Round 22 – Brisbane v Geelong: On a Menegola-rolla


Brisbane Lions  1.3   7.4    8.5   10.9    (69)
Geelong              7.3   9.7  14.11 19.15 (129)
3 S Menegola (Geel), 2 P Dangerfield (Geel), 1 C Enright (Geel)




Put simply, Geelong were playing for percentage, to rise in the top four and Brisbane were pleading for the end of the season. It was the last Brisbane home game and the Gabba was barely half full.


Something deeper than merely poor on-field performance, through a shocking run of injuries, has struck the Lions. It feels like something is coming home to roost. Those brief, but brilliant years of glory built nothing but a concrete sarcophagus of a ground and a club that has never learnt to reach out to its community.


Australian Rules, as many smarter than I have pointed out, is an evangelical code. But as every decent evangelist knows, every soul unsaved is a business opportunity unfulfilled.


Clem and I stood on the traffic island on the corner of Vulture Street and Logan Road holding hands and she looked at the ground.


“He. That’s a big big wall, Daddy,” she said with a smile.


Eight-year-old wisdom, she got it in one.


“I think it’s time to pick a favourite player, Clem”


“Why do I need a favourite? What about that one with the big beard we like on telly? (Jimmy Bartel)”


“Maybe, but he’s not playing today.”


“Who do you think?”


“I can’t help you, you’ve just gotta choose the one you like best.”


“How do I choose one? There’s heaps.”


“It’s the one that makes your heart go wobbly a little bit when they get it, the one you watch when they don’t have the ball and the one you always forgive when they make a mistake.”


“Who’s your favourite?”


“Corey Enright.”




“Cause he’s almost the same age as me (eight years younger), but better, stronger, more graceful, tougher and… he makes my heart go wobbly.”


“Like Harry from One Direction, or Lukas Graham? They make my heart wobbly.”


“Hmmmm maybe, but a bit different.”


One game a year is all you get when you’re an away fan in Brisbane. But those slightly familiar faces are there from the years before. Sometimes old fans from Geelong make the trip, but they’re usually without their kids, so flame out the night before.


The Bacchus Marsh brothers had clearly embraced Bacchus and were nowhere to be seen. The Belmont mob were lost somewhere near Kedron and the Canadian had got their dates wrong, so we picked up the last general admission tickets and took our seats.


We felt his smile on our shoulder and both turned around. Almost every Geelong supporter I had met since moving up was sitting in three rows to our right. The fish and his kids were there so we moved over, Clem didn’t join the other kids.


“I need to choose a favourite,” she whispered and held my hand.


I held hers like a man who knew in a year or so she wouldn’t want to hold my hand any more.




Geelong started like a full-fronted Bosustow in 1981. Tough, quick, skilful, deadly. Goals came easy.


“Who’s that?”


“Which one?”


“The one with the bright blue and yellow boots?”


“That is Patrick Dangerfield, his dad taught your dad science at high school.”


Her eyes narrowed a little, she scrunched her nose and mouthed “Dangerfield” to herself, wriggled a little, squeezed my hand and looked pleased with herself. She had chosen.


“Jeeeeeezus! That fuckin Dangerfield is a beast!” said the ground attendant next to us. He noticed Clem, mouthed ’sorry’ and scuttled to the other side of the aisle.


Going into the second the game looked gone for Brisbane, the Cats had piled on seven and the Lions had barely touched it. I was sensing a new favourite player rising in my chest. Sam Menegola is every failed footballers dream; dumped by two clubs, overlooked by everybody else and now dishing out 50 metre flat passes onto the moving chests of players in blue and white hoops.


But suddenly the Lions were back. Goal after goal rocketed through and a seven goal difference was now 15 points. Clem and I held arms; the fish was pissed, his kids weren’t helping and whining for hot dogs. Rhys Matthieson was doing the same to Joel Selwood and the captain was rattled.


In the third it swung back and normal service resumed for the remainder. Lincoln McCarthy took a hanger up forward and the fish (a conservative and shrewd observer) muttered, “he could be the next Chappy.”


Somehow in a whisper he made himself heard. Every passionate blue and white head turned. Do you think? Really? Could there be another Chappy?


“Who’s Chappy, dad?”

All the men leaned back with satisfaction.


“There are favourites and then there’s favourites, my love.”



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About Hamish Townsend

Hamish Townsend was born and raised in Geelong, supports the Cats and lives in Brisbane.


  1. MGLFerguson says

    Really nice. Thanks.

  2. Love it, Hamish.
    I would choose yer bearded warrior.

  3. Cat from the Country says

    Great yarn.
    Andrew Mackie does it for me.
    I will have to choose another when he retires

  4. Magic, Hamish. I hope Clem grows up to love the game and its players, of all shapes and sizes. Who knows she may play it too and keep you in the style in which you wish to become accustomed. That second quarter is a bit ominous ahead of a switched on Melbourne. They’ll want to give Roos a good send off too. But if we lose then we will do nothing in the finals anyway. C’mon, the glass is more than half full.

    Favourite? Diesel. He was nearly as slow as I am, but pure genius in orchestrating a game.

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