Vintage Cheese: a tribute to Shane O’Bree.

First half:  Cheesed off.

A strange thing happened between Collingwood and Brisbane in the nineties and the noughties—it was the AFL’s equivalent of Sliding Doors or Trading Places. While one group of players and staff became the victors (Leigh Matthews, Gubby Allan, Mal Michael), the others became the vanquished (Jarrod Molloy, Nathan Buckley). Another to go from Brisbane to Collingwood and miss out on Triple Premiership glory was Shane “Cheesy” O’Bree.

Tonight is Cheesy’s 200th game against you guessed it . . . Brisbane. All week I’ve been thinking that this one will go to the script and we’ll lose another narrow one to the boys from the north. The hoodoo will continue. This would be especially fitting in Triple Premiership Captain Voss’s first game against us as coach.

The first quarter starts at a frenetic pace and already the story is taking a familiar turn. Cheesy is sent out for the toss . . . and loses.

Brisbane hastily go three goals up without Collingwood firing a shot. Cheesy is trying to work his way into the game but is not having all that much effect. On quarter-time things go seriously pear-shaped. Cheesy seems to amble a little way over the mark and a goal and fifty-metre penalty are awarded to Brisbane. Heavens! I am starting to say words at home that should not be uttered by a minister on a Friday night (or any night for that matter!) We are 22 points down and the Triple Premiership Captain is continuing his unrelenting path to glory.

The second quarter on the Kevin Rudd Economic Stimulus Package Memorial Big Screen (“I’m just doing my bit for the economy, Honey”) LG TV goes a little better. A kid called Barham is working his way into the match. Like his old man, he loves a big occasion (his Dad kicked five on debut against Hawthorn). He is quick and efficient. The talisman —Anthony Rocca — is starting to take big marks and lay some earth shuddering tackles. On the half-time siren Travis Cloke converts from outside fifty. This script is taking a serious turn for the better. We are ten points down.

Second half: a Cheesy grin

In the third quarter the momentum continues to shift. Brisbane have stalled. Charman goes off with an injured ankle and Fraser asserts his authority in the ruck. Lockyer is all over the ground. And Cheesy is fantastic. He tackles and hits bodies and claws the ball out of contests. You couldn’t ask for more. Suddenly we are on top. Medhurst creates some goals from out of nothing. Kevin’s Big Screen TV has never looked better.

The final term, thankfully, is decided by one, singular act of courage. On the wing Presti and Rischitelli slide in for the ball. It is magnificent. Both players are fully committed. Presti shoots out a handball and Rischitelli is injured. This is why we stay up late on Friday nights to watch delayed telecasts. Contests. Courage. A battle. Full commitment. It is why at the age of 35 I am still playing veterans football — because there are few other places in society that your character can actually be tested. On a footy ground there are only two types of players: the courageous and the fearful.

Rischitelli and Presti both pass this test of character, but Presti wins the battle and miraculously we win the war as well. After the game Cheesy has a grin from ear to ear. The hope of a renewed season is now a reality. The talisman is back. A new script is being written. Bring on the Bombers.

David Enticott is the Minister of the Rosanna Baptist Church (except on Friday nights when his language takes a serious turn for the worse).

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