AFL Round 8: (FPS) I’d rather not be in Philadelphia

By Steve Fahey



I was bruised and battered and I couldn’t tell
What I felt
I was unrecognizable to myself
I saw my reflection in a window

I didn’t know
My own face

Streets of Philadelphia, Bruce Springsteen


I’m not sure whether this applies more to the team or to we supporters.  Certainly we are bruised and battered – it’s been a week from hell.  It’s not often that you lose by 88 points on a Monday night, and then make seven changes to your team (the eight named changes became seven after the late change – reflect on that !!) and get belted again the following weekend.


Before the game against the Saints on Monday night I said to Paul, “I reckon this team has a maximum of twelve goals in it.”  Little did I know that it would take two games for us to reach a dozen majors.


Before this crucial match against the archenemy from Price Fixing Park I had to dig deep for grounds for optimism.   I managed to find more “reasons” than I would have predicted, albeit that they were all pretty tenuous.  We had a L-W-L-W-L-W-L sequence that was due for a W, every team that has lost to the Saints has won the following week, the Blues, despite the media hyperbole, had won one of their previous five, and Presti was in the stand last year when Fev tore Harry and Nathan Brown apart in the respective encounters.


On the other side of the mental ledger were weightier reasons for pessimism.  We are decimated by injury and have a poor recent record against the Blues, having lost twice last year and trailed in the last quarter twice the year before when they won the wooden spoon and we finished fourth.  Add to that the weakest ruck line-up, in Wood and Leigh Brown, in my memory (with the possible exception of Round 7, 1999 when Mark Richardson was backed up by Michael Gardiner, but did have A Rocca at centre half back !) and our dodgy form, and things were not looking so rosy. 


It panned out as gloomily as one could have expected, being three goals down within a few minutes after being smashed in the clearances and conceding a goal from Heath Shaw being run down twenty metres from his defensive goal.  Who was talking to him?  We went sideways, backwards, around the boundary, anywhere except the corridor and continually missed short targets under little or no pressure, as well as missing a couple of very gettable shots on goal.  The Blues were precise with the ball, used the corridor, ran harder and five goals to zip at quarter-time pretty much said it all.  At half-time we had one goal, a combination of a dodgy free kick and an even dodgier conversion from Ben Reid (the bloke we keep reading articles about becoming a backman who played all his game time as a forward – I know someone has to play there with Cloke, Rocca, Medhurst and Didak out, but what about the young bloke’s development?).


We were actually very competitive for the second quarter and much of the third quarter, but got smashed in stoppages inside defensive 50, moved the ball too slowly, made too many errors and had too few targets forward, with Jack working hard but not converting well for a change, and Tarkyn presenting as an undersized lead-up forward.  The last quarter was extended junk time.


The most telling statistic from this game was the marks, which we trailed 65-124, reflecting our inability to run hard and present, as well as our sloppiness in hitting targets.  Yes, they chipped the ball around a lot in their back half, but they hit targets.  The contested marks were 10 -18 which also tells a story.  We actually had more inside 50s, just as we nearly matched the Saints in this stat, but how and where you take it in is more important than just taking it in.


There were few positives to emerge.  Pendles was again our best, and although his second-half match-up Judd won the duel, it was a good one.  Tarkyn worked really hard, Presti continued his rich form by keeping Fev goalless, and Leon kicked an amazing third-quarter goal.  Swan won plenty of ball but his disposal was very poor, Wellingham showed a bit and Sidebottom looks a player.  I’ve had to work hard to find this many.


On the less positive side, we put out a weak team and played accordingly.  We were embarrassing in the ruck, and simply must play Wood and Bryan when Fraser is absent.  Leigh Brown is being used as Polyfilla and a more durable solution is required.  Cook, Cox, Corrie, Beams and Reid  were others that left a lot to be desired.  


Keen observers may remember that TAFKATBM called us at 2-6 after 8, and later suggested that 1-7 was also possible.  He hasn’t been that far off the mark on this occasion.  Just as with the game, I can’t wait for the siren to sound on this report.  The news of Rusling’s fractured cheek in his return game in the twos has furthered soured my disposition.


Votes for the Horsburgh Medal


3 – Pendles

2 – Presti

1 – Tarkyn



The Russell Ohlsen Medal goes to Pendles.


