AFL Round 5 – Melbourne v Gold Coast: Sunday Footy at the G – Bridesmaids, Faded Demons and Rising Sun Gods


Steve Alomes

There is something about Sunday footy at the ‘G’. A walk through the autumn leaves of the gardens with white and other palettes added by clusters of bridal parties taking the pics. Even if that nice church sausage stall isn’t running – on Easter Sunday they have more serious, or even spiritual, matters to attend to.

Walking up to take almost any seats in the Great Southern Stand. No queues, no computer stuffing around, no printing out tickets. Sitting in the afternoon sun on levels P and N in the AFL members and enjoying the footy.

Wearing my footy-lover to theatre-goer hat, I prefer it to Docklands, with its closed roof on a clear or sunny day, answering the bleating call of TV commentators who don’t realise that except in mid-July, when we all like to ‘have our comfort, reg’lar meals’ and warmth (to modify Henry Lawson), that footy is an open air game. While Docklands has improved from the days of ‘Colonial catastrophe’, with its moving tufts of earth, its malfunctioning turnstiles and rigid staff (who later received a running sheet on being nice to people), it still has a hard base for the ground, very small screens, and its concrete environs are convenient but have nothing else to recommend them.

At the ‘G’ the staff are friendly, especially those who now receive their long service leave after years of devotion.

I’ve seen a lot of Melbourne matches over recent years as I like going to the ‘G” (or more accurately the MFG, Melbourne Football Ground, a fact guaranteed to annoy unreconstructed devotees of willow and fantasy). At times, the strugglers appealed greatly. Earlier in the century there were Schwarter and Neeter marking strongly, or a little later Russell Robertson taking a ride in front of goals. A tradition carried on by another Tasmanian, Jeremy Howe, although his game has not thrived under the new regime of Paul Roos. Aaron Davey bursting off the wing with lightning passes and shots at goal (not ‘on goal’ despite those soccer-warped consciousnesses of some commentators).

There is still something exciting about Nathan Jones, playing with spirit and passion which sometimes informed the whole team. The bridesmaids, as they were in the Jim Stynes preliminary final of 1987 and the grand final of 2000. On their good days they can be a lot more exciting than a Sunday drive which doesn’t really help digest the Sunday roast.

However, new coaches, experts on zones, rolling mauls, and ‘dee-fence’ create new game plans which inhibit players’ passion and style. Perhaps all the passion is now the province of baristas.

At times, it looked like becoming a tight contest. While the Suns, despite bad kicking, were 20 points up by half-time, a Melbourne revival looked like happening in the third quarter; except, in a battle of defences, the Demons only came one point closer.

On this day, the bald and passionate star was not Jonesey or even Chappy (Geelong’s one mistake in trading) but young Gazza. There he was practising his shots for goal from 45-50 metres out on an angle, 10 metres in from the boundary line before the match.

Strangely, neither excitement machine, neither expression of defollicular power, was fully revved up. Both, playing on each other much of the game, knocked up their 30 plus possessions, but without much excitement. The Suns brought colour to the G even as the autumn cold descended on this 3.20 pm encounter – the lights came on in the third quarter and it was getting chilly by 5.00, late in the quarter.

Strangely, too, footy now seems to be about recycling. Melbourne’s best included the handball wizard, Daniel Cross from the Bulldogs and Bernie Vince from Adelaide, while Rischitelli has journeyed from the Gabba down to the world of Cavill Avenue and beyond.  Although, the rising Sun, Jaeger O’Meara shone more than the blighted number one pick, Jack Watts. The young fresh cream was also in bright red and gold, including Tom Lynch and first year player, Kade Kolodjashnij.

The Melbourne fans – blaming the umpire for the Gazza free kick in front of goal – remain exciting, and, around the ground I could see neither tweed nor jumbo cords, as preferred by many of the Melbourne establishment.

The game was over when the bald star sang. Whether the free was justified or not, all that practice made perfect, as Gary Ablett calmly slotted the ball from 48 metres. The cream, if not the follicles, had risen to the top.

If you looked at the final scores, you would think it was a close match. The rising God of the Suns won by only 8 points and their lead for much of the day was 20 points or less. Except, like the performances of Gazza and Jonesy the stats looked better than the flying moments. It was, as one radio commentator observed, an ‘undistinguished’ game. The goalkicking was even more undistinguished, with the Suns kicking 11. 20 and the Demons kicking 11.12, and a few other shots which attracted the attention of the boundary umpire or were cleared easily. ‘Cringeworthy skill errors’, in the apt words of another scribe, were the sausages for the day. Or perhaps Melbourne tried, but they were also trying.

In a year of topsy turvey performances for most teams, one week ‘on’ the next week ‘off’, perhaps the bridesmaid in blue and red will take better pics next week, at the ‘G’ rather than in the gardens. And, after winning at the ‘G’, the rising Suns might be on their way.

Q1    Q2       Q3        Q4

GOLD COAST:  2.7    6.12     8.17     11.20 (86)

MELBOURNE:  3.2    4.4      6.10      11.12 (78)


Gold Coast: Matera 2, Swallow 2, Ablett 2, Lynch 2, Hall, Broughton, Day.

Melbourne: Dawes 2, Frawley 2, Pedersen, Terlich, Howe, Kennedy-Harris, Viney, Evans, Jones.

Gold Coast: Ablett, Rischitelli, O’Meara, Kolodjashnij, Swallow

Melbourne: Jones, Viney, Howe, Frawley

Umpires:  Leppard, Wenn, Armstrong

Our Votes: Ablett (GCS) 3, N. Jones (M) 2, Rischitelli (GCS) 1


  1. Steve Baker says

    I’m with you Stephen. I’ll watch two teams I don’t support at the MCG before watching my team at Docklands. The roof stadium has all the charm, warmth and character of an unwashed spitoon.

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