to win the game. Papley misses a set shot from 50 and then Rampe misses on the run with only seconds remaining. There will be no hero tonight.

 

I am gutted as the siren sounds. Why do I care so much? I ask myself this often. The only answer I can give is that I just do. That is the life of a supporter. You can’t have the highs without the lows. In the space of seven days I’ve gone from high fiving the Scallywags on the couch as we came from the Clouds against the Cats to walking out of the O’Reilly stand looking at pavement and mumbling words that can’t be reprinted here.

 

This one hurt a little more though. The birthday trip has been tainted. The phone will start buzzing from my Kangas mates soon. They have been geeing me up for a while about wanting to spoil the party.

 

In the space of games we can be breathtaking and inept to equivalent degrees. There is not the consistency that has been our benchmark for a decade. We also seem to have an SCG problem (who would have thought it!). Could Trumper Park Oval fit 58,000?

 

I have no option but to dust myself off and go again next week. I am sure my football team will do the same. I feel every bit of 40 years of age as my plane touches the Tullamarine tarmac. Back, hamstrings, knees and mind are weary. 40 is just a number. I need to find my old self again. My old self that used to be able to say up past 10pm. Let’s hope our Swannies can find their old self again next week. Watch out Hawks!

 

==

SYDNEY                                 2.1     4.4      6.8      9.12     (66)
NORTH MELBOURNE     3.3     5.5     7.10     9.14     (68)

GOALS
Sydney: Hayward 3, Sinclair, Towers, Fox, Parker, Jones, Lloyd
North Melbourne: Wood 4, Hartung, Higgins, Brown, Simpkin, Cunnington

INJURIES
Sydney: Nil
North Melbourne: Vickers-Willis (knee)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Gavine, Nicholls, Findlay

Official crowd: 29,124 at the SCG

About craig dodson

Born in the sporting mecca that is Wagga Wagga and now reside in Melbourne with my lovelly wife Sophie and son's Jack and Harry. Passionate Swans supporter and formally played cricket at a decent level and Aussie Rules at a not so decent level! Spend my days now perfecting my slice on the golf course and the owner of the worlds worst second serve on the tennis course.

Comments

  1. Rulebook says:

    Well played Craig you can feel the true one eyed footy supporter resonating threw your piece some how losses away when you have gone to all that effort hurt more.Will Hayward was in our SAPSASA ( zones in SA primary school side which I was involved coaching wise ) so I am enjoying his progress must admit I was glad ex Redleg Trent Dumont error didn’t hurt North in the last play and yes he is a Norwood Member thru being phoned.Good luck Friday night,Craig

  2. Peter_B says:

    Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug. On the plus side you have 20 more years of upside than some of us. One of the Scallywags will have been in a premiership team by then. Going to the footy always make me feel 8 years old again (at least until the final siren). Maintain the rage. Happy birthday, Craig.

  3. E.regnans says:

    Pretty rude of North, Craig.
    My guess is that no one at North had any idea it was your birthday.

    But then again…
    (happy birthday)

  4. Happy birthday fella! Milestone games rarely work out as we want. Don’t fret too much as I think the Swans will be around the mark again. You would’ve been in school the last time they bottomed out for a sustained period!

  5. craig dodson says:

    Thanks for the b’day wishes.

    Rulebook – glad to see you have played a role in shaping young Hayward. We just need to get him kicking straight for set shots rather than round the corner.

    Wise words Peter, The best chance the Scallywags have of playing in a premiership team is if enough of their Mum’s DNA took hold.

    Maybe they did Dave?

    Mickey I’ve still got memories of being in high school when we won about 3 games across the 92-3 seasons. Hard to explain to anyone under 30.

  6. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says:

    Shocker of a night to party at the SCG.
    Happy birthday despite that Craig.

    Let’s hope they do the ‘he’s a jolly good fellow’ in full voice for you this week.

  7. At least your 40th has been spent in a successful Swans era, Craig! You’ve seen the highs and the lows. My 40th saw us second last on the ladder (11th) winning seven, and losing 15, just a couple of years after we were dumped in Sydney.

    So, you’ve got plenty to look forward to!

  8. Smokie says:

    I cannot apologise for the result, Craig.
    But I can certainly wish you a very happy 40th.
    All the best!

  9. Tom Bally says:

    Happy birthday Craig. Shame Norf had to go and spoil it all.

    Worst game of footy I’ve seen. No talls up front left us strategically outmaneuvered. Norf weren’t that great, we were worse, the umps somewhere below that.

    Something weird is happening in the coaches box this year at the SCG. The game plan just reverts to sideways movement followed by bombing it long to nowhere. At present course I’d be happy finishing in the bottom of the 8 and having no home finals!

  10. Keiran Croker says:

    Happy birthday Craig. Disappointing for you to have to cop that .. life’s not fair! I was spared having to watch as I attended a friends birthday event. Watched the highlights and all of the last quarter … very frustrating!
    Good to see them pick young McCartin for tonight’s game. We need some tall targets, though will be a difficult game to debut in. Hawks are playing well, though the poor weather should make it a grind.

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