Round 6 vs Bayside Bombers
This is my 14th season as a player with Souths Sharks (yeah, I know I received a 10 year badge at last year’s presentation night but I also received one back in 2011, so I figure we’ve just started handing them out like they were prawn crackers.)
In all that time I can’t remember a more bizarre set of circumstances culminating in the premature stoppage to a game like the one I witnessed in this encounter…but more on that later.
Ok, Ok I’m sorry I was away from you for so long but I’ve been a little busy. That 100 hours of Community Service doesn’t just complete itself you know. I want to thank so many of you for the campaign of verbal harassment, lead largely by Dutchy keen to read about his last minute heroics, in trying to extract the latest match report from me. Regardless, I’m back fresh out of Witness Protection and keen to shovel out another piping hot offering of my semi-literate observations, into the cyber trough for you to dip your ravenous snouts into once more.
There was talk of Nicko stepping in to try his hand but this never came to fruition. I get it, finding footballers with a solid grasp of both punctuation and grammar is ambitious at best. That said, I think our opponents for this round know a thing or two about sentences – no doubt having been on the receiving end from the local magistrate on more than a few occasions.
Arriving early for this one I take a pleasant stroll to the club rooms, enjoying the semi-rural setting as a banjo twangs ominously, somewhere off in the distance.
Steam billows through my trembling lips like an angry kettle. It’s cold, so cold some of the boys elect to hang their car keys on my nipples for safe keeping.
The locals assess me from behind cautious nods as I pass, clearly unnerved by my adherence to dental hygiene and regular bathing.
It becomes quickly apparent that today’s Sharks will need team spirit to act as the thread that binds this patchwork quilt of a team in the absence of much experience. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in our attire. Arguments ensue as to whom exactly forgot to bring the team’s spare jerseys but regardless, some of us are forced to take to the field in t-shirts, singlets and other Shark emblazoned paraphernalia. Manny even offers to shave a number into his back if it will help create an extra jumper.
Team morale is quickly buoyed with our first glimpse of a different look Bayside to the outfit we played only weeks earlier. Relatively few appear to have needed driving to the ground by their parents this time around, which bodes well for our older bodies.
The Masters control things from the outset. Wizard, so named presumably for his mercurial footballing gifts rather than any predisposition he may have for taking long journeys with Hobbits, is an unstoppable force. He caps a dominant display with a long bomb goal from outside 50 in what many are hailing as the single greatest game by a man in a $15 training singlet in the club’s history.
It unfolds as a game of spirited thrust and parry, with our superior skill level giving us the edge for much of the first 3 quarters when, just prior to the 3rd quarter’s conclusion, the Archbishop of Bayside decided to stop proceedings to deliver a bizarrely timed sermon on footballing ethics.
What exactly was preached, I can’t quite say. My ears developed a callous after the initial 30 seconds and everything after that point became a dull drone.
What I can say, is that one of our club’s longest serving members had an unnecessary and thoroughly undeserved shadow cast over his reputation during this self-indulgent monologue.
Floater has been a part of most of my 14 seasons, depending on availability through either work or modelling commitments. In that time he has played the game as hard and, more importantly, as fairly as anybody I have played alongside. Granted, poise and grace are not his more prevailing physical attributes, such that he appears destined to give up on his Olympic Gymnastics dream but I would defy anyone to question the sprit in which he has ever played the game.
Let me close off on this unsolicited rant by making two final points.
For any player to go above and beyond their jurisdiction, as was witnessed this day, make damned sure you and your team have an impeccable, squeaky clean record to loan your statements some form of credibility. If we’d stopped the game every time somebody got hurt in a Bayside game, they’d turn into 5 day test matches. Some of those lads shake hands with their elbows. It was a little like being accused of vanity by a Kardashian.
Secondly, I found such misguided bravado to be nothing short of unprofessional and highly disrespectful. Disrespectful to the game, our captain, the officials and in particular the umpires on hand to officiate. Here endeth the rant.
