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Rounds Of Our Lives: The greatest moments from Round 15

Umpire Peter Carey about to take the least anticipated mark in football history at Subiaco in Round 15 of 1999. Picture: CHANNEL 7

Rounds Of Our Lives: The greatest moments from Round 15

Rohan Connolly    

Have the AFL bye rounds been getting you down? Need a boost with some footy nostalgia? Well sit back, crack open a cold one and re-live some of the greatest moments from round 15 in years gone by.

Round 15 has produced a catalogue of memorable games and incidents, like an amazing goal from North Melbourne’s Daniel Wells at Subiaco, another thriller in a series of epic battles between West Coast and Sydney, and Essendon’s massive upset of Geelong in 2011, the Cats’ first loss for the season.

Because like an umpire living out his boyhood fantasies on an AFL area, so are the Rounds of our Lives.

FREMANTLE 16.11 (107) d ST KILDA 12.12 (84) (Subiaco, Round 15 1999)
Fremantle was struggling but St Kilda inside the eight and looking to cement its spot in this 1999 Saturday night game in Perth.

Scores were low and play tight in the first term when Docker midfielder Adrian Fletcher gathered the ball next to the boundary line on the wing and turned inboard, spotting teammate Brad Wira free in the centre.

A beautiful pass was headed straight for its target when came an intercept from the unlikeliest of sources, none other than field umpire Peter Carey, who not only failed to get out of the way, but jumped slightly to take a very comfortable “mark”.

The stunned Wira threw out his arms in disbelief, while St Kilda opponent Gavin Mitchell actually began to tackle Carey as though he was an opponent before the unthinkable registered.

“Carey by name, [Wayne] Carey by nature,” commentator Dennis Cometti quipped, as callers and crowd alike wondered whether they really had actually seen what they thought they just had, and a now-smiling Mitchell returned the ball to the ump for an apologetic bounce and re-start.

While the game itself resulted in a forgettable 23-point win to the Dockers, the incident will be remembered forever.

Carey at least took the “blooper” with good grace, even after being dumped from the senior panel for a week as penance.

“It was my five minutes of fame, I suppose,” he recalled years later, self-deprecatingly, and perhaps a little unfairly given he umpired 307 games of VFL and AFL including four grand finals.

“It was my 299th game, and I remember saying to the guys in the rooms before the game: ‘I’ve got my 300th next week, so I don’t want any stuff-ups’. Yet I go out and do that!

“It looked as if I’d deliberately jumped up to catch the ball, but it wasn’t the case. Anyway, it hit, it stuck, and I thought: ‘What do I do now?’ All I could do was bounce the footy, because it had never happened before and is probably never likely to happen again.”

Or so we all thought. Because though it didn’t receive nearly as much publicity, Carey was joined in the “umpy takes a mark” pantheon in 2015, when, at the MCG, umpire Brendan Hosking, at close range, also grabbed a ball which Port Adelaide’s Hamish Hartlett had mistakenly kicked right at him.

ESSENDON 18.7 (115) d GEELONG 16.15 (111) (Etihad Stadium, Round 15 2011)
The Cats were red-hot going into this game under the roof on a chilly Saturday evening in July 2011, undefeated at 13-0 and two games clear on top of the ladder, while the Dons were outside the eight not having won even half their matches to date. And Geelong looked like inflicting another thrashing on a hapless opponent with the first three goals to zip inside 10 minutes. But out of nowhere, the Bombers suddenly went bang, booting eight of the next nine goals and eventually leading at the last change by 17 points. With Travis Colyer providing valuable run and a couple of goals, Essendon led by 22 points well into time-on after a goal by Stewart Crameri. But after a relatively quiet night, Geelong’s Steve Johnson sprung into action, booting three of the last four goals of the game, the Dons only sealing victory when Jake Melksham kicked one from the goalsquare after a chain of handballs, the Essendon crowd going berserk as he did so.

NORTH MELBOURNE 14.12 (96) d FREMANTLE 12.7 (79) (Subiaco, Round 15 2004)
This was an important game with both teams jousting for a spot in the lower top eight, and despite trailing nearly all evening, North Melbourne had still managed to stay within striking distance of the Dockers come a frantic final term. Four goals to one had given the Roos a six-point lead with just under three minutes left on the clock when a long bomb by Sav Rocca ended in a goalsquare wrestle between Freo’s Shane Parker and North’s Daniel Motlop, and eventually a ball-up. Umpire Darren Goldspink bounced the ball, and quick-thinking Roos’ youngster Daniel Wells leapt in the air in front of the ruckmen, grabbed the ball and before he’d hit the ground, amazingly thrown it on to his right foot for what would prove the match-winner. The Jackie Chan-like Kung Fu effort was a moment of pure inspiration good enough to win the 2004 Goal of the Year award.

WEST COAST 9.13 (67) d SYDNEY 9.11 (65) (Subiaco, Round 15 2006)
The rivalry between the Eagles and Swans in the middle of the “noughties” was undoubtedly the closest the game had ever seen. From 2005 to 2007, the fierce rivals played an incredible series of six games, four of them finals and two grand finals, all decided by a total of just 13 points. This epic came in the middle of that string, but at half-time it looked like a comfortable Sydney victory coming up, the Swans leading by 32 points. But West Coast turned the screws after the long break, holding Sydney to just one goal for the entire second half, while gradually pegging back the deficit. With the Swans hanging on by just three points into the 29th minute of the last term, a handball by Eagle Rowan Jones found Tyson Stenglein, whose shot from 45 metres bounced through, giving West Coast the lead for the first time all night. Sydney attacked once more and a flying snap from Jude Bolton sailed just wide only seconds before the siren. It was an absolute thriller, one which would be reprised twice more, including grand final day, before 2006 was done.

CARLTON 12.13 (85) d COLLINGWOOD 8.14 (62) (MCG, Round 15 2012)
Like so many previous meetings between these two old foes, the form guide went out the window this Friday evening in 2012. Collingwood was a game clear on top of the ladder having just won its 10th game in a row. Carlton, in contrast, had lost six of its last seven games, and had been trounced by Hawthorn only the previous weekend. But the fired-up Blues seized the initiative this night, with Eddie Betts on fire up forward with four goals and regular backman Nick Duigan also chipping in with three, Carlton up by 13 points at half-time. Collingwood appeared to be making its move in the third term, but the Blues lifted again after popular clubman Kade Simpson was flattened by Sharrod Wellingham, banging in four goals to two in the last quarter for a 23-point win, one of the biggest upsets of the season.

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