AFL Round 13 – Brisbane Lions v Geelong: The Lions Sleep Tonight!

It was a beautiful day for footy, as the saying goes, but over a birthday lunch on the deck, we discussed whether or not we would risk another Gabba outing to watch the local team capitulate to visitors. The general consensus was to stay and enjoy the warm sun, or even have a nap! I was ambivalent – I like to ‘watch’ certain players, and for the life of me could not think of another Cat other than James Podsiadly who had been most impressive in the game at the Gabba last year – but he was not in the same league as Naitanui. Maybe Cox?

We left the lunch and decided to give it a go anyway – the day was too good to miss. The Navigator directed me across the bridge and along Vulture Street into the car park close to the gate for the second time and we settled to watch the warm-up. It was good to see Rich and Merrett running strongly again, and the Lions seemed to be going through all the right skill preparation, so maybe the game would be enjoyable – if only for the first half? Please?

For some reason the Sunday Mail had bought into pre-match entertainment. A black and white mini-blimp affair was brought out to provide distraction for the crowd – it banked and bucked and floated and skimmed, dropping gifts for favoured kiddies for about ten minutes before obediently making its way down the tunnel to be lost from sight forever. I hope. The lengths to which promoters go to maintain an audience never ceases to amaze me – I really wish that they would bring back the Reserves’ game; but then we would see two games of footy instead of one, and perhaps that is sort-of over-indulging the spectators who should be listening to the blaring Public Address systems….

The Game!  My first concern was that the Cats had a number 16 who did not appear in The Record. Who was he? It really didn’t matter much – but his name was Simpson, I learnt that because it was one of the times that the scoreboard actually posted the name of an opponent who scored, albeit a behind, but at least he was real and not a phantom player. I exercised my mind as to what an phantom player would do on the Gabba, and who would he play for, for a minute or two, then let the idea go. The first quarter was fast and furious and the ball flew from one end to the other, mostly directly down the centre, which made for real entertainment. Hawkins looked dangerous and both McGrath and Rich scored at the other end with skilful plays. The Lions ran out of puff toward the end of the quarter and Geelong took control with four goals in about six minutes. You could almost feel the deja vu settling over the crowd. The second quarter belonged to Geelong – Murdoch and Blicavs slotted goals and the Cats were giving the Lions a masterclass lesson in footy.

At half time we did consider leaving. Things were dire for the home team, and we were in a nest (or pride) of Geelong supporters. The gentleman in front was wearing a natty pullover with neat lettering ‘the Cats – Geelong’  on the bands and he was obviously on first-name acquaintance with just about all of the team. I know this because he always referred to them as Tom or Dick or Harry when calling advice as to who should have the ball next or to whom it should be passed. I guessed that he was an ex- coach or at least the number one supporter of the team, even if the players seemed intent on ignoring his advice – and with surprisingly good results!  The siren for the end of the third quarter was a relief – Brisbane had muffed so many moves it was becoming embarrassing: Jonathan Brown could not kick straight and when Black, in his 320th game, got the ball at 10 minutes in the crowd shouted encouragement only to see him spray one to the side also. He had a chance to redeem himself as the quarter ended, but it also resulted in a point. Why stay for the inevitable?

But we did. And what a treat was in store. It began with a Jimmy Bartel mark in front of the benches that was spectacular and should have heralded success for Geelong; but in the magnificent magic of Aust Rules football the gods were throwing the dice. During play in the centre of the field the ball skewed and hit the umpire’s foot then bounced towards Dayne Zorko who took the chance offered and scored a goal. The Lions awoke and roared ferociously!! A scoreline of leading by 38 was reduced to 27, then to 14 in fast, furious and fantastic footy. It became a game that had to be seen to be believed as Brisbane lifted and Geelong looked flat-footed and faltered. With the crowd cheering and shouting and stamping and clapping, the Lions ran and jumped and kicked and scrambled until the final minutes. A behind from Tom Hawkins seemed to decide it in the visitor’s favour, but from the kick in the ball went to the other end to be marked by McGrath on the edge of the siren.  The rest, as we say, is history. A 55 metre punt went through the middle sticks and brought joy and jubilation in equal parts among the Brisbane fans. The team song rang out, the players whooped in delight, the mandatory handshakes were performed in sportsmanlike fashion, and the Navigator and I sat in shocked amazement at what we had just experienced. What a game!

