AFL Round 9: West Coast lose to the Pies at home?

by David Bruce


I didn’t watch this game.  Didn’t see a single second of it, and if I have my way it will stay that way.

In truth, I’ve not watched a game live since the 2005 GF, but living here in Canberra it couldn’t be any other way even if I wanted it to be.

In theory, the Eagles couldn’t lose this game.  At 3-5, but with the core of a premiership side from only three years ago, at home and having been playing reasonably well against a Collingwood side that was barely their seconds and terribly over-rated when at full strength, it was – as they say – a “must win game”.

If that wasn’t enough for the alarm bells to ring, then the first rains for 2009 were a clear danger sign.  Anything that threw even a hint of uncertainty into the outcome was of concern.

We sat down to dinner as showed the first quarter getting underway.  The pies (deliberately lower case) got the first score, it seemed an ill-omen.  The net is a cold, soulless place at best, and ‘watching’ footy by way of a updating webpage during a dinner party might just be the most soulless of all, without even the consolation of (presumably, hopefully) the vision of a decent effort to soften the blow of an increasingly concerning scoreline.

There are moments in sport, as in life, that are much bigger than their superficial appearance.  They carry a meaning that goes far beyond the moment.  Craig McDermott being given out caught behind to Courtney Walsh at Adelaide Oval in 1993 was more about Allan Border’s whole career than that Test.  Justin Langer mis-fielding at deep mid-wicket and conceding a needless boundary in an early tour game seemed clumsy at the time, but took on more serious tones as a harbinger of what was to come on the 2005 Ashes tour.  And let us not even talk of the early signs in the last round of the 1996 US Masters golf.

And so ends the Eagles 2009 season.  They should have been a 5th-8th team this year.  Good enough to win their home games and pick up one or two away, and getting back on track.  Beating an understrength Collingwood at home, reinforcing the home ground advantage – these were necessities, not niceties.

Instead, this loss confirms my fears that 2005 and 2006 were more the aberration than 2008.  The Eagles were OK in 05-06, but I thought at the time and still do now that their run had more to do with the fact that no-one was particularly good in those years.  If Sydney could be seriously competitive playing that rubbish, we should all have recognised the dearth of real quality in the league at the time.

And so tonight was the season in a microcosm.  Keeping track of the score on frequent, but increasingly depressing visits to the kitchen, my team’s season slipped away.  By the time we cracked out the chocolate Bavarian and the second bottle of red, it was all over.

I don’t even know the final score, having resorted to the very last hope of a comeback after you turn it off, knowing this works but once a century, and even then only against Geelong.

I don’t know who played well, and I don’t really care.  It would be nice to think that Collingwood, with their backs against the wall and their own season on the line, finally played some decent football.  But I can’t help think that this was a game for the Eagles to lose, and lose it they did.

There are some acceptable losses in sport, we all know that no matter what coaches and players tell us.  The corollary of course is that there are some unacceptable losses as well.

About the only good things I can say about tonight are: I can get on with watching neutral games; and at least in a drought at least the weather is good for golf.


  1. Pamela Sherpa says

    David,I find the net is a lifeline for getting the footy scores and radio coverage. One advantage of living away from your team is that if they are having a bad trot you can avoid the fallout that accompanies it. Don’t depair, if you need a distraction from thinking about your own team the AFL is coming to the rescue with a game on in town this weekend.

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