Almanac Footy – Finals Diary, Chapter 6: Mr Scorsese, for your consideration: Preliminary Final Match Report – Brisbane v Carlton






It’s vaguely possible that Victorian readers may have heard about Carlton’s Preliminary Final appearance this year. What is less certain is that you know for sure who their opponent was. I had to scour the paper a few times this morning, sift my way through the classifieds, the job vacancies and Harvey Norman ads to work out that there was still a game to be played. Even those who do mention us Lions, get details wrong – calling the injured Jack Payne, ‘Jackson’. When Lachie Neale was on AFL 360 earlier this week, I assumed he had been invited as a special consultant to discuss Carlton’s redoubtable semi-final win, Blake Acre’s goal and how well Sam Docherty will recover from his shoulder injury.

Even though I understand the parochial media focus, it kind of stings. It seems that what I see in the merger as an old Royboy is not quite what those outside the tent see. We old Fitzroy fans are cruelled now by certain facts – that we are not just an interstate team, but a ‘non-Victorian’ one at that. We have been reminded this week that Carlton and Collingwood alone are the Victorian hopes for this year and should be the ones that neutral hearts and minds connect with. It’s a weird type of Stockholm syndrome. Neutral fans being encouraged to throw their lot in with Carlton and Collingwood, it’s the bizarro world. If the Blues and Pies truly draw the sympathies of proletariat Victorians more so than the Lions, it’s a new world indeed – this ain’t your father’s VFL anymore. Nietzsche could postulate that not only is God dead but that finally, truly, Fitzroy is too.

They’re a Scorsese film, Carlton. They’ve stormed the Gabba like a Mafia hit squad. It’s all coming to me so cinematic and clear. A Motown soundtrack, flashback scenes with Robert DeNiro as John Elliot. We’ve heard some of cinema’s most iconic lines come from DeNiro – “You talkin’ to me?”, or maybe, “never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut.” Politics aside, who in the world would not want to see DeNiro playing the former Carlton president? Who would not want to hear what this actors’ actor could do with the line ,“Pig’s Arse”? Imagine him drawling “Caaarrrrrlton” with that distinctive Elliot vocal swagger.

As Carlton blitzkrieg the ‘Gabba and the Lions in the opening quarter, I can really see this film taking shape. Scorsese’s new wunderkind muse, Leonardo DiCaprio in the role of Michael Voss, a king returning to the kingdom which exiled him. He is interviewed before the game and it’s clear his metamorphosis from Lion King to Carlton Cugine is complete. He refers to being ‘away from home’ and his former Gabba kingdom as ‘this ground’ and the Lions as ‘they’. He is now pugnaciously resplendent in navy blue.

There is something very gangster about this opening. It’s a heist movie. Nah, it’s more like Braveheart. The stands seem full of Carlton fans who are exhibiting a comfort level not akin to grateful guests. There is nothing demur about this Lygon Street crew. Our former king, Michael Voss himself, resplendent in navy blue. Enemies everywhere, both foreign and domestic. Even Harry McKay is kicking goals. I’m no student of history but it feels seismic. The revolutionaries have stormed the city, our princely champion has become their general and together they have laid siege to our Leningrad, our Forbidden City. It’s not supposed to be like this.

But then there is a flicker of light. Harris Andrews, our captain. Oh captain, my captain. He leaves his man for another contest on the wing and imperiously dispatches the ball to the boundary line, quelling at least one of their forays forward. If Mr Scorsese is still considering the game last night for his next cinematic venture, and I think he should, can I offer Jason Donovan as a casting no-brainer for our stalwart and swarthy defender? The likeness is uncanny.  I’m not sure the world has ever really considered just how much it needs to see a movie poster promising at one a coming release directed by Martin Scorsese starring DiCaprio, DeNiro with support from Jason Donovan. The role of Harris Andrews will finally allow him to move out from his thus far career-defining role as Ramsay Street’s Scott Robinson. It’s just a shame the timelines of their various careers won’t allow for a scene between our Jason and DeNiro’s John Elliot.

(I made the link between Donovan and Andrews some years ago in another match report, perhaps Hollywood needs a reminder )

He is seemingly our lone hand early in the game, again and again imposing himself on the game as only he can. Hipwood, perhaps inspired, decides to impose himself on the game as only he can – sweeping up to the half-back line, almost taking possession and control in a way that gives away not just a free kick but a fifty-metre penalty and a goal to Docherty. Another one to Curnow. Five goals to nada, zilch, nothing, nix, zero. Then that lovable rascal, Hipwood again pegs one back just before quarter time.

There is a modern conundrum of which order the uninitiated should watch the Star Wars films. For those of my vintage, it was simple – we watched as they were released, preserving the big reveal of Darth Vader’s identity and seeing the quality of each film progressively decline. One now has the choice of watching them chronologically, but that means Vader’s true identity is known, dulling the impact and ambiguity of The Empire Strikes Back’ conclusion. There is another way that the good people of the internet have suggested, the ‘Machete Order’. I won’t explain the minute details, feel free to look it up. It basically begins where we did, with Episode 4 and intersperses parts of the prequel trilogy before bringing things home with Return of the Jedi. I think it also completely forgoes the much-derided Episode 1: The Phantom Menace meaning no Jar Jar Binks, no midichlorins, no Jake Lloyd.

