Crazy fantasies about victory

History is on my mind.  How top four teams usually rebound from defeat in a qualifying final.  How few top four teams lose consecutive finals.  So Sydney should beat North Melbourne.  It doesn’t matter their absences.


History doesn’t lie. As I drove to work, I thought about Carlton in 1994 and Geelong in 2014 who lost consecutive finals after finishing in the top four.  In the lift, I hoped Sydney would do the same.  I greeted colleagues, thinking bad losses are recoverable.


As I sat down, I thought about all of those top four teams who lost qualifying finals and rebounded the next week.  North isn’t just up against Sydney, they’re up against history.  And if they somehow defeat the Swans, then they’ve got a preliminary final in Perth.


No side finishing eighth has ever won a preliminary final.


I thought about favouritism, how the bookies have Sydney as certainties.  It’s fair enough.  North finished eighth.  Victory would be remarkable.  As much as the Swans are injured and hurt, North is untrustworthy.  As much as Sydney is out of form, North is sure to lapse.


A lapse against Richmond is one thing.  A lapse against a tough side like Sydney…


I stared at the computer, wondering where Sydney would get their goals from.  No Buddy or Reid but Tippett and Goodes.  Maybe they’d get six from that pair.


When the phone rang I was playing the game in my head.  Brown had just kicked his third when I said hello.  As a woman relayed information about explosives, I was imagining Zeibell and Cunnington running into open goals in the last quarter.


I wore my North Melbourne hoodie.  Talked footy with a few people, checked out the preview on the AFL website.  I worked and organised things as a new fantasy came to mind, North coming from behind with a final quarter surge, winning despite woeful kicking at goal.


The phone rang.  I wrote a story.  Talked to an intern about her story.  Got a drink of water.  Told Alistair Nicholson his call of the elimination final on ABC was fantastic.


Thought about North beating Sydney in the toilet.  As I made a cup of tea.  Thought about winning as I talked with a colleague about her trip to Melbourne, how she was arriving on Saturday and would miss Hawthorn’s game against Adelaide.


She was madly disappointed.  I’ll be in Melbourne for the grand final.  She thought I was a chance to see North play.  I didn’t know what to say.


At my desk, I thought about disappointment, what a loss would mean, then my reptilian brain moved me forward, into another contest, where North led all night and won comfortably by three goals.


As the day grew older, the fantasies changed.  Petrie kicked four or Harvey got four.  Waite got five.  Higgins got five.  I started distributing the goals so everyone had a good game but the score blew out beyond seven goals.


I knew that wouldn’t happen, so the fantasy was reduced to a slogging win, 11-points after kicking the last two goals.


When I packed up it was raining.  It had been raining all day.  Brisbane was being hit by storms from western Queensland and New South Wales.


My mind was being hit by myriad fantasies, with North winning each one.  I felt like kicking the new Sherrin I got for father’s day, the first new Sherrin I’ve owned since 1988.


The fantasy stayed alive as I drove home, always with a different North Melbourne hero, Tarrant holding Tippett goalless, Nahas getting three, Goldstein getting three.


I thought about driving, about how rare it is to drive backwards.  Less than one percent of driving involves reversing.  We might reverse into a car park or reverse out of one but we never drive any distance in reverse.  And when we park, we’re idle.


Football clubs want to move forward.  Some seem stuck in park, others are prone to reverse.  Losing is reverse.  Finishing eighth is idle.


Beyond the city I got a good run with the traffic lights.  When I went through those green lights, I wondered if anyone had ever thought their car was a football.


I thought about a game I could play when I drive to work.  If I go through a green light it is a goal.  If I stop at a red light it is a point.


I could add up the score on the way to work for North Melbourne.  On the way home, I’d add up the score for Sydney because they’re playing at home.


As I drove under the carport I figured it’d be a low scoring affair.  I have to drive through eighteen sets of traffic lights on the way to work.


Then I started thing about a different route I could take on the way home, with less traffic lights.  Winning is all about tactics and luck.


Damn I hope North Melbourne wins…



About Matt Watson

My name is Matt Watson, avid AFL, cricket and boxing fan. Since 2005 I’ve been employed as a journalist, but I’ve been writing about sport for more than a decade. In that time I’ve interviewed legends of sport and the unsung heroes who so often don’t command the headlines. The Ramble, as you will find among the pages of this website, is an exhaustive, unbiased, non-commercial analysis of sport and life. I believe there is always more to the story. If you love sport like I do, you will love the Ramble…


  1. Good stuff, Matt, although I am somewhat perturbed by the concept of North beating the Swans in the toilet (is that what they’re calling the Olympic Stadium these days?) Impressive that your reptilian brain takes you to good places.

  2. daniel flesch says

    Yeah Matt . Great writing and a good win. Another win better . Not sure about the Big One.

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