The Lions Thai Up a Beer and Slippers Easter Saturday Night by Big Kev Witham

One of the problems with not going away at Easter is that your social options are limited on Saturday night. That said, I settled in with some Thai food and a few beers to watch the battle of the exiles, Sydney Swans (aka South Melbourne) versus Brisbane Lions (aka Fitzroy).


The words Sydney and torrential rain don’t really lead to an expectation of a free-scoring game of football. But this negative is countered by the excitement that Brown, Bradshaw, Black and the other Brisbane prime movers generate.


The first quarter looked ominous for the Swans as Jonathan Brown exerted his superiority over the mortal Sydney backmen. In the conditions, Brown was the dominant forward on the ground, both scoring and working hard for his fellow forwards. I wondered how he would have been going if it was a typically balmy Brisbane night rather than the sloppy Sydney conditions that had made their way north. At the other end, Barry Hall, the key to the Swans forward line had had one kick for a goal at quarter time.


The second quarter saw a Sydney fight back early that has become their trademark. Hall commenced with a goal before young Brett Meredith showed that the art of kicking a football long has not been lost. Things looked good for a close game until the Brown-Bradshaw show recommenced. And their dominance seemed to give confidence to the team’s prodigal son, Justin Sherman. The Sherminator was back to his brilliant best, running hard and making position on a night that the rewards went to workers rather than pretenders. A season playing in the QAFL and talk of possible trades was all forgotten as the youngster seemed to revel in the conditions and live up to possibly the best moniker in the AFL.


As could have been scripted, Sydney staged another mini-comeback in the third term, outscoring their opponents by eight points. Victorian discards, Shaw and Richards defended well for the Swans and set up a few good forward thrusts. For Brisbane, Jed Adcock was getting as serious case of leather poisoning, something not lost on those of us who have him in our Dreamteams. He and Travis Johnstone along with Josh Drummond had provided enormous drive for the Lions for three quarters and I wondered if the Sydney charge was going to blunt their effect. But these three combined with Selwood, Rich and Black just seemed to keep working the ball forward in the greasy conditions.


On a night that promised little, by three quarter time I had enjoyed the dry weather skills of the Brisbane players and the promise of a comeback from the dogged Swans players. At this point I feel it’s necessary for the sake of objective journalism to disclose my own personal interest in the result of the game. I had backed the Lions at the line (-13.5 points) and have not been having a great season to date with my football betting. And I have memories of grinding Sydney comebacks over the years nagging away at my confidence.


But in the end I had underestimated the quality and single-mindedness of the Brisbane players. In particular Drummond, Rich, Stiller, Johnstone and Patfull seemed to step up even further in this term to ensure their twenty nine point three quarter time lead was not damaged. These five were in everything in the last quarter and constantly put their heads and bodies over the ball at pace. Add to their performances a team work ethic that seems to have come from watching videos of their coach’s playing history and I really feel that Brisbane are going to be a serious threat to a number of the perceived stronger AFL clubs.


On reflection I realized that, surprisingly, I had enjoyed the game more than my Thai meal.


BRISBANE LIONS 4.4 10.6 12.9 15.10 (100)
SYDNEY 1.2 4.5 7.10 9.13 (67)
Brisbane Lions: Brown 4, Bradshaw 4, Sherman 3, Notting, Adcock, Drummond, Rich. Sydney: Hall 3, Jolly 2, Meredith, Barlow, Moore, White.
Brisbane Lions: Adcock, Drummond, Brown, Sherman, Patfull, Bradshaw. Sydney: Jack, Richards, Jolly, J Bolton.
UMPIRES: H Ryan, S Meredith, S McInerney.
CROWD:24,984 at the Gabba.

My Votes: Selwood (Bris) 3, Drummond (Bris) 2, Sherman (Bris) 1

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and 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 (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.

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