AFL Round 10: Politics, money and the Bulldogs at Manuka

By Pamela Sherpa

The national capital Canberra doesn’t have a team in the national competition but it is hosting an AFL game today.Sydney (Swans) and Melbourne (Bulldogs.)Melbourne. The Swans however feel at home in Canberra as they play here twice a year and garnish support from the surrounding NSW region.

The politics of money and football is almost as clear as a debate in parliament.

What is clear today is the weather. It’s cold. Winter proper is a mere two days away.Canberra‘s sporting grounds has been a newsworthy topic this week. A proposal for Manuka is on display to the public at the ground today.

A ‘transport issue’ has delayed the arrival of the Footy Records but they do arrive after the game has commenced.

A voice in the crowd jokes that Griffen looks Burley. Ha, ha.

Supporters are reminded several times by the ground announcer that the bleaches that have been erected are for standing on only, not sitting.

Fans are treated to watching three Brownlow medalists play today. Aker, Goodes and Cooney.

Brad Johnson has the first shot at goal for the game from the pocket and believe it or not it shaves the post.

Bazza scores the first two goals for the Swans and the match.

Someone remarks that Ted Richards is an Essendon reject. Harsh words perhaps but shortly afterwards he fumbles and Giansiracusa pounces and goals.

The  Bulldogs warm up, get into the game and score five goals for the quarter.

At quarter time: Dogs   5.2 32 Swans   2.2  14

In the second quarter the Dogs start to run and run the ball well. They pile on eight goals while the Swans are unable to stop the onslaught.

Supporters are an amusing lot and have a unique language. A Bulldogs fan calls out “I haven’t travelled 800k to watch a training drill!”

Barry Hall is good value when it comes to entertaining the crowd. Whether he gets or misses the ball seems to matter not. Bazza is a crowd-pleaser. However Lake quells Barry’s influence in the first half.

As the Swans desperately try a series of handpasses to put a player in the clear and a scoring position the siren sounds. McVeigh can’t get his kick away in time. The Swans supporter next to me says “I don’t think it’s our day”

The Dogs have managed to score 13 unanswered goals in the first half.

At half time: Dogs    13.6  84 Swans     2.3   15
The Swans scored one behind for the quarter.

The Auskickers at half time encapsulate much about life. The blue team has a standout blonde who seems well co-ordinated and skilful. Another boy so skinny his legs might snap . One boy rolls on the ground after minor contact. The red team has a solid boy at fullback who is twice the size of some of his teammates but he gets more kicks than the rest of them combined. It’s a great position fullback.You know exactly where you are. The rest of the red team follow the ball in a pack and find the concept of spreading out a bit hard even though their coach instructs them to do so. The blue team understand and execute this and score. All shake hands at the end of the mini game.

During the half time break the temperature has dropped considerably.

The Swans come out fired up and score the first goal of the third quarter much to the delight of the crowd.

The Dogs reply, the Swans score again the Dogs reply,  then the Swans get three in a row including two to Bazza whose tussle with Lake has been good to watch. The Dogs answer again.

Yes the Bulldogs have the answers today and an early victory is declared as someone waves a Bulldogs flag from one of the windows in the official scoreboard. At three quarter time: Dogs 16.7  103 Swans   7.4   46

Goodes  has tried valiantly and been outstanding for his team today. He scores the first goal of the quarter after weaving out of a pack and kicking on the run.

Aker has been subdued by Crouch and Cooney shown his class when required.

As the sky darkens the four small lights on the Bradman stand make little difference.

It’s an appropriate meeting place for a game between teams from

The green oval at Manuka is a stroll down the road from Parliament House where important decisions are made.

Football may be less important than politics in the ACT but fans of the game could argue that footballers are more important than politicians because they earn more money.

Money it may be argued, is why we have a game happening here at all today. The Bulldog’s have sold a home game to help survive in football mad

The weather, distance and swine flu however do not deter footy fans.

Busloads of supporters swarm into the area and it becomes a sea of red, white and blue colours. They mix harmoniously.

The nearby Manuka coffee shops do a roaring trade pre-game as there is no curtain raiser and therefore no rush.

The redevelopment of

The Swans edge closer as they score five goals for the quarter to the Dogs two but the second quarter blitz by the Dogs is too much to recover from.

Scott Welsh does damage not only on the scoreboard . When he takes a pack mark and crunches C. Bolton in the process the Swans day is summed up.

The Doggies fans are ecstatic and break into song before the final siren has sounded. ‘There’s a track winding back….”‘ and then their theme song.

Those who have travelled furthest have been rewarded today.

Final score   Dogs 18.9  117 Swans 12.5   77

GOALS- Bulldogs: Welsh 4, Giansiracusa, Hahn, Ward 3, Cooney 2. Harbrow , Higgins, Boyd.
Swans: Hall 6, Goodes 2, Malceski, Ablett, Jack, J. Bolton.

BESTDogs-Giansiracusa, Morris, Welsh, Higgins.

Swans – Goodes , O’Keefe, Kirk, Hall.

My best– 3 Giansiracusa

2  Goodes

1 Welsh

Crowd 12,457

As I start the car for my relatively short two hour journey home I catch five minutes of after match talkback on ABC radio. Thinking this will be great company on the trip home, after the 5p.m news I am abruptly reminded of where I live. Grandstand becomes rugby talk. I switch to a classical music station and think about the amount of ski traffic that will be on this stretch of road next week.


  1. Pamela – good effort driving to the ACT to watch the footy. You must be the classic roving reporter.

    Also liked the “Griffen Burley” call.

    I find Canberra a mysterious place (not that I go there often) because before I get there I’m looking forward to seeing the museums, war memorial etc, but upon arrival I have an overwhelming urge to leave immediately.

  2. its funny how a comment from the crowd can make or break a players performance for the match!

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