Round 12 – Carlton v GWS: All is forgiven

 

Sometimes footy just throws something at you. A thank you, perhaps, or maybe an apology.

 

Footy knows it has sins to atone for.

 

It needs to repay you for the one-sided days. For the cold, the windy and the wet days. For the days you wondered why you bother going. For the days you wondered what the point is. For all the days you felt totally let down by footy. For the days you swore you weren’t going back.

 

After Sunday, all is forgiven.

 

It was totally unexpected, too. It looked like a totally unremarkable day on the calendar. One game. The top of the ladder Giants and the near-bottom Blues, who churn out words beginning with “re-“ far too often to be going and knocking off genuine contenders.

 

Stay inside, folks. Read a book. Go to an art gallery. Stick with your knitting. Nothing to see here.

 

I was following that script, minus the knitting, until my Upfield line train pulled into Spencer Street. I’m thinking home. I’m thinking the couch and a cup of coffee. But I also ponder the footy as it pulls in, with the Blues competitive and in the hunt at quarter time. I’m sold.

 

It’s midway through the second quarter by the time I find a seat.

 

The Blues look slick, a different side to the one I watched Richmond knock over earlier in the season. Based on the closing stages of the first half, the game is line ball. Forget ladder positions. It just looks even.

 

The crowd is all blue and the ovation they give their side at half-time is stirring. The players bounce off, up by eight points.

 

The evenness remains after half-time. This is a dog fight and Carlton are right in it. It’s on their terms and in their half. The Giants usual swift ball movement is largely absent.

 

Two diabolical misses from Casboult and Kreuzer induce the sort of groans that simply aren’t possible on a drab day when you’re getting smashed by ten goals. These are the groans of a crowd who are sniffing a win, who are riding every contest, kick and umpiring decision, begging their team for more.

 

Phones stay in pockets. Conversations don’t drift.

 

The players can smell it, too. You can see it in the way they’re chasing. They go hell for leather, even when there’s no chance they can lay a tackle unless their opponent slows down or stumbles.

 

I watch Jack Silvagni do it, time and time again. He isn’t alone.

 

Kreuzer is nothing short of inspirational in his 150th. He’s hosting his own demolition derby, smashing packs and players all over the place. He’s monstering Mumford.

 

This has ceased to be a day to enjoy the little signs, the glimpses into the future. This is about winning and losing.

 

By three-quarter time, with Carlton leading by 4 points, I realise I’m in an odd position. I’ve enjoyed the success of other teams before, but not Carlton. Never Carlton.

 

And yet, here I am, on the third level of Docklands, berating the umpire about his choice of optometrist.

 

The Carlton fan in front of me declares to his family that the drive home could be happy one. I hope for him.

 

The last quarter is full of blood, guts, flashes of brilliance, pinball and prayers.

 

Please, bounce the right way, just this once. Please.

 

Shiel is causing problems, providing that dash that has been absent for the Giants. A pair of last quarter goals from his boot are vital and he puts the visitors back within two points with plenty of time to go.

 

It was always going to be a chaotic finish. Toby Greene started off the madness with his fourth final quarter behind. Caught in between passing and finishing himself, the pantomime villain drifts from the script and hopelessly dabs a woeful kick through the behind posts. It puts the Giants ahead by a solitary point.

 

The Giants lock the ball in but eventually, the Blues force a kick to the wing and win the spillage from the marking contest. Wright is on the end of a long ball, right on the edge of the arc.

 

He’s bowled over late and denied the chance to take the clear options he has streaming ahead of him.

 

It has to be fifty. He has to be walked to the goal line. It is blatant. It simply has to be paid.

 

It isn’t.

 

The crowd is filthy. I am filthy. The noise is ridiculous, for 23,000 people.

 

While we try to swallow the injustice of it all, Wright chips to big Levi, who marks.

 

Her Majesty is ahead of Levi on the list of people I’d like to have kick for my life. Brendon Bolton agrees. He doesn’t watch the kick in the box.

