The day the footy and racing stars aligned and Tom Logan took a screamer

By Christoper Riordan

Passion and sport are natural bed-partners. Rightly so. Look at any major sporting event around the world and see how the crowd and participants feed off each others’ energy. Liverpool’s Kop, the start of the Melbourne Cup, Lillee charging in from (almost on behalf of) Bay 13. Stirring moments.

There is, though, an alternative way to enjoy sport, one I’d never have believed possible back when no race could start without my small flutter, no seat could be vacated in a gripping run-chase.

Two happenings conspired to lead me to this realisation. One was the abandonment of suburban grounds, which ultimately, for me, was the unforgettable final match at the Western Oval. The other (and these might not be in order of importance) was the arrival of my only child, Thomas.

Going to soul-less “stadiums” was an altogether different experience, and my team was struggling. That, habitually, I’ve proved I can handle. But try maintaining enthusiasm in a young boy for a team that doesn’t even offer the family and familiarity of a home ground! The crunch was a heartbreaking (Jade Rawlings-inspired) loss to Carlton at Carlton, which prompted (amid the tenth da, da, da, da, da rendition) the plea, “Dad, I can’t take this anymore, can I barrack for …?”

My response has benefited us both. We began going to neutral, non-blockbuster games, primarily afternoons at the MCG (admission … I have a membership). We now love our sport and share it together, though, with the Dogs’ renaissance, we get to a few more of their games these days!

On Saturday we went to watch the premiers and Port. When the weather is nice and crowd spare, we’ll usually sit about thirty rows behind the interchange, but other times we go to Level 4 and take our places in a near empty Q40, able to look down the ground from the pocket which is becoming a more interesting angle these days. It also posits us ten steps from the TAB, which is critical today. God, in this case an unlikely alliance of the AFL and the AJC, placed the TJ Smith Stakes at quarter-time, the Doncaster at half-time and the Oaks during the final break. Superb.

Some of my Hawk mates said they hated this game, and I know where they’re coming from. But we had a great day.

The races became a good excuse to move upstairs anyway, as I was getting annoyed at Hawthorn and its fans. Players and spectators seemed obsessed with looking for frees rather than the ball. Port, meanwhile, were clearly, despite being Burgoyne-less and Captain Cassisi-deprived, up for a battle. The Cornes boys showed this “from the off”. They are beauties, and genuinely tough. Their Mum must have had some real steel. Josh Carr, too, was looking for mischief and, though Tommy Logan was the assigned tag, Port’s rough nut and Hawks’ Hodge were never far from locking horns.

The first break provided one of the highlights of the day, in Randwick’s sprint. Jay Ford had been replaced on Takeover Target by Nash Rawiller and had publically advised it as simply a “sit and steer” job. In a crack field, this appeared initially to be loading up the pressure. In fact, it was a good tip. The great old sprinter dismissed his highly credentialed rivals in a devastating, truly memorable performance.

Meanwhile, back on the park, the Hawks were struggling to gain momentum. Sammy Mitchell was strangled by little Cornes, who managed to get lots of it himself. Brad Sewell was typically hard-working and Braidless Bateman injected his energy. But the big fellas weren’t firing. Buddy reverted to his habit of pushing off his opponent and then failing to made a good second effort (his best in my book) if things went wrong, and Roughy had a shocker. Injuries have cruelled their defence and big Tredders capitalised. He was in great touch and provided that big target for Boak, Salopek and others to feed. If not emotionally attached to either side, Chad C is a beauty to watch. Hard, committed, master of assists, his grunt keeps Port ticking. Hate him at your peril. Any side would have him.

But the other big highlight came in the third quarter, after Vision and Power’s Doncaster drama (bless him!). On the train to the match, Tom and I had agreed we’d yet to see a good speccy this season. Enter Glenelg’s Tommy Logan, who soared to take the early mark-of-the-year contender with a leap that had the whole crowd gasping and then applauding the replay. Daniel Motlop, who had a poor game, grabbed a beauty in the last term which on any other occasion would have left fans cheering.

With scores level starting the final term, we anticipated a nail-biter but Dew’s miskicks from the defensive goal square became clear indicators that it was not the day for the Hawks. They are cruelled with injuries but it is a long season and they are a good side.

Port has surprised me already. Financially racked and seemingly divided, their response has been impressive.

This was a day to remember. The formline might hold.

 

Comments

  1. Nick Kossatch says:

    Great write up from an ‘outsider’. Well done mate..

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