The Len Hall Game is an important ANZAC commemorative event. Diggers parade, the bugle is sounded, the odd idiot shouts out during a minute of contemplative silence, but most of us stand, remove our hats and thank those who have fought for this country.
Fremantle had been granted a Friday night opportunity to showcase the ANZAC round and the club delivered a ceremony of great poignancy. Special points to the girls in the Navy Band for belting out Khe Sanh with such gusto at three quarter time.
Which of course made what followed, deeply disappointing. I don’t want to overuse the metaphors of war, but after a combative start to the game, the white flag was waved very early in the last quarter.
Much of the focus pre game was on Rory Lobb, the giant Dolph Lundgren lookalike forward who left our club at the end of last year and decided to have a crack at, well … pretty much everyone on the way out, for apparently not supporting with appropriate sensitivity, his fragile brilliance.
That’s not how most of us saw it. Rory is a player of rich talent, but conditional endeavour. At his best, he looks the best, but for much of his career, he has – as I suggested in Round One, wandered around forward lines picking specks of light out of the air and putting them in invisible baskets.
He has been a very highly paid disappointment.
And so, the fans – with it must be said the tacit support of coach Justin Longmuir, booed the blond bombshell at every opportunity. It’s one thing to leave a club, but don’t be so ungracious about it when you’ve wandered off with your wheelbarrow full of money.
So, the fans booed. It was funny for a bit. Then I felt uneasy. Suddenly I was taken back to my boyhood and the first time I ever watched William Goldings’s Lord of the Flies – that terrifying tale of savagery and brutality among children – a story about the end of innocence and the cruelty of the mob. And I remember that poor Piggy, a voice of reason in the madness, is set upon and killed.
And then of course I started shouting out stupid things myself and quickly forgot Lord of the Flies. That’s how the mob works.
Behind me, one Freo man produced something better than a boo. “If your missus wants to move to Darwin, perhaps you can go and play for St Mary’s.” It was a blistering observation, playing strongly on the suspicion that when the going gets tough, Rory starts looking for somewhere else to play. There was much laughter.
Indeed, much of the night was thoroughly enjoyable, until the Dockers season began to fall to pieces.
And it was Rory – who put us out of the game. Not with his talent – he kicked one goal courtesy of a dodgy free kick and managed to stumble and bumble around that forward line for most of the night – no, he didn’t beat the Dockers with his talent …
But he did get under everyone’s skin. And Freo players were lining up to rough him up. And any discipline in the ranks disappeared in the chaos.
While this was happening, Marcus Bontempelli was playing wonderful footy and so were many of his teammates. Crisp clean forays into a high flying forward line, where sadly Dockers captain Alex Pearce was truly experiencing a terrible war. He shot himself repeatedly in the foot and ran around shouting “the sky is falling” before a couple of medics took him away in a field ambulance.
And as the battle was being lost – the off field propagandists knowns as the footy club marketing department, was celebrating the fact that Freo apparently now has its highest numbers of members ever – 56 thousand of them.
Tonight, I would suggest many of them walked away at the end wondering what they’d signed up for.
It reminds me of what the great Australian war correspondent Charles Bean once said while under fire in a trench in France during the latter stages of the Great War. “Bloody hell,” he observed, as mayhem rained down upon him, “that Rory Lobb looks like he can play a bit.”
* By our new, multi-talented and amazingly insightful footy scribe, SNAPS TRULY. Snaps has seen and done it all. He may or may not have been a fringe player at Fremantle. Who knows? Don’t miss Snaps’ report after each Freo Dockers match throughout the season.
** In case you missed SNAPS’ other match reports, here they are.
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