Mick Malthouse is an elliptical man. To me he's akin to the oracle of Delphi, blurting out odd utterances from his stony crag, and listening to him in the leadup to the Dogs/North game on Friday night dispelled none of those impressions. Almost all of Mick's reminiscences and commentary falls into the category of subtext and fable. But occasionally he reveals a perfectly lucid pearl of wisdom, as happened when the SEN commentary team discussed digital prostate checks. Mick sagely suggested on that front 'you don't like the second opinion.' Zing! And round 6 was off to a flyer.
Before the game begins, Tim Watson suggests on 7 that both teams wanted the game played in their front halves. An outstanding observation to be coupled with the 'win the ball' and 'retain possession' stats that have for so long blown footy watchers' minds. The game starts and Brent Harvey gives away a free to Wood for too high without the aid of an industrial cherry picker. Moments later Harvey only manages a 12 metre shank and one wonders whether he'd topped up on his elite sports lolly water 'Spark' to give him the edge all power athletes need.
McLean was not McMessy with an early disposal and Waite would soon receive a nice Puopoloesque 9 metre pass before kicking his 20th for the season. Waite does very well for someone with a muffin top. Bruce observes that Cunnington worried Macrae out of a contest and I wondered about what Cunnington said. Was it an impending peak oil crisis, global warming, or whether Macrae left the iron on? Morris has no such concerns and the ball sticks to his mittens like Rudd to leadership aspirations. At the start of the second quarter Tim 'juju man' Watson gives one of his famous long-distance diagnoses on Kayne Turner and is later vindicated like the famous broken clock that's right twice a day.
It's very evident that some North players are mid-riff exhibitionists: Waite, Thomas and Thompson. And let's face it it's nothing much to shout about so if they can't stop the AFL need to compel them to wear onesies. North's defence is well on top. Thompson as a spare is as crafty as a hipster knitting while listening to Kraftwerk and eating Kraft singles. Campbell in the middle looks like he's in the blocks about to start a 100m sprint and gets in Goldstein's head. Tarrant takes a Tarrant type mark (the good Tarrant). Bontempelli does a Mr Tickle impression with his monstrously long arms which always find the ball but it doesn't go the Dogs way and Beveridge does his best impression of the Terminator on the boundary line. In the end the ball suffers from the loss of quality ball users and North put another notch on the bed post.
In the battle of prime real estate and water frontage, Melbourne gets the hop on St Kilda. We've been conditioned by the umpires to accept 9 metre passes but a St Kilda 16 metre pass gets called play on. I'd like to see the AFL have an official pedant who runs around the ground with a tape measure in real time—delivering us the excellence only a multi-billionaire dollar industry can. The Demons are on top early, dousing their inner flames, and Bugg celebrates with an armless sort of pogo dance, very purgatory. Channel 7 are unrivalled in the creation and distribution of pet names for players but they also like to address some players by their full titles—notably 'Lynden Dunn', 'Bernie Vince' and 'Maxy Gawn'. Would it be the same if Little Lord Fauntleroy still played for Melbourne? 'Here comes Little Lord Fauntlerooooy, screaming for it in the forward pocket. Willhelm Von Metternich has butchered it. The Little Lord will want satisfaction, we know that. And he doooesss. He's challenged Metternich to a duel, pistols at dawn ey?'
We learn Etihad is a house of horrors for the Demons who haven't beaten the Saints in 13 showings. And the narrative gets back on track from the 2nd quarter where St Kilda boots five goals on the trot. And it never tightens back up from there. Hogan plays well even though he ambles around bow-legged like he spent the first three years of his life as a cowboy. But a creature who is truly striking is St Kilda's Tim Membrey. He's a composite footballer: Nick Dal Santo's head, Dane Swan's Torso and Steve Johnson's pigeon toed legs. He could have been made by Dr Octagon—a spooky creation.
In the second quarter despite St Kilda's early dominance, the Demons aren't far off, yet inexplicably the captain decides to inject some fun and energy into it by starting a game of pyramids.
But unlike Jones' ill-conceived pyramid bonding game, the Saints in the 3rd will pile on eight goals to three, absolutely burying their devilish opponents through quick legs and ball movement.
The much anticipated Giants/Hawks game began ominously for Hawthorn who came dressed as extras from the set of the never aired Dr Who 'Bay City Rollers' episode. Thankfully we had Derm in the driver's seat commentary wise who predicted either a slender Giants win or a massive win to the Hawks. In short order Derm launched into a full Rioli paean which included magician references. Then Jeremy Cameron, who apparently 'angled his fist to make it go over the boundary line.' Yes Derm, look at that angular fist, more faceted than a diamond.
