Our community on display!
Heading into last Saturday and the stomach butterflies woke early. It was a big day both on and off the field for the club. With most teams either at the halfway mark of the season or just shy, all games had that little bit of extra spice. With the mighty Wellsmen holding their inaugural Two Blues Winter Ball at Kooyong in the evening, it was going to be a long and big day.
I am extremely fortunate to have a remarkable and supportive wife. It helps Lucy’s British and still learning to appreciate our great game as I suspect she may think I am still heading off at 8am Saturday mornings to pull on the boots and play. Our 3 kids are also very understanding as they happily pile into the car. I also suspect the ‘you can buy anything at the canteen’ policy throughout the day aids their understanding.
Kids in tow, we arrived at Old Parade 10 minutes into the 1st quarter and the Under 19s were 8 goals in front. I checked my watch which confirmed my delight. The perfect start to the day. Read Gavin’s top write up. The Under 19s have been magnificent so far this year and are so important to our club’s future. To nearly crack 200 points in a game is a big achievement but to do it without a shadow of arrogance is a testament to the players and coaching staff and supporters.
I wasn’t able to make the Reserves 11.40am game due to family commitments but I caught up with the coaches later that evening and both Tom and Chris were bitterly disappointed with the result. Their form has been strong of late and they were in the game all day. Each week many players are pushing for Senior selection which is a brilliant place to be for our club and I’m sure there will be selection headaches again this week after some strong performances. We’re very much alive to play finals football and the back half of the season will be strong.
Our next port of call was Oakleigh for our Women’s game at 2pm. With the Seniors clashing, I took the opportunity to take in an entire game of our girls. It was fantastic. As Roma’s write up states, it was our first loss for a while but we can all be immensely proud of the contribution, commitment and passion our Women’s team have brought to the club. Over one hundred people attended last week’s players function organised by the girls at the clubrooms and the feedback was ‘best function for years’. But most significantly for me, the desire to win is palpable in this group and in a nod to their efforts I’m delighted to let you know Rhiannon Green, Eloise Defina and Stephanie Defina have all made the first-ever VAFA Women’s Big V squad – congratulations to you and all the team.
As a lot of you will know, following a game on the VAFA website isn’t ideal. It’s painful. I had been keeping an eye on the score throughout the day and was feeling mildly confident. As the last quarter wore on I must have pressed the refresh button 90 times. When we kicked away (Jimmy Allen 3 in the last quarter!) I missed the refresh and hit the horn, blasting away and punching the air while my son looked at my as if I was a complete weirdo (you know the look parents). A big win for the Seniors and like all our teams, an opportunity to push on in the second half.
After dispersing the kids to uncles and aunties, Lucy and I donned the black-tie outfits and headed to Kooyong Tennis Club for the inaugural Two Blues Winter Ball. As expected, Dancey and his team did an exceptional job and we dined and enjoyed a great night. Thank-you to everyone who supported the night and well done to the players who attended. It meant a great deal and showcased our community and club well. I’m pretty sure Lucy had a good time given the conversation I overheard on the Sunday. She was telling a friend about the night and said ‘I sat next to a lovely guy. Apparently he was an AFL legend and also a very very funny man. Pretty sure his name was Barry Brownlow. His brother coaches our team!’ She’s getting there!
Have a safe and enjoyable long weekend and please book in for the June 24th Community Lunch.
The women’s team winning bubble finally burst. After six wins a row it was perhaps inevitable that the run would come to an end, and while disappointing, it may prove to work in our favour in the second half of the season.
Going in on paper with a somewhat less experienced side, missing three of our usual back six and a couple of regular midfield options, we still felt we had a strong team on the park. The fact we only lost by three points, going behind after Oakleigh kicked a goal in the final two minutes of the game, says we were more than competitive. One stray shot on goal could’ve been the difference.
The first half was an unusual 40 minutes of footy. Oakleigh dominated the majority of possession, winning the clearances and pinning us in our defensive half. However, in both quarters we managed to score goals against the run of play, including three in about five minutes late in the second quarter. This, along with wayward kicking from Oakleigh and outstanding defensive efforts from Mirabella, Donkin and Sam Bangs, gave us an eight point lead at half time.
