Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Everybody Is A Star

Given what happened in the following four quarters (and more specifically in the last thirty seconds of the longest quarter ever played) I'll forgive the fact that for some reason it cost me $29 to get into the SCG. I'll even forgive the fact that despite the vast majority of Sydney based Swans fans becoming educated and knowledgable about the game in recent years I still ended up seated in the middle of the "copies of the AFL rulebook are available from the club office" section. I'll even forgive the guy who insisted at the end that "legging" was a reportable offence, and when asked if it had any relation to "tripping" he went off on a spree about when we last won a Premiership etc.. Because god help us all we finally won a game.

And unlike last week when I felt a strange apathy in that tight last quarter, even when we had just been persecuted by a goal umpiring decision that was contentious at best, this was personal. I wouldn't have been shattered if we'd gone down to a better side by five goals having shown something, but coming so far as to have held a four goal advantage in the third quarter (quickly extinguished, but encouraging) and various other leads in the last I would have been a broken man to go home without any points whatsoever. Of course when the ball rebounded off Robbo's chest from Aaron Davey's pass at the 31 minute mark and the Swans cleared I was calling for siren and a draw. Anything would have done for me other than a loss. It's been fifteen years since our last draw (against the Swans, featuring - if I recall correctly - world renowned lunatic Wayne Lamb botching a shot to win it on debut), and we've had enough results under a goal in that time to expect that we'd scrag a 2pt result eventually. At least if we hadn't taken full points we had another dodgy umpiring decision to hang it on - and there was no doubt about what a fiasco this one was. Jared Rivers gives away a free-kick, throws the ball back to some cheat who extends his hand about 3 centimetres in an "attempt" to catch it. Naturally due to this pissweak effort it flies over his head and the umpire is sucked in like the biggest moron ever to have been born and pays a 50 that ties the scores. Naturally the AFL would later come out and say that it was all good and they supported him. I hate the AFL. When that came on the television that night I almost smashed the thing, and it's not even mine.

But then - oh thing of beauty, hath thee ever shone upon us so? The ball ends up inside our fifty one last time (with 33 minutes showing on the game clock and tensions rising to "post nuclear" level) and a botched Sydney clearance lands with Travis Johnstone who rolls a low kick in (we'll call it deliberate) which bounces into the arms of Nathan Brown, the handball is flicked out to Cam Bruce who snaps over his shoulder and initiates wild scenes. I didn't even know it was a goal - any score would have done for me at that point. My primal scream died before it became apparent that we'd goaled. Little did we know there was still 40 seconds left in the longest quarter ever. Naturally Sydney did what they did all day and murdered us out of the centre straight away, and the ball landed in the arms of some stooge who botched a very kickable shot from 40m to leave it at five points the difference and set up one of our traditional kick-in failures to lead to the winning goal and heartbreak all around. Luckily it took only two more kicks to run the clock and seal the deal. Sadly due to my policy of refusing to ever sing the song again until we at least won one final I was denied the appropriate release of tension at the final siren and instead sat around shattered for a bit.

What made it more sweet (other than stitching up the bastards after they'd copped that charity 50) was the fact that we had 1 fit player left on the bench for the last quarter, after having only 2 for the whole second half. Brock McLean was on fire before blowing his hamstring (2 weeks), and Neitz had just started to assert himself on the game when his hip died in the arse and he needed to hobble off (1/2 weeks depending on who you believe). I didn't even see Paul Johnson go, but given that he was having undoubtedly his best game for us yet it's a bastard that he's out for 6 weeks.

In other news you'll never convince me that the goal Yze kicked off the ground when he got tackled was deliberate. He played a fine game but that was just stick the leg out and hope for the best if I've ever seen it. As I said at the time I'll take as many slop, fluke goals as is necessary to secure victory - and I stand by it.