Steve Johnson with his endlessly pointing arms looks like an airport signalman coming off a big night on pingers. Lobb is in everything and if Membrey is half sharkalligator half man, Lobb is a half octopus that wraps its tentacles around everything—including Mitchell's head which he tries at one point to unscrew like a disobedient dill gherkin jar.
Late in the 2nd Hawthorn kick three in a row and we think here we go. But it's a false start. Shaw goes off to get a headband in homage to frontal lobotomies and the tennis guy from The Royal Tenenbaums and Johnson rounds out the first half with five goals. It's 84-39 the Giants way.
The second half has nothing to recommend it with GWS laying on another 11 goals to Hawthorn's six. But there is entertainment once again from Johnson in the form of an old man rumble, represented here in triptych form.
At Kardinia Park the game was encapsulated early in a Vardy/Grant contest in the 1st quarter which looked very much like Bran Stark trailing after Hodor. In the 2nd, Hall from the Suns managed to crumb very smartly, like a crumbed cutlet made by Einstein's very clever cook who's good at crumbing. When Day came through like a shit truck and kneed his team-mate Schade in the back and Hall kicked what they call in the business a 'shit kick' directly to Kersten who goaled, you knew it was going to be a stinker. A six-goal-to-two 2nd quarter was enough to put Gold Coast in the shade. When Kersten kicked another early in the 3rd the game was officially boring as batshit—a total blowout with the Cats running out 120 point victors.
Pre-game the Lions/Swans game portended hours of agony but ended up a taut little enterprise. Derm was on the job again and told us a snap on goal 'was kicked somewhere between Monday and Friday' at training. It's good to know you can bank the training goals and use them on game day. Zorko was going bonkers with 13 possessions to half-time.
The game's tight and Parker won't leave the ground, opting to wiz on the ground like a pro, not like Fasolo and his soft cup effort on the boundary line.
Daniel 'dinosaur arms' Rich kicks a goal in the 3rd and it's 70-62 Sydney's way and after a Bastinac soccer goal it's soon a one point game, before Franklin stretches it at the close of the quarter to 77-69. Early in the final quarter the homunculi McGlyn and Christensen goal and out comes the sun finally. Parker gets another goal but a reply comes from the last bald man in the AFL. The problem here is Umpire Slothpants is slow to wave the goal through and leaves only two seconds and the game is kaput. Who loves the Sun? Sydney.
The internet and mean distribution of hours in a weekend conspires to give me access to only one last game, the Eagles/Pies game at Domain Stadium. Several weeks ago Grundy decided he was not going to play mind games with Hampson in the ruck and was going to jump. What a revelation and I very much looked forward to a continuation of this master stratagem. Meanwhile Gerard Healy anticipated some 'champagne clearances' from Naitinui. I was to be disappointed and Gerard all wet and sticky.
One passage of play early would be emblematic of Collingwood's day. Moore climbed Shuey like he was climbing stairs. Unfortunately they were some of those horizontal-Escher stairs which looked okay initially before you realised they led to nowhere but some kind of prison tower. In the background my girls are meant to be practicing their piano and violin but instead one interrupts me with YouTube cat videos and the other starts telling me about Kylo Ren in specific detail. I no longer have Foxtel and can't pause the game. 'Leave!' I've got dinner burning in the kitchen. I'm about to blow. Then Mason Cox marks the ball and Dwayne exclaims 'the lanky Yankee'. 'ARGGH!' 'Dad, are you alright?' 'NO!' An aneurism ensues.
Collingwood start the 2nd quarter after a disastrous first by looking to hit up the backs of their teammates which is always exciting. Broomhead goals and his effervescent little face lifts from catatonic to malaise-filled. It infuriates me and I almost wish he hadn't goaled. I need to check Naitinui's fantasy footy score to salvage something from this flaming wreckage. The Eagles have instituted what appears to be a bum-paddling mechanism. Thankfully these Eagles can't kick a goal so we manage to claw back in the 3rd—getting within three goals at one point. There's a chance early in the 4th to gain momentum but instead Collingwood players lose their feet like they were skating drunk over an oil spill. When Cripps goals it's DEFCON 2.
It strikes me the Pies only win quarters marginally or get swept away like the Vichy French. I don't know if it's the command, the weaponry, or the morale but we need to weed out at the very least some surrender monkeys and hand in our blunderbusses. It's time for some burnt dinner. Hoorah!