AFL Round 23 – Brisbane v Dogs: 5km into town, 10 goals out of touch

The last hurrah for season 2012 for the Western Bulldogs was much like most weekends before hand, started with a little promise and hope in the air and finished with nothing but despondency, anger, even thoughts of surrender. But last Sunday was not like most match days for this weary traveller and footy tragic. Sure the travel was far less demanding and easier on the pocket than most given Brisbane is the closest city to regularly host matches, and it helps a little that the old man and the majority of the family are Lions fans. But there was a twist to this weekend that not many would surely try to undertake.

Last Sunday in Brisbane was the annual Bridge2Brisbane fun run, with events held over 5 and 10 kilometres. After sitting at home the previous Saturday Night and scrolling through my personal twitter feed, I sort of blame Olympic swimmer Emily Seebohm for ‘convincing’ me to register for the 5km event (I didn’t see her on the day, she did the 10km). Having spent the last 3 weeks recovering from calf issues, and after making an unscheduled trip to Brisbane during the week (I had a rostered day off from work, bit hard to convince bosses that I was taking a sickie when calling from the Tilt Train!), a 5AM wake up call when the opening bounce at The Gabba was at 4:40PM was not ideal, but this was something I felt I had to do given I did pack extra running gear and would reserve my Bulldogs Hall of Fame jumper for the run rather than the game.

Comparisons between the event and first quarter of the game can be easily made. For example….

(1) Both the Bulldogs and myself caught buses to reach the venue well before the start time. For me this meant that I was at the starting area at 8AM, while the Dogs would have been at the ground somewhere near 2:30PM
(2) With 40 minutes before the beginning to go, both the Bulldogs and myself began a warm-up in earnest, although I wasn’t at the ground to witness the Bulldog on ground warm-up (blame the old man and the rest of the party for spending an extra 10 minutes at the Pineapple Hotel, which is where you need to go to watch AFL in Brisbane, pizzas are decent too).
(3) Before heading into the field of battle was a congregation, the 22 Bulldogs gathered in the tunnel from where the old Social Club was once located, I was finding space between close to 9000 runners in this event (close to 30000 competed in the 10km).
(4) Finding space between runners in the opening exchanges was difficult, as it was at ground level shortly after the opening siren.
(5) I sort of hit the wall after 3.2km and had to slow down, the game hit the wall midway through the first quarter as both sides struggled with skills.
(6) With 1km to go I was giving high 5’s to former Big Brother housemate and Triple M Brisbane breakfast announcer Pete Timbs who was trying to break a world record (successfully as it turned out). With not long to go in the first quarter the Lions were giving out high 5’s to Jordan Lisle who broke the goal scoring drought
(7) My final time was 27 minutes and 9 seconds, which was almost the elapsed time of the first quarter. Both were below what was expected as first quarters have generally exceeded half an hour this season, and I was aiming to actually run 28 minutes.
(8) Physically I was drained and my legs were shot after running the 5km, although I did get a free shirt and paper…..the Bulldogs played the 2nd quarter as if they were physically drained, their legs were shot and they would rather be reading my free copy of the paper.

It was typical of the year of the Bulldog fan where the side had put themselves into a position where they could at least challenge for the 4 points at a quarter or half time break, then fall in a hole deeper than what I saw on the Bruce Highway on the road trip down from Central Queensland. To concede a 9 goal quarter against anyone is not acceptable, to do it against a team out of finals contention bordering on inexcusable. But to do it on a consistent basis leads me to question the toughness and attitude of the team and the coaching staff who surely cannot allow it to happen constantly. Contrast this to some of the younger runners that I managed to pass along the road that morning who found something within themselves to not surrender meekly and to finish with pride.

The second half passed with a blur, and the predictable glut of home team goals and home town decisions, punctuated by Dayne Zorko and Clay Smith having a little wrestle at fine leg on the Stanley Street end boundary. Mind you it was very difficult to see much of the game from the general admission seating at The Gabba. If you can find any worse seats at a regular AFL venue than section 34 of The Gabba I’m yet to sit in them. The seating arrangements at Manuka Oval last year, which seemed more temporary than it actually was, were far superior to this, as was ground level seating behind the goals at Football Park in Adelaide and ground level seating at a sodden SCG. It’s little wonder that I always book the more expensive seating on the upper decks for Test Match cricket, which I shall be doing next month for the South African test in November.

At least after the game the fans are still able to wander onto the ground for a kick on more than a one-off basis. To be frank it’s not easy to wander around with balls whizzing around the ground, but some of the skills on display were more accurate and superior than what the Bulldogs have displayed this season. Maybe some of the fans should be given a jumper to show the boys what effort and application can lead to. After fourteen successive losses many of the fans are thankful that the season is all over, personally I was just glad that my initial foray into running amongst the masses is all over and that I can come back and do it all again next time. Failing that, at least bring on Cricket season, at least Australia may be more competitive!

About Mick Jeffrey

32 Year Old, Bulldogs Member and tragic. Reserve Grade coach after over 225 combined senior/reserves appearances for Brothers AFC in AFL Capricornia. 11 time Marathon finisher, one time Ultra Marathon finisher and Comrades Marathon competitor 2017.

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