AFL Round 8 – Gold Coast v Western Bulldogs: Hurdles


They pop up in footy.

They certainly pop up if you want to see a Suns game up here on the Goldie.

Firstly, by virtue of their apparently unfriendly ratings profile, the Suns enjoy a surfeit of twilight and mid-arvo fixtures. Total bitch for a Dad looking to pinch a pie, a quiet beer, and a bit of a gander at the Son of God and his kid harem.

And secondly, by virtue of a stadium sans a freakin’ carpark, one is restricted to transit of dullest kind – the bloody park’n’ride.

Yeah, yeah. Carbon footprint. Yeah, yeah. It’s actually probably quicker at the end of the day. Yeah, yeah. It still sucks serious butt.

But at least for now the crowds remain flimsy at Carrara. It makes moving around at this wonderful new stadium is a total soda. I claim a seat much nearer the action that my ticket should allow. No questions asked.

The local lads complete their run-throughs. They’re bigger this year. Significantly so. Tom Lynch has a real frame on him nowadays. So too carrot-topped Rory Thompson. And Zac Smith, an easy two-metre plusser, somehow seems even taller than he once did. They don’t look like schoolchildren anymore, that’s for sure.

Anyway, back to hurdles.

Last week the Suns overcame a biggie – their first win at the ‘G.

This week they have the chance to leap another – consecutive victories. That their opponent is the Western Bullies – a team who can thank it’s lucky doggie stars that Demon ineptitude drains most of the heat from the journalistic blowtorch – means the Suns are better than evens to claim what only good teams really ever have: momentum.

They start poorly, the Suns – fumbly and bumbly and without any real system. This is a shame according to old exasperated Suns-capped mate in front as Liam Jones puts through the Dogs’ third for the first term. That’s what he actually said: “This is just such a SHAME.”

I can only imagine what a similarly aggrieved Tiger or a Pie might have belched.

When flaxen-haired, hard running Matt Shaw pushes a tough set shot wide early in the second, old mate resorts to a “Dear oh deary me”. It’s a phrase re-uttered, only louder, when exciting Western Pup Jake Stringer runs into an empty goal square.

Settle down in front.

In the quiet of the home-team-is-flat-today lull I again ponder hurdles.

Growing expectation is another the Suns must defeat.

Three pre-seasons for some of these guys now. They need to get their leapin’ shoes on. If they don’t, the entire football world will only too gladly point out that the hurdles confronted by the Suns are significantly shorter than nearly all the others. A new stadium all to their lonesome. How many top twenty draft picks? A full kitty. A desirous AFL administration. That man called Ablett, phenomenon that he is.

Almost contrarily it’s a far less gifted older recruit that sets today’s wheels in motion.

Campbell Brown is prowling the forward line, caveman brow furrowed, barking this way and that, spitting sledges into the ears of any Dog within coo-ee.

I enjoy Campbell Brown. He couldn’t be more out of place in this new tribe if he tried. Around him are only the lithe modern types the machine now spits out. Brown, a brick on stumps, even for all the brainsnaps, is from an era I wholly prefer.

The Suns start running. Shaw is rewarded for his gut-busting. Aaron Hall, a genuinely terrific rookie recruit for the Coasters, snags another, and then young Lonergan sacrifices his solar plexus to feed man-of-the-mo Browny. The Suns take the lead.

Cap Man in front has perked up somewhat, and well he might. He summons Jim Carrey in The Mask (or Shane Crawford post-2008 Grannie?) with repeated blasts of “That’s what I’m talkin’ aboooouuuut!”

The third term is a procession. Seven goals to one in favour of the home side, the best of which is a freakish effort from ridiculously impressive young colt Jaeger O’Meara who manages to connect foot with ball despite lying on his back with his head buried somewhere beneath the goal square chalk.

The Dogs threaten to make a game of it in the last with a brace of their own. One is a really smart bit of evasive work from Bob Murphy, that most thoughtful of footballers. But it’s a shortlived burst. In the end the Suns camp themselves forward and seal the deal with a few late straighties.

So the Gold Coast collect two in a row, and another hurdle of whatever height is cleared.

They now have the lowly Saints, Giants, Demons and Dogs in their kit bag for an even 2013 ledger. Hereafter the next hurdle is stark: a SCALP. With the Hawks, Cats, Bombers, and a better-than-that North Melbourne in the offing they’ll have their chance.

So sterner tests await, it’s true. But they’re building, these Suns. The kids are quite thrilling to watch. Coach McKenna’s persistence and belief is bearing fruit. The plan is definitely coming together.

Doesn’t make it all any less weird, though.

Perhaps skipping over the ‘weird’ hurdle will be the most important leap these new Suns take.

GOLD COAST                   1.3  4.7  11.11  13.15 (93)

WESTERN BULLDOGS    3.4  5.6    6.10    8.13 (61)



Gold Coast: Brown 3, Matera, Shaw, Hall, Stanley, O’Meara, Hall, Harbrow, Day, May, Bennell

Western Bulldogs: Stringer 3, Markovic 2, Giansiracusa, Jones, Murphy



Gold Coast: Ablett, Brown, O’Meara, Thompson, Lonergan

Western Bulldogs: Cooney, Murphy, Griffen, Boyd, Macrae


Umpires: Hay, Armstrong and Jeffery

Crowd: 13,520

Our votes: 3 Brown (GCS) 2 O’Meara (GCS) 1 Murphy (WB)














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