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The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 1 – Sydney v West Coast Eagles

Sydney versus West Coast
7.15pm, Saturday,
March 31
Telstra Stadium, Sydney
Report by Cameron Noakes

WHEN THE WEST COAST EAGLES LANDED at Sydney Airport they were greeted by a large eagle mascot who was a carrying a glass dick, or crack pipe.


The bird had white powder smeared on its enlarged beak. The supposed insufflating bird – created by the ABC’s Chaser team – handed the glass dick to West Coast star midfielder Daniel Kerr and his face split open with one of his infamous schoolboy grins. Suddenly, his teammates were laughing at the controversy that had curled its way through the club like smoke from a bucket bong.


That was Thursday night.


On Saturday morning in The Age, columnist Robert Walls billed the game between the Eagles and the Swans as “good versus evil”. It had been a long build- up to the Grand Final rematch, but by this stage even the generals in the Salvation Army must have been thinking, “Steady on, Rob.”


Let’s be clear: West Coast are a bloody “good” football team and when it comes to Australian football, possession means handballing or kicking the ball, not a police arrest of someone carrying ecstasy. Besides, how could Brownlow Medallist, premiership captain and football’s No.1 player, Chris Judd, be cast as the leader of “evil”? Surely, former St Kilda bad boys Barry Hall and Peter Everitt were having a naughty chuckle in their “good” corner.


By the time Ben Cousins had landed in California for his drug rehabilitation, news broke that Eagles ruckman Dean Cox would not play because of quadriceps soreness. Altogether the Eagles were missing eight from their premiership team. And the game was being played at Telstra Stadium, unfamiliar territory for the Eagles. Everything was pointing to victory for the Swans.


Mark Seaby was forced to step into the big boots vacated by Cox. Spida Everitt would have to wait his turn in the middle as Darren Jolly took the first ruck contest. The 2005 and 2006 Brownlow Medallists, Judd and Adam Goodes, stood alongside each other at the bounce, while Buddhist Brett Kirk rubbed shoulders with Kerr, who was fast becoming a colourful football identity.


The crowd was more than 60,000. The atmosphere screamed into my Melbourne loungeroom. The back-to-back Grand Final opponents were back again.


Barry Hall, pumped-up, took the first mark. Soon afterwards he crashed through the West Coast defence, only to be decked by a coat-hanger from Judd. The Swans’ remonstration resulted with the free-kick being reversed. The Eagles’ big forward Quinten Lynch marked and chipped the ball a lazy 45 metres for the first goal.


The Swans’ first came from Nick Davis. Minutes later Michael O’Loughlin kicked a goal to give the Bloods a two-point lead. But something was different about this West Coast outfit and it wasn’t just the new names. It was as if the Eagles’ summer of love and discontent had inspired coach John Worsfold. Like some spaced-out record producer in the psychedelic era, Woosha cut the tape of his rock opera, threw the pieces in the air and made decisions according to how the pieces fell.


He gave Lynch a brief stint on the ball. Even Brent Staker had a turn in the ruck and, more surprisingly, for a while, was given a tagging job on Goodes, minimising his impact. The premiers had a 14-point lead at quarter-time.


Judd snagged the first goal of the second quarter and when Staker kicked another, it was the Eagles’ eighth major without missing. The stream-of- consciousness stuff continued from Woosha. After Daniel Chick had originally manned up on O’Loughlin, he was thrown forward with immediate results.


At half-time the game looked as cooked as a speed ball in the hands of John Belushi. West Coast was 36 points up.


But Swans coach Paul Roos is so calm you can almost smell the frankincense burning from his box. The Zen master kept it simple and in the third quarter the game opened for the Swans. Three consecutive goals reduced the margin to 20 points. The Swans were moving the ball freely from one side of the ground to the other, as is their trademark.


When Seaby scored for the Eagles at the 11-minute mark of the final quarter, the margin was 19 points. It seemed too much for the Bloods. But with five minutes to go, after a chain of handballs, Spida ended up with the ball and slotted it through. The margin was just seven points.


Kerr was again cast as the villain when he fended off young featherweight Simon Phillips and was penalised for a high tackle. Phillips’ nerve held. He kicked truly. It was a one-point game.


Jarrad McVeigh then loomed. He pondered being the hero, Kerr came from out of the blue and wrapped him up just inside fifty. McVeigh was pinged, West Coast won, and Kerr was found guilty of possession of seriously good football talent.


It is now in football folklore that only 13 points have separated the teams in six outings, and their last three encounters have resulted in one-point margins. Perhaps we should think of this as one epic battle – a triple record with just one song on it. It’s as if the games don’t end or start.


They’re just on some weird-arse time loop.


Sydney: 3.4 3.8 6.11 10.13 (73)

West Coast: 6.0 10.2 10.6 11.8 (74)



West Coast: Judd, Hunter, Seaby 2; Braun, Chick, Hurn, Lynch, Staker.
Sydney: Davis 2; Dempster, Everitt, Goodes, Hall, Kirk, O’Loughlin, Phillips, Vogels.



West Coast: Kerr, Judd, Seaby, Selwood, Braun, Wirrpanda.
Sydney: Kirk, C. Bolton, Kennelly, O’Keefe, Richards.


Jolly (Sydney) 50 games with current club.


Brown (West Coast).



Jeffrey, Ryan, Vozzo.


Kerr (WC) 3, Kirk (Syd.) 2, Seaby (WC) 1. Judd (WC) 3,


D Kerr* (WC) 2, Kennelly (Syd)




More Round 1 reports from 2007 HERE



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  1. Gee the Eagles v Swans matches were something back then.

  2. Don’t remind me!!

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