Round 8 – Melbourne v Brisbane: Just a good ordinary miracle – the Lions win

 

There’s a cautionary caveat that the Lions have been shackled to this year – “Don’t do a Melbourne.” Our dazzling ascent up the ladder in 2019 echoed their own run to the preliminary final the year before. Both teams had been mired to the foot of the ladder for a long time, before a slightly ahead of schedule year of success. It followed a certain post hoc, ergo proctor hoc logic to many pundits that we would follow them back down to the nether regions this year. One of the years real questions though, is which Melbourne would turn up this year? Was their spectacular season in 2018 a fluke? Or would it prove that their annus horribilis in 2019 was the anomaly as they reclaimed their rightful place in the pointy end of the finals?

 

2020 has been a year for sober reflection in so many ways. It is difficult to get an accurate read on any team, Melbourne and Brisbane in particular. We both seem to be the sort of teams who, when victorious, spike media surges about what ails our vanquished opponents. Lions down the Giants, perhaps a little bit unexpectedly, and most of the journalistic copy focusses on how the Giants may have wasted a potential golden era. There were also some sharp words from former player Brett Deledio earlier this week about GWS being a team of individuals. Melbourne get the job done in style against a Hawthorn side who seem to be finally but inexorably entering the dark side of the moon as God, fate, equalisation, the draft and Gillon demand; they too are largely ignored amidst the wave of stories about Hawthorn’s demise. It’s a strange world indeed. One wonders if the same scribes questioning Alistair Clarkson’s coaching ability once wondered if Jerry Seinfeld was the right man to star in his own eponymous television show or if Kermit was indeed the best puppet frog to host The Muppet Show.

 

I’ve had a tendency this year to gaze wistfully at certain opposition players with a sense of envy. Where we have gaps in our list that may hurt us come finals time –key position forwards who kick goals, ruckmen, big bodied midfielders – other teams have Tom Hawkins, Nic Natanui and Nat Fyfe. This night, even sitting on the couch at home in Traralgon, wearing slippers with a mug of Earl Grey, I am amassing comparable ‘hitout’ statistics to what Archie Smith is managing against Max Gawn. But good midfields are about managing a diverse portfolio. Big O is proving a handy linkman around the ground; as Petracca and Oliver bullock and rage our midfielders, led superbly by Lachie Neale move the ball with a balletic grace. We are the yin to their yang, and it creates an absorbing contest between contrasting midfield styles and strengths. I’d love a Gawn and a Petracca in our team, but not if the cost was a McCluggage or a Zorko. There are times in the game where Brisbane look like a team that has bought a knife to a gun fight, but times too where the wizardry of our ball movement confounds the ‘see ball, get ball’ hardmen of the Melbourne midfield. It is absorbing footy to watch.

 

There’s always been a sense of showbiz about Brisbane when they are at their best. The Queensland crowds demand it.  ‘Charlie’s Harley’ is starting to rival Aker’s handstands for its iconography and it seems young Cam Rayner is trying to develop a signature goal celebration of his own. Something about checking his watch and talking on the phone? I’m confused, as I often find myself with Generation Z, but at least it means he’s up and about and kicking goals. He has a great ‘don’t argue’ fend off in the middle of the ground and later in the game almost pulls of a mark that would have been career defining. Gerard Healy in the commentary box is doing his best to make the nickname ‘Rayne-Man’ happen, but it sounds a bit forced, just at the moment anyway.

 

Both teams are getting great rebound from their backlines. Much has been made of how much of Melbourne’s salary cap is being spent on their defensive pillars. It’s hard to argue with the logic with the way that May and Lever intercept and swash-buckle again and again and again. It’s a game for the, forgive me Americanising briefly, quarterbacks. At the other end, Harris Andrews is doing his future contract negotiations and hopefully his captaincy aspirations no harm either. Having your champions in the backline is sort of like Pepsi Max or Light Beer though. I remember in the eighties, Fitzroy had two of the best key position players in the land in Gary Pert and Paul Roos. The problem was, their great work at full back and centre half back was always done at least fifty metres away from where we wanted, nay needed, the ball to be.

 

Brisbane probably have the more aesthetically beautiful moments, but Melbourne remain in touch. Charlie’s first goal doesn’t draw his customary motorbike celebration. There are degrees of genius that require a proportional response. It’s unlikely that Beethoven would have put an unlimited tab on the bar after the premiere of his fourth or second symphonies as he surely did for his fifth and ninth.  His second is goal is a Charlie masterpiece though; impossible angle – check, boundary line – check, motorbike celebration – check. Although Melbourne quickly peg it back with a routine pedestrian goal almost immediately. It can be a cruel game, football. There are no extra points for degree of difficulty. Charlie turns water into wine with his goal at one end while Melksham picks up a cask from Dan Murphy’s with his – both are worth the same six points on the scoreboard.

 

The Lions do a great job towards the end of the match of idly watching their lead be dismantled by Melbourne’s sheer attrition. At the very end of the last quarter, a superfluous score review does what Brisbane cannot and stops the Demon’s momentum. In the end, all that can really be said is that this win is still worth the same four points as any other. Lachie probably has another three Brownlow votes and we now sit equal top. It wasn’t so long ago that my brethren and I dreamt of ugly wins like this; when any win felt like a miracle. I’ll take it.

 

 

MELBOURNE    2.2    3.3   4.6   7.7 (49)
BRISBANE        2.2    5.5   7.6   7.11 (53)

 

GOALS
Melbourne:
 Melksham 3, Fritsch 2, Viney, Jones
Brisbane: Cameron 2, Bailey, Hipwood, McCarthy, Rayner, Zorko

 

BEST
Melbourne:
 Oliver, Gawn, Viney, Melksham, Petracca, Lever
Brisbane: Neale, Lyons, McCluggage, Bailey, Zorko, Starcevich

 

 

 

 

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.

Comments

  1. Nice to read about Beethoven’s symphonies, and concur that any win (especially in 2020) feels like a miracle – especially for the Lions, after their years in the wilderness.

    Brisbane, being my “second team” – if there is such a thing, or more to the point “I have a soft spot for them” after living in Brissie for 23 years, is finally going places. I really enjoy watching them at the moment, and with the Swans in a transitioning phase, I’ll certainly be cheering them on come finals time.

  2. Adam Muyt says

    I’ll take the win too. Ugly as…but hey!
    And I think Kermit was the best puppet frog to host the Muppet Show.
    Great writing again, Shane (in slippers) from Traralgon.

  3. I like the simple “Cam” for Rayner – akin to that great stalwart of the Storm, Smith.

    Nice write up once again, Shane.

  4. Shane Reid says

    Thanks Jan, we Swans and Lions are definitely kindred spirits. I don’t think Sydney will be transitioning for long, it was a great win last week.

    Appreciate it Adam. Looking forward to seeing Sam Skinner from Moe line up this week. I think we’ve all learnt to never take a win for granted.

    Nicknames must be earned Jarrod, I wouldn’t mind if Rayner ends up having half the career of Cam. Smith.

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