Season 2018 ~ Mick's AFL Footy Blog

3 clubs, 23 rounds, A slab of passion….

Oh! What a Lovely War!


Ron_Barassi_MCG_1975History is in the air at tonight at Etihad. It adds an edge to spiteful proceedings later.  The Roos are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their first VFL premiership, snared during their golden era under Ron Barrassi who is doing a lap in the back of a Tarrago, cup in hand along with captain that day Barry Davis.  Nowadays players move around the clubs like cycling men in lycra. But the 1975 triumph against Hawthorn came after a clever exploitation of a short-lived 10 year rule whereby players of that service could freely move. In what was a great rivalry, the Hawks play the Roos in 10 finals during the mid 70’s, meeting in Grand Finals in 1975, 1976 and 1978. Arden Street admin today maybe scrimping on the brasso as the glittering prize is not cutting through the UV like cups do on that one day in September.

But where is the Kanga’s song on this of all celebratory nights? It’s replaced by YouAmI’s IMG_5594Kangtragic Timmy Rogers dirge like interpretation of the ROOS song thats so reverential it comes across as a Salvation Army soundtrack for which it’s hard to join in the chorus. I hear the plan is to play the original when the lads win, but for me pre game to hear that fox hunt like opening horn in the original genuinely arouses the mind and focuses the emotions of  the fans around sniffing the breeze for vermin on the home estate. Deep in the mix lays a foot stompin’ banjo that conjures up visions of the hillbilly scrub of the 1840’s Errol Street. How to tell the Caberet Band booked for the anniversary dinner dance up on level 2 that their corduroy jackets are backing the wrong side. Continue reading

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Anzac Day marathon


SoldierWe’re at a dampish MCG, out in the open alongside Tex Perkins as he performs an Anzac tribute song with voiceover provided by Ronald Dale Barassi who lost his father in World War Two. When the match begins, there’s over 89,000 of us within. Just under a 100 years ago at Great war’s end, from our less than five million nation,  416,809 men have enlisted, of which over 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner.

So we could multiply todays crowd twice and a bit over to capture those directly affected in service. When you drive through our country towns the cenotaph records the impact therein on those left behind to live on in the aftermath. Mates, brothers, sisters, mums, dads, grandparents, townsfolk connected in various degrees of grief. Death. Misery. Pain never transcended for generations. Loss…. of potential, of presence, of love. How many MCG’s to hold that net trawled through bottomless seas of wretched memory?

The biggest sacrifice we 89,000 will make today is to stay dry in the now traditional Essendon V Collingwood clash. No longer their sole domain and with this Anzac Day falling on a Saturday, the fixture is today jammed with 5 games. Carlton and St Kilda again play in New Zealand to an official crowd figure of 12,000 compiled by a seeing eye dog in stark contrast to the endless rows of Kiwi indifference in the stands exhibited to Aussie punters during the replay.  AFL touts proffering free tickets burn them at quarter time in a bid to stay warm while dreaming of home.

We recall former Anzac comrades as the sun sets on Gold Coast’s empire spanked into 66 point submission by the Great Western Sydney axis highlighting the consequence of contrasting recruitment strategies a the 2 clubs.  We’ve had some history at this event so today I’m staying clear of the giggle juice opting again for a weekly meat injection courtesy of the under 10 bucka pie and chips combo brought to me humble masses from Gillan McLaughlin.   Collingwood’s Jamie Elliot has his dry as a bone radar on early walking between the raindrops that fall 30 centimetres outside the boundary to curve a stupendous goal on the 50.

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Biffs, Bumps and Brawlers

121114_DraftedLargeBefore we realised the long-term potential for groundhog day style damage from a king hit behind play, we excused footy commentary that oscillated between “Ohhhs!!” and “Wow!!!” and the elegant “It’s On!!!”  so long as within the parentheis of brawls, bumps and bruising antics on the field. We’ve since turned back from the more violent aspects of the game, particularly that fine line between rules and cage fighting. The watershed was probably Byron Picketts  “say goodnight” shirtfont on Hawk Brendan Krummel that effectively killed the bump in 1999 that had lived at the top of the hard but fair food AFL food chain since the possum skin evolved into the pigskin. While the brawls are erased, the bump just will not die despite the games rule makers intentions to eradicate it’s  more perilous consequences.

Rules more in the interests of players future interests than the games violent heritage have progressively peeled back the shirtfont, head high contact – with or without malice aforethought – and the slide under a player’s legs. We have concussion tests and 20 minute time outs and close to the near mandatory week off after head injuries. All for the good of the game.

While many with a broader vision of life lament the recent declaration that the Western Black Rhino was now disastrously officially extinct, more in the now focussed sports fans continue to beat their breasts to breathe life back into another threatened species – the biff. “Soft” “Basketball”, even the dreaded (to a man at least) taunt of “Netball” seams the subterranean narrative of loss endured by these violence deprived fans subsisting under the “Nanny state” of the AFL.

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Hooker, line and sinker

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frontanatomy-blog-pectoralA day in the shade in the Ponsford bottom deck public access seats behind the city end goals for this Hawk member’s replacement game. We’re concerned about the Don’s take it to the limit three quarters domination against the Swans last week before they succumbed in the last stanza mostly to a lack of tribunal imposed match fitness.

We keep that in the back of our mind again and again during this game as we fall quickly behind by quarter time, almost at pack up for an early escape by half time but stay after late goals to Rioli and Paul “Poppy” Puopolo;  before we claw back in the third to narrowly get up by 2 goals in the last with 2 minutes to go before martyring our lead on the final siren.

