The Footy Almanac 2008. Second Elimination Final
The Footy Almanac 2008 is now in bookshops all around the country.
The book, edited by John Harms and Paul Daffey, features 200+ contributions from 89 writers. We have a few samples to give you an idea of what it's all about.
This sad Dear John & Paul letter is North Melbourne fan Rob Clarkson's take on the final at ANZ Stadium in Sydney that attracted two men and dog ...
The Footy Almanac 2008 is published by Viking an imprint of Penquin Books.
Second Elimination Final
Sydney versus North Melbourne
7.30pm, Saturday, 6 September
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Dear John and Paul
(The salutation of this letter is misleading. This is not Beatles fan mail – rather, a letter to the Almanac editors.)
I’ve been battling to write this piece, to be honest, but I’ve figured out why.
To consider a defeat during the season is a very different experience to thinking
about the defeat that ends the season. It goes against the grain of a footy fan’s
instinct. You don’t dwell on a finals loss. You shrug it off with a few comments
at work on Monday like, “We looked OK early; they were just too strong”, or
“Nothing seemed to click”, or most pr obably of all, “I d on’t know what happened”.
It’s the dwelling that’s killing me. The pondering is no fun either. And don’t
even get me started on the musing.
They all hurt.
I guess I could tell you about buying the tickets on Monday. Ticketek was
barren. Much was made in the Sydney papers during the week about how the
poor pre-sales for this game demonstrated that Sydney is not ready for another
AFL side. I disagree. I think Sydney would love another team as they’re obviously
sick to death of this one.
You see what’s happening here? I can’t even write about buying tickets
without getting all bitchy and twisted and narky.
I could mention Tim and I nervously chatting at my place before the game.
I hadn’t seen North in the flesh all year. Tim had driven up from Melbourne.
We were pumped. Even the trip out to New Waverley was a strange curiosity.
We found our seats then decided that we’d establish our own standing room.
We found an empty row with several empty rows behind us (this was nochallenge)
and pretended we were on the terrace of a country footy ground.
I haven’t mentioned the game yet, have I? OK. I’ll get on with it…
The first quarter started with some fairly intense, wet-weather footy. North
seemed to be the more confident of the teams and settled well. Goals were never
going to be easy to come by in the conditions and…
And what? And blah and blah and blah, that’s what.
We were good in the first half and crap in the second half. How’s that for
a thirteen-word match report? Or, hang on, here’s another one: they were crap in
the first half and good in the second half. A total of 26 words and you’ve heard
both sides of the story. More accurately (and less brattily), as good as Harding,
Grant, Harvey and Wells were early, Goodes, Kirk, O’Keefe and Hall were better
later. You can throw McVeigh into that list, too.
The thing that stings is that the Swans seemed to want it more. How could
that be? It’s been a remarkable twelve months for North. Turning our back on
the Gold Coast bullying of the AFL was a triumph of common sense and, yes,
sentiment, too. 34,000 members: amazing. And even if Ricky Ponting’s friends
jump off next year we should still be around the 30,000 mark. Laidley’s
development of the younger players has been heartening.
But one rubbish hour of football and it all goes to hell. Tim and I went back to
the house and darkly muttered tiny bursts of analysis. Looking for comfort we
cranked up the stereo and searched for sense in the wisdom of The Ramones, the
Sex Pistols and The Smiths. Incidentally, there’s no finer aural morphine than
Johnny Ramone’s rhythm guitar in Daytime dilemma (dangers of love). I’m quite
serious; the deftness of his left hand sliding up and down the neck forming perfect
barre chords while the millisecond clockwork of his right hand pounds away
is so stunning, so perfect, that a strange mix of awe and bliss consumes the
listener. And just as the song has taken you into the clouds, enjoy the little rocketburst
of the backing vocals in the final choruses which take you even higher.
Gentlemen, that is something worth dwelling on.
Until, hopefully, next year,
Sydney 17.8 (110) North Melbourne 11.9 (75)