Round 21 – West Coast v Carlton: Unrequited

West Coast Eagles v Carlton

7.40 p.m. (EST), Saturday 12th August

Domain Stadium, Subiaco

I’m toying with a rather fanciful version of the AFL season as a kind of romantic drama, perhaps a 23 episode series (or perhaps each match can be seen as a mini-series, with four separate screenings). If we’re pitching the project to the 7 or 9 network, it would probably conform to hetero-normative convention – boy chases girl (or vice versa), and after various fits and starts/vicissitudes, he or she succeeds in winning the romantic partner, or doesn’t. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

If we’re anticipating screening on SBS or the ABC, we might engage in some self-congratulatory edginess by risking a same sex romance.

Carlton have only succeeded in consummating these plans on a handful of occasions in 2017, and are enduring a prolonged dry spell at time of writing. We won the girl (or guy) in contests with Collingwood, Essendon and the Gold Coast (the latter two we missed out in a separate episode). Improbably we also outpointed the two rivals from Sydney, when the object of our affections chose the Melbourne culture vulture over the superficially more attractive Emerald City alternative.

Occasionally, our hero/heroine has been faced with a hopeless quest, such as Port Adelaide, where the prospective partner showed zero interest. These episodes rated poorly. However, in several instances drama has been maintained throughout the program, until the inevitable unhappy ending.

Saturday night saw the Blueboys making their 2nd trek of the season to Perth. Prior travelling assignments didn’t offer much prospect of success, a loss to Fremantle, a thumping by Port Adelaide and an embarrassing capitulation two weeks ago in Brisbane suggested that the Eagles would have Carlton’s measure. The solitary credible performance out of home State had been on the visit to Metricon Stadium, but Gold Coast’s recent poor form suggested that beating them was scarcely a recommendation for this ostensibly tougher assignment. William Hill considered the Eagles near certainties ($1.16 cfd. $5.25), so the prospect of a happy ending in this episode seemed remote.

In the event, the dramatic tension was established, diminished and revived in the periods between each of the ad breaks. Finally, however the object of affection walked off into the sunset with the blond surfer boy (or girl) from the West, while the dag from the inner northern Melbourne suburbs was left to cry alone in the bedroom.

These idle musings were prompted by a sense while I was watching the match that we had seen this movie before, or as Yogi Berra confusedly (and confusingly) said “it’s déjà vu all over again.”

Carlton began well, with Murphy and Lamb (free kick) providing goals in the opening minutes. The umpires appeared to be enforcing holding the man offences more rigorously than usual. The Eagles hit back with goals from Cripps and Darling, and later Cripps added two more for a very productive quarter, as West Coast took the lead, which they would maintain virtually for the rest of the match. Gibbs converted a free for the Blues to ensure that the Blues were within a few points at quarter-time.

The 2nd quarter saw West Coast dominant. It was a quarter of two (not quite) halves. Prior to time-on, the home side scored 5 goals 1, without a score at the opposite end. Kennedy kicked the first two goals and the fifth, while Hutchings and Redden added the others. In the latter stages of the quarter, the Blues attacked but less productively as they only registered three behinds, while the Eagles failed to score as the match wound down to half time.

The third quarter brought a complete reversal. Carlton added six goals, and it took Kennedy’s late reply to restore his team to equality at the final change. Fisher, Murphy, Silvagni (2), Pickett and Boekhorst were the scorers, with the Blues’ run and tackling pressure creating the opportunities.

The Eagles managed to steady the ship in the opening minutes of the final quarter. Two early behinds gave them the lead, but Kennedy’s opening goal took eight minutes. Casboult replied for the Blues, but Partington and Darling scored majors in quick succession to give the home side breathing space. Thereafter the pattern was goal for goal with Curnow and Casboult goaling for the Blues on either side of Kennedy’s sixth for the match. Redden provided the icing on the cake with the final goal.

Kennedy provided a highly effective focal point for West Coast as he went to the top of the Coleman Medal tally, in spite of missing several games through injury. McGovern was his usual reliable self and proved a stumbling block for the Blues for much of the night. Mitchell reflected his value to the team, as much for his on-field coaching as for his prolific possession-winning. Vardy made a good fist of his ruck contest with Kreuzer, although the Carlton big man was also highly effective at ground level and clearances.

Apart from Kreuzer, Murphy had probably his best game for the season, while Thomas, Kerridge and Gibbs were also among the best.

So, yet again our venture failed, we return to home base with our affections unrequited. There are two more daunting episodes to come before this season’s screenings conclude.


