AFL Round 12 – Fremantle v Brisbane: Like a bag of spuds

By Peter Mudie

The oddly rebranded Chevrons pitting Lyons’ machinations against the eclecticism of the cross-country Vossy Paddle-Pops. Knowing that two teams coming off the bye normally don’t deliver anything sensational, going to the game was kind of an obligatory gesture – like a visit to the green grocer for a bag of potatoes that you paid for last year sometime. The only thing that was going to make this game notable would be a one-sided thumping from a top six side over a team struggling in the bottom six. Without Jeff Farmer I just couldn’t see that happening – worst case scenario, a rugger inspired nightmare lurching from one stoppage to another along the wing; best case scenario, a right royal blood-letting that will slingshot Fremantle into a run of wins.

Trudging through Subiaco, trying to stay warm, felt like that – going to get a bag of spuds. The slow commercial death of the once fashionable suburb has knee-jerked into life again – the shopfront decorations normally adorned with the yellow and blue of That Other Mob of Knobs replaced on the shop-fronts with man-purple crepe paper that most Carlton supporters would be happy with. It was a cold day, only a slight breeze from the southeast, but the kind of day when the grog sheds of the WAFL are overflowing with supporters trying to offset the cold with as many beers as possible.

Harvs was back in town – our favorite former coach, the bloke we all loved but can’t quite look into the eye anymore after taking that knife into the middle of his back to give us ‘every chance’ for the Big Party that alluded us in ‘06. We’ve got a new coach, they’ve got our old coach up in the box with Voss – the structural arm wrestle was going to be ugly. A couple of local guys have been added into the visiting team for the match – Rich and Leuenberger will join Black, Bewick, Yeo and Toby McGrath’s little brother Ash today, while one of our favorite former Black Ducks (Banfield) seems to be off in the magoos, and their new kid Paparone (from Old Easts) given a breather. It’s a homecoming of sorts with Grandpa Black filling the papers – today will be some kind of longevity record for him at Brisbane. It is however Crowley’s 150th and 33,000 plus Crowley fans stream into Paterson’s to celebrate with our current Doig Medalist.

Security have their collars up but aren’t all that interested in checking bags – there won’t be anything suspiciously hidden as we’re not playing The Only Other Footy Team In Town (OOFTITS). I follow someone’s grandmother up the ramp and pay a compliment to her Jason Akermanis numbered jumper – her faded flag and woolen beanie haven’t worn the years as well as she has. She is struggling with all her Lions paraphernalia so I offer to help – she smiles, I can tell that she isn’t expecting to go home with any potatoes today. Their cheer squad behind the goals didn’t even bother bringing pom-poms to the game.

Our guys are out there having some kicks before the bounce in the city end. Michael Johnson is looking sharp, Ballantyne energetic with Zac Clark looking every bit like Jimi Hendrix – I wonder how good he is with a Stratocaster. It’s good to have him back in the ruck after Man Mountain and the Magnificent Griff got injured.

At the other end of the ground Harvs and Voss are looking grim faced at the warm-up hoping a few of the practice kicks will turn into points on the board when the serious business starts. The Foxtel guys are hustling their cables and cameras around, Cam Mooney is standing in an ill-fitted suit waiting to do something (but looking like he wants to urinate against the boundary fence).

The three horn siren sounds and we all take to our seats moving our plastic cups of beer from one hand to the other in case it freezes to one or the other. I’m grateful that I can watch the game without Campbell mispronouncing names and ‘um-um-umming’ all the time, without hearing Brereton and Shaw talk about themselves and carry on how this player, or that player, would be a ‘bloody legend’ if he played with a Victorian side.

The game starts and the umpys are into the game right away – giving a free at the centre bounce. A handful of stoppages follow, a lot of bad kicks, heaps of hurried handballs and miraculously Brisbane get the first goal. We kick a couple of points before Johnno steams up the field, has a give-and-go with Mayne and calmly sluices a smooth one through the big sticks from 50 metres on the run – we get our first goal. I look up at the big screen for the replay and note that Michael isn’t smiling – I’m glad he’s taking things seriously, its assuring. More ‘back from the holiday’ footy follows, we look as good as they do – kicks spraying out on the full, four million handballs that never really go anywhere, but it seems earnest despite the shocking skill level. The scoreboard is ticking over like a round-ball game. All of the players seemed grouped into about a third of the paddock all the time, moving over to another section, rolling down the field, rolling back. I start looking around the ground at all the empty space disliking the percentage play notion that keeps most of the action going up and down the flanks.

Last year there was a pigeon that took advantage of all that space. He would fly down and peck away at some chunder on the turf in the city end forward pocket, resolutely refusing to move when the play descended upon him. He seemed to be there every home game– in the first half of the year he was more fun to watch than Fremantle were. Eventually he attracted a girlfriend, then there were two of them happily chowing down in the pocket, they only got nervous when Kelpar Bradley was about. Then she took off and he was alone again. When Michael Walters came back into the side the pigeon stayed well clear of the forward 50.