Of course then we had the "Premiershipgate" incident with the knobend Swans fan. God knows who he was. Now, in the same situation I would probably have ripped the same line - there's absolutely no doubting that it's a corker of a weapon when it comes to footy arguments (and indeed I hope to deploy it one day) - but the point remains that most people in Melbourne were actually happy to see the Swans win it last year. It really is a case of "Congratulations, you're the lesser of two evils". But we were happy for the South Melbourne fans who had their club stolen from them 20+ years earlier, and the people who jumped on the Swans in Sydney and stayed there when the club was complete rubbish. Those old people who were always behind the goals as they lost 26 in a row (try to forget who they ended the streak against..) - that's the sort of people I'd cop that shit off. Not newborn fuckwits who jumped on five years ago, wonder when Tony Lockett is coming back and who were only there because the Fox Sports replay of some rubbish Super 12 game between The Highlanders and the Rotorua Rug Rats didn't start until 6pm. His assertion that "LEGGING IS A REPORTABLE OFFENCE" will remain with me forever as the perfect example of a clueless twat trying to talk himself up without realising that everyone else on earth knows more than he does. Legitimate Swans fans, I bear you no ill will. Jaunty banjo solos and shaking thunder from the sky is alright with me - but to cop a lecture from a rank amateur about history is a joke. We shall fight once again for the Wayne "Moose" Henwood Cup, and if the NSW Waratahs haven't got a home game against the Perth Pederasts at the same time I'm sure the 1800-No-Fucking-Idea Man (that's 1800-663-825-464-4332 for those of you with an old phone) will be there to continue his education and drink at the fountain of football knowledge. Please, Sydney based people, adopt a Spaz and school them.

Votes - and predictably enough the votes in this game are worth a million times more than any that preceeded it. It's blatantly unfair, but as the "Cameron Bruce by how far?" tilt continues it really shouldn't make too much of a difference to the overall scheme of things.

5 - Bruce (Everywhere for four quarters)
4 - Pickett (Everywhere for two and a half quarters. Best on ground by a mile in those moments but went missing a bit towards the end. Still, did you think we'd get this service out of him in pre-season? I didn't)
3 - McDonald (There's life in the Junior Burger yet..)
2 - Miller (Wrecked Hall for the second year in a row)
1 - Brown (See also McDonald.. Back in style)

Apologies to White/Carroll/Yze/Rivers/Johnson/McLean/Whelan/Davey. I'd give you all votes if I could. But I can't. Life is unfair.

2006 Allen Jakovich Medal Count

16 - Cameron Bruce
7 - Colin Sylvia
7 - Byron Pickett
5 - Aaron Davey
4 - Nathan Carroll
4 - Jared Rivers - 2006 Marcus Seecamp Cup leaders.
3 - Travis Johnstone
3 - David Neitz
3 - James McDonald
2 - Brent Moloney
2 - Brock McLean
2 - Brad Miller
1 - Daniel Ward
1 - Nathan Brown

In case you care Clint Bartram is currently winning the Craig Smoker "Best Rookie" award on a countback from Matthew Warnock. In the interests of being completely unfair in the awarding of this prize it will go to the highest scoring rookie in the overall tally. So if somebody comes in for Round 22 and scores 1 vote he'll nick it. Hah.

PLUS - A win. Any win. The season not yet back on track but certainly travelling somewhere nearer to the tracks than it was at 1.09pm on Sunday.

MINUS - I'm not usually one to whinge about umpires, or to care enough about which one is which, but the peanut that paid that 50 can fuck right off and rot in the fiery pits of hell for all I care. The only way he can repay that is to pay rorts for us for the rest of the year and win us a grand final.

Do it again? Surely you jest.

Next week: North. The MCG. Saturday. God help us all we should actually win, but they'll be wanting to bounce back from some atrocious form and we've got an injury list longer than Europe during the black plague. There's even internet speculation about Nick Smith being wheeled out for the first time since 2003. Yet again I'll be there - extending my streak of consecutive Victorian games to a three year record high. Kids - please note that shiftwork can save you from watching bad football.

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