Apprentices Roll the Foremen

What is the opposite of a ‘spring in your step’? Whatever it is, that is what I had last Saturday night at about 6pm.

It was about that time that I was dashing across South rd to hop on the train leaving Brighton Beach station. My side had just lost to a fellow finals contender by ten points (literally…it was 12.17 to 12.7), and after a demanding day between ruck and CHF, I was in no mood to watch the Bombers play the unbeaten Cats. Although I was half inclined to head back home before the game (therefore missing some of the first quarter, and maybe some of the pain), I decided that direct transit from the oval was the way to go. The train ride was leisurely (of course), and was full of comfortable looking Cats fans and Bombers fans who knew what they were in for. Last week’s loss to the Hawks had taken the cabbage from our Chiko Rolls and there wasn’t a hint of optimism.

As a result of this trip, I got there early. I hate getting there early. My legs were cramping in between the seats, there was nothing to watch and the big screen promos are not entertaining. They are irritating. I am grumpy, I am bitter and I’m in no mood to look up to see who wins the video game challenge. How did it come to this? Last week my park footy was a saving grace whilst this week it seems just a contributor to a day of torture.

Ten minutes before the bounce, Mum and Dad arrive and I’m cast back to the land of the living. They’re happy to see me and they’ve got rolls and a hot thermos (‘Cupboard Love’ Mum calls it). Sustenance and company is what I need. We chat for a while about the usual things and then we’re into the game.

Within a blink of an eye, the Cats are everywhere and they are 3 goals ahead. I have resumed the resting position from last week and from every Cats’ game for the last 5 years or so: elbow on the knee, arm pointed up, palm open, chin on the palm, eyes slightly lowered. Combine all this with the occasional massage of the temples and fingers through the hair and I’m all set. What irritates me greatly is that it again seems that the Cats’ lesser-likes are again looking to shine against The Dons. Last year it was Varcoe, tonight it looks like Christensen.

I took particular interest in Christo’s performance as there had been many articles written during the week about the Geelong ‘Talent Factory’. It’s interesting, and I’m not sold.  I mean, with foremen like Chapman, Johnson, Ling, Selwood, Scarlett, Enright, Kelly, Ottens and Bartel it’s no wonder the apprentices are able to ply their trades with confidence. It’s a lot easier to work freely when you know that a mistake will be cleaned up. What happens when you get promoted and the help isn’t there? What if you move to another factory with an inexperienced workforce (The Prismall Effect). Will it always be that easy?

Whatever. They were everywhere. The first 15 minutes seemed to go on forever, although that’s probably because I was staring at the clock, willing the minutes to pass by.

But then something happened.

There was no ‘turning point’ that I could see, but it was almost like the young Dons realised that they were headed to the dark places of last week, and didn’t want to be there again. The tacking increased, the chasing increased, and there seemed to be a bit of ‘no tomorrow’ in how they played. Every mistake was followed by another effort and it seemed like any shackles of fear had been realised.

What was most pleasing was that it was our young players leading the way. Heppell continued his brilliant year, Heath Hocking looked like he wanted to avenge the suspension that deflated his season, Howlett wasn’t sung and if 3 H’s wasn’t enough, Hurley and Hardingham were holding their height to harden our ….hell, whatever.

The contest was thrilling and after 3 quarters, with The Bombers leading at every change, the crowd was alive. There was a mini standing ovation at every break and everyone appreciated the fight, the will and the desire. But we knew, we all knew, that the last quarter was golden time.

With a goal immediately after the last break, I finally allowed myself to get excited. All of the knocks, the bruises, the cramping had disappeared and I leapt into the air…well….like an idiot. I’m hoping that no-one was filming me because I’d hate to think that my coach might run it beside some of my last quarter efforts a few hours earlier. Like the 20 year old at the festival who went into the toilets crawling, and came out dancing, I was a new man.

As we got to 5 goals ahead, I was watching the clock again. Each second took a minute, each minute took an hour and each Geelong disposal seemed to come from one of the afore-mentioned foremen. Here they came. Enright to Chapman…goal. Chapman to Johnson…goal. Johnson to the ground…..goal. It looked like become one of the those games that I used to watch on channel 7 on a Sunday (live telecast would you believe) where The Hawks would play interstate and would trail all day to steal victory with a minute to go. My Mum wouldn’t know this, not just because she didn’t watch footy in the 80’s, but because by now her hands were over her ears, her head was bowed and her eyes were closed. I once read that Dean Jones’ Mum used to do the weeding when he was at the crease, even when he was on overseas duty she would out the back at midnight with the radio. God knows how she handled those tight run chases.

As Mum adjusted her position to be now leaning against Dad’s shoulder (eyes still closed), it seemed that the Bombers might hold on. Crameri dashed away from Enright (taking a bounce, if you don’t mind) and Hille kicked straight from where some of the G-Town spearheads has missed earlier.

When 34 minutes ticked over, I lost it again. Through a blur of desperate handballs, we got the sealer, and it was the apprentices again. Hocking to Jetta to Colyer to Crameri to Jetta to Davey to Colyer to Monfries to Melksham. Goal! Airborne again.

Stevie J back again, Pears marks. All over.

I got home at 3:30


Best Players from The Age:

Bombers: Melksham (28 games played), Heppell (14), Howlett (29), Hurley (40)


Cats: Stokes (101), Chapman (211), Ling (236), Enright (212)



About Andrew Else

Andrew has self-reported to this site as a lifetime Essendon supporter. He also played local footy for Lara and Melbourne Uni Blacks.


  1. Andrew – I was at the game. It was a sparkling affair. I can’t believe the Cats got within 4 points after being out-run most of the night.

    The test for the Bombers will be this week. Lose to the Tigers and last week means little.

  2. Pamela Sherpa says

    What a heart stopper it was Andrew. I was listening via the net and it was nerve wracking. My daughter came into the room and said “Mum, why are you torturing yourself listeinng to it ? : But then she couldn’t leave the room either even though she didn’t know which team the players being described belonged to, so I had to give her my own quick “they’ve got it, now we’ve got it back “commentary in between the real commentary. I still can’t believe we held on . Some stresses are worth living for aren’t they?

  3. Richard Naco says

    I made my annual Melbourne trip (from Sydney) for the game, and while the result is exactly what I wasn’t hoping for, it must be said that the Dons deserved to win. They were tremendously brave and hungry, and their structure was simply superior to that of my Cats. If Steve Johnson doesn’t get the Goal of the Year for his horizontal effort at the death of the game it will be proof positive that the system is rigged!

    In the context of the season, however, I do believe that it was a win-win situation. My favourite coaching adage used to be that “a loss is worth ten times the value of a win in terms of teaching”, and for the Catters to succeed in September they needed to have some significant flaws highlighted. That certainly happened last Saturday night, and I think the game will significantly improve both teams.

    But as Dips has already pointed out, the proof of the pudding will be revealed in both teams’ performances this weekend.

    I do have to say that I was tremendously impressed by the Bombers’ fans I encountered. Even in their borderline delirium with the result, I found them to be universally generous & respectful. I received so many condolences that I felt embarressed as it really was my team that was 13 – 1 and still top after the game.

    (Also loved Melbourne, again – and yes, that’s including the weather … and we left Tuesday night, so we got to experience some delightfully brisk days. Saw Circus Oz by the MCG & it was an absolute cracker of a show, and the Tutankhamun exhibition at the Victoria Museum is simply breathtaking. Returning to Sydney was a complete and utter bummer.)

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