Us against the Dockers

By Andrea Macnamara

Friday night, match preparation for Saturday: comfort food, a bottle of red and Hawks vs Blues on the telly. Whichever way the game falls, I can’t be disappointed. If the Hawks get beaten then they’re not as good as we fear they are. And if the Blues get beaten, say no more. The only worrying thing is Leigh Matthews’ reminder in the post-match analysis that when it comes to Collingwood vs Carlton, the position of the teams on the ladder and their recent form often don’t mean too much. The underdog finds a different gear.

Anyway, back to the G on a crisp Saturday afternoon. Usually, my group of four Legends members arrive about 45 minutes before the game, from four different destinations. But at the first bounce, only two of us are in our seats – road works hold up one and the other is distracted by a pre-match ale in the Social Club. We wonder if we’re all taking Round 14 a bit easy and hope the boys on the ground don’t have the same relaxed attitude to what, admittedly, should be a win, possibly even a percentage booster.

We get off to a great start, except for Beams being crunched very early on. Our tackling is ferocious and the ball is in our 50 for most of it. At quarter time we’re only 3 goals ahead which doesn’t seem anywhere near enough reward for our dominance. But then the Ross Lyon defensive emphasis and his clear dominant tactic being the ‘plus one’ in Freo’s defence means they repel the ball effectively out of our 50. Trouble for them is,  they don’t get very far before we send it back again. We’re sitting in the Ponsford, Freo’s end, and don’t see much of the ball at all.

More Pies goal action for the first fifteen minutes or so of the second quarter and it’s starting to look like this is a percentage booster. Harry O is loose and prowling his patch, mostly in a good way, and the Dockers don’t get a goal until the 18-minute mark. The highlight of the quarter is Fas’s tackle on Michael Johnson – a considerably bigger unit – which results in Paine kicking a cruisy goal. I can’t resist consulting the Record for the stats. Yep, Johnson is 10 kg heavier and 13 cm taller. Fasolo’s game seems to be improving week by week, in that he’s working hard, not just showing off. We leak a couple of goals in the last ten minutes and Maxy (our self-proclaimed ‘highest profile s__t player’ captain) marshals his troops. It’s hard to tell whether Reid and Brown are playing well – they don’t get to see much ball – but Marley Williams certainly seems busy. Half time and we’re only 25 points up but with it all under control. It’s not exciting footy – Ross Lyon still has the happy knack of taking all the fun out of the game.

The third quarter confirms it’s a day for the midfielders, with Jolly dominant in the ruck and our usual suspects cleaning up: Swanny, Beams and Daisy plus Jarryd Blair playing possibly his best game of the year. While Freo keep threatening, we maintain a 5-goal lead. It’s still mildly irritating that we’re not winning by ten goals and then I remember a comment I heard on the radio on the way to the ground: it’s hard to play well against Freo because they have the ‘ugly’ game plan, defensive pressure, some talented players and some who are best described as ‘random’. They’re not a good team but they’re not really bad either. They are just really really irritating. Like Ballantyne.  Pavlich shows he’s one of the good ones when he gets a couple of goals, probably also an indication that this is only Browny’s seventh game in twenty months. He gives away a few frees to a bloke who knows how to milk them.

An 11-goal final quarter (Pav gets another 3) makes the game feel like it’s going forever. The highlight is the applause as new boy Caolan Mooney runs on for Trav (let’s hope that’s just for preservation of our Million Dollar Man rather than an injury). How do you get a cult following when you haven’t played a game?

Actually, it’s worth reflecting on how everyone seems to know that Mooney is the Road Runner … it’s the fact that we have our own breeding ground for footballers to fill spots. The VFL team isn’t winning, but the website keeps us posted on things like 5-goal hauls by Mooney, and the boys in the twos are clearly treated as part of the team. While Taz is a late withdrawal from the twos at Vic Park today, Marley Williams, Jackson Paine and Jamie Elliott are looking like they know what they’re doing. While they’re probably spare parts for later in the year, they also keep everyone on their toes. I’m looking forward to Ben Sinclair coming back. If you missed Emma Quayle’s piece on Elliott in The Age on Friday, check it out here. He’s just the kind of boy you want on the team – he’s done it hard (not in a Swanny way) and will work to earn his keep. Fifteen tackles in his fourth game speaks volumes.

One more highlight: Simon Buckley’s career low number of errors. He even kicked a long goal!

On the first of July, I look back on the last time I saw Freo – the second-last round last year over in the west. They were hopeless, but the crowd was enthusiastic and very good natured. Mark Harvey was their coach and they were looking to 2012 to get back injured players and develop some of the younger talented ones. We looked the goods, but the following week all the wheels fell off as Geelong belted us in the final round, and nothing was the same after that. Then Ross Lyon weasled his way to the west and the rest is history. Things change fast in footy.

So, it’s a regulation win in the end in front of a modest crowd of 44,800. Bring on the Blues. I know we’re raging favourites but I’m hoping that a burning desire for revenge for Round 3 will result in a 20-goal turnaround in the result.

THE VOTES

3 – hard to choose between Dane and Dayne but I gave it to Beamsy. I heard he was given the concussion test after his early knock so it must have had some effect on him. But it clearly didn’t affect his playing ability.

2 – when it mattered (when Freo closed the gap to 3 goals) Swanny put on a masterclass in midfield hustle and bustle.

1 – hard to split the biggest man and the littlest man for me. Jolly was impressive, as he should be against Freo without Sandilands. So I give the vote to one of our hardest workers, Blair, with 32 possessions and 8 tackles.

Comments

  1. Peter_B says:

    Travis Cloke – I know you don’t need to be a genius to be a footballer, but jeez this bloke’s a triumph of line breeding. The only reason why you would give him so much media time is as a public health warning against drinking during pregnancy. Dayne Swan is a rough diamond, but you can tell he is pretty shrewd when you hear him interviewed. Chalk and cheese.
    Leigh Matthews – Don’t worry, Leigh was talking though his Ch XII hat about Carlton. Master Chef ratings will leap with that dross on next Friday night.

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