Round 3 – Brisbane v Port Adelaide: The 4400

I never watched the T.V show The 4400 but I’m vaguely aware of its premise: 4,400 people re-appear, after

gone missing for so many years, all on the same day without so much as an explanation.


What they neglect to mention is that all of them, and I mean every single one of them, were Brisbane Lions supporters.


It’s wonderful to see them all again, paper tickets in one hand, words to the club song written on the other. Sure, they look a little older but they’ve toiled hard during the week, trying to remember where they buried the time capsule containing their passion for the club and I’ll be damned if they haven’t all just joined us here in the line to get into the AFL Shop at The Gabba, looking to replace their lace up jerseys.


“What number does Tim Notting wear?” asks one inquisitively.


“I hope they still sell Duffle Coats.” Says another.


I’m Ok with crowds and it’s not that I’m not happy about the sudden rise in attendance, but I am getting ahead of myself.


As it happens, I’ve rubbed shoulders with a healthy representation of the public masses already today. Mel escorted me to the Museum. They were holding a NASA themed exhibition celebrating 50 years since the moon landing.


I love museums. I’m always happy to go any place where I’m likely to be surrounded by things older than me and I do so enjoy the looks on the faces of confused children trying to work out if I’m part of the display.


We cast a discerning eye over carefully presented and labelled fuselages, log books, photos and interactive interviews. A few Flat Earthers mumble, cross armed to each other in the corner. It’s all very interesting and helps in taking my mind off tonight’s big game. I haven’t been this nervous in a while.


Vowing never to endure Gabba food again, we head over to one of those Japanese restaurants where they shout at you when you walk in the door.


I don’t speak a word of Japanese so I have absolutely no idea what these people are bellowing at me but given that I’ve entered the premises holding hands with the beautiful Mel, I’m going with either:


“You can do so much better!” or “Are you in danger Miss? Is this a hostage situation?”


We have a little time to spare. Mel decides she’d like a Lions polo for casual days at work (I’m largely unfamiliar with this term. If we’re discussing attitude, then every day at work is a casual day for me) so we venture to the Lions Shop and that’s where we started our story.


The hordes that Leigh Matthews once descried as “fair weather friends” have returned.


The store is packed. A thoroughly useless Store Attendant implores shoppers to “keep moving forward”, as though they had a choice. Come to think of it, I’m just assuming he works there. He might just be a really bad motivational speaker a little down on his luck.


The line snakes along the entirety of the store walls and everybody does their best not to make eye contact during the slow Lambada to the front counter.


If nothing else, joining The World’s Least Intoxicated Conga Line does offer ample time to paw at the bargain bin items that line the route. It isn’t long before a gentle delirium besets you and suddenly the idea of owning a Lions Shoe Horn or Corn Scraper starts to make perfect sense.


Staff are run off their feet. My offers to scrape their corns go unwelcomed but my how things have changed. It used to just be that some old dude in overalls and a bloodhound would shuffle around the store, kicking over old boxes and loose sheets of corrugated iron looking for last year’s training singlet. Now, the till rings out a symphony of happy profitability.


There’s dollars to be had in 2-0 it would seem.


Shielding our eyes toward the fading light, we exit, gasping once more in the evening’s warm embrace.


We look back at a line much worse than when we joined. Clearly desperate, Useless Motivational Guy has abandoned The Great Push in favour of cheerleader inspired pyramids in a bid to find more room.


The lines into the ground are no better. It’s like Ellis Island.  A throng of weary folk clutching at their meagre possessions, shuffling towards a routine bag inspection and the promise of a better days ahead.


The pre-game hype is reaching fever pitch inside the ground as well. A man with a TV camera stops me, fixated by my Fitzroy/Brisbane tattoo he enquires “Is that real?”


“Nah, it’s just a very lucky birthmark.” I reply grinning. The next few minutes are a blur but conclude with me being interviewed for Uncaged, The Lions new weekly TV program.



I must confess to presenting as a little intimidated and mildly incoherent.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m used to being in front of Television cameras, it’s just that normally I’d have a jacket over my head with a lawyer in tow shouting “No comment!”


