Round 11 — Brisbane v Hawthorn: Umpires, Choirs and Winter Wear Buyers


Brisbane versus Hawthorn

7.25pm, Saturday, 1st June

The Gabba, Brisbane

Jamie Simmons


Today, football serves as a little treat. I’ve earned a break. We have officially concluded the building of our fence at home and rest is needed.


When Mel and I purchased our home together Fix fence was placed firmly near the top of our to-do list, between Redirect mail and Convert Meth Lab into Rumpus Room (well, it is Capalaba).


The old version has creaked and groaned its way through summer and leaned, like recent election results, horribly to one side. I knew it wouldn’t take much. Just a firm hand and it collapsed like Alex Rance in a marking contest.


The young couple next door are lovely. In all honesty, if you want to get to know your neighbours, build a fence with them. Interestingly, after three days of getting to know me, they settled on a higher fence than originally proposed.


Nick, the husband, did most of the planning, including the style of fence.


“It’s called The Good Neighbour Fence,” he beamed.


We went halves of course. “So, what would the Shit Neighbour version have set me back?” I enquire after seeing the price tag.


He laughed. I feigned flippancy.


Brisbane shivers under the tyranny of a cold snap. Evening temperatures, hovering around single-digit figures, have locals stockpiling canned goods and beaver pelts for the crippling winter ahead. Some are saying this could last for multiple days. Old folk who still remember The Long Dark Fortnight of ’47 scoff at the suggestion.


It presents as the ideal chance for me to trial my new thermal underwear. We’re heading to Iceland and  England in only a few weeks. It’s summer in Iceland, but that just means you freeze to death outside instead of in.


I braved the crowds at Aldi to get my hands on these figure-hugging necessities. I’d been warned about these Aldi sales. Essentially, they advertise a theme and sell associated products by the container load and sell them at sweatshop prices.


I quiz the young attendant which month is likely to be Gimp Wear but move on quickly as she reaches for her whistle.


Everything about Aldi is intriguing to me. It’s my first time and there’s something remotely surreal and completely unpretentious about it. Products are just heaped on top of each other like a Nazi book burning.


There is no system to their arrangement and the staff are uniformly disinterested.


Good. Simple, is the Aldi motto. It is accurate though: “Buy something. Piss off!” would be even more accurate.


Anyway, as it happens, the theme for June is Ski Wear.


Shoppers rake mounds of clothing into their trolleys that they have neither the intention nor body shape to wear. Presumably with the aim of selling them online for healthy profits.


This wouldn’t happen under Stalin.


I pay for my two meagre pairs of thermal underwear and leave, hurrying home to road test these babies.


It’s not unreasonable to suggest that thermals were designed by an angry ex-wife with no compassion for the male anatomy in mind. If you need a shoe horn to put them on and a midwife to birth you out of them, there have to be some associated health risks.


Anyway, thermals are on and we’re away.


Parking suitably close to the ground the door handle on the passenger side of my car breaks off in my hand. Mel is trapped and will need to fend for herself for a few hours, there is football to be watched after all. I’m kidding obviously. I cracked the window before I left (I’m not a monster).


The arrangement is to meet some work colleagues pre-game at the pub.


The Morrison Hotel proudly boast “The Best Steaks in Brisbane”. One of only about 23 pubs in Brisbane to make this claim, so you know they’re good.


Problem is, the place is awash with Hawthorn fans. It’s wall to wall Brown and Gold. It’s an interior decorator’s worst nightmare.


Ben is a quiet NRL fan whose gambling exploits have seen him win (if nothing else) the favour of NEDS Betting and the subsequent offer of two tickets to a corporate box. It’s his first AFL experience.


He takes Kev. Kev is a Richmond man who once threw his glass through a TV screen at the Yeronga Bowls Club during a disappointing Tigers performance. It earned him a monthlong suspension. It’s all relative really. If he’d done the same thing during an episode of Lego Masters it might have earned him a knighthood. I’ve never seen Kev in a collared shirt before, outside of court anyway.


We part ways at the ground.


The AFL are looking to clamp down on umpire abuse, from players and fans alike. I kind of get it. Words matter. Like my father once said to me: “For the last time mate, I’m not your father. I’m just here to fix the taps.”


Deeply affecting.


Having umpired two seasons at Masters level myself, I do have a vague understanding of what it’s like to be on the other side of the whistle. As an even wiser head once said: “Never judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.” It’s an old Cherokee saying, also recently added to the Broadmeadows Coat of Arms.


So, I will aim to choose my words more carefully and vow not to be overly critical of today’s umpiring.


The game starts.


Raincheck on the abuse. These fluorescent clowns are useless. Dale Thomas was right.


