That phrase is there in my notes underlining the names Dawson, Blakey and Bell. It was Bell’s first AFL goal and as he was being mobbed by the team ‘the future’ was the first thing that came to my head. We’ve not exactly had a stellar season and having Smith, McVeigh and Grundy retire has lent a certain extra melancholy to the year. But seeing these young blokes and others like McCartin and Rowbottom grow into the side has provided a lot of hope for our next campaign.
As the wife and I settled in for another Channel 7 broadcast I was hoping the boys would have a great game if only as a confidence booster and a chance to shine. As for the Dees? The question remains: has their year been a dramatic fall from grace or was last year a statistical outlier? To have your season melt faster than a Popsicle on a summer’s day must be particularly disheartening. It’s bad enough the Swans aren’t playing in September. A fact I keep brushing aside but need to swiftly come to terms with.
Our first quarter viewing was a bit stop-start; what, with having to pause the broadcast to check on the sausage rolls. It’s a footy season tradition for us to spend one game a year shovelling down a pile of homemade rolls in front of a televised game and it was jarring to find ourselves suddenly in Round 22 having not indulged our flaky pastry and meat fix. I’d intended to find a pub to watch the game at but that went straight out of the window. Instead it was oven at 200 degrees and tomato sauce within easy grasp.
Speaking of things within easy grasp it seemed we’d secured the four points right within the first part of the opening term. A goal to Papley and two to Reid had me confident we would atone for that loss in Round 4. Reid to score seven I confidently announced. Shortly after which our fast start evaporated. Melbourne found rare space out the back and also took advantage of a free kick to score again. Rowbottom settled things with a goal and we were off again. However, the Dees cut off Jack’s handball, got it upfield and ultimately proved too fast for Lloyd. Kennedy fumbled a certain chest mark and Parker’s rushed shot hit the post. For all the hard work we were only one goal clear at the siren.
Reid scored in under a minute at the start of the second quarter courtesy of a (barely there) holding call. And from there we didn’t really let off, restricting Melbourne to two behinds. We didn’t exactly pepper the goalposts but behinds to Papley and Florent and a goal to Dawson put enough of a buffer to have me feeling more comfortable again. Right at the end of the quarter McCartin took great grab, was tackled late and awarded a fifty. Where was that ruling two weeks ago?
We broke the game open with a dominant quarter to keep the home side goalless. Not that they didn’t have their chances, through turnovers and somewhat dubious free kicks. But with every wayward shot their confidence seemed to sag. Blakey was fired up about something after he scored but the TV never elaborated on what it was. I like that about him. For a skinny lad he doesn’t shirk the contest; a welcome mongrel element surfacing in the team. Menzel slotted his ‘round-the-corner’ shot and Rowbottom got his second mopping up Heeney’s ghastly set shot. Melbourne had a late surge but again missed the bullseye.
They carried that energy into the last period but were unable to outwit Rampe to capitalise. From there it was mostly one-way traffic flowing our way, the highlight being Bell’s goal and superb little celebratory dance. The only bad thing was Mills being pinged for stepping back over the line despite being under pressure. Papley sneaking out the back in the dying seconds put a full stop on the game.
All up, a great team win and while our season was stuttering weeks ago I’m hoping tonight will seed some long term gains. The signs are there; the rooms looked jubilant long after the club song. It even made ‘Roaming Brian’ bearable, at least for the first few minutes.
A last mention has to go to Aliir. While I’m not always comfortable seeing his broad infectious grin in the ruck, mostly for fear of an injury, I can’t help but admire his athleticism when he goes up. His second effort straight after the first bounce really set the tone. It’s a shame that he didn’t top it off with a goal.
And speaking of sausage rolls mine were, as always, delicious.