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The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 16 – West Coast v Sydney: A suspicious Cousins

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!



West Coast versus Sydney

5.40pm, Saturday, July 21

Subiaco Oval, Perth



THIS GAME WAS ALL ABOUT BEN COUSINS. In one of the most anticipated comebacks in the modern era, the disgraced West Coast superstar, who had not played all season, made an amazing return. He propelled the Eagles to a win over their great modern-day rival, the Sydney Swans. It was an exquisite return to the big stage by a player who had divided opinion across the nation.


The Swans found that trying to stop him was like putting a strait jacket on an octopus. He had more kicks than a football tester at the Sherrin factory and won more hard balls than a brass monkey in Siberia. It was such a conspicuous performance Paul Roos may well name his first ulcer after him. He rattled up 38 possessions – only one less than his best-ever tally; an astonishing effort given his lack of match practice.


I watched the game from the lounge-room of our home in northern Sydney with my eleven-year-old son who is obsessed with his Dream Team on the AFL website. He has entered nine teams. He doesn’t care about the result, only which of his players earns points. He barracks for Judd, Kerr, and Quinten Lynch, as well as Brett Kirk and Tadgh Kennelly. He’s leading at least one of the competitions!


Even on TV you could tell this was a major game. As the teams ran out all eyes were fixed on Cousins to see if he would start. He kept the trackie top on and went to the bench. The opening was fast and furious, the last two years’ grand finalists hard at it. The Swans avoided their customary bad start when Ryan O’Keefe scored the first goal of the match. Just six minutes in, Cousins appeared. He came onto the ground to a standing ovation from the West Coast faithful, winning a kick immediately. He had ten possessions for the quarter. It was as if he hadn’t missed a game. But the Swans kept things tight preventing the Eagles from opening up the game.


The second stanza was more free-wheeling; O’Keefe stepped up to replace Barry Hall and booted three goals for the term, but the Eagles came right back into the game through Daniel Kerr and Brent Staker, who wreaked more havoc than a flatulent elephant.


At half-time, scores were level (what a surprise). But there was a sense that the margin could blow out to a margin greater than one point. The Bloods were without Hall and Kennelly and Cousins was blazing.


Ben Mathews snapped the first goal of the third quarter for the Swans to hit the front. But then the Eagles ran hotter than vindaloo. With Dean Cox jumping around like a toad in a thunderstorm and their forward line functioning with the precision of a Mickey Mouse watch they stormed to a 29-point lead at three-quarter time.


As everyone knows these teams always finish within a few points of each other. When Chris Judd and Ashley Hansen escaped from their leashes to boot the first two goals of the final quarter the Eagles looked home. But Captain Kirk, who fights for the ball like a ratcatcher’s dog, and the Swans’ midfielders started to win the centre clearances and the pendulum moved back the Swans’ way. They booted six goals.


As the Swans surged forward we became totally absorbed and forgot to flick over to Fox to see how the Saints-Hawks match was going. It seemed like we were going to have yet another agonisingly close finish, but the Eagles steadied to hold out the rampaging Bloods for a 12-point victory. Interestingly enough the total margin between these two teams in their previous six clashes had been 13 points.


Ben Cousins was given a superhero’s reception as he left the playing field after the match. He covered plenty of territory to win his possessions: 28 touches in the midfield, six in the forward-50 and four in the back-50. It was a conspicuous performance.



West Coast  2.6 6.9 13.14 16.16 (112)

Sydney  2.3 6.9 9.9 15.10 (100)



West Coast: Hansen 4, Staker 3, Cox 3, Judd 2, R. Jones, Chick, Lynch, Hunter.

Sydney: O’Keefe 4, Mathews, O’Loughlin, Schneider 2, Jolly, Barry, Schmidt, McVeigh, Davis.



West Coast: Cousins, Kerr, Cox, Hansen, Staker, Chick.

Sydney: O’Keefe, Kirk, Malceski, Mathews, McVeigh.



Margetts, Rosebury, Woodcock.



Cousins (WC) 3, Kerr (WC) 2, B. Kirk (Sydney) 1.



Kerr*(WC) 3, Hansen (WC) 2, Cousins (WC) 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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