By local rock star and comedian, Rob Bryers, Melbourne AUS.
AFL (21st June) – Hawthorn Hawks v Collingwood Magpies, MCG AUS
An obvious duo to go and watch a game of Australian Rules football, would be a rock musician from New Zealand, and a computer science nerd from Sweden.
This was to be my Swedish flatmate Mikael’s first game of AFL! You should probably be able to guess who’s who…
Feeling a touch of the mid-winter blues this week I was a little under the weather. Turns out drinking and smoking every night isn’t actually the best antidote?
The Mt View Hotel on Bridge Rd was the venue for lunch. Mikael embracing his Scandinavian roots went for the Bangers and Mash. “Why do they call sausages ‘Bangers’ over here?” he asked. I had no answer for him, but I was determined to find out…
After the outbreak of World War I, food shortages led to a dramatic reduction of meat, of any sort, in sausages. Instead, producers packed them out with scraps, cereal and water, which caused them to pop and hiss when cooked on shovels over open fires in the trenches of northern Europe — hence ‘”bangers”
With that worldly dilemma resolved over a pint of the somewhat confusingly named White Rabbit Dark, (just $11.20… that’s fair right? $11.20 for a beer?) We made our way down to the mighty MCG.
Hawthorn were surprisingly strong favourites for the match at odds of $1.28; Collingwood were offered at $3.25. There was a bumper crowd in attendance for this very rare traditional Saturday afternoon games; just over 70,000 people were packed into the MCG.
Wise as ever, I ensured I was seated at the end of the row, with essential easy access to the bar and bathroom at all times. At the time it seemed that our neighbouring seats would remain vacant, until ten minutes into the first quarter when they were taken by a harmless looking father-son combination.
The Hawks looked dominant immediately. It was one of those matches where even though the scoring remained close, you could just sense that Hawthorn were about to cut loose at any moment. Two consecutive goals in quick time to young Hawk’s star Luke Breust closed the quarter out to put them up with an 8 point lead.
Half way through the second turn Hawthorn looked as if they were going to pull away further as a goal by newcomer Jonathon Ceglar took the score to 47-26. However, Collingwood fought back through the giant figure of Travis Cloke (quite possibly the oldest looking 27 year old in history) who reduced the deficit and brought the half time score back to 49-40.
The third quarter then tightened to an uncomfortably close 56-54 after another unbelievable Cloke goal (he kicked 5 for the match) from an impossible angle. It was then that I noticed the tension starting to get to our adjacent seated father-son attendees…
“MAGGOTS!!! MAGGOTS!!!” the father yelled repeatedly in a deep, gravelly, death-metal-like voice. “MAGGOTS!! DOGS!!” The veins in his neck ready to burst, his eyes teary and bloodshot with rage.
Then his eight year old son joined in…
“F***ING MAGGOT-DOGS!!” Mikael seated immediately next to the father was as scared as he was confused, later noting that he couldn’t figure out which team the man was supporting as his abuse seemed entirely indiscriminate? I deduced he was definitely a Hawthorn supporter, astute to the man’s use of the term “maggots”. This was possibly a cunning replacement of the word “Magpies?” although I’m still yet to find any obvious literary or metaphorical connotations for the ambiguous appointment of “Dogs”. Perhaps he just thought they looked like dogs? Who really knows?
Fortunately the final quarter saw the Hawks pull away from the Magpies in a fury, at one point the margin 102-67. Mikael was especially relieved as he was sure his chances of being murdered, maimed or beaten, were now much less.
HAWTHORN HAWKS 17.13.115 – COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES 13.8.86
By local rock star and comedian, Rob Bryers, Melbourne AUS.
AFL (9th June) – Melbourne Demons v Collingwood Magpies, MCG AUS
The annual Queen’s Birthday weekend clash between the Collingwood Magpies and the Melbourne Demons is traditionally a clash of class…. The working class versus the upper class. This petty financial imbalance all becomes irrelevant if the working class excels while the monetary opportune capitulate into a chasm of Mt Doom-like despair. This has been the general trend for the Melbourne Demons since 2008.
Two of my good mates are staunch Demon’s supporters, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to them relentlessly abuse their bottom-of-table-dwelling team for the last six years. This is them here…
This photo with the now deceased Demons legend Jim Stynes was taken after Michael Badger (left) and Jono Bowlby (right) turned up to a Demon’s support rally on Federation Square; their enthusiasm clearly undeterred by a night without sleep. Jono especially looks wide awake!
Today though, there was hope. There was the smell of change in the air. After looking like the most dismal professional sporting establishment in Australia for some years; under new coach Paul Roos, Melbourne have been showing signs of potential. I even tipped Melbourne for the round; normally an autonomous strike through on the weekly fixture.
The match started with hope, the first goal kicked by Dee’s captain Nathan Jones after just 23 seconds. This was to be the only significant moment for the Dee’s in a bustling first quarter, neither side looking all too dominant, the Dee’s closing the quarter ahead in a brawling 9-8 first turn contest.
By the second quarter I managed to make my way into an actual seat after an in-and-out illegal passing of identification badges. I found myself perched in the front row on the fifty metre mark at the Punt road end of the ground. This was a much better spot than I had for the first quarter – meandering on the MCG’s outskirts by the Ron Barassi statue; my mate with the free pass was held up after his Region 6 Division Two doubles, 486th place play-off tennis match went to an unforeseen 11-9 final set cliff-hanger.
