Sink or swim for Lions – they sank

Brisbane downpours have a particular soaking quality which seems to soften your bones like arrowroot biscuits. Through the window of the taxi on Wynnum road it looked like a classic.

“Ya still goin to the footy? Good on ya,” said the cabbie

“They only get up here once a year.”

“We’ll go down Geelong Street, that’ll be quicker.”

“Quite appropriate.”

“Yeah,” he said meaning the rain before realising my reference.

“Maybe I’ll go down Manila Street instead,” he said with that wonderful localism particular to Queenslanders that despise anything born south of the Tweed.

The family were waiting at the bar of the Pineapple and we had a few fortifiers before arguing about Julia Gillard and heading to the Gabba. It was wonderful to be with people who feel like home, and they’d brought the weather with them.  For the first time since I moved to Brisbane I had to wear a scarf because I needed one. The family hadn’t changed cause when you know folk in their bones, they don’t, they just grow.

My aunt was wearing a garbage bag without any sense of shame or humour or irony. It was wet, so she wore a garbage bag.

Jonathan Brown should’ve worn something like that. The former foreman of the Gabbatoir no longer struts the 50 metre arcs with the same omnipotent power of years past. It’s always sad to see the big men reduced. The conditions were like footy from decades past and were never going to help guys like him. From the first he was buried by Lonergan, while up the other end, Hawkins was clunking and kicking the wet ball better than he did when it was dry.

The story of the game was in the shots on goal not the final score. Around the ground Brisbane was more than holding their own in contests and executing the two or three skills the conditions allowed. What they missed was forwards who kicked goals, like Chappy and Hawk, but their small men ran and kicked long and their wingers took chances and got the ball in fast. Their forwards were even able to have a ping at the sticks; the shots on goal were 21 to 19 in Brisbane’s favour, but the score was 4.17 to 12. 7.

It was Simon Black’s 300th game and he didn’t seem to have much impact in a game made for his younger self. Taylor Hunt wore him like a glove and ran off him like a teenager with a hot stolen thing.

Geelong came into the game with two big questions hanging over it. Had its midfield lost its edge? Had Chappy lost his touch? After the score line Cat fans would have to say the jury is still out on the first. Geelong saw more hard balls and got more clearances, but were not exactly dominant.

Chappy was a marvel. If he has lost a touch of pace he hasn’t lost his toughness or determination or love of a goal. Maybe with everyone slowed by the mud those tree-trunk thighs felt young again. He pummelled his way from one end to the other, like a basketball point guard, popping up wherever he needed to link run, bump, sheppard and shoot.

It took the Lions till the nineteen minute mark of the third before they finally scored a goal and the Cats had long since begun dreaming of dry hearths and better climates.

The family trundled back to the Pineapple and we said our farewells. The garbage bag had held up well and I watched them walk into the night like a road hardened rock band, knowing each other’s rhythms.

Once a year Geelong comes to Brisbane and this year they’d brought the whole show with them.

BRISBANE LIONS 0.5 0.7 1.9 4.17 (41)

GEELONG 4.1 7.5 10.6 12.7 (79)

3. Hawkins (Geel) 2. Chapman (Geel) 1. Rich (Bris)

About Hamish Townsend

Hamish Townsend was born and raised in Geelong, supports the Cats and lives in Brisbane.


  1. Peter Schumacher says

    Your contribution is symptomatic of what I like so much about the Almanac site, authors can get into the spirit of the game, the atmosphere. the background. I just hope that J.B. gets his mojo back.

  2. Richard Naco says

    With “the Cats had long since begun dreaming of dry hearths and better climates” you have created the most spectacularly ironic quote of this season.

    The wondrous Pivot, for all its heart wrenching appeal and spitual home of my footballing soul, is hardly what I would ever consider to be drier or better climed than Brisneyland, but I’ll take it.

    The real joy of this season is seeing one of the most decent human beings in the game being heralded as a true star. And that colossus certainly stood imperiously tall in the Gabba slop and the relentless sheeting rain.

    It really couldn’t happen for a nicer bloke than Tom Hawkins.

  3. Dan Crane says

    It certainly was a soggy experience hamish, but Id gladly
    Get that wet everytime if the cats continue to play with that intensity.

    I thought that only surprise was that the wet weather specialist bartel was a little quiet

    He can be forgiven.

    Tomahawk was so good the fact his red jocks were in display could also be forgiven!

    I didn’t even have chance to get glad bagged – funnily enough
    two in our crew were kiwis being initiated to afl. Being from Wellington it didn’t
    bother them one little bit….

  4. This is a great litte piece. Happy to see TH making his mark as I called himmearly and have been baffled with the past couple of years when he promised so much. Brisbane seem to heed more goal kicking forwards, rather than mid fielders who can get in and under was the lesson of the night.

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