Jonathan Brown is a dead-set winner who is, to the disappointment of footy fans everywhere, coming to the end of his career, which is not completely insignificant when it comes to the NAB Cup Grand Final being played at Etihad Stadium tonight.
Winners like to win and, when Father Time can be spotted leaning on the rail on the Docklands wing, blokes like J Brown get motivated.
Everyone loves Browny. He looks like he’s by Buzz Lightyear out of a Chips Rafferty mare, and plays like the incarnation of an ANZAC. He’s always represented the key elements of footy: skill, strength, athleticism, leadership, camaradie and fun. He’s never taken himself too seriously yet, from the outset, he has taken games by the scruff of the neck and hung them on hat-racks.
I remember the pimply-faced young’un who arrived in Brisbane. Not only was I dirty on him not being at Geelong, I was doubly frustrated when his break-out game was when he kicked seven at the Gabba against Geelong. It was my third date with The Handicapper and she left puzzled. “Why don’t you barrack for the Lions?” she asked.
It was a good question.
Browny was instrumental in making those magnificent Brisbane sides so, well, magnificent.
But I was a little concerned for the big fella when I saw him in the Q-Clash last year. Despite the magnificent conditions at Metricon – still, clear winter twilight – it was one of the worst games of footy you’d expect to see. I was actually concerned for both sides. The Suns weren’t good enough to win it and the Lions didn’t seem to care enough to win it.
Browny appeared ancient, like he should cover himself in flour and put a hat at his feet. He couldn’t burst, he couldn’t turn, and his timing was all wrong. At one stage he attacked the footy on a typical long-lead, jumped like a country full-forward, and the Sherrin bounced off his chest – about 25 metres – straight back to the deliverer. The statisticians at Champion Data didn’t know how to record it. The grandstand chuckled, a little sad about what they had just seen.
Brisbane looked awful – it was about six goals to four at three quarter time, despite the perfect conditions, and the Suns kicked eight behinds in a row to start the last quarter. Then a couple of the young Lions – Bewick and Rockliff - got hold of the footy and won the game for them.
Browny trudged off to check out the greyhound results. Brisbane looked miles off being competitive.
Clearly they have found some spark since then. They have players back from injury and some youngsters who are finding a bit of confidence – after a long time.
They come up against an interesting opponent. I suppose we should have seen it coming: Mick Malthouse entrenching the sense of hope, and his own position, at Carlton by going hard in the NAB Cup, bringing his Buffalo Gils approach (going ‘round the outside’) to Princes Park, telling his boyish star Marc Murphy that he needs to find his inner-manliness by making him captain.
Brisbane coach Michael Voss ensured there would be a bit of feeling in the Grand Final as well by going hard at the AFL for not scheduling the match in Brisbane. He has the sympathy of most.
So what we have is two teams with a lot of reason to win. (The Lions could also do with the cash).
I think it will be an excellent contest and I am hoping that Browny, thinking this may be the last chance he has of holding up some silverware, has a vintage game.
He has been one of the great players and characters.
From the heart: Brisbane to win by 4 points with a J Brown bomb from 50 after the siren.
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