AFL Round 10: Carlton makes work at the London desk a little easier

Carlton versus West Coast Eagles

7.40pm, Friday, May 29

Etihad Stadium

Ben Santamaria

I have always loved the prospect of a Friday night game: the dash from school or work to the ’G or the Dome, or whatever it’s called these days; the taste of that first weekend beer that you feel you have earned somewhat more than the cheeky Thursday sip that you managed to sneak in; the opportunity to wake on Saturday morning already a winner.

A move to the northern hemisphere however, whilst full of too many positives to list, does deprive you of these sweet Friday joys. Whilst the early Saturday and Sunday mornings are tough, they are bearable – either Setanta beams the satellite images direct into the lounge-room over breakfast or the internet delivers unbroken streaming of 3LO (aside from when it is “buffering” – not being an IT whizz, I can only assume that this is akin to the job that Aaron Joseph did on Daniel Kerr tonight, but more on that later).

And so, with the Blues’ first Friday-nighter of the season I found myself sitting at my desk in Marylebone, within a stone’s throw of Lord’s with glorious sunshine outside, Mike at the ready inside the Dome via sms and Tim Lane, G. Whateley and Parko on the line from the central commentary position.

As is the custom each week, Steve had emailed out the team sheet on Thursday morning. The pre-match banter would reflect the post-match banter: Gartlett was in, Hadley out; the locals, on the back of a few losses, had sown the first seeds of doubt about Ratts.

The Blues’ dominance on paper somehow did not inspire confidence. Young “Balls-in-the-Box” Kennedy (titled after the Socceroos’ tall forward of the same name who before Germany ’06 pronounced “When those balls come into the box, they’re my balls in the box!”) lining up at centre half forward was ominous, particularly in the absence of Waite.

As the ball was to be bounced, I managed to sneak an earpiece in – my boss, with whom I share an office, was oblivious. Yet before the siren, Murphy was on the deck and the Eagles had a free. Murphy wears navy blue. You do the maths.

The first four goals came in a hurry – Fisher and Houlihan making the most of the opportunity presented them by the gaffer by kicking truly.

Carlton’s 2005 draft picks helped provide the other two – Murphy, having recovered from Kerr’s early bump, set up his captain, with Kennedy nailing one for the Eagles.

Momentarily distracted by a question of proprietary estoppel from my own gaffer, I had to rely on Mike’s quarter time update to fill in the gaps – “Backline doing well. Houla adds polish. Flooding in our forward line makes it tough to hit targets.”

The second stanza began with a rush – Eddie, Fev and Browne extending the Baggers’ advantage. If only the workmen next door, removing the scaffolding, could keep the noise down I would have a better idea of what was transpiring 17,000 km away!

The scoreboard suggested that it had been 4.8 to two behinds in the second quarter – a 41 point lead. The half-time sms was instructive – “Austin beginning to hold his own; Kreuze just keeps going against the best in the game; should easily win this, they’re very inexperienced; Balls not good.”

The second half set the scene for the same questions that had hung over Carlton’s head before the game to be re-visited.

Gartlett managed a couple of good settling goals but up by less than five goals at the last change, the fixture was certainly still in the balance. The update came through reflecting the scene set on the radio – a horrible quarter from Carlton, playing without confidence; Joseph had blanketed Kerr and put him to bed for the night; Irish seemed out of place; lucky that we’re only playing the Eagles.

The final quarter started with Wirrpanda scoring early and Lane suggesting that there was belief amongst the Eagles. Fev picked up a couple of quick goals to calm the masses that effectively ended the contest, reminding me of one of Guru Bob’s old sayings: “Whilst Eagles may soar, weasels don’t get caught in jet-engines…”

This malign characteristic of Fev continues to prevail: his last quarter effort in not chasing his opponent Glass who, in turn, set up Le Cras for one of his six goals, prompted fury from the commentary box: Parko was livid and one could only imagine the size of the vein protruding from his neck!

The Blues ran out seven goal winners, yet their form still has a big question mark lingering over it.

Now all there remains to do is find a client to whom I can bill this piece before heading out for that well-earned Friday drink, and waking on Saturday morning, already a winner.

Carlton 5.2 9.10 11.12 16.15 (111)

West Coast Eagles 3.3 3.5 7.7 10.10 (70)

Goals Carlton: Fevola 6; Fisher 3; Gartlett, Houlihan 2; Judd, Betts, Browne.

Eagles: Le Cras 6; Kennedy 2; Hunter, Wirrpanda.

Best Carlton: Judd, Joseph, Murphy, Simpson, Gibbs.

Eagles: Le Cras, Selwood, Cox.

milestones Hunter (Eagles) 150 games.

betfair odds

umpires Vozzo, Avon, Rosebury crowd 39,611

our votes C. Judd (C) 3, M. LeCras (WCE) 2, A. Joseph (C) 1.



  1. Good story Ben. But the big question, did you meet anyone in person who cared about the footy in the hours afterwards?

    I know the feeling well of following the game from work; the Friday morning / arvo before it was the Geelong – Footscray thriller. I previously couldn’t get internet radio to work from the office, but could use it via my 3G phone. Unfortunately about 5 minutes into the game Orange’s network reverted to the crappy ‘G’ (GPRS) quality and the feed died. A colleague on viewing my distress gave me the skeleton password to the cache and I managed to listen to the rest of the game from halftime onwards.

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