 

Off the boot, it looks good. I’m sure it’s a goal. Half the crowd has exploded.

 

But Levi is already waving his arms to set up the zone. Scores level.

 

A collective groan.

 

The Giants make a meal of the kick out. The ball is in dispute. The crowd is begging for clear space, for a score, any score, for the grubbiest behind of all the grubby and innocuous behinds.

 

Fisher finds space. He kicks that point. A handy, wonderful, glorious and potentially match-winning point.

 

But there is still time. The ball goes up the other end. Carlton should get the releasing free kick just outside fifty for holding the ball but the umpire’s prescription has failed him once again.

 

He pays contact below the knees to the Giants a couple of seconds later.

 

Pure, unreserved fury is unleashed upon him. Fingers are pointed. Spittle is flying. Not now. Please, not now. Why would you do this to us?

 

The ball is launched to the goal square, for one last giant effort. I have no idea how it isn’t forced over the line for an even grubbier behind. It’s pinball. Maybe volleyball. Slap it one way and we’ll slap it back.

 

On the top of the goal square, the ball finally pops up for Weitering, who soccers it 60-metres clear.

 

It’s deliberate. It’s never going to be anything but deliberate. No one cares. Sense and reason were abandoned a while back.

 

Another kick goes in.

 

And then the siren ends it.

 

Deliberate doesn’t matter. The Blues have won. The Blues have bloody won.

 

Da-da-da-da-da.

 

As I leave the Docklands, grinning, somehow happy for all of these gloriously joyful Blues supporters, the Carlton chant is still echoing behind me.

 

Men are farewelling my train carriage on the way home with shouts of “Go you bloody Bluebaggers”.

 

Kids are singing the club song, loudly, without fear of being told to shush.

 

How good was that?

 

How good is footy?

 

Any given Sunday, my friends.

 

Any given Sunday.

 

CARLTON   4.1   7.4   8.7   10.11   (71)
GWS            2.6   5.8   7.9    9.16    (70) 
 

VOTES

3. M. Kreuzer (Carlton)

2. D. Shiel (GWS)

  1. K. Simpson (Carlton)

GOALS

Carlton: Cuningham 2, Wright 2, J.Silvagni, Lamb, Casboult, Curnow, Gibbs, Kreuzer
GWS: Patton 2, Shiel 2, Taranto, Cameron, de Boer, Ward, Whitfield

BEST
Carlton: Kreuzer, Docherty, Jones, Marchbank, Simpson, Gibbs, Murphy
GWS: Shiel, Kelly, Ward, Greene, Whitfield   

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Dalgleish, O’Gorman, Nicholls, Findlay

Official crowd: 23,194 at Etihad Stadium

 

About Jack Banister

Journalism student @ Melbourne Uni, Brunswick Hockey Club Men's Coach, tortured Tigers fan.

Comments

  1. yes i was a neutral going for the Blues, saw the whole last quarter free to air up here

    could not believe that 50 wasn’t paid to the Blues

    both sides botched numerous chances to clinch it. makes me realise they are all kids playing high stakes poker. makes the Richmond wobbles more bearable, it’s not like we are alone

    and another close one today, 104-100

    come out on top 60% of the time in the real close ones and you are set for a top 6 finish I guess

    the pack bunches and the Pies fall back, despite being in good form

    Gold Coast lurk as I suggested the other week

    Port look over-rated

    The Bombers as good as anyone on their day, but we thumped them, really

    St Kilda surely the disappointment of the year so far?

    as for Richmond, we beat Carlton, who beat the Giants. we beat the Pies, who beat the Giants. We beat the Bombers, who crushed the power.

    we haven’t beaten anyone who matters.

    ahem…

  2. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says:

    I am not a negative footy observer Jack, but home from the art gallery up here in Sydney (seriously!), we caught the last quarter on Sunday and it was just … delightful … to see Toby Greene … stumble.

    And it was delightful to see your Blues win. To see them hold despite all the distractions of potential gifts. We were nail biting and yelping up here. And there’s always been something still and forbearing about Kreuzer. Something genuinely entreating about him.

