The 2016 Charlie Sutton Cup – Finals Week Three


Greetings Tipsters


Grand Final week holds little direct interest for fans whose teams aren’t playing but it’s a celebration of football – or, these days, of the AFL, a very different matter.  It’s the last game of the year, our last chance to enjoy the brutal ballet that is our indigenous game at the elite level.


This week will be an especial one for Footscray fans.  First Big ‘Un for 55 years, an occasion they would scarcely have dreamed of four weeks ago, the dance card has been stamped and they’re matched with one of the most experienced of finals teams.


Sydney’s first term Frinite was clinically ruthless.  A young Cat lined up for goal in front, 40 yards out, I knew he’d miss.  It was Geelong’s third behind and there was no coming back.  It was clear by then that the Cats – no, let’s call them the Handbags again, cos they played like they deserve that moniker – were no match for the Swans.  They were rattled by the physicality, stunned by the speed of ball movement, carrying too many players who weren’t up to the occasion.


Not that you’d have known that by the teev commentary.  It was all about how the Handbags could come back, a theme they stuck by valiantly until midway thru the last when even the most one-eyed of fans had long since conceded defeat.


Gillo was hosting Andre Agassi, who looked bored.  It was fast and open and the Handbags were clueless and the Swans made a statement, like the week before but better.  First 20 minutes, the odds on a Sydney flag must have been dropping quicker than knickers in a nightclub when the Es kick in.


Kardinia Park and the SCG are both odd-shaped grounds, the MCG is closer to a circle than any and, in that sense, a neutral ground for these teams.  Not that it mattered.  Swans learnt a lesson in the 2014 GF, they copped a stark reminder in the Qual and have been applying it since.


“Jobarista won’t be an inside next year” according to my notes.


After that one-sided shellacking, we enjoyed a beauty Sateve.  I defied history and didn’t go.  Or I went with history, cos I didn’t take a Monaros membership this year due to working Saturdays.  That’s tree-work day.  By Moneve, when we logged on for tix, the only ones left were $179 a pop.  Seriously?  I know at least four people who would’ve been there at $65.  There were a lot of empty seats.  The Showground is a great ground but I’m at a loss to figure how some seats are worth nearly three times as much as others.


Monaros made the first score, a behind, the Bulldogs took the kick-in and moved it straight downfield for a goal.  Their second came from quick, sharp work and the Monaros were lacking their usual precision.  They were being comprehensively outplayed but not seriously outscored.  I kept expecting, as my notes attest, that we would click into gear and get a four goal lead.  Any moment now!


Footscray were playing out of their skins while Monaros dithered about, but rarely more than kick or two in it.  Footscray had two goalkickers until mid-third, Smith had 4.1 while Shaw was blocked out of the game, he yelled a lot and grabbed a few shirts.


The teev commentary was terrible, again I wished I had a teev outside cos it was a lovely evening and I can’t sit on the couch in the loungeroom for too long at times like this.  2SM had Rex Hunt and Terry Wallace on special comments.  Terry also does ads (pre-recorded).  “I used to be known as Plough cos I carved up the field” and he went on to endorse farm seed supplies.  Not as unusual as you might think.


Near ten years ago, I was on a roadtrip and stopped in Tenterfield for the night.  Got a room in a pub, had a beer or three, went for a walk.  The ag shop had a life-size cardboard cutout of Kerry O’Keefe in the front window, endorsing sheepdip.  Sportsmen and farm supplies, who’d have guessed?


“Throttle wide open, MONAROS!!”  I was starting to get a bit worried.  We had the tall forwards, Lobb and Patto were doing their bit, surely Cameron J would have another Wayne Carey moment…


Bulldogs were fearless, you can’t scare these blokes.  They did a fantastic job of keeping it in their forward half, maximising their opportunities and denying the Monaros.  Except that we had a better chance of scoring when we did get the pill within range.  We got a 14 point lead in the last and maybe, maybe…  Footscray pulled it back and I noted:


“They deserve this win and I’d rather they won and went down valiantly next week than Monaros get walloped.

But now it’s a point and I’m more optimistic.  My writing can’t keep up with my emotions.”


One kick.  Monaros were outplayed, outclassed, out-toughed, barely outscored.  This will stick with them over summer.  Maybe we’d have won with Johnson playing, but I wanted to see how we’d go without him, he won’t be there forever.  Footscray were much the better team, Luke outsmarted Leon, picked apart the game beautifully.


Bulldogs left the field laughing and celebrating, entered rooms full of teary well-wishers who hugged them.  Swans left the field looking like tradesmen with a job to finish.


Conspiracy theories re the pre-finals bye are unfounded.  Geelong would’ve lost anyway.  Doubtless, it was crucial for Footscray getting players back, but Monaros had a week off anyway and too much time to think about how they belted Swans.


That belting got Swans focussed and their form over the last two weeks doesn’t bode well for Bulldogs.  It aint just Satarvo’s football game, it’s the whole week.  Bulldogs have one player who’s been there.  Sydney have been there as a team and they’ve been hard and precise the last two matches, after Frinite you might have wondered why anyone else was remotely close.


Bulldogs were a surprise against Eagles, but played to Hawks weakness and outplayed Monaros strength.  Their intense swarm of youngsters who run and dive in and make space have surfed the crest for three weeks and improved with every kick.


Will they keep it up?  They beat Swans at the SCG a few months back, flown to Perth twice in the last five weeks, are super-sharp with the ball in close, lack a big forward.  Lance might kick more goals than Footscray.  Or it could be a close-in, scrapping game.


Either way, I can’t see Swans dropping this one.  They’ve been preparing for Saturday for twelve months.


Cheers Tipsters


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About Earl O'Neill

Freelance gardener, I've thousands of books, thousands of records, one fast motorcycle and one gorgeous smart funny sexy woman. Life's pretty darn neat.


  1. Neil Anderson says

    The Swans have been preparing for twelve months? The Bulldogs have been preparing for 55 years.
    Do you really think this young team of Bulldogs will go quietly into the night with all the support from generations of Footscray families and the State of Victoria ( apart from the South Melbourne diehards) ?

  2. Earl O'Neill says

    Preparing since before their parents were born? An ever-more remarkable team.

  3. Earl I fear spot on I would love the romance re a dogs win but I totally agree re the swans resolve and being so switched on

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