AFL Round 16 – Brisbane v North Melbourne: Be The Man

Brisbane v North Melbourne

Saturday July 13 7.40 pm

The Gabba


Bill Ellis


My mate Jeff loves his golf. “You have to be the man,” he reckons.

That, he also reckons, is the problem with the modern footballer – no one wants to “be the man”.

We masticate over this in the Pineapple Hotel, trying the nachos and pale ale prior to heading down to the Gabba: if only it was like the good old days, picking the first goal-scorer would be easy, but today, everyone wants to pass the pill off instead of putting their hand up and having a crack.

And there is also the “run-to-the-side-while-dribbling-a-snap-at goal” excuse for missing an open shot at the sticks – no one wants the shame of missing the easy one.

Tonight we have two coaches who, as players, were the reverse. I cannot imagine Voss running sideways past the goal, missing a simple snap, then swearing and slapping the ground with his hand. He was more likely to say, “watch this” as he drilled it from 60 while indicating to Brown and Lynch that they should lead harder if they want him to give them the footy.

I am hoping Rich will “be the man” tonight, sure he is deft by hand and foot, but if Brisbane are to win he has to pot some long shots. Jeff continues his love affair with Ash McGrath while I settle in to watch Hanley – he doesn’t have the polish, but I reckon he’s happy to “be the man”.

The tightness of the early play is not transferred to the scoreboard – North cannot miss. Petrie is proving a real handful for McGuire and, from a goal and behind apiece at the start of the game, the Roos kick about ten straight while the Lions have as many shots with half as many goals. We wonder if the early sub of Hansen will affect the Roos late – he seems to go off just as the game starts. From my position it is the Drew Petrie show – the lesser Tarrant is bobbing up, but the senior Swallow is directing traffic and the Roos get plenty of reward for forward entries. This game has all the hallmarks of the last meeting between the teams, an absolute shellacking of the Lions, and more heat on Voss. There is not a lot of heat in the game right now.

At half-time we avoid the inane and loud ground announcements and head out to the concourse for a coffee and to watch some of the Reds V NSW rugby, the NRL and The Ashes on the multiple big screens. Plenty of blokes needing to “be the man” up there.

Back inside and we find another spot, this time in front of some rather obnoxious North supporters – they are an odd bunch (“What’s a shinboner?” I ask). I notice that no two Roos supporters wear the same kit. It is like being at a reunion of the Choir of Hard Knocks whenever they come to town.

On the field, Hanley decides to take matters into his own hands, I had him for the Brownlow back in Round 1, and, but for an early indiscretion, he would bolt in. With the young Mayes seemingly unaware of the option to “not be the man” and Rich taking over in the centre square, the game takes a bit of a twist late in the third quarter – the icing being a goal to the previously unsighted Jonathan Brown that bought the margin under three goals and has the crowd starting to cheer politely.

We don’t dare to think that the Lions could pull off another stunning come-from-behind victory, and we try to move away from the North supporters who, sensing danger, up the volume and frequency of expletives, and deliver them with a spray of spittle and the odd loose tooth. No one wants to be in range of that.

The last quarter appears to be all about the umpires – they certainly want to “be the man” and both sides of the crowd have opportunities to moan. Nonetheless, the Lions are coming, Brown, Merrett and Mayes all goal and the Lions hit the front. The Roos are looking flakey and the crowd is going berserk. My choice of seating is vindicated when Hanley chooses his moment to weave, directly in front of us, through two North defenders and snap an incredible curving goal from just in from the boundary near the fifty. It’s a game winning moment from a bloke who wants the ball and knows what to do with it. There’s nothing on the clock when Harvey slots a consolation goal for the Roos, it’s all over by then and we opine that the comeback Lions are an outside chance of finals, as we head back to the coverage of other events, with the strains of La Marseillaise ringing in our ears.


BRISBANE LIONS                 2.2       5.5       11.6    18.9 (117)

NORTH MELBOURNE          5.1       10.1    14.3     17.3 (105)



Brisbane Lions: Brown 3, McGrath 3, Hanley 3, Mayes 3, Staker 2, Merrett, Zorko, Lester, Green

North Melbourne: Petrie 5, Tarrant 3, Black 3, Cunnington 2, Mullett, Bastinac, Wells, Harvey


Brisbane Lions: Nil

North Melbourne: Hansen (concussion), Tarrant (knee), Swallow (hand), Mullett (ankle)



Brisbane Lions: Josh Green replaced James Polkinghorne at three-quarter time

North Melbourne: Brad McKenzie replaced Lachie Hansen after 3 minutes.


Reports: Nil


Umpires: Schmitt, Hay, Mollison


Official crowd: 18,131



Brisbane Lions: Hanley, McGrath, Mayes McGrath

North Melbourne: Petrie, Swallow, Ziebell


Malarkey Votes: Hanley 3, Petrie 2, McGrath 1


About Bill Ellis

As easy to read as a Clermont green.


  1. Should North be renamed ” the chokers?”

Leave a Comment