Round 16 – Carlton v Adelaide: On Returning

When I was thirteen and hating living in Bendigo, mum and I went down to Melbourne to watch the Blues play. This was the 90s, of course, we Carlton were doing mostly well and beat Richmond at MCG, and I was a very happy young lad that weekend as well as thrilled by the ever-changing big city, constantly growing.

(I do miss the train mural at Spencer Street Station, however. V/Line should have never changed from orange and green and white colours. Footy could be played at Princes Park against interstate clubs. Is Rev Milk still available? At Safeway?)

Going back to unhappy, small town Bendigo was an insult. I declared that I would live in Melbourne one day. Preferably soon. Mum moved us back to Adelaide instead. I ended up moving to Sydney for work and for love.

Funnily enough, despite it being home to my footy team, I have not lived in Melbourne. (And yes, I’m going to watch them play the Crows — in full knowledge that if we lose that my Adelaide friends will have a social media laugh and the ex-Adelaidian colleague at work will wind me up for some time.) I’ve spent more time in Melbourne than any other city I have not lived in and on my visits, I have seen the city evolve. This time, I’ve been staying in Parkville with an incredible city view and it looks ever different again.

A tram to “Melbourne Central” (it’s still Museum to me) and a train to Jolimont. The relentless late-70s/early-80s style of the City Loop never fails to impress, clean lines and fonts. Already on the train it appears there is a goodly amount of South Australian rot, gelb und blau but not so much Lygon Street deep blue. This could be a sign that winter is dragging for the Blues faithful.

Had a great drink the day before on a rooftop in Fitzroy. Despite typically cool weather, the sun was out and Melbourne was marvellous – shining over the city and the Royal Exhibition Centre. (It was a big night in the old haunt of the Lions, by the way, and both myself the Knights lady are feeling a little worse for wear the day after.)

But on that short walk from Jolimont Station, it is different. Uncompromising grey and bitterly typical footy weather. Melbourne in July. The sound of the Footy Record sales boy matches the wind blown over Tasmania, over Bass Strait, over Port Philip Bay, over here.

We join the typical MCG queue on Gate 3 for a “wanding” (who knows what could be hiding under those beanies, guys) to be told over the PA that the queue on Gate 4 is shorter. A quick walk to Gate 4 makes a mockery of that claim — people are queueing in the mud, boys, mud! Thus back to Gate 3.

Twenty years ago I sat in the Olympic Stand and today I sit with the Knights lady. Despite the PTSD from our Rugby Leage State of Origin last year (almost the last row in the Great Southern Stand, receiving a mooning from an inebriated Toowoombian whilst suffering from vertigo – at least those Blues won), we go up top to Level 4, on the flank.

A great view for the LCD signage extravaganza that the Carlton Football Club has in store for us. And the kids with the flags. AND THE HOVERCRAFT. Look, sure, we’re fourteenth on the ladder but number one in hovercraft technology. I anticipate a Rollerball-esque future where FutureFooty is played with zero-emission hovercrafts – and Carlton win the premiership every year.

I’d like to think the kids of both genders enjoy the antics of Captain Carlton & Navy Nina. This is why we got a Women’s Team license, you see.

“Reckon he could get it from there?”
“Dennis? Yeah, I reckon he can…”

So, yes, there was a footy game after all that. The first quarter was The World vs Dennis Armfield. In any other team, the D-Man would be the ultimate cult figure – ‘interesting’ style, terrific clubman, obvious good bloke outside the white lines (check up his work with Odyssey House). Today, despite… uh, recent ball issues, those long bombs outside the fifty are keeping us in pace with an obviously good side.

“Four more years! Sign Dennis up for four more years!

Eddie Betts (I remember when his terribly inconsistent twin brother, confusingly also known as Eddie, played for us) gets a free at one stage from what appears to be a push in the back from a goalpost. I didn’t know that the Punt Road end posts (look, I’m not going to bother looking up with what the LCD signage called it but it really should be the Burning Scoreboard end) were part of our playing group.

Jack! The Third Silvagni! Jack kicks his first goal ever in long-sleeved Navy Blue and it is the biggest cheer from the faithful all day. My thoughts on the lad: he’s very green but got the right attitude. Gets into it. Bryce Gibbs, Master of the Man-Bun is around the ball when he can, Cripps remains his future-brilliant self, one bloke is thrilled every time that Sumner goes for a run with the ball.

