AFL Round 8 – Sydney v Fremantle: Kirky’s homecoming

This match had a great trailer. Saturday night. Veteran love with O’Keefe, Bolton and Goodes in their 250th together. Two decent teams. The battle of the apprentices, Lyon versus Longmire. And, not least, the return of Captain Kirk to the SCG. I bristled on Friday when I read some minor headline: Kirk plots Sydney’s downfall. How could he? I guess with five kids and healthy ambition, a job in the west was worth more than blood. Jude always said he’d make a great coach: he always had a balanced view of when we won and lost.

The O’Reilly was full and buzzing. The stylists had been through the club with fluoro orange boots. After last week’s Grand Final mismatch, the O’Reilly boys thought it might help the players remember what position they played. The regulars were in below us. And a band of  unknown blokes in the row behind. While Row U considered White’s ten goals for the IIs, the return of Mummy, the inclusion of the Irishman, the late withdrawal of Mattner and the curse of the timing on Fyfe, the blokes behind cushioned the start of the game with a brief set of their own predictions: Nick Malceski for most touches, Swans by less than 39. No doubt about the filter they were using.

From the start it was hard to get into the game, hard to find its thread, its rhythm. It was about everything and yet, nothing much was shaping. Writer’s mind. Some lovely goals for Fyfe and Ballantyne, a dubious looking workload for Teddy. Hannebery and Everitt popping up. The O’Reilly boys struggled with two sets of binoculars to sort the trees from the forest. Who’s the number 9? De Boer. This was to be a numbers game. And most of them around the ball. I could hear the familiar whispers – ugly, dour. We defended it back then but we’ve become accustomed to something more than Cortinas now and even I was reading which teammate Nick Smith considers most likely to Google his own name. Max noticed that Goodes runs like their new Labradoodle when he’s stolen a ball in the park.  Jude was there, always there, arms outstretched, his brow knitted with keenness. Twenty minutes gone in the first, he snapped a beauty. I could just see Kirky bounding all the way down to the city end on duck-footed tiptoes to give him a pat and a slap. Give it Nick, they yelled from behind.

Seven minutes into the second, we hit the lead through the Canadian. And then scoreless minutes, lots of them. I looked down at my empty notebook. The Dockers’ control of the centre was beginning to look like insider trading. The ring leader from the row behind was raving like he was in the front bar, about anything but football – what on earth was he doing here? If his watered talk could have been replicated on the field, the effort would have looked like Kirky. And then up popped Hannebery with two. And three. Nick, Nick, Nick they slurred from behind when he was nowhere near the ball. It’s hard to watch a game when you have a shape in mind. It’s hard to watch with expectation. That was their gig, looking only for the Number 9 and a final margin. They had the story told and dollars on it, all they needed was the content to catch up to its ending. Hard to see what’s really happening when you’re looking for something. I closed the notebook.

The Premiership quarter was the Turnover quarter for the red and white. Is there a collective noun for turnovers? I want to say rattle, a rattle of turnovers, something of rapid succession that sounds like death. The learners made faltering attempts to get their cars into second. Sam was marking but from the wing. Rampe flying, to save rather than set up (although I’m loving that kid!) Walsh had the body but not the kick. Jetta edging in to not much avail. Max noticed that McGlynn runs like their new Labradoodle when he’s been given a chicken leg. The commentary from behind was cheering for Malceski when he took off from half back and we were cheering for Jack when he kicked the score to 50. Bet Kirky liked that one.

His story was the one about the ferocious captain, leader of men, tagger extraordinaire. The Buddhist yogi who saluted the rising sun from Coogee beach and tackled the midfield by night. His culture was blood; put in, put in, put in. The roll of the dice that he was always throwing himself.

Some of the saturated folk behind were splitting before the end. See you at the wedding. Some forging of tribes. What odds for that show: three years and she gets the house? Jetta surprised from a Freo kick-in and goaled from 45. Relieved is all he looked. McGlynn stretched the lead to 27. Fyfe and more Fyfe and then Mayne. As he closed the lead to 12, a perfect half moon smile hung just below the top lip of the O’Reilly stand and I wondered if it wasn’t ironic. Another and another, one by one. There was nothing to write. Beginner’s mind. Johnson’s kick was punched from behind and scores were level. Johnson’s kick was marked from behind and scores were … level.

I had my ending. A draw, the first in Freo’s history. But the back story didn’t seem to fit. No arm wrestle or cliff-hanger. Not blow for blow, no neck and neck.

It wasn’t until we were walking through the car park that we got it. Of course! Everything in it’s place, equilibrium, Yin and Yang, the universe in balance. Tipsters take all, betting men get none. No outcome, just a long series of moments in which to participate, one following the other, all of equal weight at the end of the night. Very equal weight. The spectre of Kirky will linger long at this club … long time.

SYDNEY SWANS  3.0  7.2  8.3   11.4 (70)

FREMANTLE         3.6  3.8  5.12  9.16 (70)



Sydney Swans: Hannebery 4, McGlynn 2, Bolton, Everitt, Jack, Pyke, Jetta

Fremantle: Fyfe 2, Ballantyne 2, Suban, Mayne, Clarke, Duffield, Johnson



Sydney Swans: Hannebery, O’Keefe, McVeigh, Pyke, Richards, Goodes

Fremantle: Mundy, Fyfe, Clarke, Ballantyne, Duffield, Barlow


UMPIRES: Rosebury, Stevic, Ryan


OUR VOTES: 3 Hannebery (Syd), 2 Barlow (Fre), 1 Johnson (Fre)

3 Kirk, 2 Waterhouse R, 1 O’Reilly

About Mathilde de Hauteclocque

Swans member since 2000, Mathilde likes to wile away her winters in the O'Reilly stand with 'the boys', flicking through the Record and waiting to see the half backs drive an explosive forward movement. She lives in Sydney and raises a thirteen year old Cygnet.


  1. That was brilliantly written Mathilde. As a fellow Swan I can relate.
    In a few years it could become known as the Kirky Curse. Who knows?

  2. Stephen Cooke says

    Mathilde, some suggestions from twitter on your collective noun query:
    A (Alex) Rance of turnovers
    A (Daniel) Jackson of turnovers
    And the classic:
    Carrazzo: It’s Italian for turnover

  3. Tom Bally says

    Great write up. An odd co-incidence that a fellow Almanacer sits in the O’Reilly and in row U to boot.

  4. Mathilde – the collective noun for turnovers, especially for Geelong and Swans supporters, has simply got to be a “Spriggs” of turnovers.

    Lovely piece.

  5. Making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Well done Mathilde. The game was certainly an ugly RossBall/RoosBall scrap as a spectacle. Saved only by an exciting last 15 minutes. RB only comes alive when the players have run themselves ragged and there is suddenly space. It is attrition footy.
    Only disagreed with you on one thing. I could only give RWaterhouse a vote if they were calling nominations for the electric chair.

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