The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 14 – West Coast v Brisbane: The Lions triumph at the House of Pain

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!

 

 

West Coast versus Brisbane Lions

5.40pm, Saturday, July 7

Subiaco Oval, Perth

by TONY ROBERTS

 

AND ON THE SEVENTH DAY of the seventh month of the seventh year, the Eagles rested. And lo, the Lions did rise to make their own luck, and smote them Eagles good, man.

 

Like Mike Williamson, I tipped this; it was the irresponsible indulgence of the tipping comp straggler. Bookies, of course, dress up their sycophancy as sagacity. In future, however, they may be more wary of sending out a football team that has lost four of its seven previous matches as a $1.05 favourite. A couple more gratuitous tips for Gerard Daffy and the betting boys: don’t get too confident about a Lions loss when we play a heritage round in an old Fitzroy jumper, or when Melbourne public radio station 3PBS-FM puts on its Soul Au Go Go disco at the Laundry in Fitzroy on the “Funky First Saturday” of the month. We never lose on those weekends. Hell, we even drew with the Tigers last time!

 

Although the insulting odds didn’t reflect the recent form of the Eagles, they did reflect the Lions’ recent ineptitude and our historical phobia of playing the Eagles in Perth. It’s now 20 years since teams representing Brisbane and Perth joined the competition, and since it was recast as the AFL in 1990 no other club has matched the three flags of both the Lions and the Eagles. Despite the growing popularity of Queensland draft choices among Victorian clubs, no Queensland player has ever been drafted by the Eagles, who always betray an air of contemptuous indifference when they play us.

 

This might have something to do with our 20% winning record against the Eagles, the most lopsided ledger in the whole AFL. Only St Kilda’s 22% against Carlton (improving now, of course) is comparably dreadful. If you factor in Fitzroy’s so-so record in the Eagles’ first decade, the combined club’s record improves to around 25%, which is still terrible. As the three Perth wins totted up by Fitzroy and the Bears were all at the now abandoned WACA venue, the 2007 Lions approached this year’s Eagles match with a combined 1-13 record at Subiaco. House of Pain indeed. I’d like to blame the five-hour plane trip to Perth, but the Eagles are leading us 11- 4 in Queensland, too; they even whipped us in our premiership years.

 

All of which might explain why the Perth media’s build-up to this match virtually ignored the Lions in favour of the imminent return to the Eagles’ line-up of that city’s answer to Paris Hilton. In the event, Ben Cousins did a hammy late in the week, and his withdrawal overshadowed the 200-game milestone of Echuca’s SS Potty Mouth, Michael Braun. And while childhood Fitzroy fans Jonathan Brown and Luke Power would have been thrilled to wear the old club’s final guernsey, I wonder how Victorians Braun, Chris Judd, David Wirrpanda, Adam Selwood and various South Australian Eagles felt about playing in a WA State of Origin jumper. Not to mention the thoughts of the Fremantle Dockers.

 

Of course, many Eagles fans would regard the Purple Army as positively un- Western Australian. Too much red and green mixed in with the purple. In April, an Age survey of the AFL teams supported by federal pollies showed the clearest political split of all in WA. Cuddly Kim Beazley, ex-Saint Carmen Lawrence and just about every other Laborite and Green go for the Dockers, while the Eagles claim perennial Liberal charmers like Don Randall and Wilson “Ironbar” Tuckey. Currently heading the ranks of Liberals For Eagles is the Education Minister, Julie Bishop, who last year was voted by subscribers to the Crikey website as the sexiest federal MP. (How could they place looks above attitude? If one really must consort with the enemy, give me not the prim head prefect in Bishop, but Helen Coonan, the archetypal middle-aged raver from the accounts department, any office Christmas party day.) Whatever… I had plenty to fear and loathe about the Eagles as I drove through the damp dark chill to John’s mountainside fortress beyond the site of the old Swagman Hotel in Ferntree Gully, at the foot of the Dandenongs.

