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Finals Week 2 – Sydney v North Melbourne: Relief

Relieved. A little sad but relieved nonetheless.

Crestfallen in week one of the finals after coming frustratingly close to a week’s rest, that would enable bruised and broken bodies to heal. Then despite high hopes born of our history against “Norf”, week two inevitably highlighted the absence of senior soldiers and the unreality of expecting new recruits to fill their shoes.

Season’s end is untimely for all fans, except for those whose team’s place in September is already a pipe-dream by June. Forty years ago the end of season night series at South Melbourne represented a last gasp for a fan of an under-achieving club. The AFL draft and the blue-sky that stems from that process is perhaps its modern-day equivalent?

I used to be amongst the perennially disappointed. My Blood-Stained Angels were, it seems always at the bottom of the heap. The Brownlow medal and our disproportionate success was the one saving grace at year-end. Finals expectation had mostly evaporated by round nine (of eighteen) and fans had much time to mentally prepare for cricket season. September was for others.

For much of the last two decades, things have been different. We Bloods now view the competition from a completely different perspective. The bottom half of the “eight” has largely been irrelevant to us for most of the last decade and finals contemplation has centred around positioning for two home finals in advance of our ultimate tilt at the biggest prize of all.

Expectation brings tension. Performance anxiety and September have become synonymous in my footy world. And so, once it is all over, from the disappointment springs relief. No more sweating over selections and grand final ballots. No more emotional investment in office discussions about the weekend match. A social calendar liberated as the compelling requirement to keep the weekends free to attend or watch our game is no longer.

The embarrassment of “eliminated in straight sets” will pass quickly, as red and white minds are turned elsewhere. There remains confidence that a loss to the mediocre Kangaroos will in good time be rendered an historical anomaly. Our brethren can enjoy late-September bystander status, whilst dreaming of a fit and firing list in 2016. A comfort born of long-awaited success in 2005 and 2012. A comfort that is surely the envy of Dogs, Saints and Dees fans, as it once was ours?

Drab in the manner of VFL Park Waverley, Olympic Park Homebush Bay can feel like a mausoleum when things go awry with one’s team. Sydneysiders voted with their feet this match; uninspired to travel to Sydney’s nether regions to watch a well-rested group from the bottom half of the eight pick over the carcass of a “high-flying red bird” that normally nests in Moore Park. The homing instinct for Driver Avenue was never more pronounced.

A valiant fight once again, but too many boys on a man’s mission. Our much vaunted gang of four in the engine room – Hannebery, Kennedy, Parker and Jack – were now just two, representing a much less daunting tagging prospect for the ‘Roos. A front end devoid of Lance and the marking prowess of Reid was predictably easy picking for the bigger-bodied experience of Thompson, Hansen and Firrito. The twin peaks of Petrie and Waite at the other end underscoring the importance of large targets in constructing a forward system. Harvey, a menace as ever. Former Bulldog Higgins again relishing his role in the blue and white garb, sans red. Ben Jacobs a second scalp in consecutive weeks.

We gave it our best for much of the Premiership quarter with Tippo, Joey and Macca lifting their output. Ultimately though, it was lean pickings for the effort expended and with the extra man in defence the Roos weathered the storm, with two late “sling-shot” goals breaking Swans hearts. Three more blue and white majors in the final stanza and our year was done. Gary Rohan in hospital again, but with six months for his eye-socket to heal. The equally courageous Drew Petrie to carry his sore head to Subiaco. Footy bravery is alive and well. Mothers, avert your gaze.

The semi-final accolades rightfully belong to the Kangas but fittingly, the final goal of the match came to represent a formal sign-off for our proud Andyamathanha/Narungga man, Adam Roy Goodes.

Well played 37. Our club, game and society is better for your presence.

We stand with Adam.


Other Footy Almanac stories of AFL Finals Week 2 – Sydney v North Melbourne

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About chris bracher

Known to stare longingly down Clarendon St still wondering how his red and white heroes ever left him, Chris Bracher's pining for his relocated team has been somewhat appeased by recent Bloods glory....but the pain never truly goes away!


  1. As you say, the long term view has the Swans looking pretty good over the past 10 years, Chris.
    It’s been a good run.
    Someone else’s turn now.
    Time to get off.

  2. Chris,
    Watch John Longmire’s press conference after the game.
    He was asked about getting up for next year.
    He smirked. Talked about the players who were missing.
    Sydney will play finals next year…

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