The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 11 – Brisbane v Western Bulldogs: Aker’s return fizzes out

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 versus Western Bulldogs

7.15pm, Saturday, June 9

The Gabba, Brisbane



THE CLICHÉ GOES THAT THIS WAS JUST ANOTHER MATCH. For a while it seemed everyone wanted us to believe it – certainly Leigh Matthews and most of his playing list. At least Jason Akermanis had the decency to be honest and admit the match against the club he so bitterly departed in 2006 represented a kind of closure. Hopefully, that goes for all of us.


The only ones at the Lions openly rubbing their hands at Aka’s return, of course, were the marketeers who’d hyped the game for months. As they should have – Brisbane right now desperately need more members and more bums on seats. What’s more, their team, which started the season so promisingly, badly needs some flair. On both counts, you could argue they still need Aka, for his performances both on-field and off. Not that anyone at the club will concede as much.


This wasn’t just another match. Robert Copeland gave Akermanis the mandatory niggle, but otherwise the game was barely a contest. The Lions kicked just two goals in the first half. It was a dreadfully tepid, indeed almost passionless, display from the Lions. Perhaps the players took Matthews’ dictum too seriously. “Crush, kill and destroy” might have had a more galvanising effect than treating the game as any other.


But it wasn’t without theatre. It took Akermanis 13 minutes to get his first touch, accompanied by a huge round of predictable yet good-natured boos. Boos became a roar in the 20th minute of the opening quarter, when the returning son took a free kick 25 metres out. One can only imagine Aka’s relief as the ball sailed between the big ones. When he took his second successful shot a mere minute later, the crowd had forgotten to boo at all. By then, a caning was already in the offing.


After two early goals from Tim Notting and Jared Brennan, the Bulldogs made the Gabba their private playground. Brad Johnson, the best centreman – turned-full-forward since Darren Jarman, kicked three in the first quarter to set up the match. He was the beneficiary of two long spearing passes by Lindsay Gilbee, who, with Ryan Griffen, was cutting the Lions to ribbons from defence. Mainly, though, Johnson was just too good.


After such a dynamic opening – the Bulldogs had 14 scoring opportunities to five for the quarter – a three-figure margin was well and truly on the cards. That it didn’t happen can be put down to a disastrous second term for the Doggies in which they lost four front-rank players.


First Daniel Cross went down, the victim of a medial ligament strain that required him to be assisted from the field. Robert Murphy followed to have his ankle iced on the bench. Then Nathan Eagleton clashed heads with Farren Ray and staggered off with blood streaming from a head wound. Both Eagleton and Murphy would be forced to return later, however, due to a sickening injury to Ryan Griffen, who was carried off in agony after dislocating a kneecap.


And still the Lions didn’t kick a goal – not until well into the third quarter, when Jonathan Brown, beaten by Brian Harris all night, found his first. For much of the rest of the term, the Bulldogs made the match look like a training drill, with even Eagleton and Ray kicking goals. Both should have barely been conscious, let alone back on the field.


The margin was out to 55 points until the Doggies inevitably started to run out of legs, with the Lions putting on four goals late in the third quarter. The margin was a just-maybe-gettable six goals until Ray’s last-gasp effort effectively snuffed out the match. It was the Bulldogs’ last for the match, but saw them go into the final quarter with a 42-point lead.


The last quarter was notable for an amazing Brennan goal from the boundary line and not much else. Akermanis had an opportunity to raise his game from respectable to admirable when he took a running shot from a pocket where he has buried so many over the years. It hit the post.


Aka finished the game with 15 possessions, two goals, and the obligatory post-match interviews. He was gracious – perhaps more so than he’s ever been. But there was one important difference: his famous winner’s handstand was taken not before his adoring fans, but in the very centre of the ground, cordoned off by security. Aka was saying goodbye to his home turf. His fans had already gone home.



Brisbane  2.3 2.6 7.8 10.12 (72)

Western Bulldogs  6.8 7.12 13.15 13.17 (95)



Western Bulldogs: Johnson 4, Akermanis, Eagleton 2, Cooney, Boyd, Hahn, Higgins, Ray.
Brisbane: Notting, Brennan 3, Brown 2, Lappin, Allan.



Western Bulldogs: Gilbee, Johnson, Harris, West, Cooney, Eagleton.
Brisbane: Charman, Adcock, Lappin, Notting, Brennan.



Stevic, Chamberlain, Wenn.



Gilbee (WB) 3, Johnson (WB) 2, Harris (WB) 1.



Johnson (WB) 3, Eagleton (WB) 2, Notting (B) 1.






For more Round by Round reports of the 2007 season click HERE


Printed copies of The Footy Almanac 2007 can be purchased here.


2007 Footy Almanac

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