Round 5 – Brisbane v Port Adelaide: The paranoia of premiership favouritism


Brisbane v Port Adelaide

7:40pm, Saturday July 4

The Gabba





I wasn’t planning on writing a match report this week. I don’t want to become overly superstitious, but I have noticed that every time I have written one of these, Brisbane has won the following week. There are probably a few reasons why that have little to do with me: the month of consecutive games at the GABBA, Lachie Neale and Chris Fagan for starters. And while I’m a realist (pragmatic cynic even), I’m also not wanting to upset the gods. So, as I write, I’m sitting down in my favourite armchair, wearing my lucky socks, drinking tea from my Father’s Day mug, clutching my rosary beads in one hand and a dream catcher in the other, in the spare room (which has the best feng shui and a window overlooking what may just be a patch of four-leaf clovers in the back yard), with the incense burning and a horse shoe hanging on the wall.



Earlier this week in my match preview I was all calm and philosophical. Considered and measured. AFL was a part of a balanced and meaningful life. Win – lose, what does it matter either way? This morning I woke up and my team are suddenly the premiership favourites. It’s not keeping a lid on it, I’m just not sure if it is really earned or if Brisbane are simply the Steven Bradbury of the first five rounds. Paranoia is probably too strong a word, but I’ve been here before – let’s not forget Fevola’s first five games as a Lion in 2010. I’ll believe in our premiership favouritism when we are twenty goals up with the ten minutes to play in the Grand Final. I may even tip us then. In Channel Ten’s ‘Must See Wednesdays’ in the mid-nineties, Mulder and Scully taught us that ‘just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you!’



The first quarter was tight. Port dominate but they seemed to have contracted the GABBA goalkicking virus that afflicted Brisbane last week. Maybe it’s something in the hand sanitizer? The talk all week has been about Charlie Dixon. He is the sort of footballer who demands attention from opposition fans as well as the defenders.  As the first quarter unfolds it occurs to me that he is exactly the sort of player Brisbane is missing. Whenever the ball comes near him, Harris Andrews, Darcy Gardiner and whoever else is in the vicinity are like seagulls on a chip. The paranoid pessimist in me senses strange happenings afoot in this game; the optimist wonders if it just some clever coaching from Fages. Charlie Cameron is roaming as a high half forward, modelling the sort of delivery he would like when he is one out in the square and as a result Dan McStay is playing like Wayne Carey. The Power are killing us in the clearances but as a result of their goal kicking yips, we have our noses just in front at quarter time.



Here is the unfortunate thing about my Lions fandom. I don’t trust success and I’m suspicious, paranoid even, when we play the sort of spiflicating football on show in the second and third quarters tonight. The ball movement is like quicksilver and I can’t quite fathom that it is really my team that I’m watching. I’d almost enjoy more for its aesthetic as a neutral admirer. I could clap with a polite rhythmic agogic like a Wimbledon fan, sip chardonnay and declare that ‘football is the real winner tonight, chaps.’ But this is my team, it is too good to be true, I’m suspicious.



Goals are coming from everywhere, there is class and quality on every line. McCluggage is just exquisite with his delivery, it’s like watching Rudolf Nureyev play football. The rascally Cam Rayner is having his best game yet, Harris Andrews, the brothers Berry. I’m getting old, and I’m the father of daughters, the phrase ‘what fine young men’ enters my mind. The Lions have recruited brilliantly since the ‘Go-home 5.’ It’s not just the coltish exuberance of the kids it’s the rugged and sturdy football chaperones in Jarrod Lyons, Stef Martin and the big brother we all wish we had, Mitch Robinson.



Eric Hipwood may one day be the crown prince of this golden generation. He is hard to watch at times, but his best moments are truly glorious. It is he who began the second quarter avalanche, on the forward flank and bulleting the ball through with a sixty-metre kick that Bernie Quinlan would be proud of. But then he misses two from no more than thirty metres. In the commentary box, Alastair Lynch notes that he is more accurate from sixty metres because he kicks through the ball more, the teacher in me wonders why someone doesn’t simply tell him to try to kick it to Fiji every time he lines up for goal. Linc McCarthy plays the game, every game really, as if he has a point to prove. He goals on the half time siren and then again to herald the start of the third quarter.



There is a cluster of time late in the third quarter where Port Adelaide sequence not just some good play but a few goals together. The pessimist in me starts counting goals to minute ratios in the final quarter with one half of the brain and Dan McStay misses with the other. Lachie Neale has been making an artform of effulgent football this year, unless he is lining up for goal – nine behinds in a row before he ices the game for us in the last quarter.



This is a funny, funny season. The short quarters have probably suited us, you can see in the last quarter that the turbo charged intensity has caused fatigue for the Lions. Even though the goal kicking was better than last week there were still far too many easy misses. The worry for a perennial pessimist like me is that we may again kick ourselves out of a final later in the year.



There are teams like GWS, Richmond and Collingwood who we haven’t yet played and Geelong next week. As good as this week was, I’m keeping my powder dry for a while yet. It is best to be circumspect. But I’ll keep wearing the lucky socks, hanging up the dreamcatcher, avoiding black cats and, I suppose, writing up a match report.




BRISBANE                   2.1    8.6     11.11    12.13 (85)
PORT ADELAIDE      1.6    2.7      4.10       6.12 (48)



Rayner 2, McCarthy 2, McStay, Hipwood, Cameron, McInerney, Bailey, McCluggage, Robinson, Neale
Port Adelaide: Butters 2, Gray, Rozee, Marshall, Rockliff



Neale, Lyons, McCluggage, McStay, Andrews, J.Berry, Rayner
Port Adelaide: Boak, Butters, Houston, Ebert, Rockliff




Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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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. Adam Muyt says

    Keep writing, Shane, loving it!
    And it’s working!

  2. Sam Evans says

    Love your work Shane. Eric Hipwood certainly has a sweetspot, which is just about anywhere that is 55m out from goal. From memory he didn’t even make the distance on a kick from 35m in the first quarter on Saturday night but then clunks one from 60m to get us rolling in the second quarter.

    Interesting point about the shorter quarters too. I haven’t thought of that before but it definitely seems to be of benefit to us. For the record, I actually quite like the shorter quarters – the game is a lot easier to consume and doesn’t drag on.

  3. Shane Reid says

    Thanks Sam and Adam. Let’s hope the story continues to be a happy one tonight!

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