AFL Round 2 – Western Bulldogs v Fremantle: Umpire! (starring Razor Ray)

By John and Nicholas Burmej

The AFL left us little choice this year.  Our annual sojourn to Melbourne to watch the Dockers play in Melbourne was largely determined by the draw.  The Bullies in Round 2 was about it.  The Melbourne weather means a family holiday in anything but the first 8 or so rounds is just a bit too much for the Mrs to contemplate.

The planets however did align for us in the last week of the A League home and away matches with the Perth Glory securing a final against the Melbourne Victory at Etihad on the Friday night.  Our flight was scheduled to arrive just a few hours before the A league elimination final.  We jumped at the opportunity.  Our visit to Melbourne last year coincided with the A league grand final.  We ended up watching it at the Elephant and the Wheelbarrow on Bourke St with 4 other Glory fans.  That was the final the Brisbane Roar stole from us thanks to Besart Berisha falling over after a fresh airy that the referee Jarred Gillet decided to pay as a trip in the last minute of play.

This would end up being a weekend about umps.

Whoever said lightening doesn’t strike twice was clearly not a Perth Glory fan.  Gillet robbed us of the title in 2012 and in 2013 ensured we didn’t even get a chance to make the final by making one of the most awful decisions you can imagine.  When the Victory sub Andrew Nabbout controlled the ball with his hand Gillet missed that.  Milliseconds later however he didn’t miss Steve Pantelidis hand brush Nabbout’s shoulder (we think it made contact).  Nabbout made the at best incidental contact look like he had been hit by one of those North  Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles directly in the chest.  When Gillet pointed to the spot the feeling of déjà vu was palpable.  It must be said that in 2013 we should have sealed the game a minute before the Gillet intervention when Shane Smeltz missed a penalty that would have put the Glory up 2-0 with only minutes left.

We rocked back to Etihad on a stunning Saturday afternoon with still heavy hearts after the Glory’s demise.  We were pretty confident however that the Dockers would have the Bullies measure notwithstanding the Bullies impressive form against the night series winners Brissie the weekend before.   While flicking through the Record before hand we noticed the name Ray Chamberlain as one of the umps and immediately our spirits lifted.  We missed Razor Ray a lot last year on Friday night football.  A bit of googling when he wasn’t to be seen last year informed us that Ray had been struck down by a knee injury that forced him to miss the entire season.  What a pleasant surprise to see Ray back to entertain and confuse us all again.

Nicholas had managed to pick up one of the AFL radios from a friend at work that allows you to listen to the umps commentary during the game.   He was beside himself when he realised that he would have the honour of listening to Razor all day long.  He felt it might be the highlight of the day.  He wasn’t too far wrong.

There was 22,000 at the soccer last night and we thought if we got that today the AFL would be doing well.  It ended up a touch over 19,000. There seemed as many Docker jumpers in the ground as Bullies jumpers as we weaved our way through the crowd to find our seats.

The game was over by quarter time.  Dockers lead by 31 points and had 6 individual goal scorers and Pav was not one of them.  Ross would have been pleased.   The Bullies supporters are heard saying “Come on guys this is Freo not the Bears”.  Some well earned respect for the Dockers at long last.  Crowley again highlights there is no better tagger in the game by limiting Griffen’s impact and one of our favourite ex Dockers Nick Lower does a great job on Munday .

Fortunately Razor has lost none of his ability.  The first term highlight was his comment when asked to explain a decision.  ”Look, don’t ask just do”.  Shades of the great John Kennedy.   Nicholas tells me that based on the umpire audio there was only one umpire out on the field.  All he could hear was Razor.  Neither of us are surprised.

The Bullies plugged away in the second term but for all their effort where only 6 points closer at half time.  The Dockers seem to have all the answers and score goals almost at will.  The Bullies did get to within 2 goals but there was never a sense of panic with the Dockers.  At half time the only real difference was that the Dockers have gone from 6 individual goal scorers to 9.  Pav was now one of them.   Lower continued to stifle Munday’s influence but this Dockers side doesn’t rely on just one or two players.  Fyfe and Barlow have great 1st halves.  This is a side with a good spread of talent across all the lines.   Defensively they are as good as any side going around.

The third term is dominated by what appears to be the first serious knee injury of the season.  Who would have picked it would be to goal umpire Courtney Lai however.  The unfortunate incident occurred after Liam Picken crashed into Courtney when attempting to smoother a goal.  Razor fortunately was right on hand to provide Courtney with some words of comfort clearly drawing on his own experiences from 2012.    Razor stayed with Courtney right until the stretcher arrived.  The crowd felt that as he was leaving the ground that Lai waved to them in a sign of appreciation for their warm applause.  Who were we kidding, he was waving to Ray.

Munday got off the leash in the third term and showed his class.  Kepler Bradley becomes the Dockers first multiple goal scorer quickly followed by the impressive Crozier and Walters.  The Dockers got out to a 49 point lead at one stage and were really just going through the motions.  The Bullies to their credit never give up and limit the damage.

At the final siren the margin is 28, just a few points different than the margin at quarter time.  We leave contended in a very competent performance by what appears to be a very competent Dockers side.   Our sporting weekend would be rounded out by a visit to the G to see the Blues take on the Pies (the Collingwood Feral’s as Nicholas affectionately calls them) in what promised to be an absolute ball burster.  It delivered in spades.

Razor, welcome back.  Courtney, all the best for a speedy recovery.  Gillet, if you get offered a final, any final, involving the Glory in 2014 for the love of God just say you are busy.

Our Votes:  3 – Fyfe, 2- Suban, 1- Dahlhaus

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