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AFL Round 4 – Sydney v Melbourne: Watching our J-Mac

Sydney v Melbourne

7:20PM, Thursday April 11




Wednesday night

Arriving home from uni and casually eating my dinner, I am oblivious.

Relaxing and unwinding, I don’t bother to check my phone for a while. When I do, my jaw hits the flaw.


Justin McInerny, a former Banyule teammate, has been picked to make his debut for Sydney in the Thursday night game against Melbourne.

Group chats about numerous teams from Banyule’s senior club are going off – everyone is excited and blown away by the immediacy of his call-up. Just two years ago he couldn’t get into the Marcellin College first 18, and had only recently taken his game to another level in the local division one Colts section of the Yarra Junior Football League.


When I saw the news, that season came back to me.

Only two years ago and a growing yet wiry guy was hurling himself into packs along the half-black flank, taking amazing intercept marks and constantly sprinting down the guts. He had a great kick too – covering distance quickly. Now, this still skinny guy was going to be lining up with Buddy Franklin in front of Channel 7 cameras and a massive crowd – the reality is surreal.


Thursday night

Following our usual Thursday night training and dinner at Banyule, all of the TVs are switched on to see Sydney running out. One of our Under 19s teammates got the call up to travel to Sydney and watch him as his parents were both overseas. The rest of us pulled up chairs and looked for him eagerly.


Early on, Sydney and Melbourne both feel each other out, playing tentative football reflecting their limited confidence. J-Mac (as he is known by us) comes on pretty early, and can be seen on a wing. Still with a young face, it’s crazy to comprehend that he is actually there and playing. All of us are beaming and cheering for him. Soon enough the scoreline means nothing to us – we just want to see him get a kick. Unfortunately, the game is being played down one wing, the one that he isn’t occupying.


At quarter time even Melbourne supporters are grumpy about the game being played down one side and away from J-Mac, despite the Dees are putting up a fight for the first time this year. Eventually, his time comes in the second quarter. Having already gotten into the thick of things by joining scuffles and playing some nice tackles, he burrows into a pack and gets a high free kick. His kick is nervous, falling short of Buddy yet bouncing up nicely for him. It could’ve been worse for a daring 40m pass.


Unfortunately, Sydney gradually fall down in the game, and barely get a chance to get the footy and move quickly. Melbourne get on top and don’t relinquish their lead, playing gritty and sloppy footy that manages to defensively consolidate the margin. J-Mac is seen in spurts – sometimes he is coming off half-back and manages to win a couple of more free kicks, yet advantage is taken and we never get to see him push back and take his deserved kick. He is then back on a wing, running with Nathan Jones for a bit. Finally, Sydney’s disappointing forward line set up means he is thrown forward, but there is no supply as Melbourne hold the ball in their territory.


The match peters out and the Dees finally clinch the victory they so badly needed. But Melbourne supporters in the Banyule rooms aren’t totally satisfied – a win would’ve been made sweeter if J-Mac had been given more of a chance to get the ball and show what we all know he can do. Let’s hope he can keep growing as a player – as all of Banyule found it magical to see him play.



SYDNEY                5.4    8.10    9.11     11.12 (78)
MELBOURNE       3.2     8.4     12.7    15.10 (100)


Florent 2, Dawson 2, Jack 2, Sinclair, Z. Jones, Heeney, Franklin, Ronke
Melbourne: N. Jones 3, Preuss 2, Petracca 2, Hunt 2, Harmes, Melksham, T. McDonald, Weideman, Brayshaw, Viney


Cunningham, Lloyd, Florent, Rampe, Jones, Heeney
Melbourne: Gawn, Oliver, N. Jones, Salem, Hore, Harmes


Crowd: 26,669




  1. craig dodson says

    Must have been exciting for you sean. Hopefully Justin gets a good run of games to find his feet.

    Incidently my young son plays unders 8s for macleod (and goes for the swans at his dad’s insistence) and when he found out Justin started at macleod he had a new favourite player.

    We actually headed to Sydney on holidays for the game and went to training today where my son was very thrilled to meet Justin. A really nice young kid.

    Thanks for sharing your yarn and good luck with your footy season.

  2. Good to hear Craig! He always has been a great guy – hope he plays plenty of games well so your son can watch them all!

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