Finals Week 2 – GWS v West Coast: No Country for Old Men


10.25am Saturday – Provesende; Alto Douro; Portugal – I wake to a loud, insistent knocking. Is that someone at the door or the last bottle of Touriga Nacional from last night?


At the door is a chubby, balding man with a leery smile and a gas cylinder.


“Hi Stevie; good to see you back you hapless old water buffalo. What’s with the nail gun?”
And that’s all I remember of the next 3 hours.


I wish. There was a little false hope half way into the first quarter when a couple of quick goals had us briefly in front and Patton missed a couple of sitters, but then normal service was resumed. The young Giants swarmed and flicked and rapiered while we wandered and stumbled and offered more Hail Mary’s to our marking forwards than morning Mass in the town square.


Injuries had done the Giants selectors a favour. The lumbering Mumford replaced by Kareem Ul Rory stuffing the ball down the throats of little Stevie; minstrels Dylan and Tom; not to mention Magic Johnson.


How can the two best talents that Swan Districts have produced since Leon Baker be playing in Orange and Black instead of Blue and Gold? Bloody AFL corporate greed and expansion. Bloody Andrew Demetriou. Acquire Learning’s not the only deceptive selling practice he’s been involved in.


This was like Tom Watson and Bernhard Langer wandering onto the first tee at the US Masters and admiring their 250 metre drives; until Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy stepped up to bomb one 330. Gulp. Perhaps they’ll hit their next one in the water? As if.


By the second quarter I am reduced to listing (in order) the Giants players that need season ending injuries for us to get back into the game. Praying for mercenaries – when miracles won’t do. (Did you know that bombeiros is Portuguese for firemen? It’s on all the red trucks at the local fire station that I pass on my morning walk to the wine grocery store. I wonder what Woosha would make of that?) Amazing how the mind looks for distractions when faced with the unpalatable truth playing out on the iPad in front of us.


Even the ever-optimistic Avenging Eagle is up to the fourth stage of grieving by half time. Shock and denial; pain and guilt; anger and bargaining; depression. I figure renewal; reconstruction; acceptance and hope can wait for Trade Week. I’m onto the Eighth Stage – where to go for lunch?


The great thing about watching finals in Europe is that by 3/4 time I have convinced her to quit with the self flagellation. Blessed miracle – we are in such an isolated spot that we can’t get mobile data on the AFL app to listen to the last quarter in the getaway car.


Cheerful Portuguese are putting the final touches to stalls in the market square in preparation for the weekend’s Grape Harvest Festival. Haven’t they heard of the the atrocities perpetrated around the world? Not the London Underground I try to explain. Spotless bloody Stadium. But the gravity of the situation is lost in translation.


No matter, by the time the final siren has blown I am overlooking the magnificent Douro River and ordering grilled octopus; 2 glasses of sparkling and a half dozen quick midfielders if you have them, criado.



Reflecting over green apple panna cotta and Sandemans (port not ruckman) I muse on our season. Tactically and financially rewarding to wring sixth place and a finals win out of this lot. But strategically? Was it the season to get 20 games into Nelson, Partington and Lamb rather than $400k into Drew and Sammie’s SMSF?


No turkey ever called Christmas early, but to my jaundiced eye the tumble (tumbril?) awaits. The backs, marking forwards and rucks look solid with McGovern, Kennedy, Vardy’s development and NicNait’s return. But where will the midfield run, skill and class to compete with galloping Giants and transformed Tigers come from?


Shuey stepped up in the finals. Gaff accumulates but doesn’t damage. Redden and Hutchings harass but don’t harm. Sheed looks suited to Warrnambool in May. Mitch and Prid are both deservedly going to nice families in the country.


Yeo can run and break lines. He needs to be challenged to become a Bont rather than backman. Duggan has shown signs and successive finals humiliations will have toughened his resolve.


But realistically could we get some midfield class for Jack Darling? His chiselled jaw over-acting reminds me of Ridge Forrester in the Bold and the Beautiful (don’t ask me how I know).  Jetta; LeCras and Wellingham for the player to be named and a scratchie?


Adam Simpson has proven himself as an astute tactician. Time for the back office to get to work on giving him more midfield talent to work with; and the Eagles off-field development of young players to move out of the WAFL era into the Clarkson class.


Not that I care for another 6 months. Do you know if Christiano Ronaldo is looking for a career change?


Thought not.


Friday we leave Porto when Adelaide and Geelong are playing for the GMH/Ford Motown Voluntary Redundancy Cup.  I’ll stick the ear out the window on Saturday afternoon in Lisbon to hear if the Tigers won.  There’s always a bed for you, Mr Wrap.

Eu queria uma cerveja, por favor. Adeus and boa noite from AE and I.




Read more of our coverage of the GWS v West Coast game HERE.


  1. Warren Tapner says

    “How can the two best talents that Swan Districts have produced since Leon Baker be playing in Orange and Black instead of Blue and Gold? Bloody AFL corporate greed and expansion. Bloody Andrew Demetriou. Acquire Learning’s not the only deceptive selling practice he’s been involved in.”

    Gold, Peter. Pure gold.

  2. Rocket Singers says


  3. Neil Anderson says

    It must be good to be on the run and in a safe-house when your Eagles fail. Being only 200ks from the Bulldogs great crash of 2017, it didn’t take long for the naysayers to find us and tell us to ” Get in the back of the car, we’re goin’ for a little drive.”
    You sang like a canary and screamed and begged for some decent midfielders while we spilled our guts about the lack of tall forwards and backs. Oh how we pleaded for a McGovern or even a Barrass, but even after the electrodes were attached, we still knocked back the offer of a Darling.
    Your disguises of some sort of European chefs and wine-buffs seems to be working. That plus the fact that any Eagles insignia have carefully been removed. Enjoy your trip now that the pesky football business is out of the way.

  4. The standout mind boggling revelation here is that people from Perth have sought isolation for their holiday.
    Reminds me of Steptoe & Son when the two Steptoes were discussing their holiday destination. And remember they were rag-and-bone men who lived in a tip. Then the dad says to the son, “Harold, let’s go to Bognor.” A tip.
    Isolation is your Sandgroper’s classic busman’s holiday PB.
    PS Cats to win their next two games by 5 goals minimum.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Love the ordering of the “grilled octopus; 2 glasses of sparkling and a half dozen quick midfielders if you have them”.

    Portugal sounds much better than Spotless Stadium. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  6. Excellent stuff, PB.
    Love the sneaky mention of Aquire….

  7. Gee I love Portugal.

  8. Earl O'Neill says

    Food interrupted my viewing too.

  9. Tres amusant, PB.

    Laughing in the face of obliteration. That’s a skill that could come in handy in the future.

    Have fun!

  10. Magnificent, PB.
    Fair and balanced and insightful as always.
    Great lines.
    With the spirit of global circumnavigation of Ferdinand Magellan.

    Grape harvest should probably claim top spot in your attentions now.
    Or at least second spot.
    Vá bem

  11. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Your SA Eagles bailed too.

    Keep enjoying the break, you two.

  12. Peter Fuller says

    The photograph suggests that the consolation meal was relished.
    AE’s premiership cap looks in better shape than my most recent Carlton flag t-shirt. Then again it is 11 years newer. I fear that you, AE and I are doomed to more years of unleavened bread, as that son of the vicarage and stalwart Carlton man Manning Clark might have expressed it.
    I’ m delighted that you are enjoying a grand trip.

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