This poem was inspired while watching the qualifying final between Sydney and Greater Western Sydney on Saturday afternoon 10/9/2016 by the commentator's line near the start of the second quarter: "It fell to Jack at the back of the pack." I thought: There's a poem in that! And proceeded to write lines as the play unfolded until by the end I had 8 pages of large spaced writing.
I had missed the first quarter however and half the second and I had also missed some details and players names, so I signed up to AFL Live Pass and watched the entire game again on the internet. When it was finished I had another 5 pages. I then put the rough draft into proper rhymed verses, consulting the video replay to get everything right.
The Greater Western Sydney FC was a new team that had only debuted in 2012 and had had numerous preferential draft picks but hadn't served the normal apprenticeship and hadn't made the finals before. They had been top of the ladder during the season and taken some big scalps, but could they perform in the finals when the pressure goes up a few levels? Most people, (including me), didn't think so.
This was one of the best games of football that I have ever seen. The skill and intensity were incredible. In the end GWS out Sydneyed Sydney, matching and exceeding their much vaunted pressure and hardness at the ball. There was passion, skill and belief and a bit of blood. Neither side left anything out on the park. One for the ages!!!
These were the teams:
B: Dane Rampe, Aliir Aliir, Nick Smith
HB: Jake Lloyd, Heath Grundy, Callum Mills
C: Isaac Heeney, Josh P Kennedy, Jarrad McVeigh
HF: Gary Rohan, Lance (Buddy) Franklin, George Hewett
F: Ben McGlynn, Kurt Tippett, Luke Parker
Fol: Sam Naismith, Kieren Jack, Dan Hannebery
Int: Harrison Marsh, Tom Mitchell, Tom Papley, Xavier Richards
B: Heath Shaw, Phil Davis, Nick Haynes
HB: Joel Patfull, Adam Tomlinson, Nathan Wilson
C: Zac Williams, Callan Ward, Josh Kelly
HF: Toby Greene, Rory Lobb, Jeremy Cameron
F: Lachie Whitfield, Jonathon Patton, Devon Smith
Fol: Shane Mumford, Dylan Shiel, Stephen Coniglio
Int: Jacob Hopper, Steve Johnson, Tom Scully, Ryan Griffen
Hearken dear listener as I tell you the tale,
Of the first time final 'twixt two Sydney squads.
A battle royale where neither would quail,
With blood on the grass and cheers from the gods.
Shane Mumford was first to get hands on the ball,
Then soccered by Johnson with touch long and deft.
But Aliir was waiting and the Swans showed their skill:
A set shot to Jack who missed to the left.
Dan Han was offline, then got it again,
To Richards, who miskicked, so back to the grind.
Then Johnson, the touchstone, with footballer's brain
The Giants were lifting but Smith kicked behind.
Aliir showed dash but found naught with his punt.
Then Johnson used strength and gave two the flick.
But Greene missed the shot from directly in front,
And Steve way up forward gave the Swans a free kick.
Some handballs for Sydney but Heath Shaw marked well.
Then out fast but Whitfield's shot was a dud.
And Papley on fifty could not break the spell.
Til Franklin hit Papley again for first blood.
An amazing low kick from Buddy to Pap.
A penalty and Sydney had two in a flash.
Aliir showed skill but the ball found a trap.
Then Naismith was off with blood from a gash.
Buddy again, an astonishing kick!
Then backward and forward and backward and forward.
Til a great mark to Cameron and a checkside so slick,
Put GWS at last on the board.
Greene tapped to Johnson, a brilliant set play,
And the old one-two but the J curve went wide.
Then Devon Smith though the lines found a way,
Kicked long and true and the scores they were tied.
The Giants' ball movement had been best all year,
It was starting to look like they'd launch an attack.
But Sydney moved smartly to scotch that idea,
And got it down forward where 'twas slotted by Jack.
Stevie felled Josh with a bump to the scone,
Players milled 'round, not sure who to blame.
Buddy punched Mumford but 'twas largely put on,
And Kennedy, woozy, departed the game.
Tippett's head hit Callan Ward's knee,
Johnson's shot was wide of the poll.
Greene in the pocket was given a free,
An amazing high curving kick for a goal!
GWS had the lead by a point.
Then two tackled Franklin and stacks on the mill!
Ferocious football, all over the joint.
The siren blew loudly to add to the thrill.
A melee ensued as the players withdrew,
Lance gave Steven a blow to the snout.
Shaw gave some lip, a jostle or two,
But nobody willing to rub themselves out.
Nearly a goal to Cameron then Greene,
But back to the centre with a fifty meter fault.
Then a wall of orange like I'd never seen,
Won every contest, maintained the assault.
Then good luck to Sydney and Rohan did shine,
Buddy a free but he hooked the ball right.
The two sixteens soccered over the line.
An intense contest at the peak of the fight.
Slick play from Sydney to Buddy again, (agen)
Then Scully, Kelly, Ward and Greene,
Well rehearsed and playing with Zen,
But the Swannie's defence was too strong and too mean.
Then Wilson ran hard through the middle of the ground,
And Greene stepped around and dobbed a fine goal.
