It’s nearly midnight on Saturday night, I’m struggling to sleep. Is it excitement or nerves that Mick Malthouse might spray me in the press conference keeping me awake?
Picking up my guest pass for the Carlton and Brisbane match and entering the gate, I manoeuvred the lifts and stairs and found the corporate suits area – one could only dream of having the money to have one for a day.
Walking past the boxes, and seeing the sign “Press box”, I stood outside waiting for someone to walk past, not wanting to walk into the wrong room.
An Etihad stadium supervisor helped me push open the door, and she showed me the awaiting sandwiches and drinks.
Walking into the room, you’re presented with four rows of seats, enough for about 50 people.
Greg Davis all the way from Brisbane is the only one in the room with me, perhaps like me too eager with a little over 90 minutes before the bounce.
I sat up the back to ensure I’m not in the way, with numerous media organisations beginning to file in.
In the press box are also the AFL time keepers, who are constantly pressing a button ensuring the clock you see on the TV stops, as well as blowing the siren.
Champion Data have about six men in the box calling out the interchange rotations. The clubs media managers and assistant are in the box too.
It’s a bit daunting to see the other journalists in front of me; The Herald Sun, The Age and AFL Media are just some of the outlets represented in the room.
My first interaction with one of them came when the Herald Sun’s Sam Edmund was looking for a double AA battery.
I knew my extra supply of batteries in my bag for my recorder would come in handy, and I was able to gain my first bit of respect from a journalist.
The siren sounded and we’re away.
Looking at the journalist’s screens before me, open on Twitter, Word and the AFL.com.au stats page, which is being updated from the Champion Data boys.
At quarter time, the Blues led by a point and the Champion Data people pass around the highly detailed stats sheet, more than just your average kicks and handballs.
During the second quarter, you can see the journalists beginning to start their match reports – at this point Carlton would be the favourite to win.
A walk to the bathroom at half time brought up another chat with Edmund on whether his beloved Blues would win, to which he replied “they should be right”.
I’d been worded up before the game by SEN 1116’s Robert Shaw on the food at half time and I wasn’t let down.
The party pies and sausage rolls were great, not to mention the scones with jam and cream that were a favourite with those journalists in the room.
Carlton kicked the first in the third quarter and it looked like they would win, however Brisbane fought back and hit the lead, resulting in those in the room having to change their frame of the story.
With Carlton struggling, the report was always going to be based on Mick Malthouse and his coaching future.
The minutes wound down, and the Lions came out winners by nine points.
Entering a lift with other journalists presented the chance to talk with them and pick their brains as to what they were going to ask in the press conference.
No sooner had I reached downstairs, I had realised I’d left the recorder that I’d borrowed from University in my bag back in the press box. Rookie mistake….
Guthrie took me into the Brisbane rooms, where I could see the Brisbane players doing their post match warm down.
In order to get an interview with a player, you’d chat with the media manager and have a player speak to you.
I ventured back into the press conference room with the other journalists who were to ask Brisbane coach Justin Leppitsch on the win.
What could only be described as being star struck, I didn’t ask a question to Leppitsch, however from talking with the journalists after, they had a clear idea of what they would be asking to enable them to have a quote in their article.
With Mick Malthouse up next more people joined the room, including Guthrie who had been off interviewing a player.
The question of Malthouse’s coaching career was on everyone’s mind, but who would have the guts to ask it?
As what could only be described as ‘taking one for the team’, Jason Phelan asked Mick the question, which was greeted with a facial expressed that Wayne Ludbey’s expert photography captured.
I was going to ask Mick a question on Matthew Kruezer, however he answered my question through his explanation of the VFL and the chances that some of those players may have of senior selection next week.
The press conference concluded and I ventured back up the lift to the press box in order to finalise my match report for a University newspaper.
With a time restraint put on some of the journalists in the room, you could see they were working hard on ensuring that they could get information from the press conference and work it in with their story to be published into the paper tomorrow.
The online media such as the AFL website had the advantage of not needing to work to a deadline as such, but needing to ensure it was online in a timely manner.
With just four journalists left in the room at 7.30pm, I thought it was best to submit my match report to the University newspaper editor and leave.
Thanks must go to the AFL’s Patrick Keane for allowing me a guest pass into the press box.