With the recent drone of sanctimony still echoing in our ears there were fears that our focus may be challenged for the final quarter. Fortunately, Pete May was on hand to encourage us from the sidelines, upgrading the atmosphere from “tense” to “handsome”.
Corky & Docko’s continued dash from the back half was inspirational. Repelling the opposition’s forward thrust the way my personality does female advance.
Another honourable mention to Manny for another stellar performance. The chart mapping Manny’s progress as a player continues to rise steeply, assuming that I’m reading it the right way up of course.
Cam kicked 4 goals for the Sharks and was dangerous all day in what was a wonderful makeshift performance by the club.
Tension hung densely over this game and you could have carved it with a spoon if any of the locals knew how to use cutlery.
Looking to be inspired the Supers need look no further than the return of Johnny on the sidelines, reconfigured and re-built. More machine than man now with the only real inconvenience on his road to recovery being he has to have his oil checked every 3 months, which doesn’t sound too bad…until he shows you where the dipstick goes in.
It’s not an easy thing watching one of your own on the sidelines and listening to him explaining how he has essentially had to learn how to walk again. It’s even more confronting when it’s not Burger after the end of year road trip for a change.
This encounter had feeling from the very outset. Old favourite Torso clashed verbally throughout this contest with old sparring partners Hoops and Dutchy and the inevitable happened right on the tick of quarter time with feelings bubbling over into a heated skirmish on the boundary line. In the end two Bayside lads had to drag Torso away, half as many as it took to squeeze him into his helmet before the game started.
Dion was tackled fiercely, soon after the game’s recommencement by a bald, sweaty Bomber midfielder, clearly locked in a struggle with evolution, who became increasingly incensed by the ensuing “ball up!” decision by the umpire. Calls for him to cut back on red meat were ignored and he was only later placated by the offer of a free bunch of bananas after the game. It has since occurred to me that perhaps we should have stopped the game ourselves at this point, maybe lit some incense and crooned “Kumbaya” to each other in the hope of regaining control of proceedings once more. Perhaps something to consider for next season.
Despite our earlier dominance the Sharks started to lose ascendency as the mercury continued to plummet. With at least 5 Masters backing up for this game it became quickly apparent the older boys were struggling, with more than one of them signalling to the bench for slippers and a robe to be run out.
The first half of the last quarter was a rolling scrum. You could have thrown a blanket over both teams which, given the conditions, would have been warmly received by all involved at that point.
Wizard and Docko were both great in backing up, the latter punching everything that came his way in the air (which is also the reason he is kept away from the bouquet toss at weddings). Dave Gillette, another Master, provided a wonderful last quarter cameo that helped sway the game. Dave provided the most magnificent slow motion step after marking, ever seen at this level, which helped put the ball forward in the dying stages when scores were level. How slow are we talking? Let’s just say that as he turned two pigeons landed on him to rest.
This one was going down to the wire and it was hard not to be impressed with the desperation from the likes of Hotty, Hoops, Dutchy, Skull and co. but for me it was Caspar that provided the point of difference throughout. He shone all game, and that is in no way a reference to his pale complexion. A great game from the little Treasurer.
With precious seconds ticking away and with the lead now arrested from us by the Bombers, the game cried out for a hero. That hero would step forward in the unassuming form of Dutchy, reading the ball off the pack better than his Bomber opponent (but in fairness reading has never been their strong suit) and curling the kick across his body, subsequently stealing the game back in the dying embers of a memorable contest and in doing so, living out nearly every young boys dream. I say nearly every boy’s dream because mine was playing Nathan Detroit in a Broadway production of Guys and Dolls but hey…I had an overly nurtured childhood.
This will long remain a clash for the ages and certainly one that no doubt set the tongues of local onlookers wagging and their gums gnashing. An evening I will not forget anytime soon, I can only that hope wiser heads will prevail between now and our next encounter. Who knows, perhaps if we do have to stop next time around, we’ll stop to remember that the game we love is bigger than us all.
Last Modified on 20/07/2016 20:46