The West were away, perhaps they'd be crowned?
And Griffen began to take up a role.
A free kick to Jack at the bottom of the pack,
To and fro went the ball on the half forward line.
Then Patton kicked an underground goal with his knack,
But the ump said "Illegal. That goal, don't assign."
Shaw and Rohan were shoving each other,
Perhaps Heath's chatter had at last found a goat.
Sydney's great game was to tackle and smother,
And Hewett kicked truly and kept them afloat.
The Swans with new life now found themselves blessed,
Franklin to Hewett who levelled the score.
Then Patton led hard, marked the ball on his chest,
And kicked it to Cameron who's set shot was poor.
Heeney marked right on the boundary line.
Buddy to McGlynn, now showing some class.
Rohan on the run missed a shot like a swine.
Mumford threw Tippett hard into the grass.
The scores were level, 4 minutes to go.
Then the wall of orange produced their utmost.
And Kelly to Whitfield, who'd followed the flow,
Just tapped the ball through from next to the post.
Shaw passed to Williams deep in the back line,
But Williams bounced not and the ump gave a free.
Josh Kennedy kicked, the goal ump made the sign,
And the Swans were back to a point in their glee.
Johnson with brilliance, three times in a row!
Haynes kicked from 50, the ball in the square.
Aliir under pressure, the charcoal in tow,
Then back to McVeigh, who rushed it through fair.
Buddy marked well at a casual lope,
The ball made the forward line, the action was thick.
Hewett snapped over his shoulder in hope,
And managed to hit the top of the stick.
Whitfield to Scully to Johnson in prime.
And Stevie J missed his 4th shot that day.
They blew the siren to call for half time.
And Sydney went in just two points away.
The ball was entrenched in the Giants' domain,
After Scully sprayed wide from forty five out.
Then the Swans, the Giants, then Swannies again,
And Nick Smith's shot did not break the drought.
Sweet handball and kicking from GWS.
Their exquisite skills were aptly displayed.
Then Griffen made space and marked without stress.
He aimed right, he kicked right and that's where it stayed.
Rampe flew high but Greene took the mark.
He went back and kicked but failed to score.
Davis and Franklin both down on the park.
The ball went out and was thrown in once more.
In a goal scoring sense the well had run dry,
Though the Giants had had the best of the play.
Rampe went flying once more in the sky.
The pressure was great and hard was the fray.
A scoring review in the Giants home spot.
Then Isaac Heeney was not paid a mark.
A quick ball forward gave Cameron a shot.
At last he kicked truly and gave them the spark.
Incredible play from the Giants close in,
And Heeney bumped Johnson aside like a flea.
Terrific courage to mark from McGlynn.
Intercepted by Cameron and then he had 3.
A quick foray forward for the red and white band,
Then back like a rocket by the GWS corps.
Rampe was caught with the ball in his hand,
And a free kick to Cameron, who scored number 4.
A mongrel kick from Tippett to attack,
Was handballed by Franklin but well marked by Lobb,
Juggled by Parker behind his back,
Then marked by McGlynn who's shot did the job.
Tomlinson's pass was low and intense,
And hit Cameron's lead but he missed the shot cold.
Much mucking around by the Swans in defence,
When Heeney slipped over 'twas Scully who goaled.
With 59 seconds left on the clock,
Kennedy out of the middle in a shake.
Big Franklin's shot curved around like a sock,
And the Swans were four straight kicks down at the break.
The game was contested with passion and skill,
A chance came to Griffen, no goal could he find.
Grundy and Patton both fought for the pill,
Stevie J kicked his fifth straight behind.
Greene ran down Marsh and got a free kick.
The Giants were focused and hard to gainsay.
A ball-up on fifty, the Swans couldn't click,
No space, no time, to establish some play.
Greene to Coniglio just inside his reach.
His long shot through was as straight as a die.
Five goals clear, as sweet as a peach,
You could pretty much wave the encounter goodbye.
Hayes to Scully and thence to Shaw,
Out with the ball came the West Sydney men.
Then back into Sydney's hungry goal maw,
But Whitfield and Shiel just ran it again. (agen)
Aliir and Franklin could not turn the tide.
The orange and charcoal were everywhere best.
Devon Smith had a shot that went wide,
Then Scully kicked straight to put it to rest.
Five thirty nine and the game it was done.
Over 60 thousand at the Olympic Park Bowl.
The Giants had shown they were second to none,
And the premiership was within their control.
The Giants pressure and hardness were great,
They beat their opponents all over the ground.
They out Sydneyed Sydney, that's hard to do mate!
With intelligence, poise and skill they were crowned.
Hats off to a truly formidable team!
Stand back and ponder how well they could go.
Well coached and fit and play like a dream.
They didn't exist just 5 years ago.
Scores by quarter
Sydney: 3.3 5.7 6.10 7.13 (55)
GWS: 3.4 5.9 9.13 12.19 (91)
Sydney: Papley 2, Jack 2, Hewett, Kennedy, McGlynn
GWS: Cameron 4, Greene 2, Scully 2, Smith, Whitfield, Coniglio, Ward
Warren Mars - October 2016