Cumulative voting:


15 – Pendles

6 –  Tarkyn

5 –  Leon,

4 –  Swan

3 –  Jack Anthony, Presti, Max

2 –  O’Bree, Josh, Harry,

1 –  The Mop, Beams, Medhurst 



My Fantastic Footy Flashback this week is my favourite five games against the Blues.  We all know the many painful ones, and need something a little cheery.


  1. Round 6, 1981 Princes Park – the Pies and Blues square off in front of over 40,000, with both teams undefeated.  Daicos runs amok, kicking seven, and Mark Choco Williams controls the centre square as the Pies become premiership favourites.  The stone cold pies that Stork and I consumed during the magoos (one bloke was taking them out of the box and putting them in the tray, the other bloke was selling them to the unsuspecting public before they had any cooking at all !!) were forgotten as the Pies win by 57 points.


  1. Round 19, 1970 at Vic Park – The Pies become raging favourites to break their 12 – year premiership drought (yes, this was thought to represent a drought at the time !!) as they destroy the arch-enemy 13.23.101 to 2.12.24.  The cream on the cake for the Pies’ faithful arrives late in the game when The Sharpshooter (Peter McKenna) dribbles one off the ground to score his ninth, and his 100th for the season.  (see Fantastic Footy Flashbacks round six  2009 (Kangaroos game) for a longer version of this experience)


  1. Round 14, 1988 : Starce at G – the day of SOS’ famous hanger.  The Pies stamp their claim as legitimate flag contenders by knocking off the reigning premiers by 23 points in a home and away classic.  Starce again delivers the goods on a big ground, as well as being a stepladder for SOS.  A favourite memory from this game is a frustrated Jimmy Buckley giving the goal umpire the bird after the Pies’ sealer – he’d get six weeks for that now! Tony Elshaug made his Pies debut in this game.

This is as about as happy as I have ever been after a home and away game, because I knew we were a chance.  It took two and a bit years, but this time I was right!  Yes, there have been numerous other occasions when I have been wrong.


  1. Round 3, 2000 at the G – The Malthouse miracle continues as the Pies, wooden spooners the previous year with just 4 wins, go 3-0 by thumping the Blues by 73 points.  I can remember my brother Kevin, who was in his decade as a club statistician at that time, reporting to me that immediately after the game Mick called the players in, congratulated them and said “Your challenge is to make sure that that’s not your best win for the year.”  Mick was right on the money, as after getting to 5-0 we won two more for the year.  Those first five weeks were a magical period as (1) in a rare event our (low) expectations were exceeded by actuality, and (2) hope returned to the club after the depressing years of the Tony Shaw era in which we won 9, 7, 7 and 4 games respectively between 1996 and 1999.


6.         Round 5, 1984 (Anzac Day) at Waverley -.  The Pies lead by six points late in the last quarter.  In these days Kev (my dad) was on the Players’ Welfare Committee.  If you were on duty and lucky enough to not have to take someone to hospital during the game, you were required to be in the rooms as the players came off the ground, which meant missing the last minute or two of the game. 

                        Kev was on duty this day.  He left his seat in the stand to begin the charge to the dressing room.  He had just reached the bottom step when Carlton Full-Forward Warren Ralph marked about 30 metres from goal on about a 45 degree angle.   The siren sounded as Ralph prepared to kick.  Kev lingered on the bottom step of the stairway to watch the shot.  Being a tall man, he blocked the view of some Carlton supporters in the front couple of rows, who yelled at him to “Sit down mate !!”  Kev disappeared out of view as he moved down a step onto the landing.  Ralph kicked – it was close, but the goal umpire signaled a point, and the Pies had snuck home by five points.    As we began celebrating, Kev’s triumphant face appeared as he stepped back up onto to the first step, faced the crowd and gave a double-fisted victory salute, especially in the direction of the Carlton supporters who had given him the call to sit down.  He then charged down the stairs to get into the dressing rooms, leaving us (Stork, Mark, TAFKATBM and myself) absolutely wetting ourselves laughing !


May there be more happy days indeed, because it has been a long, long week.  Could someone please do the Danny Roach votes, commentary is optional.  I look forward to Haiku Bob and to your contribution.


Floreat Pica




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