John Kingsmill’s Footy Diary

Fireworks at AAMI Stadium

They’d sold out; it was raining. They thought
the big crowd needed something. As their players
entered the field, the AFC let off some fireworks.
Not many; just a couple of thousand of dollars

of pre-emptive glee. The smoke drifted over
the oval; toplit, the turf resembled a battle
ground, not a place of work. I watched
Collingwood warm up at my end of the ground,

from the northern pocket. The dramatic
backdrop made them look like warriors,
not young men turning up for work. The sky
was dramatic, staged, unreal. I didn’t like it.

Adelaide neutralized its home ground
advantage with that cheap gimmick;
they created a stage that was foreign
to all. This was the hardest game I’ve seen.

It was trench warfare. For three quarters,
it was impossible to get an easy kick.
In the stands, it was impossible to breathe.
It was World War I in distant fields – every

advance was immediately taken back, every
crack in defence was closed, every gain
was short-lived. Goals disappeared. We were
heading towards a nil-all draw. And, over

the warring fields, a thin rain turned
all dreams to mud. There was no chance
this contest would be over by Christmas;
the generals called for lap rugs, padded chairs,

more arms. And chocolate, soft cheese and port.
And, for their underlings, they trucked in
oxygen bottles, more masseurs, oranges.
In the middle of the third quarter, Dangerfield

and Pendlebury were caught alone
on the eastern flank, both exhausted,
both bending over with their hands
on their knees. The ball had long left

them. They let it go. They stayed there,
together, like two paired members of parliament
agreeing not to vote. It was an interesting
moment in the history of the game.

They could have sprinted 250 metres to
the interchange zone for a 45 second rest
or stayed exactly where they were. They stayed
exactly where they were for about 75 seconds.

This rugged game ground to a halt early
in the last quarter when Lachlan Keefe’s
left knee decided it didn’t want to be a knee
anymore. Something happened in the next six

minute as Keefe was slowly carted off. It was
Christmas Eve in the trenches. Adelaide felt sorry,
maybe, for this awful blow to a player. The Woods
felt more – this was their fifth knee this season.

It doesn’t matter what anyone felt. The visitors
settled quickly and swept the game away.


  1. John Harms says

    like two paired members of parliament agreeing not to vote.

    a damn fine simile.

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