There’s a healthy Port Power representation in the house tonight. Port’s numbers are up which means burglaries are down for the next few hours and that’s a good thing.


A scrappy opening few minutes unfold before young Hipwood steers through the first with precision. The Brisbane faithful have scarcely had time to pull the packaging off their adornments before a mark infringement has Hipwood escorted down field for his second. Brisbane fans are up and about, the unremoved price tags dancing in unison with their euphoria.


The first key positional change has been made for the evening and it’s up in the second tier. Mel’s new neighbour has a tenuous grasp on personal space and is manspreading beyond reasonable expectations. Granted our hips, well…our whole southern hemispheres really, are a little different but unless he’s in the act of birthing a calf, he’s overstepped the mark here. We swap seats. Sure enough, the prospect of having another man’s legs touching his own has him out of the stirrups in no time. Interesting really.


We’ve opted for new seats this year, hoping to score less nomadic neighbours.


A brief lull in the action allows us to further assess our new surroundings. Oh dear. I’ve spied a Man Bun at 11 O’Clock. It’s going to take some getting used to. Predominantly shaved except for a small round coaster of hair, crowned by a tiny round knob of tightly strangled hair. If you’re comfortable with the idea of your head resembling a biscuit tin, go right ahead. Everybody else seems pretty cool so, I’ll just learn to live with it.


Charlie Cameron’s rib jarring bump on Dan Houston is old school. Fair but brutal. NASA would approve because Houston has a problem. He’s down for some time before finally rattling his way over to the bench. It’s testament to the young man’s resilience that he plays his best footy after he returns to the field of play.


Hipwood kicks his 3rd and already we dare to dream of 3-0. No…we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. We must look to channel old mate Baron Von Biscuit Tin down here in front and aspire to keep a lid on things.


Some silly mistakes from the Lions and some creative umpiring allow Port to drag back the deficit. Razor Ray is back on deck in Brisbane. This can’t be right. There’s no way it can be our turn again. He prances about, gesturing wildly like a man campaigning for his own float at Mardi Gras, demanding to be bigger than the game. He’s Michael Flatley in less flattering pants.


He may well be a very good umpire for all I know. Perhaps it’s not his fault. Perhaps it’s me. In our old house there lived a guy across the road that our Labrador just hated. Every time she saw him her brow would furrow and a deep guttural growl would resonate. Processions of people could pour into and out of his house and evoke no response from her but the second the man of the house shuffled outside, she’d fire up. I think maybe it’s the same with me and Razor Ray.


After donating heavily to the Robbie Gray goalkicking appeal in the opening term, I quickly re-assess. It’s not me, it’s definitely him.


Lucky for us Robbie appears to have taught himself to kick via correspondence and it’s catching. Westhoff and Gray spray easy set shots with regularity. Sporadic games of Jenga break out behind the goals whenever these two kick, safe in the knowledge they won’t be disturbed.


The Lions carry a slender lead into half time. We slip out quickly, allowing Mel to peel the foil off the top of a cheeky little Gabba wine. It’s a lovely vintage. It’s a Yesterday 2019 I believe. I do love it when connoisseurs of such things attach human characteristics to wine. ”Bold, yet elegant with a hint of playfulness.” Really?


“What’d you think of that Shiraz Jamie?”


“Mmm…a little anti-social, punctual but with an inexplicable distrust of the elderly.” Everybody nods their heads agreeably.


It’s great stuff. A multi-purpose drop. What they don’t sell, they use to disinfect the urinals.


Boak opens with perfect form on his 3rd quarter dive. Perfect 10’s all around. Razor Ray enthusiastically rewards his effort, tucking his shirt back in quickly so nobody will see his Port jumper showing underneath. I’m sure he’s impartial. I just wish he’d stop asking the Port players for autographs until after the quarter finishes and not during. It’s distracting.


Rockliff takes a seemingly innocuous knock to the head which renders him immobile. A former favourite son, nobody knows quite how to feel. We’ve enjoyed verbally harassing him on his return visit but this is different. He receives a wave of generous applause on his departure.


