The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 1 – Brisbane v Hawthorn


The first printed edition of The Footy Almanac came out in 2007, before we had a website. In the absence of a real 2020 season, we will be publishing the 2007 pieces for the first time ever on Follow the season!


Brisbane Lions v Hawthorn
7.15pm, Saturday,
March 31
The Gabba, Brisbane

Report by Andrew Stafford


WANT PROOF THAT STATISTICS DON’T COUNT for much in the modern game? Get a DVD of this one. Watch in awe as Hawthorn defender Clinton Young accumulates 16 first-quarter possessions. Marvel as he chips the footy to Danny Jacobs, who racks up 20 mostly uncontested marks on the fat side of the ground.


And yet the stats that really matter tell the story. This awful match, played in perfect conditions, yielded just 15 goals, nine of those in three and a half quarters – and only two of them by the Hawks – until a late flurry almost saw the Hawks steal a game neither team seemed especially keen to win.


The final margin was 25 points, a weirdly flattering result for both teams. Hawthorn should have been smashed, yet it was a game the Lions almost contrived to lose.


Bizarrely, Leigh Matthews put the ugly spectacle down to fatigue, saying that players lacked match-conditioning going into Round 1.


Eh? Players and coaches talk endlessly about the importance of a solid pre-season. Surely, the players are never fitter than going into Round One – before bodies have suffered the stresses, strains and accumulated niggles of 22 rounds of football. Watching the Lions’ Matthew Moody kick four consecutive behinds (his career scoring tally is 14.25), I would have argued that skill was the more pressing concern.


To be fair, some players could be excused for being rusty, not least Jonathan Brown. Having played just one pre-season match – the NAB Cup final loss to Carlton – since a fractured sacrum had kept him out of action since Round 10, 2006, the big man gathered just two marks in a forgettable evening.


And yet Brown, with 18 fewer marks than Jacobs, had a significant influence on the way the match was played. The Lions, understandably excited at seeing their talismanic forward throwing himself into packs again, kept bombing?the ball forward, even as the big bloke battled against Trent Croad and?Stephen Gilham.


More often than not, the ball would rebound back from the stacked Hawks backline, but with the Lions dominating the midfield, Brown would invariably get another go. Inevitably, he brought other players into the game. The most notable beneficiary was Ashley McGrath, who had only eight possessions but kicked truly with three of them.


At the other end of the ground, Hawthorn had its own go-to man, Buddy Franklin, who looked like the only Hawk capable of kicking a score and was responsible for most of his team’s final tally. Franklin was the biggest presence on the field, but he was in the end shaded by his direct opponent, Jared Brennan. It was the individual contest of the match.


Brennan has worn the dreaded “enigmatic” tag for much of his career, but with increased fitness and confidence he looks set to stake his claim as a player of true substance. He is never likely to be the world’s most accountable defender but, playing at centre half-back, his anticipation and exquisite touch made him a joy to watch all night.


Two other players warrant a mention. If anyone had a right to be in need?of match practice it was Nigel Lappin. Playing his first senior game in 18 months, on the strength of one intra-club reserves hit-out, the silky winger started on?the bench. After being thrown into the fray after 10 minutes, Lappin looked?as if he’d spent his entire layoff juggling oval balls on a circus unicycle.


The other was Simon Black. Black won the Brownlow Medal in 2002, the year after his then teammate Jason Akermanis. Seeing what the honour did for Aka (bleached hair above a reddish goatee), Black seemingly was compelled to move the other way. He has become the quietest-achieving champion in the game.


In this match, Black picked up 39 possessions – the equal of his Norm Smith Medal-winning performance in the 2003 Grand Final – and almost every one of them was made to count. A second Norm Smith is not beyond him.


But on the strength of this lamentable match, a return to finals action for either of these two developing teams would seem a way off yet.


Brisbane Lions 2.5 5.10 6.13 9.15 (69)

Hawthorn 1.0 2.3 2.6 6.8 (44)


Brisbane: McGrath 3; Sherman, Rischitelli, Brown, Stiller, Lappin, Notting.
Hawthorn: Franklin 3; Boyle 2; Clarke.


Brisbane: Black, Brennan, Power, Lappin, Adcock.
Hawthorn: Franklin, Croad, Jacobs, Lewis, Young.


Matthews (Brisbane), 750 games as coach.


Ellis (Hawthorn).


Grun, Head, Pannell


(B) 3, Brennan (B) 2, Franklin (H) 1.


Black (B) 3, Brennan (B) 2, Power (H) 1.




Check out other Round 1 reports HERE



If you want a printed copy of the 2007 edition of the Footy Almanac, they can be purchased here.


2007 Footy Almanac



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