Round 2 – Brisbane v Fremantle: And the future is now






Brisbane v Fremantle
Saturday June 13, 1.45pm
The Gabba



At our faculty meeting in November last year, I was quite vocal about my concerns that our text selection demanded a lot of, what we in the industry call, “drilling down” into the “context.” Yep, even we English teachers succumb to corporate speak and weasel words that sound like you are saying so much when really, you’re saying nothing. We throw around words like “interrogate” instead of “analyse,” or “unpack” instead of “explain.” We are the modern-day version of Monty Python’s hospital administrators who are so impressed by the machine that goes ‘bing’. In November last year, with a revamped curriculum ready to “roll out”, (you see what I mean), I was worried that with a resource list that included Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, a cleverly veiled science fiction novel about cloning; Peter Weir’s subversive film The Truman Show and Steven Amsterdam’s Things We Didn’t See Coming, an episodic novel dealing with the effects of a global contagion – we would have to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining to generation next the meaning of terms like “dystopia,” “alternate reality” and “pandemic.” Fast forward to Round 2, in June no less, the universe has blown its whistle and paid our motley teaching team a free kick. Sadly, there is now some lived experience that has made these texts seem prescient for the class of Covid-19.


My daughter and I sit on the couch to watch the Lions on the family iPad. Our family has to make many modern-day budgetary choices. We have sensibly agreed that one TV subscription service is enough, and Netflix it is, which means whenever our Lions aren’t in Melbourne we huddle around the smaller screen and give thanks that our mobile phone plans with Telstra allow us to access the game on the AFL Live app. Yes, you read that correctly, we give thanks… to Telstra.


Eleven-year-old me couldn’t have imagined any of this, or teams called ‘GWS,’ ‘Gold Coast’ or ‘Fremantle’ for that matter. Watching a game on your iPad is not terribly far removed from playing the AFL Live game on your iPad. A stress relief I called upon often over the last decade. After enduring another ‘real world’ loss I would sacramentally purge by loading up a game on the ‘Easy’ setting and digitally pummelling whichever team had just smashed Brisbane. A particularly memorable game against Fremantle saw Patrick Karnezis kick twenty individual first half goals on a wet and windy day at the MCG in his Brownlow and Coleman and Rising Star winning year.


This is not the football of my time; the future is now. The stadium is empty, and the cameras are careful to avoid showing us that. Which means they zoom in on players from above like a satellite drone. Alastair Lynch and Jonathan Brown are commentating in futuristic matching fashion suits. As a Lions man, I can retroactively rewrite the Alastair Lynch story with him as a time traveller sent early from the pride to the new world of Brisbane to establish a colony. I wish I could send a message to myself at the end of 1993 and offer him the knowledge that he will one day see Lynchy in a Lions jumper again, holding the ball aloft after a premiership win in 2001. But physics aside, there are issues that come with dicking around with the space time continuum. My degrees didn’t teach me that, but Marty McFly and the Terminator did. Sixteen-year olds in ’93, with nouveau bogan names like ‘Shane’ couldn’t have fathomed what would happen in his future football world. There are players playing in an empty stadium but with thousands watching on their iPads with Christian names like Callum, Reece, Griffin and Dayne yet not one single Kevin or Darren; further, there are players with Christian names that were once sturdy surnames like Harris and Bailey.


Yeah, I’m not sure how I’m feeling about post pandemic football. But a game’s a game. In the absence of anything but a cardboard crowd (at this juncture I could be unfair and make a droll but witty comment about cardboard footy crowds in expansion states but Brisbane did give my Fitzroy a home in its darkest hour) they are playing songs that the players have chosen to celebrate their goals. Like Daryl Kerrigan’s lattice work on his porch, “it adds a bit of a charm… but you can over capitalise.” Not for my seven-year-old though, she is delighted to learn that she and Charlie Cameron both love the ‘Baby Shark’ song. And his two first quarter goals draw her in a bit. The game is actually a ripper and I forget the weirdness of the world. Brisbane show enough in the first quarter to make me believe that 2019 wasn’t a fluke, but the Dockers are also playing the sort of free-flowing, open football that makes the game itself the real winner. But bugger that sort of aesthetic perspective when they peg us back at quarter time. Charlie is alight for us in the forward half and finding space but Taberner is as well up the other end.




BRISBANE LIONS                     4.2.26

FREMANTLE                            3.0.18



Charlie opens the quarter with another one of his ‘oh so Charlie’ goals and then another, almost straight away. ‘I’m glad that Charlie Cameron plays for our team’ my daughter says sagely. She has a penchant for muted understatement. You see, for a man like me in his early forties, you have moments where you have to consider the possibility that your own personal AFL dream may not come to pass. I’m at a stage in my life where it is now conceivable that I may never be drafted. Even when or if I am though, I am not deluded enough to think I could be Charlie Cameron. The future is now, but if he existed in a temporal space-time vortex, Charlie is the sort of being that Michaelangelo would have sculpted out of marble. Charlie’s hand touching God would not look out of place on the ceiling of a certain chapel in Rome.