WEST COAST   4.0   9.2   10.4   15.10 (100)
CARLTON         3.3   3.7   9.10   12.11 (83)

West Coast: Kennedy 6, Cripps 3, Darling 2, Redden 2, Hutchings, Partington
Carlton: Murphy 2, Silvagni 2, Casboult 2, Lamb, Gibbs, Fisher, Pickett, Boekhorst, Curnow 

West Coast: Kennedy, Mitchell, Yeo, McGovern, Redden
Carlton: Murphy, Kruezer, Gibbs, Kerridge, Curnow 

West Coast: Nil
Carlton: Nil 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: H.Gavine, S.Jeffery, S.McInerney

Official crowd: 30,491

Malarkey Medal Votes:

  1. Murphy (Carl.) 2.  Kennedy (WCE)    1.  McGovern (WCE).


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    That’s the difference between you and me Peter. I’d say my team was rooted, you’ve said the opposite.

  2. Neil Anderson says

    Starting to think you may be a closet script-writer or playwright with all this talk about ‘dramatic-tension’ and maintaining the drama throughout the program. Either that or your tea-time coincides with Home and Away …and you’re forced to watch it because others want to. You gave yourself away when you said the object of affection walked off with the surfer- boy or girl.
    That poor happy-go-lucky coach of yours has turned into a frazzled ,rattled, beast as he yells into his palm. A new batch of star-recruits for 2018 will be the only cure. I’m amazed how well Liam Jones is going. Full credit to that coaching move.

  3. Peter Fuller says

    I can plausibly deny that I have ever consciously watched Home & Away, although I was thinking along the lines of what I imagine it to be. My version of the season was definitely intended to be G-rated, and pitched at a pre-adult audience. In truth, much of Carlton’s season 2017 is not fit for the sight of children – or adults.
    Thank you for suggesting that I might have some pretensions to being a playwright; if that’s so I think my feeble efforts should ensure that I remain well in the closet.
    No single result – nor even an eight match losing streak – justifies that expression for Carlton, IMO. The 2002 ban from the draft was the occasion when the Blues were obliged to bend over and take it. We’ve never recovered.

  4. This season’s plot for West Coast 6010 goes something like this. Midfield kissed by frogs and turn into Sleeping Beauties. Prince Charming still in rehab. Fans watching 2006 season on endless replays, or perhaps 2015 without final “who killed JR Ewing” plot twist.
    Rather you than me PF. Reckon you will have September ratings in 2019. Eagles have jumped shark and may require new scriptwriters.
    Carn Swan Districts.

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Tonight’s the night !!!

  6. Neil Anderson says

    They just got requited! Never barracked for a Blue’s tryst before, but I did tonight. Wish I still smoked to celebrate with a post-coital cigarette with my new second-favourite team.

  7. Peter Fuller says

    Thank you gentlemen, my gast is utterly flabbered.
    There is an eerie similarity to Carlton’s 2016 season, in which a run of twelve matches produced a solitary victory in round 22. This year, assuming the expected loss at the SCG next week, the final ten outings will have produced ten games with the identical single round 22 success.
    I remarked to the fellow sitting alongside me that I was more nervous defending the late last quarter lead of 8 and then 7 points, than I had been when the margin was just 2 points early in the last. I had to accommodate the unnerving prospect of a victory as the resistance held up, whereas at a two point difference, it seemed inevitable that the Hawthorn juggernaut would just roll over us.

    Peter, I loved your re-working of the script for the (postcode correct) Perth version of the program. I do think that your congenital pessimism about the Big Birds compromises your sound judgment and analysis of the rest of the competition. 2019 finals still seems like a bridge too far for the Blues, but I can only hope that you are correct. As John Cleese reminded us “It’s the hope I can’t stand.”

    Swish, love your succinct observation.

    Neil, I’m in awe of your grace, as I would have understood if you wanted nothing to do with football or the Almanac, after the disappointment of this afternoon in Ballarat. At Carlton, we’re unaccustomed to being anyone’s 2nd favourites, but in our current chastened condition, we are happy to accept allcomers.
    My own experience is that I can often find a team I want to lose, even if I’m less certain of who I want to win.

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    Brilliant Peter!
    The final episode in my team’s 2017 romantic drama looks set for a cliffhanger, with our coach buying flowers and chocolates, hoping he’ll get a chance to still be consumating in 2018….

  9. Peter Fuller says

    Great to hear from you, and thanks for the comment.
    I’m afraid the Magpies’ affairs of the heart are much too complex, do we focus on the coach, the President, Mick, Heritier, Nick Maxwell, Daics, Millane, the Roses. Lou etc., etc.
    Since many of these potential romances would wax and wane and compete with each other, it’s just too messy and would prove too much for the writers.

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