The defence based match continued in the second quarter, Melbourne fighting hard to a 16-25 deficit. Any attacking flourish could have easily broken the game open at any moment, although this was proving a tough ask for both sides as the third quarter commenced.
To the Demon’s follower’s credit, their vocal support was relatively optimistic. Not one ‘C-bomb’ and only the occasional ‘F-bomb’ bellowed out across the stadium. Ultimately though this good spirit turned sour as they became under more sustained pressure at the end of the third quarter. Demon midfielder Bernie Vince was denied a converted kick at goal from sixty metres out – the referee calling “too far” (the equivalent of traveling in basketball) amidst the kicking motion; unheard of from a distance of that long a range? This was the straw that broke the Demon’s ass.
When Collingwood responded immediately from the resultant free kick, with a goal right before the end of the third quarter,a twelve point swing occurred which put the Pies out to a 40-24 lead, which could have so easily been 34-30.
One sensed that Melbourne had to score first in the fourth quarter to give them any chance of winning – they didn’t. Unfortunately they could only muster a further four behinds; whereas Collingwood managed to pile on twenty one final quarter points. The final score saw Collingwood run out jubilant by 33 points.
This result propels Collingwood into the top four, and leaves Melbourne back in fifteenth place. Not all too impressive – but not nearly the laughing stock most predicted them to be this season. The future for Melbourne looks better now that it has done for some time. However when you only score 3 goals in a match, and one of them was after just 23 seconds, you are not going to win many games!!!
MELBOURNE DEMONS 3.10.28 – COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES 8.13.61
By former professional footballer, Paul Dicker, Jersey UK.
RUGBY UNION (23rd March) – Western Force v Waikato Chiefs, Perth AUS
A very warm welcome from the warm and welcoming, recently upgraded NIB stadium. I had noted that the Force had, at last, hit some form prior to this game which had contributed somewhat to produce a large crowd. What was surprising, was the number of Kiwis in the crowd – it was more than your run of the mill token support – but they came complete with cowbells. The Chiefs were expected to continue their unbeaten start to the season and account for Force easily. The Force, after losing their opening two games, overwhelmed the Melbourne Rebels and snuck an upset win against the Highlanders in New Zealand last week to perhaps get their season back on track.
More than a few unforced errors from the Chiefs characterised the first half as oppose to their uncharacteristically tremendous start to the season. Incumbent All Black fly-half Aaron Cruden apart, they were mediocre, whereas the Force stuck to their task well and essentially looked organised. After taking the lead with a well worked try early on, they swapped a few penalties. However the Force had a couple of missed kicks at goal, and the Chiefs converted a penalty on the stroke of half time to see them up 9-8.
The game livened up a little in the second half with the Force staring to believe they could win the game, coming close on a couple of occasions. They scored an early try and held on as long as they could. The last minute produced the most excitement with both sets of supporters increasing the volume tenfold. The “Honey Badger” had a good game and was involved in everything.
With the Force trying to run the clock down they inexplicably lost possession, giving the Chiefs one last chance. With the crowd in a frenzy they knocked on to bring about the final whistle to end a reasonable game deservedly won by the home side. To be completely honest, I thought the Force made the unbeaten Chiefs look a very average team for the most part. I enjoyed the night – the crowd (both sets of supporters) played a great part in creating a great atmosphere.
WESTERN FORCE 18 – 15 WAIKATO CHIEFS
By former professional footballer, Paul Dicker, Jersey UK.
CRICKET (11th December) – New Zealand v West Indies, Basin Reserve, Wellington NZ
Well a cool Wednesday Wellington morning, sees a West Indies side without Gayle, Bravo, Pollard et al didn’t give rise to the expectation of a huge crowd, nor a vibrant atmosphere and to be completely honest, I wasn’t disappointed.
The Basin Reserve some would say, retains some charm, a grass embankment still remains but for how long? The “Hill” is long loved in Adelaide but now half of it has been lost with the new stands built for the AFL teams there. There are other glimpses of years gone by which I liked too.
In all fairness, half the ground could be described as quaint, the other is actually quite non descript!
The game itself sprung to life with a decent McCullum and Ross Taylor partnership. Many, including me as a neutral, were disappointed to see the former go when the spinners were on from both ends just drying up time in anticipation of the new ball. Taylor played well till he brought his hundred up, then decided to become more “expansive”, which some would say is dreadfully irresponsible for a former captain! One hook shot did result in West Indian quick, Tino Best dropping a skier at fine leg which was cheered almost as loudly as Taylor’s ton.
The controversy of the day, although no one realized it at the time, was Shillingford’s excellent catch to dismiss Taylor. Diving full length on the boundary he appeared to take a cracker but replays showed the ball on the turf post ‘catch’, which resulted in the two people around me commenting out loud! Indeed, this summed up the day for me. It was almost as if the blokes around me didn’t want controversy of any kind, as it would awaken them from their slumber and give the press something other than a fine hundred to write about, and that would simply not be cricket.
Another plus for the Kiwis was that Corey Anderson played well in only his 3rd Test. He took on Shillingford’s spin and managed to belt a couple of sixes – impressive actually.
All in all a reserved, appreciative, knowledgeable crowd I would say. Very, very different to watching England taking on Australia or near enough every other test playing nations, however equally as enjoyable, and notably more than refreshing. Even the kids didn’t moan too much about being at a Test Match!!!!
END OF DAY 1 – New Zealand finished on 307/6.