The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 9 – Melbourne v North Melbourne: Red and blue heartache continues

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!

 

 

Melbourne versus Kangaroos

2.10pm, Sunday, May 27

Melbourne Cricket Ground

by MARK FREEMAN

 

 

WHAT BECOMES OF THE BROKEN-HEARTED? Hopefully, they hit the training track and their coach thrashes into them the value of playing four quarters of football, not just one.

 

For such was the story of this match, played on a windy but sunny May Sunday at the ’G. The Dees, widely tipped for a top-four berth before the season began, had lost all eight games. Worse, two of their last three games had been lost by one kick. They were suffering their worst start to a season since Stan Alves left the red and blue to get hold of a premiership cup at North back in the mid-1970s. But it was widely understood that they had copped a shocking run with injuries. Once they were all back on the park, they were expected to win games.

 

High-flyer Russell Robertson was back, as was gun midfielder Brock McLean. But further injuries chipped the edge off Demon excitement, this time to tough defender Matthew Whelan and forward Colin Sylvia, followed by the late withdrawals of Adem Yze and Matthew Bate.

 

The Kangaroos were flying. After losing the first three games of the season, they had won their next five. And gladiator Glenn Archer returned for this game after missing the previous week’s win over Carlton. But they were still without brilliant midfielder Daniel Wells.

 

Young Rory and Miss Elila settled in with me, my brother Eric and his twins on the northern wing. We chewed on some salami sangers as umpire McLaren bounced the ball.

 

Robertson got the Dees away to a good start and was clearly pleased with his effort. Nathan Jones was in everything early for the Dees, while Corey Jones kick-started the Roos with a couple in quick succession. McLean received a rapturous ovation from the Dees faithful as he ran off the bench after eight weeks out of the game.

 

Turnovers abounded in the first quarter, with plenty of pressure applied in what was becoming a midfield arm wrestle. But after the first break Shannon Grant rose above the mediocrity, kicking four for the quarter and giving Brad Green an old-fashioned bath.

 

Brother Eric resumed verbal hostilities with “the worst umpire the game has ever known” when, after umpire McLaren turned down a succession of “Ball!” appeals from Demon fans, he finally paid one to the Dees… before overturning it because of a light shove by McLean as he tried to retrieve the ball from under his opponent.

 

Robertson kept the Dees within three goals of the Roos with a 50-metre roost from the boundary after the half-time siren.

 

What had been a hard scrap in the first half turned into trench warfare in the third quarter.

 

The third term consisted of end-to-end keepings-off punctuated by missed shots at goal. The Dees added only two behinds, the Roos a wasteful 1.7. If the third quarter is the premiership quarter, then neither of these sides is heading anywhere near the cup.

 

I walk in shadows
Searching for light
Cold and alone
No comfort in sight…

 

But then someone flicked a switch. The lights came on at the final break and some kind of chemical reaction took place in each and every Melbourne player.

 

It took some minutes to kick in. Aaron Davey and Ricky Petterd were caught with the ball early, and Roo Matt Campbell slotted a lovely left-foot goal on the run from fifty to put the Roos 35 points up at the five-minute mark.

 

But then Green kicked one after being rewarded for an excellent tackle. Moments later Travis Johnstone speared a pass into David Neitz’s breadbasket, and he slotted a goal from fifty. Less than two minutes later, Neitz again, this time from 45 metres on a tightish angle. Margin: 17 points.

 

Simon Godfrey broke through the middle, Robertson marked in the pocket, ran around and kicked truly. Margin: 11 points. Goals to Cameron Bruce, Neitz again: all square. Then, with less than four minutes left, Nathan Jones drills home the Dees seventh goal on the trot: The Dees have hit the front!

 

Love’s happiness is just an illusion
Filled with sadness and confusion…

 

Jones smiled as he returned to the centre, possibly assuming he had kicked the match-winning goal. We long-suffering Dees fans, who, like the infamous Reds Cricket Club, win nervously, lose tragically, knew better.

 

And so it was that the Roos drove the ball forward to Corey Jones, who kicked a behind. At the resulting kick-in, the Kangaroos manned up, and Dees players, possibly paralysed by fear that they could again lose, failed to make a lead to Johnstone in the goalsquare.

 

Trav played on, mis-kicked, and the ball wobbled over the line. At the throw- in, Roo Andrew Swallow wrested the ball from the pack and charged towards goal, sending a kick from 50 metres only centimetres over the goal-line and Nathan Carroll’s outstretched paw.

 

Every day heartaches grow a little stronger
I can’t stand this pain much longer…

 

Roos by one point. We knew it would stay this way.

 

I know I’ve got to find
Some kind of peace of mind…

 

Miss Elila, 7, provided the circuit-breaker. Turning to her anguished dad, she asked me: “Why don’t the Demons just play Richmond a lot?”

 

WITH APOLOGIES TO MOTOWN SINGER JIMMY RUFFIN

 

 

Melbourne   2.4 4.8 4.10 11.12 (78)

Kangaroos   3.5 7.7 8.14 10.19 (79)

 

GOALS

Kangaroos: Grant 5, Jones 2, Thomas, Swallow, Campbell.

Melbourne: Neitz 4, Robertson 3, Bruce 2, Jones, Green.

 

BEST

Kangaroos: Grant, Harvey, Swallow, Simpson.

Melbourne: Bruce, Jones, McDonald, Davey.

 

MILESTONES

Harris (Kangaroos) 100 games; Carroll (Melbourne) 50 games.

 

DEBUT

Frawley (Melbourne).

 

UMPIRES

McLaren, Kamolins, Pannell.

 

OUR VOTES

Bruce (M) 3, Grant (K) 2, Swallow (K) 1.

 

BROWNLOW

Bruce (M) 3, Simpson (K) 2, Grant (K) 1.

 

CROWD

30,662

 

 

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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