AFL Round 17 – Melbourne v Brisbane: Oh, to be in Darwin

Melbourne versus Brisbane
7.30pm, Saturday, 20 July
TIO Stadium, Darwin

By Edwin Cowlishaw

I have just landed back in Melbourne after a week in Bali where I attended a wedding for two fellow Demons. I’m sick as a dog not from the Bali belly, no it’s the flu/virus which I picked up in Geelong the week before. Yep I was there sitting in the ‘Wedge’ at Kardinia Park watching the Deeestroy-ation of my beloved demons by one of the greatest teams the game has seen. Driving rain and a howling gale could not keep me away from seeing my team play. Yet now the flu has serviced due to my commitment to the red and blue. The team is now in Darwin and I for the first time will be missing a MFC game in the Top End.

For the past four years I had been based in Darwin working in radio and calling local footy for AFLNT and the NT Thunder FC. Now after a recent move home to Victoria I am faced with a feeling of anguish as I won’t be at TIO for a Melbourne match. It’s now 3pm and I am wandering around the house coughing and spluttering cursing the fact I don’t have Fox Footy and that I am not calling the Thunder v Brisbane reserves curtain raiser! Thankfully my gorgeous fiancé Rachael pulls me into line grabs the laptop flicks on the web and boom Thunder vision is up and running. Finally I can watch at least one of my teams play. The N.T lads trail at every change except when it counts most. Darren ‘Boof’ Ewing bags six on the night and the Thunder salute by 6 points in front of a boisterous crowd. The commentators are up, the crowd is up, hell I’m up and about champing at the bit for the main event to get under away. One problem the lack of fox footy, so I turn to web for more answers, now the link isn’t working, starting to moan and groan again. Muttering words of ‘Bloody Internet’ and ‘Technology my….. You get the idea. So it’s the fiancé to the rescue again. Rachael my partner in crime rugs me up and off to the local we go. The Burvale pub in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne is where we end up. It’s up to the unique quality of some territory pubs such as the Bark Hut or Humpty Doo Hotel but it does have Fox footy and that will do me. Rachael grabs a couple of drinks whilst I take my seat on a stool next to a muted TV with the Dees leading. I’m smiling again. The unlikely star of the first quarter is the big number 48 Jack Fitzpatrick with three majors to his name. Fitzpatrick has worked hard to earn selection over his journey and has been a handing addition in the forward line after the loss of Mitch Clark earlier in the year. I’m getting the nervous feeling Clark is turning into a modern version of Kelvin Templeton!

In the second and it’s the lions that start to dominate the midfield clearances and arrest the lead through unsung ball magnets Tommy Rockliff and Irish sensation Pierce Hanley. These two lads are everywhere winning the ball at will and in the process helping there side to a five goal to one quarter. All of a sudden I’m sneezing, six on the trot! Good time for a vicks rub down whilst the boys cool there heals in the aircon at TIO.

Rachael passes me a smuggled in heat bag and we are on for the third quarter as the Burvale is starting to get into full swing. Toumppp gets subbed then one of our season’s bright sparks in Colin Garland goes down with an ankle, just our luck! Now down to two on the bench which won’t help, as both sides are starting to struggle in the heat. Yet the lads are showing some grit with Col Sylvia a man who has always been tarred with the brush of ‘potential star’ is starting to dig in hard whilst his young stable mate Jack Viney is also starting to find some touch. The former Pie in Dawes crumbs a sneaky goal to bring the dees within five points but the lions quickly answer through Staker to take his sides leads out to eleven points at the last change.

I get up to have a Steven stretch, kiss the beautiful fiancé on the head as she reads her book nestled into a bar couch and I wander to the bathroom. The Burvale is starting to hit its straps now with locals enjoying the ambience of pool cues cracking into multi coloured phenolic resin balls while a local cover band plays some old familiar tunes. I make my way back to my seat and believe we have a shot, we can do this. The Thunder did it why can the Demons pull one out of the bag? Then it happens a game changer, a 3 bounce run and goal from a former Broadbeach Cat. The rest of the country has wondered where Dayne Zorko has been hiding all these years yet for NT Thunder fans he is a house hold name, a classy midfielder who always tormented the territory lads. Zorko’s goal doesn’t ice the game but more quells any momentum the demons thought they could gain. The quarter plays itself out with only three goals kicked between both sides as fatigue sets in.

Fitzpatrick ends up with four majors for the Dees, a great return for a player who has persevered at Casey this year whilst the lions Staker ends the night with three. I watch the lads walk off the ground knowing this was an opportunity missed. I look to Rachael to get a reaction and she has nodded off to sleep, as John Farnham yoru the voice blares through the speakers of the pub. She has done me proud tonight, cared for me in sickness and in footy watching.


MELBOURNE               5.1    6.5  10.7    11.9 (75)

BRISBANE LIONS       3.4    8.5  11.12  13.16 (94)



Melbourne: Fitzpatrick 4, Davey 2, Blease 2, Byrnes, Jones, Dawes

Brisbane Lions: Staker 3, Green 3, Merrett 2, Redden 2, Lisle, Mayes, Zorko



Melbourne: Viney, Sylvia, Davey, Byrnes, Grimes, Fitzpatrick

Brisbane Lions: Rockliff, Redden, Hanley, Merrett, Staker, Leuenberger, Green



Melbourne: Garland (ankle)

Brisbane Lions: Jonathan Brown (hip) and Mitch Golby by Jordan Lisle and Sam Docherty



Melbourne: Jimmy Toumpas replaced by Dean Kent in the third quarter

Brisbane Lions: Jordan Lisle replaced by Ryan Lester in the third quarter


Reports: Nil


Umpires: Findlay, Ryan, Fila


Official crowd: 7615 at TIO Stadium


Our votes: Rockcliff (Bris) 3, Viney (2) Melb, Hanley (Bris) 1.





  1. Templeton was a player . Mich Clarke will never be .All the anger aimed at Voss for reciting the Carlton bloke it must be noted that the Swan’s gave Bradshaw a three year contract and Melbourne have given Mich a two year deal.
    You should have gone around to our place Ed. We were in Darwin for a break and the footy.
    Both sides have a long way to go.

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