I’ve defended umpires in the past. I’ve called for their enclosures to be hosed out weekly and for them to have selective access to kerosene baths and flea treatments but I want all privileges suspended immediately! These blokes are murdering us in the first quarter and must be exiled!


Sorry, I tried.


It’s a healthy turnout.


A lively chant goes up. There are hundreds of Blue Blazers behind the Wellington Street goals. As yet unidentified. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir? Hard to say. They are up after the Lions first goal (deep into the second quarter) and it really adds to the atmosphere.


Taylor snaps and the Choir are up again. I haven’t seen this many jackets and ties in a frenzy since The Dow Jones closed 200 points higher.


James Sicily is an angry man. If ever there was a case against the Ferber Method of nursing, it’s young James. Here is a man who needs to be held. Constantly poking and prodding. Searching endlessly to evoke an angry response from someone, anyone. There’s a story that the Dalai Lama once tried to glass him. It seems likely. Some dismiss it as white-line fever but if that’s true it’s probably any white line … hopscotch, car spaces, I doubt you could pass him on a pedestrian crossing without him trying to elbow you.


Half time and with a nice crowd in (over 25,000) it’s time for Urinal Roulette. When the line to the men’s is this long, there’s an unspoken agreement among the men folk that when you get inside you commit to choosing a draining patron that you think will finish next and stand behind him. You must choose wisely.


Suffice to say that my bloke must have studied under Trevi Fountain and I linger as multiple entrants come and go on either side of me. This is why I don’t gamble.


There is commotion down on the boundary line early in the third. Tempers fray. Accusations are made. It’s Sicily again. James must learn to relax, he’s so tightly wound that Fraser Anning once to told him to calm down a bit.


The Choir leave en masse at 3 Quarter Time and swarm out onto the ground with a bass drum and precocious intent. Performing what I can only describe as a poor man’s haka, it turns out they are representatives of Marist Brothers College, Charlie Cameron’s old school. How that translates into unsanctioned access to the Gabba is anyone’s guess. Money talks.


Hipwood screws a beauty around the corner on his non-preferred. If this kid can sort out his set-shot kicking, he’ll be unstoppable. The couple behind me hate Hipwood, willing him toward failure at every contest. I don’t understand that. How it constitutes support of a club is beyond me.


That said, Hipwood’s set-shot woes aren’t exclusively his alone. The club is crying out for a set-shot kicking coach. It’s one of the fundamentals of the game and it’s in crisis. Train for the things that you anticipate you’ll be doing on game day. It’s why my old team used to practice standing on the mark.


A telephone number flashes up on the screen for Anti-Social behaviour. I texted “Umpire 27” and his crimes to the number but nothing happens. Mel (she made it; thank goodness for sun roofs) correctly points out that merely not talking to somebody constitutes Anti-Social behaviour. It’s an interesting point. I wander how many people get dragged away for refusing to be your friend on Facebook?


Harris Andrews is a goliath, his wingspan crosses two time zones. He appears destined for the All Australian honours denied him last year by a Jeremy Cameron elbow.


With the game teetering in the final quarter, Brisbane channel their inner Liverpool for one of the best series of soccer kicks you’ll see for a goal, starting on centre wing and it turns the tide.


Hipwood marks strongly and goals shortly after. The haters will have to stay silent for a little longer.


Zorko’s work rate is phenomenal and he traps Sicily in a beautiful tackle. Everybody loves it. I can picture the Dalai Lama flipping him the bird after that one.


We’re 7 and 4 and adrenaline alone should get me through most of Australia v traditional rival Afghanistan in the cricket tonight. I can’t wait.


I wonder who the umpires are?




BRISBANE          0.6   5.9   9.11   12.13   (85)

HAWTHORN      5.1   7.3   9.4   10.6  (66)



Brisbane – Hipwood 2, Mathieson 2, Cameron 2, Rayner 2, Taylor, Martin, Robinson, Zorko

Hawthorn   – Lewis 2, Wingard, Breust, Impey, Henderson, Cousins, Scully, Ceglar, Burgoyne



Brisbane –  Andrews, Gardiner, Neale, Lyons, Taylor, Hodge

Hawthorn – O’Meara, Ceglar, Stratton, Burgoyne, Henderson, Impey


Umpires (begrudgingly acknowledging):  Deboy, Stephens, Gavine


Official crowd:   25,051


Our Votes:  Andrews (B) 3, Gardiner (B) 2, Neale (B) 1




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About Jamie Simmons

Born in Melbourne, a third generation Fitzroy supporter, in 1972 before emigrating to Tasmania during The Great Broccoli Famine of 86. Leaving my island lodgings, largely at the request of locals, to settle once more on the mainland in 1997. These days living out a peaceful existance on the outskirts of Brisbane, where I spend most of my time serving as a fashion warning to others.

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