I recall only one game worse than this – a cold wet windy slog between Fitzroy and Hawthorn in 1979 fought in “Arctic blast” conditions. That day only 6000 diehards braved the elements in the then standing room terraces. A 44 gallon drum used as a rubbish tin (barrel?) had been emptied and a fire lit in the style of today’s modern balcony chimeras. On that day, around 3000 were gathered around the fire, backs to the play, faces to the glowing warmth of the Fitzroy funeral pyre. The rest not sitting comfortably in a member’s pavilion seat continued the scavenging fuel to sustain the fire by stripping trees, hoardings, loose grandstand boards and signs in the quest. At least there was some entertainment that day even if the football was totally on the turn.
Today however there’s so such relief as both sides fight to a miserable 2 goals each by half time. To this point the game resembled a rolling scrum as if 38 grown men were suddenly fighting over the last loaf of bread on earth before the apocalypse. The new wave of umpiring ensured that game impasse were plentiful and bereft of free kick reward. Fans were frustrated, venting, angry and in despair at what we are witnessing. The only interest was in seeing when the final blow to Jack Ziebells shoulder would finally fell him as he took wack after wack into the crucial joint, his arm hanging mutely by his side.
Universally this game is panned as one of the worst in living memory. A travelling Pommie worker sits next to us carefully displaying his 457 Visa for when we dig deeper into his origins. This is his introduction to a game in which none of the players would qualify under the Visa’s strict genuinely skilled workers guidelines . We’re witnessing a convincing argument that both the Kangas and the Woof Woofs could not find an appropriately skilled Australian worker during this game. And to think our English friend choose this shocker over the Eagles destruction of Melbourne that is unfolding at the MCG at the same time. He think’s it’s great – nearly as good as seeing the kangaroos hop down Bourke Street.
It’s during the 3rd quarter the Dogs hit the front and the henchman seems at the ready to accompany Roo coach Brad Scott to the gallows. That is until the oldest man in the league Brett “Boom Box” Harvey fires up with 3 goals. The Roos get on a roll through sub Levi Greenwood, and Nick Del Santo, and win the struggle. At least the game opens up in the second half and we get some open play and nice goals. The rest you can rip off its moorings and incinerate in that 44 gallon drum.
North Melbourne 12 11 83 d Western “Woof Woof” Bulldogs 8 6 54