AFL Round 22 – Brisbane v Western Bulldogs: Through a father and son’s eyes

Usually when I head to watch football at the elite level, it’s generally a lonely trip on a plane or other means of transportation, followed by lunch at Subway before attempting to find like minded supporters and members to share views on the game as the Bulldogs plough through another day at the office. For Brisbane games at The Gabba, it’s a little different. This time I am accompanied by my old man who has supported the Brisbane based club years before the merger with Fitzroy.

Before I go on, just a little bit of background on my old man,

– he was born in November 1963,
– spent time as an Abel Seaman in the Navy during the 1970’s and 80’s based in Sydney (the boat that he was stationed on is still moored at Darling Harbour as he likes to point out)
– started in the ruck for West Coburg’s 1987 B Grade EDFL premiership winning team against Pascoe Vale
– was Full Forward wearing #63 for Brothers in the 1995 premiership win (63 was the best fitting jumper)
– won the senior club Best and Fairest, the Players Player and the Senior Leading Goalkicker in 1999
– was my first Reserve Grade coach in 2000 (he was player-coach) and was reluctant to play me due to age and more importantly size (would have been on the topweight at Sandown tomorrow in the 1st)
– has 6 kids from 2 marriages of which I am the oldest

His idea of getting to the footy in Brisbane never involves public transportation, it always involves a number of stops at the various pubs around town. The Criterion on George Street was the first stop just before midday, where during the single beer we heard a protest march where many wanted to “Save the Reef”. They were hoping Mr Abbott may have heard this given the LNP were launching their campaign properly in Brisbane that afternoon. It’s also the place where I sometimes put on some bets but taking on the Sunshine Coast quaddie isn’t on my bucket list. After that there was a stop at a Southbank bar which was crowded, and not because of the nearby markets. Following that was another single beer at The Morrison which for night games usually would have been trebled, and a couple of beers at The Chalk. It was there where the discussion turned to the draft, and how many guns were drafted in the top 10. In his view there weren’t many and I went through random draft years spanning from 1999 to 2009.

There was also a word on the shape of the grounds meaning that athletes rather than footballers are STILL getting drafted. In his eyes, the grounds are more rounded and circular rather than the oval shapes of the past. His theory is that grounds should be more oval in appearance with straight wings, bringing more footballers into their own. It would also mean less interchanges, with the entertainment factor (paying good money to see the best play rather than go on and off every 4 minutes) I’m certain behind his thinking. In the wake of the quieter Tuesday announcement, he may get at least one of his wishes. Reminds me of the time I umpired 2 games, then played 2 games all without any time on the bench…..

Usually there’s a decent crowd outside the ground pre-match so that the kids can get entertained and hyped up. While this again proved to be the case, the bigger crowd was around the Lions shop tent and in their shop itself. Normally when merchandise is being flogged at discount prices it shows a desperation to clear out the warehouse, but it smacked of desperation when Members polo shirts were selling for $10 and caps for $5. Obviously the club were banking on more than 25,000 members for the season. At least the crowd looked decent enough following the GWS protest march, although the big crowds that basically came to boo Aker may probably never return (what a memory that was when he kicked the match winner in 2009, sat right behind it too!)

I doubt that he’ll allow me to purchase game tickets ever again though. Overly mindful of the poor experience 12 months earlier where we were stuck in a general admission section on the lower tier with hopeless viewing capabilities, it was always my intention to get a seat in the upper deck behind the goals. Unfortunately it wasn’t the sun that was a problem, fortunately that set behind the towers just as the match commenced. Instead in a LICENCED area (the old man had 2 beers a quarter), we had to put up overly hyperactive children who were more interested in banging the retractable seating whilst we were trying to watch and comment on the game. Maybe it had a little to do with the one sided first half, which re-ignited thoughts of the dark days of last season where the words inept and uncompetitive would have been ideally describing a Bulldog performance.

