The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 16 – Brisbane v Carlton: Brown fills his boots on a picturesque Brisbane day

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!

 

 

Brisbane Lions versus Carlton

1.10pm, Sunday, July 22

The Gabba, Brisbane

by JOHN HARMS

 

IT’S SUNDAY MORNING AND I HAVE JUST LANDED IN BRISBANE. I am going to the Gabba with some old mates from Uni of Queensland days. They are real banana-benders, surviving on the two main food groups: rugby league and rugby union. But over the years they have kept an eye on footy as well.

 

I am picked up by PJ, a Carlton fan. He is not confident about his team’s prospects. It was a better side when he chose to follow it – in the late ’70s. As we drive along the Brisbane River his ten-year-old son, Harry, pipes up from the back seat: “Dad, did you really pick Carlton because of the cheergirls?”

 

PJ chuckles in that way a man who is wondering how many secrets his son is about to reveal to an old friend chuckles. I come to the rescue. “They were the Bluebirds, Harry,” I say. “Wouldn’t you pick a side for the cheergirls?” I feel like I’m on the set of The Big Chill.

 

“I’m not that sort of person,” Harry says. Freud, wherever he is, smirks.

 

I love the Gabba. It’s as Queensland as Sam Trimble and boiled peanuts. We cross the Story Bridge and park near the Pineapple Hotel. We walk past high-set timber houses, most with a mango tree in the backyard.

 

It’s a perfect winter’s day and we have seats where the old hill used to be. With the warm sunshine behind us the grass is green and the colours of the players’ jumpers are clear. We are joined by other old uni mates, our brotherhood forged in collective academic failure.

 

The match promises little. The Lions have been virtually written off as?a final eight contender and the Blues have been just plain written off. Yet, with results going their way, a win to the Lions today will leave them just half a game out of the eight.

 

Carlton open with their customary enthusiasm. They take risks. At the slightest hint of a teammate winning a contested ball, they break to all points of the ground. For a brief moment they are rewarded. “You’re killing them, Murph,” one fan screams. But they miss easy chances. On face value, Brisbane look loose. But they’re not. They’re just playing the percentages. They are coached by the most pragmatic man in football.

 

Leigh Matthews’ tactics are clear. Four tall forwards are huddled together in and around the goal square – Brown, Mills, Copeland, Brennan – and Charman has licence to push forward as well. Carlton don’t have the defenders to match them. If the Lions win their share of the footy in the middle the game is theirs. That’s why Carlton have to roll the dice.

 

The Lions settle. Charman is too strong in the ruck contests. Power directs traffic, pointing, and dishing out creative handballs. Lappin is all class, cruising around like he’s chauffeur-driven, calling for the footy as if it’s a martini, and using it to perfection. He wins a tight possession on the flank, has an instant to make his decision, yet picks out Brown on the lead. The big fellow looks in ominous form.

 

Fevola kicks a settling goal but by the time Mills takes a screamer (one of those marks that even stuns players on the ground) the Lions have taken over. They pour on goal after goal. Bushy Copeland, the boy from Kilcoy (a cattle town where rugby league is branded into your hide) relishes some time up forward. His leads are quick, and well-timed. They leave Brown one out.

 

At the other end Fev has spat it again. PJ says he looks like a windsock on a calm day. “You’ve done Jack Shit all year,” one fan screams. Her four-year-old daughter is embarrassed. The Carlton crowd is restless, arguing among them- selves. “You’re a dead man, Pagan,” one bloke yells, as the Lions sweep forward again, for Brown to nail another. “We’re just playing for the priority pick,” says a Blues’ realist. “No Carlton side would do that,” says a Blues’ romantic.

 

After half-time the Blues are a broken side. The floodgates open. Brown is unstoppable. The game becomes his, and the crowd know they are watching a champion. The affection for him is palpable. His larrikin grin – never arrogant – suggests he understands the moment. He has led his side into battle in Grand Finals, but today is very different. It is fun. It is a man at play.

 

He starts bombing goals from outside fifty. The crowd will him towards double figures, and when he kicks his tenth, he is the hero.

 

The Lions win by a hundred. The crowd bounce home looking forward to Collingwood at the MCG in a week’s time.

 

Harry Keightley is confused.

 

 

Brisbane Lions  6.2 9.5 17.8 25.13 (163)

Carlton  2.4 4.6 6.7 6.10 (46)

 

GOALS

Brisbane: Brown 10, Hooper 4, Adcock 3, Copeland 2, McGrath, Charman, Harding, Patfull, Brennan, Hamill.

Carlton: Fevola 3, Simpson, Murphy, Houlihan.

 

BEST

Brisbane: Brown, Hooper, Copeland, Lappin, Selwood, Power.

Carlton: Carrazzo, Scotland, Walker.

 

UMPIRES

Stevic, Chamberlain, Fila.

 

OUR VOTES

Brown (B) 3, Lappin (B) 2, Hooper (B) 1.

 

BROWNLOW

Brown (B) 3, Lappin (B) 2, Copeland (B) 1.

 

CROWD

27,163

 

 

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, Evie9. 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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