A feel-good story

I remember a game I attended at Windy Hill in 1985 or 1986 when Essendon already had a hundred-point lead at halftime against North Melbourne. Such utter dominance is rare in any sport, but it happens (Essendon vs GCS, Geelong vs Richmond & Melbourne). Last night I reckon I witnessed the biggest capitulation of all time, in the AFL grand final of all games.

Halfway through the third quarter, the Bulldogs led Melbourne by 19 points and looked the more likely winner. About 45 minutes later, the final siren rang, signalling a thumping premiership win by the Demons to the tune of 74 points.

Once headed, the Bulldogs didn’t give a yelp. Melbourne scored 16 out of 17 goals from the midpoint of the third quarter, outscoring Footscray by 93 points. Melbourne was phenomenally good, but the Bulldogs seemed to give up. Pathetic.

Like much of Australia, I was hoping for a Dees win and expected it too. They’ve been the best team all year and play a brand of footy that’s tough and exciting. They blitzed the final series, and you’d have to think they’ll be a contender for years to come. They’re a young team.

Up until Melbourne took control, it had been a fierce and entertaining contest. The Dees jumped out, the Bulldogs reeled them in, then took the lead. Footscray was playing the more composed footy at that stage, and their champion, the Bont, was BOG.

At half time I commented to a friend that Melbourne had erred by not matching up on the Bont when he went forward and that Caleb Daniel had been allowed to do what he wanted. In the second half, Caleb went from 26 possessions and one of the best-on to an ineffective, occasionally poor player. And the Bont was swamped by his opponents, none more so than Petracca.

When I did my footy preview in the pre-season, I tipped the Bulldogs would play finals, and Melbourne was my dark horse. I’m happy for them to justify that belief. They’re well-coached and have a plethora of young, powerful, and very talented footballers. And, in Max Gawn, they have the best leader – as well as ruckman – in the comp.

I stayed up until 11.30 to watch the celebrations. That’s a recent world record for me. Not every grand final ends this way, but this time it was a feel-good story.

Next year, though, can’t wait to see it back at the G and on a Saturday afternoon. This season felt much less mickey mouse than last, but it’s not completely right until things are back to normal. Perth did a great job, but it’s not the same.

I have one, last parochial gripe. For the biggest match of the year, Channel 7 lockout other competitors, and we’re stuck with a telecast in SD, the same tired hacks as commentators, and, outside a few moments here and there, very little imagination or insight in the presentation.

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