Adelaide has the skills to pay the bills to enter September but Carlton try very hard despite the gap in ability and… oh, well, it all falls apart at the 22 minute mark of the 2nd quarter and it is bitterly cold up here and my view of this game matches the weather. This game devolves into monochrome, the rain falls down, the Crows kick on. Other detailed game reports are available, albeit more Crows-focused.

The Crows need yellow shorts to match those yellow jerseys (’70s Torrens, baby!), they are utterly professional and too good for the struggling Blues. Thankfully, the Chief Galoot, Tex, only kicks one goal. My concern for the Crows is that they could be heading back into ’00s Crow-bot territory and we know how that falls apart in September.

As for Carlton… well, the heart was there until that 22 minute mark in the second. They ain’t a four quarter team, but they can’t recover from these falls in games like this without Marc Murphy, unless they are playing someone worse. Like, er, Essendon. And uh…

But I can understand. It is a mix of the young, the very young, the traded and the jaded. A cold Sunday afternoon in July with the end of year trip being the one thing to look forward to. I can understand that motivation is challenging and I expect Bolts is doing what he can with the boys. I don’t like the result, however. I’m hoping those clouds part again some time this season, even for just a few rays of sunshine on the past-Malthouse permafrost.

At half time, Gordon Agars’ good mate Swish Schwerdt caught up with me to point out the irony of Jack’s third goal (a recipient of what was the father’s sin notes Swish – but as a good Blue, I will politely deflect any negativity towards the full back of the previous millennium), suss out the footy scene at Homebush and mention Bob Moran Cars (Reynella and Medindie). Swish made note that Carlton donned the yellow once themselves in some Lance Armstrong-related malarkey. On reflection, if they ever write a book on the absurdity that was Carlton in the ’00s, Fev in the Livestrong jumper would be an ideal candidate for the front cover.

I was a cold, miserable wreck at third quarter time and a hot dog was required. Whilst the humble hot dog was perfected by South Australia’s own Wendys, Victorians Do It Better when it comes to hot dogs at the footy. Don’s Footy Frank and – this is crucial – a bun with seeds on them. That was sensational for a slightly hungover Carlton barracker visiting from Sydney town, enduring a Crows onslaught in the cold.

It continued to rain as we walked back to Jolimont. Nothing could be more like Victoria in the winter like that.

CARLTON 3.0 6.1 6.2 7.5 (47)
ADELAIDE 4.3 9.6 12.10 16.11 (107)

Carlton: Armfield 4, Casboult, Silvagni, Wright
Adelaide: Betts 3, Jacobs 3, Jenkins 3, Crouch, McGovern, Walker, Lynch, Douglas, Lyons, Mackay

Carlton: Armfield, Cripps, Gibbs, Rowe
Adelaide: Laird, Sloane, Talia, Jacobs

Carlton: Thomas (right calf)
Adelaide: Nil

Votes: 3 – Laird (Adel), 2 – Sloane (Adel), 1 – Talia

Crows: 32,430 at the MCG


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About The Philby

Inconsistent contrarian. Barracker of Carlton FC and South Adelaide FC. Resident of Sydney. Holder of the record of shortest umpiring career with the South Australian Cricket Association.


  1. Ben Footner says

    Bob Moooraaaan, Bob Bob Moran. Haha.

    I drove past the old Bob Moran site at Medindie (across the road from the land mark Scotty’s Hotel!) the other day and noticed that after sitting vacant for at least a decade, possibly more, someone is building something on it.

    So yea – there you go – a useless bit of information for you. Haha.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    This is becoming the Velvet Underground of the Almanac – only five people went but they all did a match report.

    Those hot dog stands are a new MCG innovation – my offsider now specialises in filling those sesame seed buns with boiled pigs lips when the Crows aren’t playing.

    And thanks for bringing up our ’00s finals record.

  3. Good stuff,The Philby love the Navy Nina line for the women’s team and spot on re yellow short,Torrens in the 70s enjoyable read and Swish is spot on certainly not lacking match reports of this game

  4. Peter Fuller says

    Swish I have to call you out. Rulebook and JB both fessed up to watching on television, and I was there (only 20 minutes late), but realised by the time I conquered my writer’s block, it had already been said better by others.

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