A Day At The Footy – Brisbane vs Melbourne

I parked the car in a no-name suburban street and as I walked quickly towards the Chermside Bus Station, I realised this was the first moment I’d had to myself for the day. A moment to reflect then on what the next few hours might bring. The Brisbane Lions versus the Melbourne Demons at the Gabba.
And that reflective moment bought up a hint of expectation and a hint of optimism. Yes, we were missing our Great White Forward Hope in Mitch Clark but we’d won two out of our last three and had played some competitive footy over the last four weeks. Yes, Brisbane look to be on the improve having dispatched of both the Bulldogs and Eagles in recent weeks, but maybe the Dees have turned things around and just maybe we could pull off a win.
So I sat down on the bus and noticed I was the only Melbourne supporter on it. No big deal. I was wearing my jumper and scarf with pride (despite it being a 23 degree day) and happily continued with my reflections on the Dees’ chances. The bus then quickly moved through the brand spanking new Northern Busway and snaked its way through Brisbane’s northern suburbs so I pulled out my phone for any last minute message from my sisters and their husbands who I was going to be watching the game with.
Oh no. Double ‘oh no’. The news coming through was not good. Disastrous in fact. Nathan Jones and Mark Jamar were late outs with calf strains. So along with the already missing Mitch Clark and Aaron Davey (who’d finally found some form in recent weeks), we were now missing the bloke who’d have to be leading our best and fairest so far and our All Australian ruckman, who while not having his best year, is so important to our ‘structure’ and always gives his all.
Checking the expectation meter then, it had dropped dramatically. In fact, it had quickly nosedived to almost ‘no expectation’ levels but did manage to hover over the ‘we’re still some chance, aren’t we?’ mark. Ahhh, the plight of the Melbourne supporter. You do get used to it.
So I arrived at the ground and can honestly say there was a carnival atmosphere. Radio broadcast tents, merchandise stalls and kids jumping castles had taken over the Main St park entrance and my mood was enlivened by the sight of other Melbourne supporters in and amongst the crowd. It came as a bit of shock actually when a lot of the time it feels like you’re the only one in this fair city. The sight of my sisters dressed up in their Dees gear certainly helped though.
Tickets were promptly handed out and we walked around the back of the stadium along Stanley St towards our Gate. Ticket machine beeps and bag checks for the girls, and then we found our seats just a few rows back from where the Dees would be running out. Up close and personal and all that.
Soon the siren was sounding and the game was on. We squinted into the sun trying to see what was happening but after a few minutes maybe the sun in our eyes was a blessing. The Lions kicked a couple of quick goals but then the biggest disappointment; Tom McDonald being assisted off, coughing up blood right in front of us, after going back with the flight of the ball and getting cleaned up by Daniel Merrett.
I noticed Sam Blease running around a few minutes later and realised the Sub had already been activated. Then the news that McDonald was being rushed to hospital came via a friend watching the game on TV at home. So after Clark, Davey, Jones and Jamar being out, we had now lost our Rising Star nomination from just last week and were now a man short on the bench after only 10 minutes. And this on a warm Brisbane afternoon that must have been very foreign to those used to Melbourne’s recent weather. The expectation meter was heading south.
In contrast though, the Dees seemed to steel themselves with the news and looked hungrier and more skilful for a period and kicked the next three goals. Alas, there was also a number of missed shots on goal in there and I couldn’t help feeling we should have been a goal or two in front rather than a few points behind.
And then the inevitable. With two minutes left in the quarter, and the coaching staff still reeling from the positional loss of McDonald, Jonathon Brown kicks two quick ones by manhandling Jack Watts in the contest. Not Watts fault mind you. He shouldn’t have been left one-on-one with Brown. Especially as Brown has been ‘manhandling’ defenders for 10 years or more who would have had 8-10 kilos on young Jack.
The end result is that the Lions are comfortably in front by the end of the quarter when it was actually us that had the better of it for mine. The expectation meter did go up though as I felt the same effort and some straight kicking could see us pull them in and be in front at the half.
But what was I thinking? When will I learn? Yep, more of the inevitable.
The Lions quickly banged through three goals while we spent the rest of the quarter failing to trouble the scorers. We were down by 34 at half-time and the signs from the players in front of us as they walked down the race was not good. They look buggered already. The warm Queensland winter sun was taking a toll and being one down on the bench certainly wasn’t helping. In contrast, the Lions ran off the ground and were all high-fives and bum-pats.
By the time the third quarter started, the sun had finally gone down behind the stadium walls and we could watch the game without hands raised in front of our face. But again, maybe a clear view wasn’t what we wanted. More goals rained down for the Lions as they moved it impressively out of our forward half and consistently hit targets and stuck tackles. We were getting the ball into our forward line but with two defenders playing as forwards, easy shots on goal were missed and Brisbane seemed to go coast to coast at will. Not surprising then, that my beer consumption went up a notch as the events unfolding were bringing this man to drink.
The final quarter began as the temperature noticeably dropped and the Dees managed a couple of quick goals. The game was over with us being down by 50 but I consoled myself that maybe we could get some cheap junktime goals and narrow it down to 25-30 odd. Not such a horrible loss on the road and considering all our outs. But of course the Dees were unable to manage even that and the Lions were putting on ‘globetrotter’ footy with impossible snaps from the boundary and long bombs from 60m out. When it’s not your day, it’s just not your day.
Final scores ended up with us losing by 61. Hardly a word had been spoken between our crew for the last hour. But I’d suggest we were all thinking the same thing.
There was no point hanging around though so I said a quick goodbye and rushed off for one of the many buses lining up on Vulture Street. Wanted to get home quickly and in time to see the son before he went down for bed.
After those last few hours and with initial expectations being so cruelly crushed, you just need a little something to look forward to.

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