The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 3 – Sydney v Brisbane: A day of milestones

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!



Sydney versus Brisbane Lions

1.10pm, Sunday, April 15

Sydney Cricket Ground



The most famous green mound in cricket (and the AFL) turned yellow during the 1980s, when the SCG’s Randwick Hill was gelded by concrete terraces and covered by featureless bucket seats. In 2007, the Hill has been pared back to its late 19th-century landfill in readiness for its conversion into another grandstand.


The 25,000 who fitted into the rest of the SCG for this match were more cosily packed than the 15 lost souls who gathered in Melbourne’s Turf Bar, the venue of the Great Bookie Robbery in 1976. In the new century, ex-Brisbanite John Forman has recreated the bar as a semi-official gathering place for Victorian Lions members. But it seems that most Lions fans in Melbourne have prudently signed on to Foxtel.


Many of the crowd at the SCG had gone to see Michael O’Loughlin reach 250 games for the Swans and close to within half a season of the relocated club’s all- time games record. Two of O’Loughlin’s three goals sealed victory, so he didn’t disappoint his fans.


The much-less celebrated Darren Jolly broke the banner for his own 100th AFL match, carrying the baby whose arrival had affected his 2006 Grand Final performance. Jolly erased that embarrassment with 37 knockouts and 15 touches, an ultimately decisive contribution that exposed Brisbane’s inexperienced Cameron Wood and the rusty, one-dimensional Beau McDonald. McDonald was combining in a senior Lions team with Richard Hadley for their first match since Hadley’s AFL debut six years previously – testimony to both the stability of the Lions’ premiership teams and the longueurs of recurrent knee injuries.


Over the Easter round, in which the Swans played Richmond, Barry Hall had also seemed doomed to cruciate crucifixion. However, like the man who might have forced Peter Hudson out to centre half-forward, Bazza rose immediately from the dead and smote the Lions. Daniel Merrett and his helper Wayde Mills fought hard but were usually out-bustled, out-sprinted and out-thought by the ex-boxer. Hall’s return of 4.4 reflected only part of his work that kept the ball predominantly in Sydney’s forward line.


The first 100 minutes of this match were genuinely stirring, as the Lions matched and bettered the Swans’ benchmark intensity. Each of the first three quarters followed a similar pattern: early dominance by the Swans that was resisted by the Lions, who then rallied to claim the lead, but wilted towards the siren under the impact of a leather drought.


Hall and Jonathan Brown traded three first-quarter goals. In three golden minutes midway through the second, Brown’s imagination and precision created three goals for fellow Lions, but then Brisbane reject and Sydney All-Australian defender Craig Bolton dried him up completely after half-time. Throughout the middle quarters, ferocious tackling and long clearances by unheralded Lions (Ben Fixter, Scott Harding and Hadley in the middle; Jed Adcock, Tim Notting and Robert Copeland in defence) rattled the Swans. The Lions squandered their three- to-two possession advantage under this pressure, and missed five gettable shots in the third quarter alone. Unlike Brown, though, Hall remained a threat.


At three-quarter time, with the Lions 10 points up, I called John Joseph, the former front man of a KISS covers band, who was in Sydney for a Paul Stanley concert. From behind the SCG’s Noble Stand goal, John was feverishly expecting to see Brown seal the match from close quarters. Away from the emotion at the ground, I was more dubious. I had seen Foxtel’s stats on the possession imbalance and heard warnings that, in the 26ºC  heat, Paul Roos had worked his bench much more actively than Leigh Matthews.


Brisbane needed a couple of quick steadiers in the last to put the Swans out of reach, but Brown and Joel Patfull both bombed early chances. For the next 10 minutes the Swans kept missing, before Leo Barry kicked his first goal for six years: a 55-metre running bomb that injected lactic acid into the calves of the Lions players.


Once the Swans took the lead, the rest of the match was played in their territory and on their terms. Perennial last-quarter fanatics Adam Goodes, Brett Kirk and Jude Bolton ran wild. O’Loughlin first slipped Jared Brennan, then turned him, for the decisive goals. The last quarter score of 5.8 (38) to 0.1 (1) in favour of Sydney reflected the 2003 preliminary final, in which the Lions defeated the Swans after kicking 6.6 (36) to 0.1 (1) in the final quarter.

Long after that 2003 preliminary final had ended, I floated home from the crowded Turf Bar in an adrenalin bath, planning my raid on Grand Final tickets. This time, the SCG siren dispersed the numbed 15 like a fire drill. My limbs felt heavy on the walk to Collins Street, and the tram was late, crowded and slow – at four o’clock on a Sunday!


You notice the mundane, irritating details of the ride home after a loss that might have been a great win.


Sydney 5.3 7.6 8.10 13.18 (96)
Brisbane Lions 4.3 7.4 10.8 10.9 (69)


: Hall 4; O’Loughlin 3; Schmidt 2; Schneider, Mathews, O’Keefe, Barry
Brisbane: Brown, McGrath 3; Patfull, Begley, Fixter, Harding.


: Hall, Jolly, Schneider, Buchanan.
Brisbane: Adcock, McGrath, Brown, Black.


O’Loughlin (Sydney) 250 games; Jolly (Sydney) 100 games; Hall (Sydney) 500 goals.


Allen, Kamolins, Meredith


(S) 3, Jolly (S) 2, Adcock (B) 1.


Hall (S) 3, J. Bolton (S) 2, Jolly (S) 1.






For more Round by Round reports of the 2007 season click HERE


If you want a printed copy of the 2007 edition of the Footy Almanac, they can be purchased here.



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About Tony Roberts

Favourites list: Food: whatever I cook; Drink: whatever my doctor allows; Music: refer 'Soul Time' (pres. Vince 'The Prince' Peach 3PBS-FM, plus Soul Au Go Go at The Laundry, first Saturday each month); Movie: love that Cinema Nova discount card!; TV show: call me Don Draper, if you like (or David Brent, if not); Footy teams: Melbourne Victory (summer), Coolangatta, AFLQ (hols), Brisbane Lions (forever), Western Bulldogs (for now); Player: refer 2009 Footy Almanac Round 18 (WB V Freo); Pet: Ferdy (JRT - as per previous reference)

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