    Bravo and enjoy.

  3. John Butler says:

    You nicely captured those tense final minutes, Jack.

    As a Tiges fan, I presume you’re familiar with such territory. :)

    Cheers

  4. JBanister says:

    Peter – all sits very interestingly. I have no idea where anyone sits and I think I’ve given up on trying to work it out. Just watch, enjoy and see how the cookies crumbles.

    Haha, Mathilda, I left the NGV to go to the game. Wouldn’t have made it if I’d queued for the Van Gogh exhibition. Greene’s game was interesting. He was absolutely distraught afterwards, unsurprisingly.

    Too right John – it all seemed terribly familiar. It would’ve been a horrible mood killer if they’d lost!

  5. Peter Warrington says:

    Mathilde I am with you on Kreuzer. He may yet grow into the next… Riewoldt? whatever, his best is ahead of him. would look great in yellow and black…

    The Toby Greene miss was revealing. I still reckon they “choked” in the PF last year, and that miss was a deadset “choke”, from an addled brain. Gives everyone hope that the machine is human, and can be beaten. (For unbeatables, their form is pretty dire, a loss to the Blues, and unconvincing home win against the Bombers, a scrapy win against the Eagles albeit in Perth, the very unconvincing win against the Timid Tigers – again, at home; the fluke win against the PIes, at home; before they they were stuffed by the Saints who can’t beat anyone. Beat the Dogs by 2, at home, the week before. They could easily be out of the 8…. I cannot see them winning the comp this year. Mind you, I can’t see anyone winning it. GO TIGES!)

    JB – yes, it’s a lottery at this stage, surely the most even season, at this stage at least. last year was even but this year is Even Stevens.

    And how good is the NGV! We were there last weekend. Henson. The William Eggleston. The Patrick Pound (the concept more than the reality.) The chair design expo, not my thing normally but fascinating. And Fiona Hall’s brilliant “for children” installation. All that, for free. You beauty! and then the obligatory wet kids from playing at the water wall. (and it was great because we got to take the 16 to Luna Park but the 96 home, the old loop the loop I used to love to do.)

  6. I was surprised at how quiet the Carlton crowd was for most of the game. It was like they were to scared to believe it was possible until mid-way through the final quarter when they began to roar.

    In the previous three tight games the Giants somehow found a way to lift to get over the line. I kept expecting that to happen but Carlton’s relentless pressure got them over the line. I love the evenness of the competition this year (even if I did only tip two games correctly).

  7. kath presdee says:

    Good win to Carlton. Well fought and well earned.

    But Peter, oh Peter.

    “For unbeatables, their form is pretty woeful”

    GWS aren’t unbeatable. Never have been. Only the VFL media have dubbed them that.

    The fact is that GWS are 9-3 in spite of significant injuries; not just to Best 22, but their usual replacements. We’d be lucky to have 28 listed players to select from. Our “depth” are lining up against us and our reserves are literally kids.

    Thank goodness for the bye and the return of some players from injury.

  8. Peter Warrington says:

    Richmond are 7-4 that should be 9-2, achieved with most of our ruck and forward line , and their replacements, on holidays somewhere. and conca and vlastuin. and we were already just about the youngest 22 taking the field.

    i’m not sure there are too many guys in the Giants’ wings who are walk-up. look good on paper but I am no great respecter of the latter day Griffin nor Deledio.

  9. Peter Warrington says:

    (we put out a team against the Dogs that was 24 and 98 days on average. that would be close to the youngest in recent times, of any club?)

  10. Jack, you captured the tense final moments of the game so well. I think most casual fans were backing Carlton in this one (nothing against GWS, just love the underdogs getting up). The train ride home must have been a good spirited one. Nothing beats seeing PT full of smiling faces, a pretty rare sight.

  11. JBanister says:

    Thanks Matt! Too right – GWS certainly aren’t the neutral’s friend!
    Just a great weekend all round! The Tigers had a birdie – from the couch!

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