MILESTONE matches are footy fuelled entirely by emotion.
The crowd is emotional. The players are emotional. I’m sure that deep down within their dark and twisted souls, the umpires are emotional too.
It’s what makes milestone matches so memorable.
But sometimes it all goes a bit Travis-Cloke-on-a-slight-angle-15m-out. You know. To shit.
Like in Perth this weekend. With Fremantle celebrating its one and only club legend’s 350th game, the Dockers lost to Sydney by 90 points. It wasn’t Matthew Pavlich’s last game, but it was a pretty dreadful way to say “Hey Pav, thanks for being the only good thing to happen to our club in 21 long years”.
At the very least the Dockers can seek redemption in his final match in Round 23 against the Bulldogs. But other AFL legends didn’t get a second shot at a happy farewell.
GARRY HOCKING (AND STEPHEN SILVAGNI)
EVERYONE remembers Round 22, 2001, as the game Darren Milburn almost killed Stephen Silvagni at Princes Park – and in turn Princes Park almost killed Darren Milburn.
What they don’t remember is that it was Cat legend Garry Hocking’s final farewell after 14 years of service.
To be fair, Hocking had received a champion’s goodbye the week before at Kardinia Park. But on the day the man known as Buddha pulled on the hoops for the very last time, his Geelong teammates served up an absolute cluster.
On top of Milburn’s thuggish hit on the full-back of the century, David Mensch and Glenn Kilpatrick were both reported for equally nasty strikes on Anthony Koutoufides and Simon Porter.
Oh, and did we mention the Cats lost by 70 points having not scored a goal after the first quarter? And were roundly booed off the field as the Blues faithful were held back by police?
Yeah, not a good way to go out.
For Silvagni’s part, it was his final game for Carlton at Princes Park, tragically leaving the field on a stretcher in a neck brace instead of being chaired off by his teammates.
He would go on to play two more games that season – both at the MCG – with an elimination final win over Adelaide and a semi-final loss to Richmond.
And while it was almost all doom and gloom for Cats fans on that wet and windy day, there was one glimmer of hope: a kid called Corey Enright picked up the most disposals for Geelong in just his 17th game.
15 years and 309 games later, Boris is still managing to get the ball more than any of his Geelong teammates.
GARY ABLETT SR.
GOD could do just about anything on the field. He was magic. But his disappearing act to end his career at the end of 1997 was a trick that very few Cats fans would have seen coming only a season earlier.
To put it in perspective, Ablett kicked a century of goals in 1993, 1994 and 1995, winning the Coleman Medal each year.
In 1996, he still managed to kick 69 goals in 17 games at more than 4 goals a game – a total that would likely win him a Coleman today.
Then he was gone.
Blowing out his knee in a VFL match at the start of 1997, Ablett called it quits and never played again.
Thousands of young Cats fans were left to wonder which number would replace the No.5 on the back of their jumpers. In The Hickey Stand’s case, we never did get around to replacing it – although the No.35 has done a mighty job of tempting us to over the past decade or so.
AT his absolute best, there were very few midfielders who could match Chris Judd.
Explosive, skilled on both sides, a goalkicker – he had it all.
That’s why it was such a shame to see him go out after his knee gave way in Round 10, 2015.
It meant there was no farewell to one of the few players at West Coast who seemed to be level-headed and responsible. No farewell for the bloke who gave Carlton fans a brief taste of kinda-half-OK following a decade of kinda-not-even-close-to-relevance. And no farewell to Twiggers, who gave us “that dress”.
Here’s hoping other stars from The Super Draft – like the injured Gary Ablett Jr and Dane Swan – have the chance to play a farewell game.
AS Collingwood looked like doing what they do best during the 2007 prelim final – beating Geelong when no one thinks they will – club legend Buckley sat on the bench.
While Pies supporters and any footy fan with a sense of occasion cried “FFS, get Bucks on the field!”, Mick Malthouse sat in the coaches box and refused to put him on.
Collingwood lost by 5 points as Buckley stared into the distance with his steely glare, plotting his revenge and the future demise of his mentor.
WHATEVER you think of the Adam Goodes saga, the way the Sydney legend was hounded out of the game was a complete disgrace.
Here’s the thing – when someone asks you to stop being a prick to them, you stop.
It doesn’t matter if you thought it was harmless. It doesn’t matter if you thought it wasn’t offensive or it wasn’t racist. If the victim’s spirit has been reduced to a shadow of what it used to be, you JUST FUCKING STOP.
Any other attitude is plain old schoolyard bullying, and if you’re OK with that, you need to take a look at yourself.
RIGHT, rant over. Back to broken bones and smashed-in heads.
Browny’s run of injuries was hard to watch, but that’s what you get when you’re the ballsiest player in the league.
At the end, in a War of the Worlds-esque conclusion to Brown’s career, it was a tiny bug that brought down the beast. Tomas Bugg, to be specific.
The Lions skipper’s collision with the Giants defender – and subsequent concussion – led club doctors to advise Brown to pull the pin.
Very few players matched Brown’s bravery throughout his career, and given the end result, we doubt many will ever want to.
THE sad thing about Richo’s end is how in-form he was when he called it quits.
After almost snaring an unlikely Brownlow Medal in 2008 at the age of 33, the Tigers champion started 2009 averaging 23.5 disposals, 2 goals and 13.5 marks a game.
Then his hamstring went ping in Round 6. More accurately, it exploded. It was torn off the bone and Richardson never played again, robbing Richmond fans of a farewell game and a rare reason to cheer the yellow and black given their form over the past three decades.