Pre-game comes the news that Sammie Mitchell is a non starter with a corked calf and Josh Gibson too with the euphemistic “general soreness”, an affliction I also have carried mentally for some years now. Early in, ex Dee now Hawk soldier James Frawley “does” his pec and is subbed off. Now down 2 defensive gorillas to quell the atmosphere piercing Essendon forwards Jake Carlisle and Joe Daniher. Mix this into a brew from which this weekend Don warriors from the 1984/85 back to back flags are guzzling in a beer googled driven reunion high above us in a plastic lined hospitality suite and you cop a pass of Windy Hill emotion as you check your card at the turnstiles.

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Culling Cats

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cat-breading-tutorial-004Cats and the internet are a match made in heaven however this is not that kind of post. In the week leading up to this now traditional Easter Monday game between these two great rivals of the modern era, a work mate shared his childhood story of a 3000 km family round trip across 4 states instigated by his mother to buy a cat seemingly devoid of any great bloodline or features. With no buy in for the new pet and uncomfortable memories of humid skin attachments to 70’s car seat liquid vinyl, the cat ultimately died through neglect a year later, a fate shared today by Geelong members.

For the Cats today this game has the sense of a journey toward October for only one quarter before the Hawks out muscled out ran, out tackled and ultimately outscored them by 62 points after unfurling their ’14 flag. From the privileged vantage point of the M12 silver seating peering into a retina bursting autumnal sun, it felt like I was watching quarters 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the 2014 Grand Final such is the Hawk hunger to dominate and begin the elusive and dangerous and potentially delusional three-peat quest.

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Sleeping Invigilators


Graham Kerr

Invigilator – person who supervises candidates during an examination.

Hors-d’oeuvre, Smorgasbord and eating with mini me forks,  are concepts from a distant era populated by flamboyant kaftan and safari suit wearing types dancing to the beat of the monochrome world of the galloping gourmet Graham Kerr. Pop me in the Tardis for one more joyous feast of easy finger food flopped frivolously from fantastic fondue filled fun. Oh for a fat juicy platter of “angels on horseback” that started life in overseas Michelin rated food houses as savouries made from oysters wrapped in bacon before the great fruit substitution heist when we mere convicts put the oyster to the sword.  Resistance is futile once prunes and bacon become baked bed partners within you, pausing to salute the fleet, before launching a thousand ships in your duodenum.

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Art is Life, Life is Footy

silvani“if it doesn’t work …(I) take it off the table and stand it against the wall, hovering in front, rather like a slow motion film of an Australian rules football match with a player looking for an opening . . . or deciding how to pass the ball for the best tactical advantage – how to continue with the painting” ~ ^Sidney Nolan on dealing with creative blocks.

A lot of my art acquaintances, painters mostly,  take umbrage at a perceived predominance of sport in our culture, our media, our funding priorities and our attention. Rock musicians seem the exception in my experience. Pub rockers and footy go hand in hand like the melted camembert that floats off your dry bikkie onto your new boots while you quaff to cough the near to metho Bowler’s run on opening night. Flick on the replay in stunning HD to realise that our guernseys are sun drenched pantone swatches dipped in adrenaline then transcoded to your pleasure centre for viewing through one eyed polarising shades.

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Frequent refunds for Frequent fliers

square_upright_angle_310West Coast and Fremantle players will travel around 50,000 kilometres this year with Virgin Australia, the AFL’s chosen airline in their bid for a 2015 premiership. Those hours in the air bracketed by endless lounge waiting,  tedious queues through security, flight delays and a growing disenchantment with the in flight snack menu. Why put the pic of the cheese and ham melt toasties in the program when they’re only available on the haul to Honiara?

While 80’s soft focus Penthouse style mile high images of Ralph Fiennes on a job that cost a hostess her job come to a mind that’s picking at it’s food,  club insider’s report the only bump uglies the players experience is the regular gut turning turbulence on the approach to most of the eastern seaboard capitals.  Melbourne teams would be lucky to endure even a third of that agony as a marvellous analysis a few seasons back revealed the inequities of the competition. Continue reading

My old mans a Goal Ump, he wears a dustmans cap

2flagsPost World War 2, the dustman’s coat was a euphemism for “work of a sort” favoured by factory supervisors, industrial cleaners, corner grocers, firemen,  in fact,  any occupation that required the reinforcement of authority in the vocational food chain, that is to say…..anyone who needed to be protected from…….dust.  Sometime during this evolution, the dustman’s coat became the moniker of the Australian Rules Goal Umpires.  In that now distant past, when it was associated with purity, white was the colour reserved for the central or field umpire, along with the boundary and goal umpires who earnt the now dead epitaph “White Maggot”.

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Swans implode – Back to Back 2014

Screen shot 2015-03-11 at 10.16.30 AMDaniel Hannebery, Sydney Swan rising elite midfielder glides between players to swoop on the ball. As though arriving from an inter galactic transfer, Hawk Jarrad Roughead materialises before him, disarms the ball, scoops him front on before smashing Daniel from orbit into the terra firm of the MCG centre square.

Roughie’s hit mid way through the first quarter shifts the zeitgeist of the Grand Final, trundling the Hawks to emerge from a wormhole of competitiveness to eventual total  dominance. By half time neither Sydney’s elite, their second tier or riff raff can influence the dam breech now flooding their aspirations below 42 oxygen deprived points.

No way as we entered the G on grand final day at 11am did I expect such a Hawk victory. Continue reading