The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 6 – Melbourne v Port Adelaide: The trouble with umpires

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!



Melbourne versus Port Adelaide
2.10pm, Sunday May 6
Melbourne Cricket Ground


IT ALL STARTED OUT PLEASANTLY ENOUGH. Perfect sunny conditions greeted the sparse collection of Melbourne and Port Adelaide fans, who were spoilt for choice when casting around for seats at the ‘G’.


I settled behind the interchange benches on the MCC Members wing with my two kids, Rory, a five-year-old Brisbane Lions fan, and Miss Elila, who was there only for the barley sugar and chewy. We were joined by the hundreds of other kids, parents and grandparents who make up the usual ground-level crowd at a Demons fixture.


The reflected sunshine from the empty seats in the Southern Stand almost obliterated the Dees’ banner which sang the praises of Travis Johnstone: “150 great and classy games”. A fair few of them haven’t been so great but, given Trav’s predilection for the punt and the fact that it was Super Sunday at Morphettville, we were just glad he showed.


The boys from Alberton were sluggish early. After consecutive wins in the wet against the Pies and Saints, lifting them to second on the ladder, they appeared to be lulled by the sunny skies, the lack of atmosphere and the prospect of a soft win against the competition’s bottom side.


For Melbourne, skipper David Neitz was back, as was gun second-year midfielder Nathan Jones, and key defender Jared Rivers had one game under his belt after a lay-off. Injury had forced the Dees to use 34 players in the opening five games but finally some structure was returning.


Nathan Brown was busy early for the Demons while the Cornes brothers knocked up getting the footy. Class prevailed when Warren Tredrea finally snapped the game’s first goal.


But the quarter was about errors and turnovers. We groaned as Neitz dropped a simple mark on a lead. Then, on regaining it, he spilled the ball again. Daniel “Dinger” Bell was the third Demon up in a marking contest in Port’s goal- mouth; the ball sailed over the back to Ebert who kicked Port’s second goal.


After the first break, the Demons began showing a bit through the efforts of Matthew Bate, Adem Yze, milestone-man Travis and second-gamer Ricky Petterd, prompting Port to take the fixture seriously. Danyle Pearce lifted and first-year player Nathan Krakouer burned at half-forward.


Port led by seven points as players left for the half-time oranges, but not before Byron Pickett had uncharacteristically left the field holding the side of his head – usually it’s the other bloke doing same.


In the third quarter, another Demons second-gamer, Matthew Warnock, found a way through the Port flood for the Demons’ seventh goal but Pearce answered quickly. Aaron Davey was back in form, flying downfield and flashing through gaps.


Then the trouble began. Umpire Hendrie started guessing free kicks. Demons supporters watched in horror as Cameron Bruce had the ball firmly held to him while Hendrie, who was clearly on the wrong side of the contest, heeded the appeals of the Port boys and penalised him.


Neitz copped an old-fashioned shove in the back from Brendon Lade at the top of the goalsquare. It should have been a free kick in any era, let alone in this season’s ultra-sensitive hands-touch-back ridiculousness, but umpire Ryan missed it.


We’ve had worse disappointments. In the late 1960s and early ’70s, we used to watch Greg Parke take spectacular mark after mark before lining up from 15 metres out, directly in front, and missing time after time.


Port led by five points at the last change. As if summoned by Alfred Hitchcock, seagulls circled as Kane Cornes was driven off on a stretcher after a Pickett tackle.


Johnstone came off the Melbourne bench suspiciously close to the time that the Morphettville judge announced Let Go Thommo as the winner of the Goodwood. Clearly Travis backed it because he was in everything after that.


But the pattern of the game had been set. The Dees were showing plenty of heart, the Port boys were showing class. It was as if the Dees swam the ball upstream, fighting hard, before Port slipped downstream with flair and space. Daniel Motlop baulked Jeff White and laid the ball across his right boot from 25 metres to regain Port’s five-point ascendancy.


Then came the pivotal moment of the match. Darryl Wakelin dropped a chest mark, Davey swooped and snapped truly. With two minutes to go, the Dees were in front and Dees fans were delirious. Then disbelief: umpire Farmer, the best performed of the trio, paid the new hands-touch-back interpretation against Neitz. No score.


Then, in exactly the same spot that Port’s Matt Thomas had lollied the ball over the boundary line, James McDonald was pinged for deliberate out-of-bounds after narrowly missing a teammate with a handball while being slung to the ground. Dees fans snapped. We went feral. In close to four decades of watching Melbourne, I’ve never seen arms flail and spittle fly with such intensity.


The siren sounded. We were shattered. Six rounds, no wins. This was ours and they took it off us.


Melbourne 2.1 6.6 8.12 9.17 (71)
Port Adelaide 3.4 7.7 9.11 10.16 (76)

: Jones, Bate, Neitz 2; Yze, Brown, Warnock.
Port Adelaide: Pearce 3, Tredrea, Motlop 2; S Burgoyne, Krakouer, Ebert.

Melbourne: Bate, Brown, Yze, McDonald, Godfrey, Jones, Davey.
Port Adelaide: C. Cornes, K. Cornes, Pearce, P. Burgoyne, Thomas, Wakelin.

Johnstone (Melbourne) 150 games.

Farmer, Hendrie, Ryan.

Bate (M) 3, C. Cornes (PA) 2, K. Cornes (PA) 1.

Bate (M) 3, K. Cornes (PA) 2, Jones (M) 1.



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


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The Footy Almanac 2007



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  1. Just as the stars can align to produce great things in your favour, this report makes it sound like they can conspire against you piteously as well. In the end, the umpire is the most available scapegoat, not that he’s necessarily virtuous in spite of your own personal bias.

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