AFL Round 19 – Carlton v Fremantle: The Blues were done over, Dad

My Dad was a fabulous A-grade amateur footballer. He played for the now defunct Alphington Football Club, won a premiership, captained it and is the unassailable games record-holder. He formed lifelong friendships with 3 other players, Jack, Len & Danny. Now only Jack (the old half-back flanker) is left. Dad died last Friday & we buried him on Thursday. It’s been a huge week.

Dad taught all his kids about the value of sport and playing fair. He had unbelievable (unrealistic) expectations of our abilities, and wanted us to have every chance to succeed. As a 14 year old B-grade netball umpire, he made me return my fee ($2.40, 20 cents per player) in case it defined me as a professional and barred me from a future Olympics. Exactly which event I was going to compete in was not clear, but despite my arguments, there was no way I was going to be allowed to keep it.

Dad was a South Melbourne supporter, but was devastated and stopped barracking for them when they folded and went to Sydney. Still, he and Len and Jack and Danny loved footy so much, they used to go together every week, and always saw the “match of the day”.   I ended up converting him to Carlton, and we enjoyed many games together. Despite a decade of ill-health, footy has remained his one passion, Foxtel his lifeline to the sport he loved.

So, after a very emotional week, it was with a degree of dispassion (I just made that word up) that I sat on the couch tonight to watch Carlton take on Fremantle on the TV at home. I was supposed to go to the game, but it has been an emotional week, so I opted out. Instead, I opted in for red wine in front of the fire, with the TV above it.  My daughter Sophie joined me in the red and watching the footy. She was confident, I was not.

Carlton had plenty to play for, a spot in the finals, and the careers of many players.    I do like Freo, just not beating my team. I like Hill and Mundy and Fyfe and Barlow. I do not like Ballantyne or Crowley so much. Especially when they are preventing Marc Murphy from getting the ball. The poor old Blues aren’t a patch on yesteryear. They need to get physically and mentally tougher. Dad thought as much too. He was one tough fella in his prime. Not much of a trainer though, according to a former team-mate I met at his grave. Two laps of the oval then he raced to the showers.  He never told us that.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. It was a high-pressure game, with few clean possessions, typical Ross Lyon stuff.  Carlton got their noses in front early, and I dared to hope. Crowley was driving Murphy nuts, but Judd enjoyed less attention and bullied his way through a few packs. Carrazzo was injured and subbed out by quarter time,  an early injury never a good omen for the fragile Blues.

The pressure from Freo was just relentless. Every possession was hard fought. It was like watching pin-ball, the ball just ricocheting from one cluster of players to another, usually seeming to end up in Freo’s forward half.  The game ebbed and flowed, with Freo up by 9 points at half time.

Thank God for Tuohy, who with Irish logic thinks backmen should kick goals. He kicked 3, all on the run, and 2 in rapid succession in the early stages of the 3rd quarter. Perhaps we were in with a sniff? Five goals apiece for the third quarter kept us on the edge of our couch, the highlight being Matthew Watson’s 60 metre torpedo goal.

Sophie and I were already exhausted after the events of our week, and this was an exhausting game to watch. The players are fit and are paid to get exhausted. We, however, pay membership and emotional dues, so could do with a better return on investment.

As the last quarter unfolded, we sank further and further down on the couch. Judd had faded, Murphy was never in it, Simmo played his brave, skilful best, yet nothing could stop the life being choked out of the Blues. The last quarter was when the boa constrictor finally got on top.  Suban, Ballantyne, Walters, Barlow and Danyle Pearce all kicked goals, the body of the Blues spluttered and died. So did our finals hopes. Even if we were gifted a spot in the 8 from Essendon’s shame, we don’t deserve to be there.


  1. Peter Fuller says

    The Blues’ capitulation to a decidedly better opponent crowns a tough week for you. Your Dad sounds like a top bloke, and I’m sure that he’ll be sorely missed by plenty of others, while there will be an irreparable hole in your life. Your post suggests that you will draw plenty of consolation from the memories, and for those of us obsessed about the game, many of the best of those recollections will involve football.
    I think your choice to stay at home on Saturday night with a nice bottle of red and good company was wise, and entirely justified when you have endured such an emotionally-wrenching week. Our boys gave what they have, but it was never going to be enough, when Freo turned up absolutely committed. You certainly identified the key elements of the game, the visitors’ intensity and the inability of our blokes to resist, when the enemy turned up the heat. I did enjoy Tuohy’s goals, he plays with a boyish delight, as though the game still has the pleasure of novelty for him, whereas it looks like a really stressful job for so many of the others. That’s especially true when you lose, and particularly when the physical stresses are as demanding as Fremantle can impose.
    Be kind to yourself and treasure the good relationships in your life, as well as the memories of your Dad.

  2. Barb, I’m sure Bob Pratt will be the first in line among the Blood Stained Angels greeting your Dad. Great memories to treasure.

  3. Barb,
    Just saw your review.
    Great memories evoked of Dad.
    Well done on actually being able to review the game and still get in mentions of he and his mates.

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