BQuaD – that is Big Boy Ben Brown to you, is a big boned Tasmanian who languished in the TFL before heading to Werribee for one more crack that succeeded with his drafting by North Melbourne last year. A great favourite of Mick’s Footy Blog upon his arrival in the big League against Hawthorn earlier this year, he now sits in Shinboner finals immortality. Tonight he kicks 3 goals in 11 minutes in the 3rd quarter to reboot a faint trace of life on the MCG ECG.
The Kangas come into this elimination final heavy favourites after a run of victories that seemed to right that run of hot and cold performances where they could suffocate top 8 teams and fall meekly to the also rans. 5 years under Brad Scott with only one finals appearance that concluded with a near 100 point West Coast whipping has the fans expectant with entitlement along with long suffering atonement.
From a fashion perspective, while tonight we have the odd samuri top knots in evidence at least we are spared the bushranger/islamic prophet beard favoured by a number of AFL players. North players thankfully have not embraced the Cat Stevens / Mad Dog Morgan / Captain Moonlight impersonations nor the samurai inspired tightened mid head hair curl with clean haircuts and smooth shaved battle ready faces.
From the start the Roos look on the back foot, slow to the ball, losing their opponents, smashed in the midfield. Kicks askew, a lack of urgency and foot skills as the Don pressure fertilises a 14 point lead in no time. Del Santo and Greenwood goal in time on and it seems the Roos are back on track, down by 1 point at quarter time.
What happens next is what all Roo fans had kept hidden unspoken in their mind’s vault of fears in their bed wide awake at 3.15am with the teddy bear nowhere to be found for comfort.
North fold totally scoring only 1 point for the quarter with goals to Howlett, Daniher , a long bouncing Goddard goals from a corridor clearing run finishes with a cherry on top provided by the ex Cat Chapman. 27 points down in an instant. Not again?! Even that hypnotic half time competition of guessing which of the shuffling 3 boxes contains the Panadol box that substitutes for relief from queuing for beer brings little playful joy. This is serious. Amongst the faithful, we have Firrito delisted, Frawley recruited, a permanent move to Tasmania in place as we implore Brawshaw to sign Bomber Thompson as coach for 2015 having shown Scott the door. “Anything can happen in footy” suggest the slightly smug but well-meaning “tea and sympathy” aside of the big-boned bomber comfort food indulging supporter next to me.
But she’s right…eventually. But Chapman scores the first of the second half and the lead is now out to 33 points, the summit now lost to the finals fog. Enter BQuaD. He marks and goals quickly in succession giving a sniff. Roos begin to win the clearances and the quick ball entry unsettles the Dons, as Thomas snaps and BQuaD marks with his arms a metre out in front and drills a huge one on the boundary from the MCG members flank. While Gibson snares one, the Bombers are just 3 points adrift and address the panic with a quick Howlett reply. Ziebell counters and Roos are back to 3 points down. But Daniher marks on the boundary and check-sides it through now back out to 9 up. Thomas is not be denied and struts a goal from the end of a Well’s gut run give. Bellchambers goals on the siren to bring it back to 9 on the bell settling up the cardiologists dream of consulting to likely tight chambers in the last.
Brown goals once more to bring it once more back to within 3 before Daniher extends it to 8. Roo hardnut Cunnington bangs home another as the clearance dominance consolidates and when Lindsay Thomas put the Roos up for the first time in the game, you could fry an egg on the top of those select anti-hirsute fans scalps. Even the Cardiologists are going down under the intensity to chants of “Physician – Heal Thyself!”. Pat Ryder marks and plays on spinning an audacious snap from 45 that returns the Don’s to a one point lead. Drew Petrie has played in the shadow of BQuaD all time and until this point contributed little to the Roo’s quest. He obliterates that legacy in 2 minutes with 2 consolidating goals that complete the game. The first to take the lead back is a snap in traffic, the second a roll the dice outside right foot that zips, bubbles and curves through like a duck hunter employed drone to the delirium of Roo’s devotees. Soon the air is filled with “out they come, out they come, out they come to play”, that ancient precursor to the North song proper. Scenes of elation follow on the final siren.
The game is only one of 6 comebacks for the year where the winning side has been encountered a 30+ point deficit at half time. Firrito is reinstated, Scott re-contracted and we tell the Tassie Government to get stuffed.
For North, Levi Greenwood, Ben Brown and Daniel Wells, Ben Gibson, Scott Thompson, Nick Del Santo, Todd Goldstein, Nathan Grima and Scott Wright have reserved the second half for their best spells of footy for the year. For the Dons, fellow Leongatha champion Dyson Heppell racks up endless disposals for his first game back with a broken hand held together with a plate. Young Don forward Joe Daniher has kicked 4 of his own goals and stamped himself as a player who can rise to the bait of finals. Coach Bomber Thompson sadly bows out of football for now, a future in the game to play out in the off-season.
The Roos have done the Finals Series and the subsequent ethical questions to ensue had the Bombers progressed deeper into September. On the Ute ride home, talkback radio was awash with speculation about which team the Federal Court judge followed. Essendon suggested one, Collingwood another. St Kilda a third. He abhors Sport and follows art and literature suggested a fourth. Regardless his decision likely to come before the Grand Final removes any further unease about the veracity of the competition where competing finals players also have ASADA “show cause” notices in their “back pockets” or “man bags” depending on the extent to which metrosexuality has steeped the individual player.
All victories so far this round have been by the higher ladder dweller of the two combatants and a reducing division of the number 12 – Hawks over the Cats by 36, Sydney took Freo by 24 and tonight the Roos by 12 over the Dons. Look out for a tie between Tigers and Port today!