AFL Round 22: Bend it like Blighty

Port Adelaide versus North Melbourne
7.10pm, Saturday, August 29
AAMI Stadium

I don’t like watching footy on TV.  I feel disengaged, not part of the action.  I can’t smell the air, feel the atmosphere or become emotionally involved with the game.  The screen is too small to capture all the action on our large, oval playing field.  Other football codes and sports, for example, tennis, are better suited to TV with their smaller playing surfaces.

Delayed footy telecasts are an insult to the viewing public.  Research has shown that live sport on TV does not adversely affect crowd sizes.  Commentators are either washed-up former players or dorky wannabes who forget what they’re there for – to call a game of footy – and see their role as an opportunity to talk about themselves and hang shit on each other (a big generalisation, I know).

I go to the footy.  I feel involved, engaged.  I sit in the grandstand or stand in the outer with the radio in my ear.  At home, I listen to the radio coverage.  Radio commentators are better informed, more accurate and less egotistical (except for Rex).

So, despite the fact it’s the last game of the year and the Roos are on free-to-air (surprise, surprise), I’m not too excited about taking on Port at AAMI.  I’m up for a movie; Balibo looks good.  Unfortunately, my host isn’t keen and with the rain coming down, we’ve settled in over a stir-fry and beers.  She wants to watch Bend It Like Beckham.   No probs, sounds better than the footy.  I’ll flick for the score during the ads.

We tune into the movie and the main character, Jess, is playing football in the park with the boys.  Her conservative Indian parents aren’t yet aware of her obsession with the round-ball code.  London basks in an endless summer.

Jess is a good-looking sort.  Indian women are beautiful (another generalisation).  I start to reminisce to many years ago and my first Indian meal in Brick Lane, London.  The waitresses were a revelation.

I check the footy.  It’s approaching time-on in the first quarter and we lead nine points to eight.  It’s raining, windy, slippery and dour.  Thompson clears for North.  He’s had a good year.  Drew kicks one over his head.  Even with Crocks miked up in the box for his last game, we can’t escape the mundanity.

Back to Jess — her mother is teaching her traditional recipes.  Later, she’s talking marriage with teammates from her female football team.  She can’t marry a Muslim or Christian, only an Indian.  The Irish male coach has his brooding eyes on her.  Soon, he’s rubbing her sore feet.  It’s entirely inappropriate, but understandable.

Airport Brogan receives a 50 and puts Port in front.  They lead by five points at quarter-time.

The shit hits the fan for Jess.  Her parents have busted her and she’s banned from playing football.  Everyone’s in tears — especially Coach.

Half-way through the second term, Port lead by sixteen points.  Greenwood is in a push and shove contest with S. Burgoyne.  I like Levi; he isn’t easily intimidated.  Drew collects Chad.  Good work.  Lade’s on top.

Jess’s teammates have smuggled her to Germany for a game.  The coach gets her pissed and has a crack.  Jess’s mate Jules, who has the hots for the coach, catches them.  Their friendship is over and Jess is devastated.  Coach is spewing.

Port lead 41 to 28 at half-time.

Jess’s sister is getting married.  The house, car and reception centre are full of colour, dance and noise.  Everyone is happy except for Jess, for today is her soccer final and she isn’t there.  Her Dad relents and Jess’s gay friend drives her to the game.  Jess scores the winner around a wall of opponents – or is that the wall of Indian conservatism?  The celebrations begin and she and Jules are friends again.  Jess wraps the sari back on, returns to the wedding and dances the night away Bollywood-style.

Half-way through the third, the game has opened up.  There’s more urgency in the play and the small crowd is involved.  Ebert slips Thompson and kicks one.  Port by eight.

Jess and Jules are offered scholarships at an American university and after much pleading, Jess’s parents give the thumbs up.  Coach is back on the scene and they have a big kiss at the airport.  He tells her he’ll wait for her.  The film ends with Coach and Jess’s Dad playing cricket on the green.  London’s endless summer continues.

The rain is washing across the TV screen with four minutes left.  We’re coming hard and trail by two points.  Crocks has sent out the message: kick long!

We have a Milo.

Early in the last term, Port lead by three points.  Gibbo’s getting a lot of it.  He’s finding form for Mad Monday.  Boomer kicks truly on the run and we lead.  I should be more excited.  I should be there.

Drew jumps into the pack and marks on his chest.  He spends too long with the preparation and misses from ten metres out.

Port press and we’re defending frantically.  Ebert goals and Port lead by four points.  Five minutes left.

Boomer crumbs, slips, baulks, and misses from just outside the goal square.

McMahon marks on the forward flank.  Krakouer gives him a slight push in the chest, he falls and receives a 50.  It’s a poor decision from an umpire lacking perspective and flexibility, but we’ll take it.  McMahon converts and we lead again.  Lower kicks a point on the siren and we win by four points.

The teams form a guard of honour for the retiring Peter Burgoyne and Lade.  Burgoyne and Krakouer are in tears.  I feel sorry for Krakouer.  It shouldn’t happen to a member of a famous North family.  It should’ve happened to Chad.

I’m happy with the win, but not so emotional — I’m at home watching on TV.

The season is over and it’s fitting I say something deep: thank God!

See ya.


  1. That was a great end to the season for North.
    I never thought I’d be jealous of Crocker.
    After the game Swallow went into the rooms and gave Crocker a big hug! I’ll bet the hug made the job worthwhile! I also noticed that Alan Obst isn’t too hard on the eyes!
    As for the Coach from the movie you can’t blame Jess, would you say he’s ‘fit?’
    Is that how the English say good-looking? I have no idea.

    Danni :)

  2. Pamela Sherpa says

    I thought the 50 m penalty to Krakouer was a classic case of the penalty being too harsh for the incident. 15m would be fairer for instances like that. The win for you a good way to finish the season Andrew.

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