Sydney Cricket Ground, Paddington, Sydney Australia
What a week it’s been in football as they say in the classics with the dramatic sacking of Carlton head coach Mick Malthouse. Caretaker John Barker stepped into the breach in the toughest of circumstances with an away road trip to the Sydney Cricket Ground and the home of the in-form Swans. Being the AFL’s Indigenous Round,throw in the drama of an impromptu Adam Goodes warrior dance and the game was far from boring.
The Blues were competitive in the early stages of the first quarter, but poor defensive errors saw Sydney gain easy goals via free kicks and found themselves behind by 22 points at the first change. For the Swans, Lance Franklin looked sharp with a 3 goal haul in the first term.
Things weren’t going to get any better for Carlton as they were only able to score a solitary goal for the 2nd quarter, whilst for Sydney they were able to consolidate their lead with a four goal haul. The most contentious of those goals was from veteran Sydney forward in Adam Goodes who performed an impromptu indigenous dance that appeared to be directed at Carlton fans sitting in the new M.A. Noble stand.Much was written during the night and the week after the game.Looking at the immediate Twitter-sphere, the opinions seemed evenly divided.
In our opinion it was much ado about nothing. The All Blacks rugby union team regularly carry out their traditional Haka to opposing teams and at times the symbolism can look brutal. It was Indigenous round for the AFL so this wasn’t such of a surprise.It is interesting to see how things have changed with regards to such acts in an AFL context. In the early 2000’s Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy made a cut-throat gesture to the West Coast Eagles team at a 3/4 time break. One of Sheedy’s players had been treated roughly by an Eagles player, and he made a symbolic stand. Sheedy was later fined $7500.One could have argued he was exercising his “Irish Warrior” heritage.
The only thing we do disagree on is the calls for recognition of the nation’s “first peoples” to the constitution. We hold the view that the current Australian Constitution is for all peoples regardless of race, creed or colour. The Australian Constitution fairly and reasonably outlines how we conduct,construct and apply our Federal laws with regards to the welfare of the Australian people. Holding such a view does not mean we disrespect or refuse to acknowledge the indigenous peoples of Australia and their wonderful contribution to our country. Football is a perfect example of the great contribution made by indigenous players. Sir Douglas Nicholls was a trailblazer playing for the Fitzroy team in the late 1930’s. Graham “Polly ” Farmer one of the greatest ruckman of all time and his legendary match-ups with Carlton ruckman John Nicholls in the 1960’s. Syd Jackson was another who played for Carlton in the 1970’s. There is a very sporting scene in the closing minutes of the infamous 1970 Grand Final. On the far wing of the MCG, Lee Adamson of Collingwood is awarded a free kick against Syd who is on the ground after the kick is awarded with serious cramp. Adamson pats Jackson on the head in a sporting manner as if to say are you OK?. We are old enough to see and remember the brilliance of the Krakouer brothers and the amazing pace and skill of Footscray forward Les Bamblett. We remember the awful and regrettable comments directed at indigenous field umpire Glenn James who was an outstanding adjudicator of the game and who handled the crowd nonsense with class and style. Thankfully things have changed greatly and we no longer hear such unwelcome comments.
Back to the football and the Sydney Swans never really looked troubled, they booted ten goals and had control of the game.Kieren Jack, Tom Mitchell, Lewis Jetta and Dan Hannebery were the disposal getter standouts. To Carlton’s credit they were able to boot 7 goals for the 2nd half. Andrew Carrazzo, Tom Bell and former Swan Andrejs Everitt were the best players for the Blues. Buddy Franklin was sensational kicking 7 goals for the night, whilst Adam Goodes continued his consistency with 2 goals and some handy work around the forward areas. Talk of an imminent finish with Goodes’s career have all but ceased in recent weeks. If the Swans make the finals, his experience and goal kicking abilities will be worth their weight in gold, as many a final has been won in the past by experienced, champion players.
For Carlton, there were minimal differences in how they played out the game. The brooding,angry and solitary direction of Michale Malthouse was gone and a sense of relief seemed to be exuded by the Carlton players and staff. John Barker expressed the view that it had been a big relief after all the turmoil mid-week to get back on the field and simply concentrate on the footy. The Blues have enormous challenges ahead if they seek to return to the powerhouse they once were.
The Sydney Swans quietly go about their business by winning games convincingly. Whilst coach John Longmire is not readily admitting that the 2014 grand final isn’t still hurting, it would be foolish to think that as a motivating factor the sting of the loss and feelings felt afterwards would or could be easily discarded. From the outside looking in, you sense a burning focus to get the job done and get to a place where the Swans can make amends for a very disappointing end to last season. They are doing a great job at keeping their cards close to their chests and telling the world this is 2015, when in reality, you sense they are highly motivated to right the wrong that was the mugging they copped in the final game of 2014.
SYDNEY SWANS 5.2 9.4 15.8 19.8 (122)
CARLTON 1.4 2.4 5.5 9.8 (62)
Sydney Swans: Franklin 7, Rohan 2, McGlynn 2, Goodes 2, Hannebery 2, Tippett 2, Robinson, McVeigh
Carlton: Casboult 2, Everitt 2, Jones, Wood, Cripps, Buckley, Tuohy
Sydney Swans: Franklin, Parker, Hannebery,
Carlton: Carrazzo, Bell, Everitt
Umpires: Deboy, Kamolins, Meredith
Official crowd: 32,105 at the SCG