I suggest that if the Lions do salute as premiers this year, one applies a similar approach when rewatching this Preliminary Final. Begin with the second quarter, then maybe the fourth, reassure yourself with the third and omit the first quarter completely – it will be a much more satisfying game. I completely understand that Carlton fans may prefer to just put the first twenty minutes on a loop. Lions’ fans will miss reliving much of the great work of Harris Andrews in the opening term, he was mighty, but the Phantom Menace did have some redeeming features too – Qui Gon and Obi Wan, Darth Maul’s double lightsabre.

The Lion’s peg things back in the second. Big O’s goal and subsequent celebratory song poses the existential question that has followed he and other ruckman for the ages, ‘Am I not pretty enough?’. The suddenly reliable kick for goal Daniher then grabs another one. Cripps steadies the good ship Carlton but limps away after kicking it, ominously perhaps. Our Irish recruit McKenna jigs another one through, even Froggy Lester kicks one before Daniher finds another, giving us a slender lead at half-time. The Lions’ social media groups are aflame, suggesting an AFL conspiracy to ensure a Carlton win. Channel Seven’s coverage helpfully tells us that the free kick count is completely even at half-time. Maybe the fix is in?

A free kick and an unlucky fifty metre penalty against Cripps gives Big O another goal to start the second half. The celebration song asks the same question again, but I can assure Oscar, on behalf of all Lions fans, that he is becoming prettier and prettier as the game progresses. Curnow misses one, the Lions go coast to coast for Charlie’s first goal of the night. The only thing that brings Queenslander’s together more than quirky conservative political figures is a ‘Country Roads’ sing along after a Charlie Cameron goal. The celestial choir is still John Denvering away as Hipwood marks and kicks another.

It is the unheralded Lions who get us over the line tonight. Linc McCarthy, who decided to join his best mate Lachie for a bit of a kick at the Lions a few years ago, Froggy Lester who rumours unkindly suggest that his continuous contract offers had little to do with his footballing prowess and more to do with his impact on culture as a clubman – if even partially true, and he becomes a premiership player next week, perhaps there is some deep wisdom here. CEOs, managers et al take note.

My wife asks, who’s that in the blue boots? ‘Kiddy’ Coleman, I say like a proud parent. ‘Kiddy’ Coleman. Robbie Williams was all over social media singing about Tom DeKoning this week. Perhaps Bono could do something similar for his fellow Irishman McKenna in the coming days? Not wanting to tell the U2 front man how to do his job, but perhaps ‘Pride – In the name of love’ could be reworked? ‘Con-nor Mc-ken-na, it’s a goal for Mc-ken-na-ahhhh…’ I’ve long suspected that Bono does monitor my Almanac contributions, let’s see what happens in the coming days. #U2 #Bono

Another goal to Cripps and then McKay late in the game makes one ponder the Leigh Matthews formula of goals ahead vs minutes left. A pessimistic formula that befits the pragmatic nature of the man. It allows for a team to be twenty goals up at three quarter time and still lose the game, but suddenly things seem alive. One thing I’ve learned about Carlton fans is that they have little guile. When they are winning, the crowd will show it, when they are losing, it is quite funereal. I admire them. They are looking lively. The camera keeps cutting to those watching from Ikon Park (Princes Park for those, like me, who remember Bruce Doull) and they are buzzing.

But we hold on. It’s a sixteen-point win and a spot in the Grand Final against Collingwood next week. There is still a cinematic narrative here, Mr Scorsese. There’s a suburb called Fitzroy that divides the better-known ones of Collingwood and Carlton. We have some generational tension with these Magpies too. Things are starting to come together – Bono’s song, DeNiro and DiCaprio. Jason Donovan. Let’s go Lions, let’s keep this fever dream going.



BRISBANE     1.2      6.6      9.9      11.13 (79)
CARLTON      5.1      6.3      6.7      9.9 (63)

Brisbane: Daniher 2, McInerney 2, McCarthy 2, McKenna, Hipwood, Lester, Cameron, Ah Chee
Carlton: Cripps 2, McKay 2, Martin 2, Docherty, Curnow, Cottrell

Brisbane: Coleman, Dunkley, Berry, Zorko, McKenna, Neale, McInerney
Carlton: Walsh, McGovern, Weitering, Docherty, Saad, Newman



Read Shane Reid’s other reports HERE.




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About Shane Reid

Loving life as a husband, dad and teacher. I'm trying to develop enough skill as a writer so that one day Doc Wheildon's Newborough, Bernie Quinlan's Traralgon and Mick Conlon's 86 Eliminatiuon final goal will be considered contemporaneous with Twain's Mississippi, Hemingway's Cuba, Beethoven's 9th and Coltrane's Love Supreme.

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