AFL Round 14: Worth the WACA trip to see the Yellows

By Barbara Smith

Freo was always going to be a danger game for Carlton. Freo gave the Cats a big fright two matches ago, and are scary at home.

Plus, after the last few see-sawing weeks, you never know which Carlton team is going to turn up: the hungry one or the one that seems disinterested. As it turned out, both Carltons put in an appearance.

Keen Melbourne-based Carltonites my husband and I are, we had a trip planned to Perth for other reasons. The Freo game was not to be passed up.

Staying with rellies in South Perth, we were warned of the traffic en route to Subi (avoid Hay Street, traffic will be bad), and of parking hassles near the ground. With baited breath we set out in our rental car, armed with the local street directory. Ha! Traffic! Hay Street like everywhere else was a breeze. We laughed most of the way to Subi, then got a council car-park one minute walk from the ground. This was a dream compared to the ‘G and the Dome.

Talking to a Carlton supporter on the walk to the ground, it turned out to be Jeff Garlett’s cousin. Good omen. Then inside the ground, bumped into a fellow Woman of Carlton member, who had come to the aid of a lady who turned out to be Bryce Gibbs’ grandmother. Another good omen. I am a great believer in omens. If it’s not your day, you usually are running late, get a bad car park, miss the start of the game and the seats are in the back row. Our seats were great, although looking into sunshine. That was a novelty.

Blue boys came out for their pre-game warm-up, dressed in yellow. I know it’s for a good cause, but can’t another team wear them?

They looked different in them, like they’d eaten a lot in Perth. They all practised their goal kicking: that’s good. Can’t rely only on Fev, he had pins put in his finger eight days ago. Ouch!

There were a lot of Carlton supporters in the two-tier stand behind the goals near Gate 10. We had all the action. We were happy to have it in the second and fourth quarters, but we could have handled less Freo action in the first quarter. Honestly, what happened that quarter? Freo got four goals before we got a touch. God, I’ve come 2,000 miles for this! The possession tally was humiliating. Unless you count free kicks against, our possession count was almost zilch. Freo had a mortgage on all the luck, too. And Sandilands! My God, Kreuzer was competing against a block of flats. It’s unfair, the AFL need a height restriction to even the competition in the ruck.

By the end of the first quarter, we were hoping for a better effort, down 1 goal to 6. Ratts needs to get mad here. Does he do mad? Carlton turned on in the second quarter, but just couldn’t head them. Down 7 goals to 9 at half time. That’s better. Bryce Gibbs is showing off for his grandmother, flashing around in the middle, good clean hands, strong and fast.

Third quarter showed further improvement by the Blues (Yellows), but our pre-game practice goal-kicking counted for little. 9. 14 plays 15. 10. at three quarter time. More shots but less reward. But the effort is there. The radio commentator tells me Freo has only won one last quarter this season. He adds that Judd had two decent spells on the bench in the third quarter, and could be the “X” factor. Plus, there were all those pre-game omens!

The last quarter was worth travelling across the Nullabor. I love come-from-behind wins, although my husband can’t bear the pressure. I told him at three quarter time that his body language was bad. You’d think we were playing! His body language improved markedly as the quarter wore on, with our mighty Blues/Yellows playing like men possessed and taking the lead close to the end. Freo got back within thee points with only a few minutes to go, but the omens were with us. So was Chris Judd.

Final score: Carlton 16.19 Dockers 15.10.

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