But there are worrying signs. The Dockers’ forward line has as much space in it as Matt Damon found on Mars in The Martian, (I am sorry, I started this piece with a dystopian theme, if you are still hanging in there as a reader, thanks for indulging me), whereas Charlie needs his special type of sorcery to create something for us. James Aish, one of Brisbane’s ‘Lost Boys,’ is looking comfortable and classy in his first game for Fremantle and Fyfe who was dormant in the first quarter is starting to erupt.


This game is showing that football in the apocalypse might be worth watching after all. Compared to the muted barrenness of Richmond and Collingwood and the apocalyptic blitzkrieg that Geelong performed on Hawthorn, this game is becoming an epic for the ages. Maybe there is something in this futuristic football. Taberner misses the unmissable and Nat Fyfe – would he have gotten away with his man bun if Barassi coached him? – kicks a set shot with a snap. In the nineties, every sports fan around the world wanted to ‘be like Mike,’ now, even the great Nat Fyfe lines up for goal in a way that suggests he wants to ‘be like Charlie.’


I didn’t think I’d care for this game but it’s getting tight. I can almost convince myself I’m freezing in the stands at Waverley but then my iPad news notifications interrupt the game with some headlines about protesters defying social distancing laws and an Australian citizen being sentenced to death in China. It’s sort of the modern equivalent of checking the scoreboard for the ‘around the grounds’ scores and then finding out from your footy record which team is ‘K’ and which one is ‘L.’ It’s half time and the future is now.





BRISBANE LIONS                     8.2.50

FREMANTLE                            7.3.45



Both of the coaches do quick interviews at half time. They are slick, mannered and measured. Media savvy. I think of Barassi again and the audio of him yelling
“Give me possessions or I’ll spew up” (I’m deliberately conflating two of his quotes here for impact).


Neale and Hipwood give us a bit of a lead but Taberner keeps my heart in my throat. Fyfe has drifted forward more and is grabbing marks in the middle of swarms of players. My new Apple watch starts vibrating and telling me I need to breathe. It is the futuristic equivalent of telling someone to ‘calm down,’ it only has the opposite effect. I just feel more agitated. They cut to an ad after Fyfe’s goal, which is playing the ‘Lacrimosa’ from Mozart’s Requiem. It could be an omen. But the future is now, it turns out to be Fremantle’s only goal for the quarter. Our new recruit, with Jedi or a Kryptonian sounding name ‘Ah-Chee,’ starts to make some sense of the dystopian madness and our lead is extended.




BRISBANE LIONS                     11.5.71

FREMANTLE                            8.5.53



When I was a kid, the footy was interrupted by:


  • The regular V-Line breakdowns
  • Tall people in the standing room at Moorabbin or the Western Oval
  • Inclement weather (but being drenched in the hail and rain at the ’86 Elimination final adds texture to my favourite footy memory)


Today, in my loungeroom, the game is interrupted by patchy WiFi – first world, sure, but a problem, nonetheless. I switch to my phone and miss about twenty seconds as a result. Whatever led to it, my phone connects just in time to see Walters kick and easy goal. Soon after, Fyfe finds Walters again and it’s a four-point game. Anthony Hudson in the commentary box starts using that meaningless corporate speak that I was reflecting on earlier, discussing “risk versus reward” while Brownie muses about “fatigue and pressure” as Oscar McInerny evokes memories of James ‘Charlie’ Manson as his ugly shot for goal wobbles out of bounds on the full.


The last few minutes are gripping football. Debutant Tom Berry runs back with the flight of ball like Jonathan Brown – his mark makes me jump from my chair and surely stirs something in the cardboard cut-outs watching the game? Apparently not, but man at the sound desk controlling the recorded crowd noise hits play and turns up the volume masterfully. We need the goal, but he misses. Charlie gets a free kick but even he misses. Zorko (is there a champion playing today with a more futuristic name?) then roves it beautifully and the game is iced.


My students didn’t need as much “unpacking” of terms like “nihilism” and “pandemic” as I predicted they would. I may need to revisit my lesson planning for this week to include the highlights of this game for them so that they can learn that the antonym of dystopia is utopia.





BRISBANE LIONS                     12.9.81

FREMANTLE                            10.9.53




The Tigers Almanac 2019
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About Shane Reid

Loving life as a husband, dad and teacher. I'm trying to develop enough skill as a writer so that one day Doc Wheildon's Newborough, Bernie Quinlan's Traralgon and Mick Conlon's 86 Eliminatiuon final goal will be considered contemporaneous with Twain's Mississippi, Hemingway's Cuba, Beethoven's 9th and Coltrane's Love Supreme.


  1. Anne Wilson. says

    Love your writing style Shane and wish I’d been a fly on the wall at that faculty meeting. Your description brings a wry smile to my face.

  2. Sam Evans says

    An enjoyable read, thanks for sharing Shane. Let’s hope that the future is now for the mighty Brisbane Lions!

  3. Shane Reid says

    Thanks Anne, we just stopped doing Orwell’s 1984 believe it or not

    I hope so Sam, it feels like it’s been a long time since we’ve entered a season with this feeling of expectation. Mid June and we’ve only lost one game, that’s pretty solid!

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