AFL Round 5 – Brisbane v Melbourne: A brief history lesson

Mike Krzyzewski, coach of the Duke basketball team wrote: “A season is a lifetime”. I reckon today’s game is a potted history of the Melbourne footy club.

To start, there are foundations of greatness: my mate Jeff and I both find close parks (unheard of) and meet in the pub for a quick pre-game beer. All good there: the Melbourne footy club is a rock of the league and was probably formed in similar circumstances.

Unfortunately someone with extremely poor judgment is programming the TV in the pub, so there is wrestling on the big screen overpowering the replay of the Dogs-Cats clash (stolen by the Cats last night) on smaller screens. This is probably analogous to the period of bad taste when the Demons were known as the “Redlegs”, and wore red and green.

Taking our seats at the Gabba, we eat the only three meat pies available (having commented to the staff that there is a footy match on today so they might think about getting some more into the oven) while two young lads break the banner with the Demons. These two boys are the sons of my mate Tim Smith and he is as proud and excited as they are. The Smith boys love their Demons with passion unbridled and this moment of the afternoon is the embodiment of the “golden age” of Melbourne, when they changed their name to “The Demons” and dominated through the 1930s to the 1960s. The boys run through with their chests puffed out, in full kit, and Jeff comments that they may be needed today.

Its not all “golden years” though, you’d think that sitting next to my mum would mean we could have a conversation, but instead of her insightful comments we all endure some idiot yelling at us over the PA system. Come on Brisbane, turn that rubbish down please!

The game starts, unfortunately for the Demons, sometime in the late 1960s, with Norm Smith sacked and Jonathan Brown kicking a goal after 40 seconds of play. Moloney is playing the role of Barassi: he’s left Melbourne and is dominating play for their opposition. Things have rapidly gone from great to ordinary. Amongst this, umpire McBurnie takes a keen interest in Polkinghorne’s number (perhaps for Brownlow purposes according to my mum) and the battle of the beards is leaning in Gawn’s favour as he kicks a beauty and flaunts his hirsute chin at his red-bearded adversary, Merrett. Watts has forgone the beard this week and hence struggles when matched with Brisbane’s big red.

The second quarter is a simple Act depicting the Demons of the 1970s; early hope through Howe sees little return on the scoreboard, before poor decisions see their progress halted completely. A prime example is when Byrnes kicks into the man on the mark (Zorko) who gleefully accepts the ball and slots an easy goal. Only Gawn, now cast as an unlikely Robbie Flower, appears to be any hope up forward, and keeps Demon spirits high through the dark fog of quarter 2.

The third quarter is obviously playing out as the Demon’s 1980s. Many forward thrusts, so close to success, but ultimately hope dashed and Lions’ goals. This is repeated throughout the quarter, with Ash McGrath cast as a bald and recently – married Hawthorn spoiling most Melbourne forays. Bewick is unstoppable up forward – I like him, and Brown kicks his third. A 60 metre off-break for a goal from Tapscott passes for a re-enactment of Peter Moore’s Brownlow, but the only real lights are Papalone and Watts.

In the final quarter the Demons are in need of a merger, so it must be the 90s, after all, they are almost on the Gold Coast… But as did the new century begin, so do the Demons with a goal to McKenzie raising hopes of another dynasty. This is short lived as Bail ignores the sub Davey in the goal square and gathers another point for his team, from which a coast –to – coast transition sees Cornelius goal for the Lions and all hope disintegrate for the Demons.

The spate of fumbling play that ensues through this last quarter forces Jeff to head off and collect his son from golf, so I guess he has decided to play Joe Gutnick in the final act while my son has taken up the Lions’ cause with great gusto, much to the annoyance of his grandfather, seated next to him in a Demons’ polo shirt. There is little for either side’s fans to cheer about except the extension of Vossy’s lifeline I guess, so the Demon’s cheer squad has put away their lagerphone (a nice touch) well before Sylvia caps another stunning bit of promising play with an inept finish, which I can only presume is some reference to tanking.


BRISBANE LIONS 5.3   7.11    13.14    17.20 (122)

MELBOURNE          5.3    7.5      10.7    14.10   (94)



Brisbane Lions: Brown 3, Leuenberger 3, Zorko 3, Cornelius 2, Polkinghorne, Adcock, Redden, Paparone, Bewick, Rockliff

Melbourne: Howe 2, Gawn 2, Bail, N Jones, Jamar, Tapscott, Watts, McKenzie, Rodan, Pederson, Davey



Brisbane Lions: Bewick, McGrath, Mayes, Moloney, Leuenberger, Zorko,

Melbourne: Trengove, Watts, Terlich, Gawn

Umpires: McBurney, Bannister, Leppard

Official crowd: 19,018 at the Gabba

Malarkey Medal Votes: 3. Bewick, 2. McGrath, 1. Gawn

About Bill Ellis

As easy to read as a Clermont green.

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