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The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 15 – Sydney v Carlton: Danish superstitions don’t always come true

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!

 

 

Sydney versus Carlton

1.10pm, Sunday, July 15

Sydney Cricket Ground

by MARK BRANAGAN

 

AFTER SOUTH MELBOURNE WAS BANISHED NORTH to become the Sydney Swans, a small cell of supporters used to gather together in secret locations to watch them on TV.

 

Like oppressed nationalists sitting around in freezing caves speaking Gaelic, Kurdish or other outlawed tongues, the Bloods’ loyalists gathered and whispered the heresies of Skilton, Nash and Johnny Sudholz. It generated a genuine sense of brotherhood as secretive calls would come in generally late on a Saturday night advising supporters where to watch the next day’s game. “It’s on at the Middle” (Middle Park Hotel). Such clandestine planning set the heartbeat ticking faster as small but loyal groups of traditional supporters gathered together at local South Melbourne pubs.

 

Ironically, the Swans had been dispatched so that they could appear on TV every second Sunday and make a pile of money for the competition. Now, as squillions are spent on promoting the game, the AFL is paid even more money to not actually show the Swans on normal TV.

 

As a result, Swans fans have been forced back to old ways to watch their team in the secret company of fellow supporters. That place is the Danish Club at Albert Park. The symmetry is superb – the Danish flag is simple red and white, the Danes (like the Swans) were nomadic rejects for many centuries before becoming conquerors themselves, and of course all genuine Australians have the greatest affinity with Denmark through Our Princess Mary.

 

Despite the change in viewing location, my pre-match routine still includes the mandatory wrestling with superstitious calamities. On entering the club, I unfortunately glanced over the honour board of great past presidents stretching back to 1899. The Danish names unfolded like a well-oiled rollmop – Mortensen, Nielsen, Andersen, Olsen, Pietersen, Jensen, Larsen, Holdensen, Ditchburn. That last name hit me like a force-10 Baltic gale. Ditchburn? Not only that but “Ditchburn, R”. I recoiled at the horror of the memory of the career of that low-profile Carlton full-forward Ross Ditchburn, who in fact managed to kick 12 goals in one game against the Saints in 1982. And to see Ditchburn – the only non-Scandinavian (and the only Carlton) name up there on the honour board surely spelt doom for the Swans.

 

Sure enough, it was not long before I was ready to burn the honour board down. The Blues jumped the Swans in the opening quarter and streaked away to a 26-point lead. No longer the feisty boxers, the Swans have taken to starting games like a group of old men getting out of bed – creaking, searching around and wheezing as they fumble for a packet of cigarettes. Finally the first gasper was lit as B.B.B. Barry Hall produced the Swans’ opening goal of the match.

 

It was enough for the Swans to splutter their way back into the game and the young Carlton line-up was soon enveloped. In sunny and bright conditions, the football moved at a fast pace. The Blues’ preference for all-out attack was lauded for its entertainment level but returned little value once the ball came back at twice the speed.

 

The Swans took over. Nick Davis showed how dangerous he can be with three goals for the second quarter and the Swans big men Darren Jolly and Peter Everitt took complete control of the centre ruck contents. Nick Malceski glided across the half-back line and drilled some magnificent passes into the Swans forward line. Brett Kirk continued his good form in the middle of the ground and with overwhelming power in the centre clearances, the Swans had broken the game open by the half-time break with an eight-goal second quarter.

 

As the third quarter unfolded and Barry Hall potted the first goal of the half, it looked like there could be a complete rout. Carlton plunged back at reckless speed with some strong efforts from midfielders including Kade Simpson, Heath Scotland and some effective forward work by Brad Fisher and Matthew Lappin. Again it was entertaining and fast-flowing football, but the Swans certainly had the Blues covered. Four goals in the last 10 minutes of the quarter were enough to knock the last of the fight out of Carlton.

 

The last quarter became something of a procession with Swans goals to Adam Schneider, Jarrad McVeigh, Malceski and Michael O’Loughlin. Fisher and Lappin replied for the Blues but it was nothing less than a capitulation. By the final siren the margin was over 10 goals and the Swans had in fact kicked their highest score against Carlton. Ever. It was Carlsbergs all round.

 

This was a comforting victory for the Swans. Several players ran themselves back into form. The Blues had fought manfully but were well and truly outclassed.

 

As I returned downstairs to the more raucous bar of the Danish Club, I brushed past the honour board and felt some pleasure that my superstitions had not caused any grief. But I also reflected on whether there were any other Danish footballers of note in the history of our great game. I could only think of Russell Ohlsen, a player with Carlton and Collingwood in the 1970s and ’80s, and Geelong’s barrel-chested Christensen brothers. And oh yeah, of course we still have Dane Swan. I think he would look good in red and white.

 

 

Sydney  3.3 11.7 17.9 25.12 (162)

Carlton  5.3 7.4 12.9 15.10 (100)

 

GOALS

Sydney: Hall, Everitt 4, Davis, Schneider 3, Kirk, McVeigh, Malceski, O’Loughlin 2, Fosdike, Jolly, Goodes.

Carlton: Fisher, Lappin 3, Fevola 2, Houlihan, Bannister, O’hAilpin, Betts, Simpson, Scotland, Koutoufides.

 

BEST

Sydney: Malceski, Kirk, Everitt, Davis, Barry.

Carlton: Simpson, Waite, Fisher.

 

UMPIRES

Kennedy, Kamolins, Meredith.

 

OUR VOTES

Malceski (S) 3, Kirk (S) 2, Everitt (S) 1.

 

BROWNLOW

Kirk* (S) 3, Everitt (S) 2, Goodes* (S) 1.

 

CROWD

24,858

 

 

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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