Round 17 – Carlton v West Coast: When worlds collide (Part 2)

Carlton v West Coast Eagles (Round 17)

1.10pm @ MCG

Author: Ross Treverton

 

Just so often there is a personal reminder that our relatively safe and secure world in the suburbs of Melbourne, could, in an instant, become a hotbed of terrorism and violence. My duties as a policeman at the Carlton v West Coast Eagles game at the MCG would normally evoke eager anticipation of a Sunday afternoon combining my love of the national game with paid employment. Joy of joys! Win, win! There is little in the days leading up to the game to suggest otherwise-except that a game that would normally require 20 of Victoria’s finest, unexpectedly attracts triple that number! Friday night? Richmond v Collingwood? Maybe…but not this game!

 

A quick grab on the evening news on Friday gives some sense to an otherwise senseless statistic. John Biden, US Vice-President, is in town to open the new Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre at Parkville. He has been touched deeply by cancer with the death of his son Beau in 2015. Not even the political might of the US VP, makes him immune to the ripple effect of this insideous disease; it is kryptonite to us all. The VP is also a sports affectionado, and his whirlwind trip includes a chance to see our wonderful game at the magnificent MCG.

 

The exit from Richmond station over Brunton Ave. gives the first indication that this is no ordinary game. My colleagues form 2 lines across the roadway, 6 abreast, declaring to foot passengers that the precinct is in ‘lockdown’ mode. Not even my police badge gives me the right to transverse that familiar piece of bitumen. The whirring of the chopper is the cue that the motorcade of the VP is close by. As we wait, there are a few impatient cries of ‘this is bullshit’ – but unfortunately it isn’t. It is both real and necessary.

 

The signs of increased security closer to the MCG are also obvious. Amidst the orange of the MCC staff and the yellow of the private security, young men and women wearing sharp suits, sunglasses and ear-pieces and interacting with no-one, pocket the gate entrances. Unobtrusive and yet so obvious at the same time.

 

The police change room is full and space at a minimum. I wonder whether my Swans socks and members lapel badge will constitute a security breach-but risk it anyway. Tradition is a wonderful thing! A quick check of my phone for last minute family messages indicates that the MCG wi-fi has been disconnected. Really? More security concerns?

 

Carlton v West Coast. As a red-blooded, dyed in the wool, life long ‘blood stained angels’ Swans supporter, I dislike them both. West Coast for their 1 point victory in the ’06 GF (don’t get me started on how that victory may have been fuelled) and Carlton, because as a young South supporter in the ’60s and ’70s, they were so bloody good and we were so bloody terrible. Based on that, I guess you could mount an argument for disliking most teams…

 

Pre-game and the VP has prime position in the centre of the ground and is presented with a match ball by umpire Matt Stevic. From there, he takes his seat in the stands where he is briefed in the finer points of the game by American born Magpie, Mason Cox-who is really just learning the game himself. The match itself does little to inspire or, I imagine, convert the VP. By half time only 8 goals have been scored and mistakes abound (or ‘turnovers’ as contemporary stats would reference them) by both sides. West Coast break to an early 2 goal lead which they maintain to the main break. The crowd is a touch above 26,000, sparse within the enormity of the stadium. My partner and I talk at length about the events in Nice on Bastille Day  and ponder the unthinkable occuring here, today, now. And it could; that’s why security is at a premium.

 

To keep my own interest in the game, I watch the Blues young guns-Cripps, Weitering and Silvagni. Every club has players upon which they base their future, and these 3 are Carlton’s. The Eagles slowly extend their lead, by stealth rather than flurry. At the 15 minute mark, we are advised the VP is leaving the stadium. As if on cue and in the best Hollywood tradition, the helicopter cuts into view. I wonder what the VP has made of our game. If the timetable of his visit is any indication, it is a pre-arranged exit rather than disinterest with the game itself.

 

3/4 time and the match is seemingly all over. The Eagles are up by 27 points. As if unshackled by the VP’s departure, the Blues spring to life. An appreciable breeze helps, but so does the increase in the tempo of their play. Their pressure and run increase, their ball handling is cleaner and their ‘turnovers’ drop. There is finally some life in the game and the crowd respond accordingly. But time is against the Blues and they fall 7 points short.

 

As the crowd files out, the helicopter, suited security personal, VP (and probably Mason Cox) long gone, I reflect on the words of one of the Police Commanders at the pre-game briefing. Amidst all the security and safety pertaining to the afternoon’s events, his words resonate: “It’s an AFL football game, that’s all it is”. In a week where once once again, terrorism has made it’s devastating mark  on the free world, there’s no doubt the US Vice-President would certainly agree. As would cancer survivors such as Sam Rowe, myself and the thousands of Victorians who will be assisted by the new Cancer Centre in years to come.

 

West Coast    2.4, 5.7, 10.8, 12.10 (82) defeated

Carlton           1.2, 3.3, 6.5, 11.9 (75)

 

Votes:

3  Sam Rowe (Carlton)  Just because…

2  Jeremy McGovern (West Coast)

1  Sam Docherty  (Carlton)

 

 

About

Ross Treverton is a third generation Swans supporter who grew up on family stories about Pratt, Nash and Matthews. He was then fortunate to see Skilton, Bedford, Kelly et al. 3 daughters with no interest in sport means his AFL watching is confined to the television and regular duties at the MCG and Etihad as a police officer.

Comments

  1. jan courtin says:

    Great article Ross. I almost missed it – not expecting one from you, if not relating to our team.

    You’re probably better off having to be at other teams’ matches and not having to get emotionally involved!

    Where is Part 1 by the way?
    Cheer Cheer

  2. Citrus Bob says:

    Loved your article Ross. A great insight on the other side of footy. I have often wondered what you guys do at the footy at the G.
    Bit Suss on you wearing the South sox under your gear though.

  3. John Butler says:

    An interesting and uncommon perspective Ross. Sadly, this is becoming a modern necessity

    Though, security considerations aside, it’s hard not to conclude there is a large element of public show on occasions such as this. Some of those Secret Service agents should probably get Actors Equity cards.

    Cheers .

  4. Terrific piece. Thanks Ross. Much more interesting than the game.
    A companion piece to “what does a Scotsman wear under his kilt?” Do you have the red and white lucky undies for home games?
    Benny taught Michael Talia everything he knows.

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Really enjoyed this Ross.

    The MCG was almost one fast food vendor down too thanks to the Brunton Rd blockade.

    PB – I hope you mean Michael rather than Daniel

  6. Peter_B says:

    Swish – Whoops all corrected. Last thing the Almanac and I need is defamation lawyers. Didn’t mean to give you, Rulebook and DB a heart attack.
    I should just call them the good brother and the other one. Memory is a bit sleep deprived from late night golf.
    Do you reckon the Bulldogs knew something?

Leave a Comment

*