Another Wednesday, and another edition of some all-time great instances of ‘It’ happening on our sporting fields.
Today, we go back to the 2010 AFL Preliminary Final between minor (And eventual) premiers Collingwood and defending premiers Geelong, which was the consensus pick for the 2010 Grand Final, before St Kilda pulled the rug out in the Qualifying Final and knocked off the Cats, forcing them to face a rampant Black & White Army in front of 95,000 at the MCG.
The Pies kicked the opening 3 goals before Travis Varcoe got Geelong’s first major, and from the centre bounce, Gary Ablett Jnr won the clearance, but the Pies defence got the ball back, and skipper Nick Maxwell cleared from half-back, which is where our moment begins.
Pies utility Leigh Brown, known by fans and commentators as Bad Bad Leroy Brown, the baddest man in the whole damned town, picked up the stray ball and sent a spiral into attack from at least 70m out from goal, hoping that Travis Cloke could win a contest one out against Tommy Lonergan.
However, both players were well under the Sherrin, which Lonergan prepared to track back to regather with a favourable bounce, or to let it roll out for a throw-in, which seemed most likely.
However, in a sign that it just wasn’t Geelong’s night/season, the unpredictable nature of the oblong Sherrin was on full display, when it took a freak off-break goalside, dodged the left goalpost by inches thanks to another small turn, and went through for a Magpies goal.
No wonder the ball bloody well favoured the Pies.
The ABC’s call of the moment (By Drew Morphett, David Parkin and Gerard Whateley) sums it up – Mentions of Murali and Warney, and laughing at how utterly absurd the bounce was.
It was a sign of things to come for the Catters – The Magpies led by a game-high 81 points in the 3rd Quarter (105-24), but took the foot off the gas with a Grand Final spot secured, eventually winning by 41 points, in what was Bomber Thompson’s last game as Geelong coach, and Ablett Jnr’s last game before moving to the Gold Coast.
Funnily enough, a more memorable freak off-break at the City End would come to Collingwood’s aid a week later in the Drawn Grand Final against St Kilda.
Stephen Milne had Ben Johnson dead in the water after getting goalside with 90 seconds remaining to seemingly pick up Lenny Hayes’ kick and put the Saints in front, but fate had other ideas, and the Sherrin took an off-break in front of Milney for the tying behind, proving once again that the universe hates St Kilda.
On another note, people forget Leroy Brown’s wild journey to 2010.
He was drafted by Fremantle with Pick 5 in 1999, a pick after the Dockers selected Matthew Pavlich, and enjoyed great moments like Freo’s historically crap 2001 season, before he was traded to North Melbourne in 2002 following 63 games for Freo.
Brown played 118 games as a swingman at North, which, much like the Kangaroos as a club, were barely memorable, and he was cut after the 2008 season.
Mick Malthouse & Geoff Walsh at Collingwood recruited Leroy for peanuts in the 2008 Draft (Pick 76), valuing him for his physicality and his versatility as a tall (Being 194cm), with Malthouse originally playing Brown as a tall defender, then up forward, and most prominently as the backup ruckman to Darren Jolly, which resulted in Brown playing the best footy of his career in his final 3 seasons.
After playing in the 2010 Premiership, Brown retired at the fairly young age of 29 after Collingwood lost the 2011 Grand Final, having played a durable 246 games (65 for Collingwood) in 11 seasons, but he’ll forever be a Collingwood cult hero for his efforts in 2010.
So as we finish this week, here’s the goal as originally broadcast by Channel 7 – Leroy, I salute you.
Say the line, Forrest…