Powell-Pepper pats the almost certainly concussed Rockliff on the head as he leaves the ground. Fair to say that this is not a guy you want working in triage.


The ball hovers deep into the Lion’s forward pocket and Lincoln McCarthy soars. He has quite the vertical leap. My Geelong obsessed brother has sung his praises to me all summer but warned of his unreliable physiology. So far so good.


Where Gray and Westhoff have let the Power down with set shots, Paddy Ryder is putting on a master class. He doesn’t look like missing.


Rozee goals early in the last and it’s Port with the ascendency. Confidence is not lacking in the lad.


Rozee, Drew, Butters, Xavier Duursma (get that baby onto a triple word score in Scrabble and it’s game over) and Willem Drew. Port are proudly parading their weapons of the future. They’re like North Korea minus the chamber pot hats.


Powell-Pepper has toiled hard also. If he cleans up his disposal, a healthy pay rise beckons.


An Astaire like McCluggage soft shoes out of congestion and screws an unlikely one around his body. It’s 4 points the difference!


The Gabba is rocking. The place is alive in a way I haven’t seen for a decade and everybody is invested…all that is except the middle-aged couple just in front of us, calmly packing up before making their way to the exit to get a head start on traffic. Will somebody explain this decision making process to me!


Who in their right mind rides the crescendo but opts out of experiencing the dizzying heights that follow?


I’m tipping they’re childless.


It’s their loss.


The Big O takes a towering pack mark, leaping high and into Lions folklore forever.


His outstretched branches cradle the ball safely to earth. Brisbane fans love his story. VFL battler to mature age recruit to crowd favourite. He doesn’t offer the appearance of an elite athlete. With a rather ungainly stature he looks more suited to working in a belltower somewhere in medieval France.


Displaying calmness beyond his playing record, he goes back and goals, arresting back the lead.


The playing clock throbs past 37 minutes. It’s the longest quarter in history. It’s a five day test match.


Somebody is asleep on the job. This is too much. The laws of physics have been suspended briefly, time has slowed almost to a complete stop…a bit like watching Married at First Sight.


My larynx is shredded. I am destined to wake up tomorrow as a perfect baritone. I will have a sexy, Jabba the Hutt kind of thing going on for the next few days.


Pandemonium! I can’t believe it. We are 3 and nil and we’ll be welcoming Collingwood in a fortnight. God, I hope somebody remembered to order more corn scrapers.



BRISBANE            5.2      8.4      11.6    16.11 (107)
PORT ADELAIDE  3.2      5.9      9.11    13.12 (90)


Brisbane: Hipwood 6, Rayner 2, McStay 2, McCluggage 2, McInerney, Cameron, Neale, McCarthy
Port Adelaide: Rozee 5, Ryder 3, Boak 2, R.Gray 2, Wines


Brisbane: Hipwood, Walker, Robinson, Neale, Rich, McCarthy
Port Adelaide: Rozee, Powell-Pepper, Boak, Ryder, Burton, Lycett


Brisbane: Nil
Port Adelaide: Rockliff (head)


Reports: Zac Butters (Port Adelaide) for engaging in rough conduct against Hugh McCluggage (Brisbane) in the second quarter; Scott Lycett (Port Adelaide( for engaging in rough conduct against Mitch Robinson (Brisbane) in the fourth quarter

Umpires: Chamberlain, Foot, Gianfagna


Official crowd: 19,958 at the Gabba


Do you really enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE







About Jamie Simmons

Born in Melbourne, a third generation Fitzroy supporter, in 1972 before emigrating to Tasmania during The Great Broccoli Famine of 86. Leaving my island lodgings, largely at the request of locals, to settle once more on the mainland in 1997. These days living out a peaceful existance on the outskirts of Brisbane, where I spend most of my time serving as a fashion warning to others.


  1. Phil Hill says

    Good read and I look forward to more

  2. Great article Jaime. Saw your interview on the Uncaged show and loved your tatt. We’ve also moved to new seats this year and can relate to your experience. The Port game was a great night. Looking forward to putting the Bombers game behind us and getting a win against the Pies.

  3. John Butler says

    Always a joy, Jamie. :)

Leave a Comment