What was clear from the first half was that our physical presence around the contest was, and perhaps in general is, lacking. While our tackling and scrounging pressure is as good as any in the division, there is a tendency (or hesitancy?) to err at attacking the ball, the (wo)man and the contest when the opportunity is there. This is to be expected given the inexperience of the vast majority of the team, and is something that will develop as individuals gain confidence. But footy is a physical contact game, and there’s improvement required in this area. Essentially this was the message at half time and it needed to lift if we were to continue our unbeaten streak.
If the first half was a tale of all-play for no reward for Oakleigh, then it turned 180 and became the tale of our third and fourth quarter. We began winning stoppages around the ground through Green, Soph Bangs and Anderson, while Anjou and Nolan were dropping back to rebound the footy. Unfortunately, we couldn’t capitalise on the scoreboard. A return of three points in the third quarter and a series of goal line saving marks from Oakleigh meant we were unable to extend our lead.
From the sidelines, Schwaby and I sensed a last gasp Oakleigh goal and it duly came in the final minutes. Just reward for their persistence across the whole game.
The bitter feeling after losing a close game is new to a lot of our players. It’s an important lesson to learn. Driving home, I was reminded of many hard to accept loses out in the suburbs and the lull that comes with it. The disappointment felt by the group is a good sign. It says that we expect a lot of ourselves, that every time we step out on the field we want to win. That’s not always going to happen, but we have the opportunity to do that against UHS-VU in two weeks’ time at GBO. Not only did they win big against third-placed St Bedes on Saturday (61-1), they knocked us off top spot.
I couldn’t think of a better stage to be set for a top of the table clash – an agonising loss, the end of a win streak and losing top spot; coupled with a week off for it to fester, a home crowd to look forward to and a point to prove. I personally, am itching for Saturday week to come. Hopefully every single player is too.
Goal Kickers: R. Green, A. Robison, E. Defina, L. Anderson
Best Players: K. Mirabella, A. Donkin, L. Anderson, C. Nolan, R. Green, S. Anjou
|4||SBMT / St Peters AFC||8||4||4||0||0||0||119||139||85.61||16|
|8||Yarra Old Grammarians||8||2||6||0||0||0||94||230||40.87||8|
SeniorsA perfect winter’s day greeted us for an important away fixture at Hampton Rovers. The stakes were high – win this game and we go into the break 4 – 4 and stay in touch with a very even Premier C competition this year.
From the first bounce the Wellers were full of run with Mcdonald, Hensby and Crothers controlling the middle and the inform forward Nick “Baywatch” Adamson getting on the end of a few lace out deliveries. The focus before the game was rapid ball movement and we duly surged forward time and time again at a hectic pace, controlling the first half with a relentless running game that was at times breathtaking to watch.
With precision kicking from our backs led by Howells, Powell and Deev our half forwards Ginge & Angus were getting plenty of the ball. We felt we were controlling most aspects of the game, defensive pressure acts were up and we went into the long break with a handy 18 point buffer.
A worrying sign this year has been our fade outs for short periods during crucial stages in a few games. Late in the third quarter Hampton lifted their work rate and pulled to within a goal as the 3/4 time siren sounded. Our run had stopped and the boys were being challenged by a desperate side, keen to impress on their home turf and cement a place in the four.
After conceding the first goal of the last quarter and with the home side hitting the front for the first time in the game it was time to show some real character. A few of our leaders stood up led by Mr. Fix It Simon Bennett & Jimmy Allen (3 last quarter goals) and the whole side responded, wrestling the lead back and bringing us home for a crucial 14 point victory. It was an important and impressive win with a strong team performance and will give us some real confidence going into the back half of the season.
