Finals Weeks 1 and 2: From the wilds of Wyoming and beyond


I enjoy watching finals football. Generally speaking since Carlton’s fall from the status of perennial finalists, that means I am nominally neutral,  although one’s sympathies are usually engaged with one team rather than the other. However the absence of that extreme emotional investment characteristic of a supporter of one of the participants offers a different perspective on the game. I also feel that watching quality sides do battle is an appropriate reward for the penance which I endure watching my team.


Normally I would have spent last Thursday watching the Bulldogs’ quixotic challenge in Perth in my living room,  and Friday I would have been at the  MCG for the epic which transpired between the Cats and the Hawks. However, this year I was/am far from home, which has dramatically affected my view of the finals.


When I mentioned on the Almanac in July that I was leaving Melbourne for a trip o/s, Peter Baulderstone helpfully suggested that I subscribe to AFL Live App in order to keep track of the concluding weeks of the home and away season. Peter and the AE had followed the Eagles’ climb towards the holy grail in the latter period of the 2015 season until their ill-fated encounter with the  rampaging Hawks.


In the event, I didn’t bother with Live App and as Carlton’s losing streak extended from four matches when I left Melbourne to nine, before an unexpected success against the Demons, I felt that hindsight had vindicated my inertia-driven decision. The capitulation to the weakened Bombers in the final round, added further justification if such was needed.


In any case periodic consultation of the  Almanac website, particularly John Butler’s insightful chronicling of the  Blues’ increasing ineptitude, left me better informed than I might have been on the basis of my own observations,  especially on an 8 inch screen.


It’s also worth noting that watching the  Eagles in late season 2015 would have been a much more pleasurable experience than enduring the last few weeks of Carlton’s season 2016. The clincher has been that internet access has been more problematic than I anticipated, so that would have meant that a sub to Live App would have been dubious as a cost-benefit proposition.


I need to acknowledge that my disregard of the advice of the sage of Subiaco in this matter is of a piece with my foolish  (wilful) response to  PB’s admonition – directed to a general audience rather than to me personally – “don’t bet, it’s a mug’s game”.  While I haven’t had a bet in the last six weeks*, that is explained by the fact that Australian online betting companies apparently prohibit logins from the USA, and presumably elsewhere outside Australia.


The downside of my decision not to subscribe to AFL Live App was evident during last weekend’s riveting football, although I would still have been confounded by my relative isolation and the problem of internet access. I was travelling in the wilds of South Dakota and Wyoming while matches were in progress. I learned of the Bulldogs’ famous victory some four hours after the match concluded, via the  Age match report.  My understanding of what happened has been subsequently fleshed out in considerable detail by several Almanac reports,  notably those by Peter B. and Kerrie Soraghan.


The restriction on my tracking the outstanding match of the first weekend of the finals was the time difference.  First bounce at the G was at 3.50 a.m. where I was asleep.  I did wake in time to track progress from midway through the 2nd quarter,  by which time Hawthorn had reined in Geelong’s early advantage. I followed the rest of the match through the inconvenient mechanism of the AFL’s website live scores and the Age’s equivalent.  Waiting for score updates when the margin is less than a kick is nerve-wracking even for those of us who are nominally neutral but nonetheless have sympathies and preferences. The tension for supporters with real skin in the game can barely be imagined.


By the time the final quarter was in progress, I was in the breakfast room of our hotel; during the lengthy scoreless period late in the game, I was keeping Rose, who is a Geelong supporter who was on our tour, informed. When I advised her of the final outcome and the final act of play, her reaction electrified the room, although the majority of fellow breakfasters were bemused by what had prompted this outburst at 6.30 in the morning. This was so even after the explanation was provided that a sports match in an incomprehensible code of football on the other side of the world was the reason.


Thereafter I was out of internet and mobile phone range for two days.  I discovered the results of the Giants’ and Crows’ victories Sunday  afternoon US Mountain time, which was very early Monday morning in eastern Australia, more than 24 hours after the later match had finished.


As I write,  the Hawthorn-Bulldogs match is a few hours away. I am in a Las Vegas hotel, so sleep rather than internet access is the prospective barrier to my keeping abreast of the scores, as it will be when the Swans and Crows do battle at the SCG.


I’ll be back in  Melbourne in time to be at the G for Geelong to take on either Sydney or Adelaide,  subject to the availability of a ticket, and I expect to be there for the season’s final act, 1st October.



* Not strictly true as I dropped  $US5 on the blackjack table in a casino in the appropriately named town of Deadwood, SD, when I was busted by a King of Spades.


  1. Good to hear from you PF. The cheque is in the mail. You can catch all the radio commentary on the free AFL app, and it doesn’t chew up much download.
    Dunno about the US these days. Spent a year there in ’88, but seems to have too many angry, gun toting fanatics (of all varieties) these days. Be interested to know how you have found it.

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