Round 9 – Melbourne v Brisbane: The Young Dees Gain Another Young Fan

The Young Dees Gain another Young Fan

Melbourne Demons v Brisbane Lions

13:10 Sunday 22nd May 2016

MCG, Melbourne

Nick Marshall


Just under 20 years ago I attended my very first AFL match. At the tender age of 4, I journeyed with my dad from our country farm to the concrete jungle of Melbourne to attend the penultimate round of the 1996 season. Innocently oblivious to the significance of the match to be played at the time, I always remember Fitzroy’s last AFL match in Melbourne as my first league game. Although my memory of the match is framed with a rather foggy border I can still vividly make out the white metal picket fence that surrounds the G as a Richmond and a Fitzroy player chased the ball over the boundary line right in front of me. Dad recalls that we joined the masses mourning the passing of the Lions on the field after the match, but as hard as I try I can’t picture that scene like I can my front row seat in the Members Reserve.


I have been to the MCG many times since ’96 but today was a special occasion as I had the privilege of joining my sister Clare and my nearly 3 year old nephew Crawford for his very first game of AFL. Venturing in on the train for the early Sunday match Crawf who had, like me many years ago, travelled up that morning from the grassy plains of South West Victoria was clearly ecstatic about the prospect of going to the footy. Although unrelated to football, but essential to the experience, an early highlight for him was the volume of trains he spotted between West Footscray and Jolimont station. He made sure to point them out as we went past, “anuver twain, anuver twain” (another train, another train). Bouncing into the stands we headed down to the front row where sitting on his mum’s lap Crawf had an unimpeded view of the ground.


We were fortunate to catch the dying minutes of the women’s curtain-raiser, the end margin was 71 points in favour of the Melbourne side and it would prove to be a closely predictive margin of the men’s match to follow. Crawf did well to absorb all the pregame per lava that went on before the first bounce including the banners, the cheer squads, but he was especially entertained by the Demons mascots and their enormously swollen heads.


As a Lions supporter I was keen to try and encourage Crawf to jump on our floundering bandwagon, but under the watchful gaze of his mum who continually whispered “Go Dees” into his ear every time the Dees scored it seemed unlikely I would succeed. The Dees kicked away early and the ratio of “Go Dees” to “Carna’ Royboys” begin to heavily skew in Melbourne’s favour as they pushed ahead to an unassailable lead.


The Dees are a young side full of confidence at the moment and they look to have a promising future. In addition to kicking 5 goals, Jesse Hogan was a strong presence for them all day sharing and providing repeat contests which helped feed his brigade of small forwards. Petracca was also consistently strong around the contest and provided a good outlet option through the midfield.


As the game neared the end (the match was all but over by half-time) Crawf’s eyes began to wander, but with the promise of a kick after the game he keenly anticipated the final siren and as he tracked the ball movement in the last quarter he seemed to find his voice, all be it a whisper of “Go Dees”.


I’m not sure what Crawf will remember of this day in years to come, the trains, the planes flying overhead, or maybe even a couple of close encounters with the Dees players as the ball spilled out over the boundary in front of us. Whatever it is I look forward to, maybe just under twenty years from now, reminiscing with him about his first AFL match and the day he became a Dees supporter.


Final Scores

Demons:          5.6       10.7     13.10   19.17   (131)

Lions:              2.3       5.5       6.10     9.14     (68)


Goal Kickers:

Demons: Hogan 5, Harmes 4, Garlett 2, Michie, Kent, Kennedy, Newton, Jones, Watts, Viney, Stretch

Lions: Bell 3, Lester 2, Zorko, Taylor, Keays, Freeman
Best Players:

Demons: Hogan, Bugg, Stretch, Petracca, Garlett, Oliver, Watts

Lions: Zorko, Robinson, Bell, Rich


Our Votes: (3) J. Hogan (M), (2) C. Petracca (M), (1) D. Rich (BL)


Brownlow Votes:

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  1. Peter Fuller says

    Your contribution reflects how differently we experience football (and a host of other things) when we view it/them through a child’s eyes. I liked the comparative touch of your own first match (I was there too for Fitzroy’s final match in Melbourne) and Crawf’s. I hope the game continues to give him and you pleasure.

  2. NTSMarshall says

    Hi Peter,
    Really appreciate the feedback. My first game of league football is certainly one of my most treasured and earliest memories so I felt it to be a very significant event being there for Crawf’s first league game. I am very curious as to what he will remember (if anything) in a few years time. One thing I can be sure of is that it definitely won’t be the last game we go to together.

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