The View from Shepparton

Went to the footy on Satdy, first time in yonks. Went to see the Guns v the Powerless. Don’t go to live footy very often, which is a bummer because I don’t recognise a lot of the players and certainly didn’t recognise most of the Guns or for that matter most of the Port players.

So whaddoI reckon? It certainly wasn’t like when as a kid in South Australia I first went to see Birdwood playing Lobethal, a neighbouring town nine miles away in the old Torrens Valley League in South Oz. They were better than us because they had an average rainfall of 36 inches compared to our 28. Of course I knew, or knew of most of the Birdwood players. Captain Coach Vern Mueller had a Teutonic background which stood out a mile in terms of his big frame, bullocking demeanour and iron willed determination. He was in what used to be called in South Australian terms, “First Ruck” He wore number one and he wore it like he meant it. He gave inspired gutsy addresses to his players at the breaks. Birdwood had the red and white of North Adelaide. Lobethal wore yellow and black, the same as Glenelg, but I don’t recall them ever being referred to as the “Tigers”. Many of their players also had Teutonic backgrounds but for whatever reason I recall them being a small fast side who dad reckoned played dirty, so therefore they must have although I can’t recall any of this. This football had soul.

Which the Suns Port game did not. In fact the contrast between this and the State of Origin game could not have been starker. When Port ran onto the ground there was nary a sound, when the Suns emerged there was scattered applause helped enthusiastically by the PA system

I want to say that the AFL is doing everything possible to make the code go in Queensland. For example there were free shuttle busses from various parts of the Gold Coast to and from the ground. I felt that there was at least a glimmer of support for a side that so far has been frankly woeful. There were quite animated discussions on the bus about the forthcoming game, the feeling being that Port were going to get rolled again. I have to say that there was also a lot of talk about the State of Origin game. In my youth, being brought up in a Lutheran manse in a predominantly Lutheran community this would have been akin to talking up the Catholic Church, uncomfortable and upsetting. As it was I marvelled at being in a society in which the merits of any sport was freely discussed without detriment to the other.

All the staff at the ground were happy and friendly and it was easy to find our seats.

Our first impression of Metricon Stadium was extremely favourable, sure there weren’t many people there but for some reason, when booking on line, I had gained the impression that this was going to be a full house, despite the low rankings of the teams playing.

After a while though this favourable impression began to wear off and one almost had a feeling of sourness. As I think occurs at all sporting venues these days the sound through the PA system was shrill with a volume of about 1 million decibels. This was not helped by a female “presenter” who had a hard job to do in hyping up a non existent crowd, although eventually just over 12,000 turned up, by her over relentless, over the top happy enthusiasm. I know this won’t be news to regular attendees but in the good old days all the required hyping up was provided by a seconds match played immediately prior to the main game. It was ten times more interesting than this. What I saw was an intrusion of American culture into our game, no doubt in an attempt to meet commercial imperatives but which I found to be strained and artificial.

A real problem though was that as it turned out our seats were directly facing the sun and most of the play was on the half farthest away from us which was in the shade which meant that most of the play was in silhouette. This made it difficult for me to even follow the progress of the ball on many occasions let alone what was really happening or for that matter the identity of the players involved. I made a mental note that next time we will go to a night match.

The game itself was OK to half time; a chap by the name of Day for the Suns kicked three goals in that first half and took some good marks. Brett Ebert for Port looked good, looked phenomenally fit as well. Had the Gold Coast not fallen apart in the third quarter well then perhaps some soul might have emerged. As it was they were dead and buried at three quarter time. The Minister of Home Affairs and myself were surrounded by Power supporters and when the Coast kicked the first goal of the last quarter I announced loudly and significantly for anyone who wanted to hear, and for those who didn’t, “you’re getting worried now Port”. A couple of the Port supporters sort of agreed with this and were getting more disturbed when the Suns got the next two as well. Any chance of the comeback being sustained was ruined when Brown, moving at glacial speed with initially half the ground to spare was caught motherless holding the ball.

It was disappointing no doubt, the local press had given the Suns a really favourable write up in the Saturday paper but these guys have to start returning the faith. The highlight for me was a great souring mark taken by Bennell taken as luck would have it right in front of us. That was a great “Rules moment. Gazza was quiet by his standards but to see him dodging and weaving and a couple of his handballs was pretty special. Karmichael Hunt got plenty of handballs; he is exciting to watch as well. For Port I liked Brad Ebert and Daniel Pearce, the latter is will of the wisp at times. Well played Power, you were simply too good.

I hate to acknowledge this but the Pies had a great win, particularly given their injury list; I listened to a fair bit of this game on am radio in our Gold Coast motel with the sound fading in and out. I thought that the Crows would be in trouble when at three quarter time they were only a goal ahead with Collingwood coming home with the breeze but hoped that the crowd would lift them through. Collingwood has clearly been too good for the Crows for years and it is hard to see the Crows doing any real damage in September based on this result.

The big one was Richmond annihilating Hawthorn. Good luck to the Tiges; they are my favourite Victorian side. I reckon Hawthorn have had it this year.

I received a gloating text from our daughter bragging that Essendon were on top, having just given GWS a football lesson. West Coast have duly fixed that by easily beating Freo.

After their great start to the year, Sydney have hit the skids, for St Kilda the exact opposite. They are better off without Ross Lyon who is now messing up Fremantle although they might make me look stupid again in the quite possible event of their beating Adelaide next week.

At least Brisbane were competitive this week but North were always going to win from 57 points up.

Geelong had a scare on Friday night but perhaps they might be on the way back from their form slump.

Highlight: First Queensland try in the State of Origin, fantastic movement of the ball, along with Jonathon Thurston’s conversions, just unreal by AFL standards.

Lowlight: Billy Slater missing bombs.

About Peter Schumacher

Wannabe footy commentator and writer, used to be a wannabe footballer

Leave a Comment