AFL Round 16 – Richmond v Gold Coast: Melting snow in sunny Cairns

Melting snow. There is something majestic about the way that happens. Ice, to water, to droplets trickling onto the ground. I am sipping a good beer, eating a hamburger, (with beetroot), watching the kids on the toboggan run at Mt. Baw Baw. This day is a hoot. Baw Baw is beautiful. The sun is shining. The snow is vibrant. Kids zipping around on projectiles: laughing, wiping each other out.

Rewind last weekend. The Tigers were fully expected to win against the Kangaroos, but they were born again Roos. It proved to be a disappointing day for the Halabi family. Maybe this weekend is different?

This weekend we are staying in the Lodge that Lionel built, Lynda’s dad. A picture of Lionel, Percy, John and Peter adorn the wall, foundation builders of the Wonthaggi Ski Lodge. This place is lost in time. Yet this weekend it will be born again with us all here: John Boy’s family, Rob James and Melinda, son David Martin, who has the most beautiful kids, Sass and Jobe running around in the lodge. Jo and Lincoln come with thier boys Sunny and Ace. Once again this lodge breathes life.

Like all tigers supporters I am concerned about this weekend’s game against the Suns, who have grown into a solid outfit this year. We all know that we have lost the last two games in sunny Cairns in despicable circumstances. Problem: No foxtel on the mountain! So I resort to updates from Mike, my trusty computer and Internet feed via mobile Wi-Fi device.

We go out for dinner. I take the computer to the local pub, The Alpine. Great servings of food. I get an end of quarter score. First quarter the Suns are up and we are playing catching up footy. The breeze is strong. If we win this game we can solidify our spot in the 8. Losing this game equals losing respect and with it our chances of September action slide away.

The food arrives. I am watching the footy on the computer. The adults have a discussion about Foxtel. Lynda thinks it will destroy our marriage. I tend to agree. I am unashamedly a sports addict. John boy and Julie have a one-month trial they say. Good luck with that one, I say!

The Calamari is bloody good, as is the Veal Parma and Gippsland steak. Tigers spring to life, and ball carriers like Cotchin, Martin and Foley are getting plenty of it but our delivery is not efficient. The suns are filling the back half like the Roos did last week. McKenzie is a revelation for the Suns down back and the little master Ablett is doing well, but Jackson is playing strong on him. We are spraying our shots at goal. The suns are digging in. It’s close at half time.

The second half is not much prettier that the first. Tigers are dominating possession but their forward half is full of Suns players blocking moves. I remember the Toboggan run: lots of kids sliding into zones, lots of smashes and blockages. Mike texts- “who’s our forward coach”? We just can’t seem to penetrate a great wall of Suns.

We edge in front but should be in front by more. Suns deservedly tough. This is an arm wrestle. Toboggans are colliding all over the place like a pinball machine on heat. Jackson is doing a great job on Ablett and manages to be an attacking toboggan as well. In these conditions he is the prize toboggan. Steady on his feet and working the lines beautifully. Martin also is a prize toboggan, low to the ground, tough on his feet, committed. O’Meara is an impressive unit for the Suns. They have leg speed with the rocket toboggan in Bennell.

In the last quarter the Tigers tough out a win but Brown gave us a scare with a few minutes to go. Most Tigers are happy to secure the win, what a relief. I can turn the computer off and be sociable again. I reach for the wine and head to the kids who are playing pool.

The next day I am reminded of melting snow again and it’s a big time melt. There was a massive wind overnight that has swept all the snow away. We take a walk down to the Village and our boots are digging into mud. Our boys Sasha and Jack have had a great few days and have snowboarded beautifully, graduating from Toboggan to Snowboarding with ease. The Tigers may now be seeing September action but there is more improvement needed. The sign outside the Alpine says pray for snow. I pray for finals action. The wind is cold on our faces. Today the toboggan run is almost empty except for some diehards.

We head back to the Lodge that Lionel built. The chicken noodle soup is damm good. It warms deep to our bones. I look outside.  The toboggan run is almost empty save for the true believers. Strength to them I say.

My best:
3. Jackson
2. Martin
1. Mckenzie.

About Haje Halabi

Born in Bright Victoria, went overseas for 2 years and stayed 18. Tiger tragic, father of 2 fine young men, teacher and obsessed with sport and the good it can bring.


  1. Rocket Nguyen says

    Thanks for the snow report!

    Game not on TV up here either. Had to watch junks glide down the Sai Gon River while slipping down pho….

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