Round Three Double

Pubs, clubs and hubs across the city have been brimming with chatter about what the sub rule has brought to season 2011. So far it seems that games will often come down to the kind of last-man-standing contest, where kicks ‘down the line’ to the players who ‘don’t get any shorter’ which cause folk to hark back to the ‘good old days’. For some, these days are filled with memories of getting home from a game at 6pm on Saturday and having all games completed. I’m sure those were heady days, but I quite enjoy the fact that AFL rarely clashes with local footy, and can be enjoyed throughout the weekend.

Thanks to this current day smorgasbord, I was able to complete the double of an early start at The G, and a twilight match at the Docklands.

The Melbourne v Lions clash was a curious affair, and not just because it was the first wet AFL match I had attended since Angus Monfries attempted his Hollywood banana against the Hawks back in ’07 (I had to play on Anzac Day ’09. The Essendon triumphs I’ve forsaken for my own matches have been few but significant). The Lions bounded from the blocks, and were well ahead the first change, but were never going to win…and didn’t.

What I appreciated more than the contest was attending a game as a neutral and observing the gimmicky pre-game rituals that seem part-and-parcel of an AFL match in 2011. Melbourne have been doing some curious things recently: dubbing themselves the ‘team of the decade’, changing the logo and, my personal favourite, implementing an incomplete ring of stars (signifying each premiership and the fact they want to win more) on the back of their jumper. Added to this, the Dees now unfurl ‘the grand old flag’ before every home game (in the absence of any real flag to unfurl…yes I said it). Now, I think these are all noble and novel ideas, but I really do think they could maybe have done some other things to appease fans: not give their previous, perfectly good captain the flick and maybe make the finals.

But I digress.

One major positive of attending a Dees home game is that you can get a seat on Level 2 in the forward pocket of the Ponsford Stand, with comfy seating mind you, for a general admission ticket. Not only were the seats high in comfort, they were high in availability. Through a meeting of a few parties, our group reached 8 and included my girlfriend, a Lions fan, and my best mate, a Demons fan. The lady’s love of an interstate team is born from a Fitzroy following and considering they only get 6 games in Melbourne a year, I was more than happy to tag along.

I was especially willing considering we met before a Lions game almost exactly a year earlier. It wasn’t just any Lions game either. It was Fev v Carlton, Easter Thursday. Having been introduced through mutual friends at The Chalk Hotel pre-match, we didn’t have much of a chance to chat during the game (as I was essentially competing with J Brown for attention, and gee he was good that night), and we didn’t chat later as I was staying on the Gold Coast with Blues fans and they were keen to leave after the game. Despite all that, we met later that week and we’re still going strong. I’ve jokingly suggested that should we start a family, the kids would be ‘Children of the Fevolution’, but that hasn’t been well received.

At the completion of the early game (in more ways than one), we wandered through Birrang Marr and onto Flinders St where through Myki Magic, we appeared at Southern Cross 30 minutes early for the Dons v Saints clash. After a short caffeine detour (a late arvo java fix to help her cope with her mid arvo Jurrah fix), we scanned our cards and headed to Level 3 where The Doff had saved us some seats.

Through a combination of caffeine, excitement and taking our seats 60 seconds before the bounce, I found myself to be fairly pumped up when Monfries is awarded a ridiculous free kick 30 metres from goal before the ball has been bounced. My call of ‘About Time! He’s been doing it all day” was probably a bit much, but after sitting through last week’s Sin City defeat, I felt the need to be extra belligerent now I was back on home turf.

The Bombers started well, and the Saints did also, but in scenes very similar to Round 1, we just continued to play with intensity, passion and a feeling that footy can be fun, while our opponents faded away. There has to be something said for the fact that we have knocked off two teams that have been ‘up’ for a few years now and probably aren’t that interested in making a statement in the early rounds. Having said that, every year there is a finals ‘bolter’, and I am starting to think it may be us.

The lesser-lights and youngsters were on fire again. Hocking and Lonergan simply cared more than their opponents, Crameri was a raging bull, Tommy Bellchambers dropped the word ‘project’ from his profile and although the nearby Saints fans took exception to my call of ‘just like Riewoldt….but with pants on’, M Hurley was again doing the number 18 justice.

As Goddard missed a sitter and the Saints fans streamed out, I started to wonder whether they thought it was all worth it. Was it worth watching so many (mainly successful) games of ‘Saints Footy’ to ultimately come up short? Considering that this was a club that used to hose down its home ground in order to be competitive, it was probably was.

So onto this week…

Although the 2pm Saturday start has the traditionalists salivating, I’ll be finding out the score on an iphone (I don’t trust the word of others on such matters) shortly after our game concludes. Such devices weren’t available in ’99, so when I got back from The G that day, Mum just gave me a sympathetic look and said ‘you’ve had a few people call’.

So I don’t mind a weekend spread of games, and I don’t mind the sub rule, and I don’t really mind the gimmicky pre-game rituals. It is heart warming though that some throwbacks are appearing: kicking down the line, big games on 2pm Saturday…and giving the Saints a good walloping.

About Andrew Else

Andrew has self-reported to this site as a lifetime Essendon supporter. He also played local footy for Lara and Melbourne Uni Blacks.


  1. Pamela Sherpa says

    Glad you enjoyed your weekend Andrew. Very pleased to see number 18 delighting Bomber fans again,

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