AFL Round 10: Rain, beer and the footy on a front bar TV in Sydney

by Tony Reed

I guess I have a confession to make from the outset when reporting on this game. I didn’t watch all of it, although I did manage to watch most of it. A bit like Carlton, I knew it was a-comin’ – in this case the rain in Sydney and hoped that this would be a good omen for the night. My [game] plan was simple: ensure everyone is ready for dinner by 6:30 pm, so I can watch the game on Foxtel with minimal distractions. The rain would stop this from happening – the irony not lost on me as the game was being played under the Etihad Roof in Melbourne.

Friday night footy generally means watching the game on tele at home with the family, but Flynny was visiting from Kyneton, so we sensibly decided to have dinner at the local (The Dunkirk in Pyrmont), and the chicken parma and the few beers went down as well as handpass receive from Bryce Gibbs

Living in Sydney has never really made it easy watching the AFL live to air, but the publican (Dennis) is a star and has it on in the front bar. We have to stay there as it’s raining so hard (real tragedy that!) and somewhat incredibly we are surrounded by another ex-Victorian – Matthew – purporting to be a cousin to Tony Lockett from Ballarat, so of course we’re all ears.

Before the game starts, you can see the Eagles are pretty keen to upset the Carlton midfield, and like a team that isn’t quite functioning right, they have to pick on the smallest player, Marc Murphy. He seems to get hit in the guts a lot as a player and we’re all unclear whether he mouths off like Campo used to or is just an easy target. I guess the next couple of years will tell us. Despite, the Eagles making early movement, their lack of efficiency is being capitalized by the blues and we like what we see. We start asking ourselves questions like ‘Why hasn’t Fisher played all year?’ or ‘Why would they ever drop Houlihan when he is such a good user of the ball?’ We don’t have the answers to these questions, but their early goals seem to confirm our thoughts, that we are excellent judges of the game – especially when we’ve had some quiet ales, so for a short while all the planets are aligned to us.

As you could imagine, we’re pretty much content with the way things are going and at this precise moment we agree life is good. The kids are playing with stuffed toys and various games that Dennis has given them; the rain continues to fall like a Western Victorian farmer can only dream about; and Fev kicks an amazing bouncing goal to resurrect himself from the scoring abyss. At quarter time we’re a couple up and see this continue through the second stanza when we take full control of the game, kicking 5 unanswered goals. My daughter, loves Eddie Betts and sings her “Go Eddie” song and then starts playing a game of “hi-5’s” with the other Ballarat Lockett, losing on each occasion to raucous laughter from the young pluglet. Back to the game, Judd is clearly using the ball better than anyone on the ground and seems to have set up half the goals by the big break and as the quarter finishes, we contemplate an exit plan back home.

Thankfully (in a football and reporting sense), it is still raining far too heavily to walk the kids home and I start speaking to Brian, a retired Sydney local, who is of the view that rain is good as it helps you focus on your drinking. It makes me think a lot about retirement.

The second half shows a more composed Eagles outfit and we wonder how the game would have gone if they hadn’t lost the plot so early in the piece. LeCras is anything but cras and with the French Open upon us, we all feel justified that he has played a great game, especially the 3rd quarter. It was also good to see Josh Kennedy kick a couple of goals but on reflection I continue to think that the Judd deal certainly seems to be working in Carlton’s favour. I have a discussion about Kreuzer’s legs arguing that they have the potential to be huge trunks (think John Nicholls) but feel unrewarded from the responses I receive.

By the start of the final quarter, the missus and I are beginning to feel the sting of the night as the end nears, as we have now for a couple of hours had to look left to the tv screen and right for the kids (I guess it’s preparing us for the tennis tonight), who despite the time and their age, seem happily awake and engaged in non-football activities such as drawing and playing with cars.

At the end, we see Fev has kicked 6, including 2 rippers; Mitch ‘Duracell Bunny” Robinson has been reported for being too excited for being out there; Fisher, Garlett and Houlihan are happy with their efforts; and there appears to be no major injuries to the boys. Having not won many games in recent times, we leave rapt and somewhat more remarkable with no rain falling. Truly some omens hold firm and all of us eagerly await next week to see if we can win 2 in a row for the first time since the beginning of the season.

The seven day forecast says rain all next week. To the Lions we say ‘Bring it on!’

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