Friday night. Belly full. Cold beer. Girlfriend prepping Notting Hill on second TV. Mind shifting into first gear. A text causes my phone to fall off the coffee table. It’s Mum:

–Sitting on a tram on the way to the G. So many Melbourne supporters on board. [Sibling 1] has a serious case of the flu but is soldiering on. [Sibling 2] has his game boy ready. Love you. Mumxx —

My Canberra-based family are meeting the Mummy in Melbourne. They’ve kindly accepted to act as my AFL scoreboard in the absence of live coverage here in NSW’s deep east. It is, along with the league, a blissful distraction from my six assignments due at regular intervals in the next two weeks.

Live at 730pm, Manly are playing in Brisbane against an Origin-taxed Broncos. Although our recent record there is strong, we haven’t won a Friday night match at Suncorp since 1989. Game on.

My other parent, also a Manly supporter, has his feet up at home. I know this because he texts me:

–Feet up. Go Manly! —

The girlfriend – to her credit – lasts twenty minutes before relocating to watch Hugh and Julia. Also to her credit, she commits to cheering every time we post points.

Some sloppy errors mean Manly doesn’t score until the 15th minute when they exploit Brisbane’s weak right hand defence. Hopoate scores at the corner-post.

Girlfriend: “Woohoo!”

Broncos 2, Manly 4.

The first score update comes from the MCG:

–Melb 0.2.2 Carl 2.2.14 – Melb just got a point for trying —

They’ll have to try harder.

The league returns from ads. Both teams are playing a hard brand of football.

Dad’s right in his quarter-time assessment of the Broncos:

— They look tired —

The opening clashes have taken their toll on the Broncs but we still look sharp. Our defence is co-ordinated and aggressive like it has been all season. I’m not worried when 40 minutes is up and we’re behind 10-4. The weapon, Brett Stewart, has been rusty but fast: clawing Alex Glenn down like a cheetah on a gazelle, centimetres before the line, to postpone their first try.

I wonder whether anyone’s been able to keep up with the in-form Judd.


–Melb 2.3.15 Carl 5.6.36 —

Maybe not.

After half time the flood gates are opened at Suncorp. The Broncos limp out but don’t score another point. At 20-10, the game is all but won and the girlfriend’s voice is getting hoarse. I even contemplate turning in. But when it’s your team in front, a demolition is as enjoyable as a contest. The unquestionable highlight comes minutes after our talented pivot Daly Cherry-Evans crosses with a crisp bit of footwork. Kieran Foran slips a banana grubber through their line. The snake (Stewart – a constant anamorphosis) slithers after it and in one motion: gets horizontal, picks up the ball and flicks it under his left armpit to Cherry-Evans who scores under the posts. Whoah!


–What a try! —

Mum comes through seconds later:

–Melb 23 Carl 50 —

Not looking good for the D’s. I ask for a final check at full time of the Manly game, which has blown out to 34-10, and I get just one line:

–Melbourne are getting thrashed —

It was a good night for some.

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