Round 1 – Melbourne v Gold Coast: Watts going on down there in Melbourne Town

MELBOURNE 2.5 7.7 12.9 17.13 (115)

GOLD COAST 1.2 3.6 8.8 13.11 (89)

3 N Jones, 2 T Viney, 1 J Watts

I am sitting at the bar of the Point Lookout Hotel on Stradbroke Island, in Moreton Bay, off Brisbane, mostly by myself. When I say “myself” I mean the place is packed but no one is watching the footy.

The pub sits smack on a clifftop with a spectacular view up and down the coast, perhaps the most eastern pub in Australia. The “Point” locals were once from the old fishing and whaling fleets that dotted the coastline between Noosa and Byron Bay. Or they were Aboriginal people forced onto the mission/prison camp on the western side of the island. The whaling ended in the 70s and the asbestos fishing shacks were taken over by hippies and then middle-class professionals as holiday houses. Many of the Aborigines stayed, the whales eventually came back.

Holidays feel like a week in someones super-8 film from the 50s; a beautiful beach with your kids and 20 or 30 other people. The island is an hour from the middle of Brisbane.

In the bar the men have large shoulders with larger shirts, enough for themselves and their negatively geared assets to fit. It’s like the cast of Deadwood have gone on holiday together, a bald man in his 50s is covered in tatts, including one of Bender from Futurama. It being Easter, every town with 1800 meters of grass is running some horses over it. There are 17 TV screens in the bar and 15 are tuned to horseracing or Kino, one is tuned to the footy, the other plays silent music videos. Winnings are kept in pot glasses. There’s always a race whether Sydney is inundated or not.

The bar has no amenities one would associate with womenfolk, so the womenfolk oblige.

The footy has started and the Suns are playing the Demons. The Suns are along the road to building a club culture in a town that has never produced sporting success, which didn’t involve lycra. The Demons are trying to rebuild a once proud tradition rendered mediocre through relentless failure and supporter dismay.

Over the break Melbourne lost another small fleet of developed players and won their usual host of early draft selections – another clutch of kids whose skills and enthusiasm will likely be torched, like their Jean of Arc, Jack Watts.

It looks a like beautiful sunny day in Melbourne, a long weekend and the MCG is mostly empty, typical Melbourne supporters.

The Suns have a new coach, “Rocket” Rodney Eade. Bluey McKenna had done nothing wrong, he’d raised and nurtured a generation of kids from scratch, plus Ablett. They believe in themselves and are ready for a tilt at the finals, but it was felt Bluey had done as much as he could.

The move will be inspired or a dud on that measure alone, because sacking coaches before their time seems to take something from clubs as well. Look at Freo.

But Rocket gets shit done. His teams almost always improve immediately and are successful. This year the fans will be looking for a stunning and deep midfield, Dixon (out today) to dominate, May to become the best full-back in the country and Lynch and Bennel to lead the forwards – consistently.

But as the game progresses it is Melbourne who has jumped a gear, with so many new faces I had no idea who they were. But they’d taken on the one lesson GC have yet to take on board – responsibility. That, and how to tackle well.

In the final quarter the D’s jumped to a five-goal lead, before GC pegged them back, mainly thanks to Ablett. But then up stepped Jack Martin. In four passages of play he demonstrated all of GC’s failings, he just didn’t want that responsibility. In the third of his possessions he held the ball on the 50 and puffed it to 15 meters out. The ball was knocked clear and sent down the ground to a man who wants responsibility so badly you can smell.

Jack Watts kicked the goal and sealed the game.

It was a fantastic win for the Dees. Not that anyone cared on Straddie – or noticed. Yes, it really is the 1950s here, which is probably why Melbourne are winning.

About Hamish Townsend

Hamish Townsend was born and raised in Geelong, supports the Cats and lives in Brisbane.


  1. I can’t agree with those votes. Tom McDonald was clearly BOG. I do agree that the other three all deserve a nod, but one of them would have to miss out.

  2. Agree. MacDonald was clearly BOG. Garlett excellent too. Rischitelli Sun’s best.

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