The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 13 – Fremantle v Carlton: Welcome back Wiz

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 www.footyalmanac.com.au. Follow the season!

 

 

Fremantle versus Carlton

2.10pm, Saturday, June 30

Subiaco Oval, Perth

by JOHN HARMS

 

IT’S LATE MORNING AND THE STREETS OF SUBIACO ARE ALREADY ALIVE. Purple people everywhere: in the cafes and restaurants having late breakfast or early lunch. In the Subiaco Hotel, Freo fans, four deep, yarn and drink and watch the footy from Kardinia Park on the screen above the bar. The Cats are hot, but the weather in Geelong is Antarctic.

 

Around me the punters are convinced the Dockers can’t lose to Carlton. But if they do, Chris Connolly can pack his bags for Melbourne: the city and the club. The rumour in Perth is that he and Neale Daniher will do the old Northey-Walls shuffle from 1996 and complete a direct swap. It’s pub talk.

 

The mood is good. Mainly because Jeff Farmer is finally playing his first game of the season. “We love the Wiz,” one woman tells me. “But we hate the Eagles,” she continues. “And Ben Cousins… Ben Cousins driving home from a nightclub?” she scoffs. “All that means is he paid for a cab.”

 

In the park next to the ground a man sells “Welcome Back Wiz” caps and T-shirts. Five bucks each. They’re very popular. I didn’t realise the amount of affection for him.

 

I find my seat inside. It is perfect rainbow weather. Sunshowers in the distance. Mild. But cold in the shade. The conditions should make for a fast, open match.

 

Which is how it starts. Freo move the ball frenetically. In no time Des Headland has marked twice and converted both times. Thousands of purple flags wave. The faithful cheer when Farmer sweeps on to a Warnock tap and, with uncommon vision, finds Pavlich. Freo are three clear.

 

Pavlich is impressive. Big, mobile, dominant. At the other end Brendan Fevola should be. He has so much ability. But when he is beaten in an early marking contest by Luke McPharlin, he gives the backman a little nudge, in the spirit? of a Year 10 yobbo giving you a dead-arm up the back of tech drawing. While being marched 50 metres, Fev can’t resist mouthing off and the umpy (who knows a good dead-arm) delights in marching him a further 50. The fans taunt Fev, mocking his tantrum. He slouches on the bench, looking uninterested.

 

Freo score again, quickly, forcing Denis Pagan to change his strategy. Jarrad Waite is moved from attack, where it was hoped he’d win the game, to play loose in defence, where he’ll try to save it.

 

The tall and athletic Warnock wins all the ruck contests, but the Carlton little men win the clearances. Their weight of possession is telling, and by quarter-time the Blues have a surprising lead.

 

The Dockers start poorly in the second quarter. Their errors are met with groans from a frustrated crowd.

 

But the game changes. Freo attack from the backline, moving the ball precisely. Carlton stop chasing, playing as if their lives – football or otherwise – don’t depend on it.

 

Pavlich stars in an orthodox way; Farmer in a crazy way. The Wiz has already registered a bizarre jump-kick goal in a goalmouth scrimmage in the first quarter. He nails a set-shot banana from deep in the pocket. Then he marks on the boundary line at fifty, tries to run around the man on the mark, steps around ?a tackler who appears in his peripheral vision, and looks to shoot. Everyone looks goalwards. But he holds back on his kick (on purpose), resulting in a sideways chip towards Heath Black, who is also looking at the goals until he spots the footy from the corner of his eye. It lobs into his lap. The crowd is wild. They adore the Wiz. He is the minstrel, and we the crush in the town square.

 

Freo are too good. The game looks over at half-time. Carlton’s effort doesn’t alter in the second half. It becomes a nothing game. Even Grover kicks a goal. And when Shane Parker drifts shamelessly forward it’s like the under-12s.

 

It turns into a training drill with Dockers breaking to all parts of the ground and Des Headland finishing off, just like the old Lions days. He’s always good ?in a winning side. He takes one goalkeeper’s catch diving full length, back, and to his right.

 

Anthony Koutoufides doesn’t stop. Peter Bell keeps the famous Freo bell-ringer (who is sitting somewhere near me) busy with his customary last-quarter industry. But Farmer is the favourite. One of his goals, another banana, this time from the unlikely position of directly in front, confirms his popularity, and his genius. He knew he had no time to change direction, or the position of the footy in his hands. Magnificent.

 

I get to sing the song. At Subiaco it’s many decibels louder and it’s sung more enthusiastically than the quiet rendition you hear from the handful of Dockers at away games. It is a weird number – early Christian rock meets advertising jingle.

 

Given Carlton’s lacklustre effort, though, it’s hard to gauge the significance of Freo’s win. How often the Volga Boatmen come out for the rest of the season remains debatable.

 

 

Fremantle  4.3 10.7 18.8 27.11 (173)

Carlton  5.4 6.6 8.11 13.18 (96)

 

GOALS

Fremantle: Headland 5, Pavlich, Farmer, Bell 4, Thornton 2, Dodd, Solomon, M. Carr, Grover, Mundy, Parker, Murphy, Black.

Carlton: Waite 5, Young 2, Lappin, O’hAilpin, Bentick, Hartlett, Fisher, Fevola.

 

BEST

Fremantle: Pavlich, Farmer, Headland, Hayden, Bell, Warnock, M. Carr.

Carlton: Carrazzo, Murphy, Bentick, Young, Waite.

 

UMPIRES

McBurney, Avon, Fila.

 

OUR VOTES

Pavlich (F) 3, Farmer (F) 2, Headland (F) 1.

 

BROWNLOW

Headland (F) 3, Pavlich (F) 2, Farmer (F) 1.

 

CROWD

36,307

 

 

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

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.

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