Comments

  1. Glenda it was remarkable. I noted that the Cats were in front by 45 points deep into the third quarter, so I was comfortable in my warm house as the Melbourne winter waited outside. Twenty minutes later I couldn’t believe we were 7 points up and going down the drain. Melbourne’s winter came inside after the final siren.

  2. Maybe the Cats bubble has burst. It was always a danger game, as though their recent form at the Gabba has been reasonable, it has never been a particularly happy hunting ground for them, starting with a loss there, way back in Brisbanes first season, 1987. You could almost say this defeat puts a big kybosh through Geelong premiership prospects, as other sides would have noted their vulnerabilities during their fade out. All season they have played a quarter, or a half to achieve their victories, but it did not work this week. I’ll be curious how they fare against Freo and the Hawks in the coming weeks, but the Bears have exposed a side of Cat fraility, that might terminally injure their season.

    Glen!

  3. 52 points up, Dips. 52 points.

  4. Litza – I only heard the 45 point deficit. I don’t want to think about 52 points.

  5. Mark Doyle says:

    A good summary! Brisbane won this game because of an all or nothing attacking strategy in the forth quarter with most of their goals being kicked from 50 odd metres. As a Geelong supporter it was enjoyable to watch. Geelong lost this game because of poor defence and not controlling the tempo of the game in the last 10-15 minutes. Geelong should never have lost this game after leading by 52 points at three quarter time.
    In my opinion most of the blame for Geelong losing this game is the poor strategic coaching of Chris Scott and his assistants. In 2 1/2 years, Scott has not demonstrated an ability to coach. The only thing that Scott has done well during this time is manage the fitness of the players. Geelong’s success during this time including the 2011 premiership win is the result of Mark Thompson’s coaching from 2000 to 2010, especially the intangible qualities of player resiliance and never giving up.

  6. I don’t think it’s wise to write off the Cats just yet – how many times have we said the bubble has burst for them since 2007, and yet they keep on winning?

    A record of 10-2 is hardly one of a team that struggles. And who would want to come up against the Cats come finals time? We’ve seen how it is possible for them to blow a team out of the water in just 15 minutes of footy.

  7. Glenda, I found myself hugging a large, balding, gorilla-like figure of a man sitting next to me as McGrath’s kick crossed the line. I don’t remember who initiated the embrace but once the awkwardness subsided we both agreed we had witnessed a game for the ages, wished each other safe passage and agreed to part as friends. Madame Football can be a cruel mistress but every now and then she reminds you why you are so smitten with her.

  8. Glenda, A fantastic comeback win by the Lions – one of the best I’ve ever seen. You must be rapt that you made the effort to go to the game. Outside finals this must rank as one of Brisbane’s greatest victories.

    As a Cats fan I found the experience character building. We’ve been at the right end of things in a few of these sorts of games, so we can’t whinge when someone else does it to us. Maybe this is the sort of kick up the bum Geelong needs to challenge seriously for the flag again in 2013. How we go in our next two games (Dockers and Hawks) will tell us a lot. Fingers crossed.

  9. The last loss of this ilk that the Cats had was against West Coast in Geelong in 2006, but at least we were struggling that year and the Eagles were the eventual Premiers.

    This last quarter was altogether something else. Seemingly inexplicable.

  10. Peter Schumacher says:

    Just a fantastic game, and a fantastic come back in particular!

  11. Watching the last quarter on TV gave me horrible flashbacks of the last quarter v Footscray @ Kardinia Park in 1972, and Hawthorn @ Kardinia Park in 1987. All teams have fade outs which damage their prospects, and this one has all the signs. I really can’t see Geelong being flag contenders this year.

    Glen !

  12. Oops! I’ve given Black 20 more games than he played. Glad no-one has noticed -yet.
    Thanks for the comments – this is really satisfying.

  13. Andrew Weiss says:

    Glenda,

    What you have written is correct it was Simon Blacks 320th game. The reason they celebrate Simon Black on Sunday night was for his club record 319th game he played last week in the west.

    Also great to read the comments of the Geelong supporters and how most on you enjoyed the game even though it was your team that lost. It is games like these that make AFL so great and real theatre. It also makes up for the poor performance the Lions put in when the last played at the Gabba in front of a national audience on a Friday night.

    Now to see what happens in the next couple of weeks and see whether the Lions can consistently perform like this. Then as Lions supporters we might be able to get really excited.

  14. Meanwhile, back on the deck, I was thinking: “I should have gone”, when the text arrived saying: “you should be here”. A cracking game well reported!

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