It was a different story in the second half, save for the couple of beers per quarter. The old man correctly pointed out that Brisbane would be lucky to hang on once Daniel Merrett was carted off on a stretcher with a broken ankle (not that Merrett showed any sign of pain, which will be pointed out on The Footy Show on Thursday). Indeed he was the only realistic tall target in their front half (Staker is more of a medium sized 3rd tall or flanker I assume) and without him to use as a tall target Brisbane’s forward entries dried up.

Sadly the Dogs failed to take advantage, with 3 players seemingly in dad’s gun. Despite the fact that he’s been a loyal servant of the club and a worthy foot soldier who has made the most of his abilities, we both cringed when Daniel Cross was forced to kick the ball. It’s nothing new to be honest, Crossy’s never been a long penetrating kick, but each kick was met with the cry “lets put up the garryowen!”, which for those Rugby Union aficionados is a term for a high ball. Usually these kicks were in the direction of Tom Campbell, a backup ruckman who was masquerading as a full forward with some success in the past few weeks. Sadly his hands were not like Mark Waugh’s on this day, they were more like the Iron Gloves that depicted the early career of Rodney Marsh, and his accuracy in front of the sticks was just as ordinary.

But the old man always seems to have criticism for veteran Daniel Giansiracusa. It’s not the first time someone has seen fit to have a crack at Gia, plenty of Bulldog fans and members (myself included) have strongly questioned his value to the team. However Dad seemingly has never forgiven him for the 2009 Preliminary Final where Gia missed a couple of gilt edged chances late, and he believes until the club basically gets rid of him altogether then the losing mentality will continue. It didn’t change when I relayed him the strong rumour of him being Footscray Captain-Coach for next year, which for those who don’t know is the the VFL team that the Bulldogs players will represent in 2014. A second quarter miss from automatic range for AFL footballers only added fuel to his fire. In a game where we tried to overcome a near 10 goal half time deficit only to fall a mere 7 points short, these misses were crucial, if only for drafting purposes (pick 4 looks certain to come our way, unless Sheedy pulls a big rabbit out of the hat next week against Gold Coast. I’ll be there too!)

In the end it was a disappointing loss which a long walk home punctuated by a drink at the Pineapple Hotel (ideal pre-match pub, pizza’s are as good as any) didn’t hide the disappointment. But with him nearing 50 days such as these won’t come around much longer, so it is a moment to at least savour.



BRISBANE 15.10.100
BULLDOGS 13.15.93

BRIS: Zorko 2.3, Green 2.0, Rich 2.0, Staker 2.0, Merrett 2.0, Raines 2.0, Leuenberger 2.0, Bewick 1.2, Paparone 0.2, Docherty 0.1, RUSHED 0.2
DOGS: Dahlhaus 3.2, Giansiracusa 2.3, Addison 2.0, Campbell 1.3, Murphy 1.1, Dickson 1.1, Wallis 1.0, Griffen 1.0, Minson 1.0, Roughead 0.1, Grant 0.1, Tutt 0.1, RUSHED 0.2

BRIS: Hanley, Raines, Rockliff, Redden, Leuenberger, Zorko
DOGS: Liberatore, Griffen, Dahlhaus, Minson, Picken, Boyd

VOTES (If I was giving them)

3: Pearce HANLEY (BRIS)
2: Andrew RAINES (BRIS)


FIELD (almost as incompetent as those in England): Matthew “Def” Leppard, Justin “too many letters in the surname” Schmitt, Leigh “should have stuck to playing” Fisher (EM: Aaron Hall)BOUNDARY: Aaron Deckys, Nick Wade, Nick Liparota, Chris Bull
GOAL: Tristan Symes, Shaun Apted

About Mick Jeffrey

39 Year Old, 16 year Bulldogs. over 280 combined senior/reserves appearances for Brothers AFC in AFL Capricornia. 26 time Marathon finisher, three time Ultra Marathon finisher and three time Comrades Marathon competitor (though not finisher yet).

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