 

The red Fitzroy jumper with the yellow monogram was last seen in the AFL 3600 days past, on this same ground against Fremantle, an opponent that did have the class to recognise and honour the dying club even while ritually thrashing its lost team. Nigel Lappin, the only player on either side who was active in 1996, cleared the first centre bounce of this match and, via the reinstated Rhan Hooper, set up Simon Black for a running goal within 15 seconds.

For a time, this seemed like a hollow statement. Hooper was just one of six inclusions; two of them, Matt Leuenberger and Will Hamill, were debutants. Throughout the first half, along with other Lions learners like Wayde Mills and recidivists like Jared Brennan, they cancelled out their spirited chasing and tackling with appalling missed shots and hesitant turnovers. The contrast with the slick Eagles was galling, particularly young Eagles goalsneak Mark LeCras, whose ability to convert his chances from the pack, the boundary or on the run threatened the avalanche that many predicted.

 

But it never came. Dean Cox, Daniel Kerr and the returning Judd won their usual barrow loads of the ball but very little came from it. New forward Chad Jones leads quickly but, to date, his kicks are better acquainted with the goalposts than the space between them. Other potential goalkickers such as Quinten Lynch never broke free, and the Eagles defaulted to a seven-point lead at the main break.

 

Their expected gear-shift from second to top in the third quarter was first resisted, then reversed, as the intense tackling of the Lions was finally matched by their use of the ball. Up forward, Hooper and the redeployed Robert Copeland unglued the Eagles’ smooth clearance system, and the returning ball gave unguarded opportunities to both Brown and Brennan, who now got the better of Adam Hunter. For once, they both kicked straight, as did Copeland, and by midway through the final quarter it was apparent that the Eagles would need two, maybe three, unanswered arrows to the goal square from Judd and Kerr to retrieve the situation. Given their capabilities, I fretted well into the red zone, but Josh Drummond, Jason Roe and Joel Patfull actually tightened their defensive grip.

 

Finally, with two minutes remaining on the clock, I photographed John and baby Luca in front of the scoreline on their television, to record the boy’s first win after six weeks in maroon.

 

Maroon was also spilling from Black’s left eye as he was taken to the bench for the last minute to embrace Leigh Matthews, whose fist-pumping boundary-line response to the siren hadn’t been seen since the 2003 Grand Final. As reality beckoned, a shot of the West Coast coaches’ box revealed the pursed lips of John Worsfold and the blank countenance of Cousins. To be fair, night had fallen, and perhaps Benny’s mind had drifted to triathlons ahead. Afterwards, Matthews taunted the Eagles’ smugness, likening their preparation for the Lions to those for a practice match; Worsfold denied this hotly, but not convincingly.

 

In the rooms, the Lions belted out the most passionate version of the Marseillaise tune since Paris was liberated in 1944 – well, since our 2003 premiership, anyway.

 

 

West Coast 3.5 6.8 8.10 9.10 (64)

Brisbane Lions 2.1 5.7 9.10 13.13 (91)

 

GOALS

Brisbane: Brennan, Brown 4, Copeland 3, Black, Notting.

West Coast: LeCras 4, Cox, Embley, Hurn, Kerr, Seaby.

 

BEST

Brisbane: Lappin, Drummond, Black, Notting, Copeland, Roe, Patfull, J. Macdonald, Brennan.

West Coast: Cox, LeCras, Judd, Kerr, Wirrpanda, Priddis.

 

MILESTONE

Braun (West Coast) 200 games.

 

DEBUTS

Hamill, Leuenberger (Brisbane).

 

UMPIRES

Farmer, Allen, Meredith.

 

OUR VOTES

Lappin (B) 3, Drummond (B) 2, Cox (WC) 1.

 

BROWNLOW

Brennan (B) 3, Black (B) 2, Hooper* (B) 1.

 

CROWD

40,763

 

 

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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