I looked around for that pigeon on Saturday, if there was ever a game that provided the right conditions for him, this was it (Walters was still out with an injury and Big Jonno Brown was suspended). But he never appeared, he probably thought we were playing a more attacking brand of footy than we had last year at this time – I wondered where pigeons get their tips from.

Nothing much was happening, there was the odd tussle around a stoppage, a bit of outrage at soft free kicks handed out to keep the scoreboard relatively equitable, Silvagni did a spectacular face plant going hard for a mark, Rich tried to kick out to the orange-clad Fremantle runner and Raines tried to embellish an injury when Hill pussy-tapped him on the way to the bench. We all laughed at that one – apparently the commentators wanted Stephen rubbed out for it. But there was a long spell between laughs and the odd heckling of the umpys – the entire row behind me got up and went off to the pub.

Brisbane had worked out that the corridor resembled Myers on a Sunday and started moving the ball fluently up it – Ash McGrath was proving to be their best chance to get some points on the board. McGrath is a bloody smart footballer, it was good to see him up in the forward zone and he was giving 1st Pearce all sorts of trouble. Fremantle’s flooding zone eventually pinched off the open road and we pressed them back into their defensive 50 for the first time in the game. They were having a spack attack trying to get the ball out, but couldn’t effectively get beyond the pressure that Ballantyne, De Boer, Micky B, Hendrix and – well, damn near everybody had put on them. Eventually the ball soared outside the 50 with a spazz kick and 2nd Pearce took the mark. Moving laterally he avoided a tackle and blasted in a left footer from 60 metres out that soared along an arc from the boundary way down and through the big middle sticks. Hooray (I thought), the game was going alive just before the main break. I knew that there was no danger of any possible cardiac arrest moments, but Pearce’s goal brought some life and optimism to everyone.

The third quarter started about the same as the second, all sorts of rugger tough looking stuff, but nothing really entertaining.  Black gets subbed out, but he’s not injured (which is good), but I reckon they won’t be as effective without him out there. He gets some Geritol and some fresh looking kid comes on in a fresh Fitzroy looking jumper.

Facing west, I scan the cloud cover to see if there was a gap that would allow the sun to come through before it sinks over the Indian Ocean. It is one of the sights I enjoy the most at the footy in Subiaco – that last gasp of the day as it slides off to the west and the lights come on. During painful games, it is the saving grace to matches without Jeff Farmer moments that end up with four points going one way, or the other.

Then Ballantyne gets the ball and zips foward at breakneck speed – straight-lining it towards Brisbane’s goal, bouncing once, twice, three times before slamming it off the right boot for…..well, a point. Damn. Back to looking at the sky, then the scoreboard, over to the few Lions supporters behind the goals, and then back to the sky. I sit out the time to acknowledge Crowley’s 150th at the end of the game – the sunset happens, briefly, then it seems colder.

That was it really, Johnno slotted another beauty to bookend his first goal that he started our game with and the team carry Crowley off down the race. We bank the four points, Vossy and Harvs grump off back to Queensland. I’ve got a bag of potatoes and head home hoping Michael Walters comes back in next week – we’ll need to do much better than we did today.

FREMANTLE            3.4    6.7    8.9   12.14   (86)

BRISBANE LIONS    2.1    3.7    4.9   6.10     (46)



Fremantle: Mundy 2, Mayne 2, Johnson 2, De Boer, Danyle Pearce, Hannath, Clarke, Crowley, Hill

Brisbane Lions: Lisle 3, McGrath 2, Rockliff



Fremantle: Mundy, Barlow, Ibbotson, Danyle Pearce, McPharlin, Johnson

Brisbane Lions: Golby, Lester, McGrath, Lisle, Rich, Redden


Umpires: Fleer, Dalgleish, McBurney


Official crowd: 33,384



(3) Mundy, Mayne and Micky, (2) Our Johnno, 2nd Pearce, Toby McGrath’s Little Brother Ash, 1st Pearce, and Ibbo; (1) That Bloke We Chose Stephen Hill Over.



  1. Sean Gorman says

    Classic – you had me at urinate Polly.

  2. Love it. Love the gallop-along style and the observations. More please. Analysis of Victorian media coverage included in a report of a TV game may take you into the stratosphere of footy-fan writing.

  3. Pigeons, eh? A change from seagulls, anyway – and keen observations,too. I wonder if we could maybe do a birdwatchers’ report some time…? Have to look into that one. Especially when the game gets stagnant.
    Love the potato metaphor.

  4. Peter the Mudie says

    The Subiaco Pigeon hasn’t been sighted this season, some say he has found a better gig outside Troy Buswell’s office. But he was never the same after his girlfriend took off – mates down at the other end of the ground said she teamed up with a new maverick that swooped in after Darren Glass lost his lasagne during a Geelong loss last year. There’s an old bloke, across the aisle from me, who hollered away in Round 3 that Keplar’s lost boot was the pigeon (who had been pancaked by Paddy Ryder) – lost his marbles when he confused a runner with an animal liberationist (he got hauled away for bringing home brew in his Diet Coke bottle).

  5. I love it. Brilliant stuff.

  6. sean gorman says

    Polly – I see you have been getting your pigeon on.

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