AFL Round 12 – Western Bulldogs v Brisbane Lions: Family Ties

Western Bulldogs versus Brisbane

7.40 PM, 7th of June

Etihad Stadium, Melbourne


Whenever I tell people that I’m a Lions supporter, their immediate response is “Oh, so you were a Fitzroy man then?”  I came into this world a year after the Brisbane Lions became an AFL side, so I don’t have that romantic story of sticking with my club through trial and tribulation, all the way through their relocation. But I can still pinpoint the moment that I aligned myself with the Lions. It was when my dad decided to re-invest himself in the footballing world after falling out of touch since the relocation, and he wanted someone by his side. My mum, and basically the entirety of her side of the family won over my elder brother with Richmond memorabilia and the story of the time my grandfather was invited down from Swan Hill to train with the  Tigers, having been personally visited by Jack Dyer himself, and Dad knew that he was a lost cause. I’d also had the Richmond beanies pushed upon me, but Dad intervened and enforced the mentality of the Lions supporter on me. Together, me and my dad have seen many a loss together, whether it be gallant or embarrassing, the first round or the semi-final. But we still try to make it to as many Brisbane games as possible.

Attending this week’s game wasn’t exactly an appealing prospect for the two of us. Our victory against Carlton came at the cost of Trent West, meaning that Stefan Martin would have to fill in against All-Australian Bulldog Will Minson. Rohan Bewick was also included in the side, his inconsistency often a barometer of how the Lions are feeling. My Dad isn’t a great fan of watching the Lions at Etihad, and for good reason. We’ve been horrifically inconsistent on this ground in previous years, and the last game the two of us went to was when the Dogs obliterated us in Round 1 last year.  The train ride in was enjoyable, as we discussed tactics that we were sure would never happen. The talk continued over dinner at Grill’d, rather than buying two burgers inside the ground, the cost of which could probably have bought a nice apartment with city views back when Fitzroy was around. We find our seats just as the ball is bounced. Almost immediately we regret it after Nathan Hrovat kicks a goal within 30 seconds, with Tom Williams capitalizing on an horrific error by Jed Adcock to score their second. The nightmare is returning. We play some unconvincing, patchy, but on the rare occurrence exciting, football for the remainder of the quarter, with our midfield really doing all it can to put us level going into quarter time. All of which means naught after a 20 metre kick is deemed not far enough, and Jason Tutt is able to promptly wrap up a tackle, get the free kick and kick the goal.

With limited expectations, any little victory in this second quarter is greatly appreciated by us. A goal to Jack Redden within a minute provides us with this. It’s also the catalyst to easily our most impressive quarter of football for the year. Martin is dominating the ruck and  Bewick, Jack Redden and Claye Beams disposing cleanly. The run is the most exciting part though. Our self-named “Mosquito Fleet” of Josh Green, Dayne Zorko and Lewis Taylor is at it’s centre; in one passage of play the three get it from the back pocket to the flank, before dishing it lace-out to Marco Paperone in the goalsquare for an excellent team goal.

The story is less exciting after half-time. We seem to retreat back into our shelves, and it really allows the Bulldogs back into the contest. Jackson Macrae and Mitch Wallis are getting on top, and the ball seems to spend the remained of the match flying repeatedly into our backline. But our defence is able to stand up, with dual Best & Fairest Joel Patfull, Matt Maguire and Justin Clarke shutting down the key forwards, and Ryan Harwood playing his best game for the side, spoiling every contest he can reach. The last few minutes feature some of the scrappiest football I’ve seen in a while, with the Dogs taking shots but missing, and then the Lions turning it over again. Both me and Dad have our hearts in our throats after super-sub Daniel Giansericusa kicks truly to make the margin only 8 points. But the siren sounds, and me and Dad get to sing the song together for the first time in a while.

After the match, we head to the post-match function, where assistant coach Shane Woewodin and emergency James Polkinghorne thank the supporters for turning out and answer some questions. You can tell the relief on their faces, especially as they talk about the effort that went into the match. And you can see a tiny glimmer of hope in the faces of all the supporters. Dad included.


WESTERN BULLDOGS       5.3      7.5      9.5      13.9   (87)                  
BRISBANE                                  4.3      11.8    13.9    14.11  (95)   


Goals: Western Bulldogs: Hrovat, Williams, Giansericusa 2, Crameri, Griffen, Wood, Cooney, Tutt, Picken, Grant

Brisbane: Redden, Green, Brown 2, Beams, Patfull, Paperone, Hanley, Rockliff, Bewick, Aish, Zorko


Best: Western Bulldogs: Wallis, Macrae, Cooney, Liberatore, Minson, Hrovat

Brisbane: Patfull, Harwood, Zorko, Beams, Redden, Green, Martin, Bewick


Umpires: Fleer, Rosebury, O’Gorman. Crowd: 18,054


Our Votes: Patfull (BL) 3, Harwood (BL) 2, Wallis (WB) 1


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