AFL Round 1 – GWS v Sydney: Reid manual before shooting

Coogee Beach, cool and pristine on this early Sunday morning. I’m setting up my new camera, hoping to capture some nice sunrise shots. But I’d best be prepared for a plague of locusts or a seven headed beast rising from the Pacific. It’s the end of days. And as I grapple with my aperture and shutter speed I’m torn between applauding The Enemy’s vim and vigour, raging about the Swans piss poor effort or simply accepting that all things must end, even if I don’t want them to in my lifetime.

In hindsight the warning signs were all there.

For once Olympic Park was oddly appealing. The old Sydney Showground (aka Spotless Stadium) scrubs up very nicely as an intimate little footy ground. Plenty of undercover seating and a close up view of the action had me thinking I was really going to enjoy the game. Even the stifling humidity, ominous black clouds and the sight of Shane Mumford in orange and grey didn’t faze me.

Sydney Swans first quarters of the first round are rarely ‘blow you away’ kind of football. But while the Swans seemed to use those thirty minutes as a quasi cobweb clearing exercise The Enemy were switched on in nullifying our forward entries. Franklin was a natural target; there were some shirt shaking altercations early on but he managed to convert a superb 50m+ shot to make the crowd come alive. Reid too looked dominant with a solid grab on the line. However as the rain began to fall and lightening arced earthbound the boys weren’t exactly ‘shaking down the thunder’ on-field and their 13 point lead looked vulnerable.

At quarter time while others scurried for cover I protected my seat from the downpour. I felt a need to endure, to show mettle. The rain added flavour to the Carlton mid strength. Twenty three minutes later everyone shambled out to resume play. The slippery conditions caused us to waste several opportunities over the next fifteen minutes and as we got sucked up-field trying to press The Enemy exploited our exposed defence for three easy goals. Seven points in it. Franklin’s stirring defensive run down tackle aside I couldn’t work out if The Enemy were much improved or we were just asleep.

Despite an impressive Jetta goal the Swans barely registered in the third. I think my hands were more in air than the teams. Nothing seemed to connect and naturally the umpires chose to ignore every instance of holding on Franklin just as they did with Tippett last season. The Enemy worked very hard at turning our poor decisions and skills against us to come within three points by three quarter time.

The final quarter was pure disaster. We tried; there was a nice bit of Malceski to Rohan magic midway through the term. But The Enemy, sensing a historic victory, banged in six shattering and unanswered goals to seal our fate. Fortune was smiling and there was little to be done but accept defeat and acknowledge their win even if I was out of the stadium before the first verse of their team song finished.

Walking along the beach it strikes me that our game plan has gone comatose. That the lessons we should have learnt from last year’s finals thrashings have been forgotten or at best attributed to injury and fatigue. Horse’s post game “we just couldn’t keep up” comment is more deeply depressing than the loss of the four points. Where’s our midfield run, those ‘threading the needle’ handpasses, the sense that any one of the team is capable of turning the game around? Instead we seem reliant on a stoppage style that’s being read like a book and star forward firepower as if their presence alone will turn The Enemy to human jelly.

The sun is fully up now and the beach front alive with people who relish the look and feel of Spandex. I review my shots over coffee. They won’t be troubling Ken Duncan’s landscapes anytime soon. I need help. My camera is chock full of nifty and exciting features but I can’t seem to make them work together in any meaningful way.

Sounds eerily like a football club I know.


  1. Tom

    More than most losses, that hurt. A lot. Not because it was GWS, because we were crap – really, really crap. About 3 hours of my life that I won’t get back. Until reading your report, I’ve avoided reading match reports all day, not because the Giants didn’t deserve it, because they did. I just want to get that match out of head as quickly as possible and reminding myself of it through reading newspapers, websites and Fox Sports is not going to help.

    Two weeks until redemption against Collingwood. If there is a silver lining to the dark black clouds over Homebush last night it is that it is quite possible that Collingwood were worst than us. Can’t wait.

  2. Michael C says

    Oh how I long for the days when footy started in April and what happened in March didn’t really matter (ditto Pies and Tigers supporters I assume)

  3. Home brewers will tell you the most important ingredient is the water so it’s not surprising rain adds flavour to Carlton mid. What is surprising is that you didn’t make the obvious link to the watering down of the Swannies after the storm. Well played sir.

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