We'll miss you, Walla.
After the zombie season that was 2020 and the shocker of a year that went with it, it’s amazing how much comfort normal can bring.
On Thursday night I tuned in like so many others to watch the Tigers start this season like every other, with a win against the Blues.
On Friday afternoon, I hopped on a train into Melbourne for some dinner and beers with friends before making that glorious walk along the Yarra to the MCG where the Dogs won a pretty ugly game of footy against the Pies.
Saturday was a return to Flinders Street, for a repeat of that wonderful stroll, this time solo in sunshine with some pregame footy radio in my headphones. The Dockers wasted their chances early and the Demons never really let them back in it after the first break.
A dash to Richmond station and a trip to a mate’s place followed, where I caught the second half of the Crows’ incredible win over the Cats, before splitting attention between two fun Saturday night games.
Sunday meant getting to Docklands for the first time in about 20 months to see Port steamroll the Roos. With the game long since decided, we bailed at halftime to find a pub where we watched the Saints show their ticker in a win over the ever-disappointing Giants.
Into the car after that, listening to West Coast versus Gold Coast before getting home in time to watch the second half as the Eagles held off a very decent challenge from the Suns.
The footy itself was a mixed bag and hopefully we’ll all be back to taking these things for granted soon enough, but for now I’m overjoyed to have footy that feels like footy again, with the familiar flow of a normal round and all the things that come with it.
Some thoughts and observations from the opening round.
Dustin Martin is ridiculous. I know everyone knows that by now, but jeez.
Carlton are going to be fun to watch. They’re as bold as any team when moving the footy, but some of the good teams are going to cut them to bits in transition.
It was a familiar performance from the Bulldogs. They’ve got enough to give this season a real shake if they can find a way to turn their possession dominance into goals.
Darcy Moore and Steven May reminded me how great it is to see star key defenders in the flesh. There is much about our great game that TV fails to do justice, and the control a gun key back has on a huge part of the ground is right near the top of the list.
How I’ve missed the primal scream of “How’d he get rid of it!”
The Crows once again reminded us why we should enjoy the ride each season and not just the ending. That win was pure joy for the Crows and their fans and pretty delightful viewing as a neutral as well.
Taylor Walker kicks the footy as sweetly as anyone I’ve ever seen. It is so good to see him having an impact as he did on Saturday afternoon.
I can’t remember any other player ageing the way Travis Boak has. He’s as good as just about any midfielder going around and has been since the opening bounce of 2019.
For the Saints to win on the road with as many key players missing as they had against decent opposition suggests they’re made of the right stuff.
Sydney are always made of the right stuff.