Goal Kickers: N. Adamson 5, A. Brettingham-Moore 3, J. Allen 3, C. Hensby, S. Powell, S. Bennett, C. Allen
Best Players: C. Hensby, N. Adamson, J. Howells, H. Crothers, A. Brettingham-Moore, S. MacDonald
|5||Old Ivanhoe Grammarians||8||4||4||0||0||0||520||646||80.50||16|
|6||Old Camberwell Grammarians||8||4||4||0||0||0||630||799||78.85||16|
ReservesAfter stringing back to back wins together, the Ressies were hoping to take a 3rd consecutive win into the bye. We came up against an in form Hampton and in a hard fought encounter went down by 14 points. The boys played some very confident and high pressure football at times and despite leading for a large part of the game we were unable to sustain the effort for 4 quarters as Hampton ran over the top of us in the later stages of the game.
A big focus for the day was tackling, blocks and shepherds and our numbers were definitely up in the 1st quarter as we had a best start to the year with Latsas, Stayner and Vogel leading the way across the midfield and Huntsman starting well. Save for some soft turnovers by hand and foot our 3 goal lead could have been larger. Hampton adjusted their game in the 2nd quarter and were able to find some space and run but we were able to also hit the scoreboard and take a 10 point lead into ½ time.
A couple of players down (Pepperell with an injured wing, T.Kanz “vision impaired”) and with Hampton finding space through the corridor made for a tough second half. A.Clarke and Stone
Hampton kicked away in the last as they were able to play the game on their terms. To the boys credit, and with everyone out on their feet, we kicked a couple of late goals to bring back the final margin.
This was a game that was well within our reach and we couldn’t fault the boys’ effort. As much as it hurts to lose a close game this should provide us with the motivation and desire to go one step further when next challenged!
Goal Kickers: A. Taverner 4, J. Huntsman 2, N. Latsas 2, J. Simon, A. Gilmour, M. Jenkin
Best Players: T. Eastick, B. Warburton, T. Stayner, T. Vogel, T. Stone, N. Latsas
|6||Old Camberwell Grammarians||8||3||5||0||0||0||576||620||92.90||12|
|10||Old Ivanhoe Grammarians||8||1||7||0||0||0||421||734||57.36||4|
For the second consecutive week The Unders traveled to Bundoora seeking a win to cement our position in the top four.
The first quarter saw Old Camberwell dominate play with Josh Holding and Will Dalrymple continually driving the ball into an open forward line, where Mike Schumann, Stephen Everitt and Lachie Powell were able to capitalise on the plethora of opportunities. The slick ball movement and accurate kicking for goal led to a 9 goal to 1 opening term.
That pattern of play was repeated throughout the game, with the boys kicking 5, 9, and 6 goals in each of the next 3 quarters, without conceding a goal. Although not reflected on the scoreboard, the second quarter was more even, with Mitch Fletcher and Max Henderson repeatedly repelling Old Parade’s forward forays. The clever Tom Oliver was able to sneak away from his opponent and kick 2 goals.
The floodgates opened in the third quarter when we added a further nine goals. Unselfish team player was evident, with the boys dishing the ball to teammates in better positions, ultimately setting up easy shots for goal.
To the boys’ credit they finished strongly, despite taking such a large lead into the last quarter. Schumann, Dalrymple and Powell all added to their tally of majors, and Harry Speagle thrilled his teammates by also kicking truly. Mitch Fletcher was again supreme across half-back taking countless intercept marks.
Following the percentage boosting win we go to into the Bye second on the ladder. The top four or five sides seem to be clearing away from the pack, so it is critical we keep winning to maintain our position. I look forward to seeing all the boys down at training on Tuesday after the long weekend.
Goal Kickers: L. Powell 9, M. Schumann 6, W. Dalrymple 5, S. Everett 3, J. Oliver 2, J. Tan, J. Holding, M. McPherson, H. Speagle
Best Players: M. Fletcher, M. Schumann, L. Powell, W. Dalrymple, J. Holding, S. Everett
|1||De La Salle||8||6||2||0||0||0||657||333||197.30||24|
|2||Old Camberwell Grammarians||8||6||2||0||0||0||655||358||182.96||24|
|4||St Bedes / Mentone Tigers AFC||7||4||3||0||0||1||505||440||114.77||20|
|6||Melbourne High School Old Boys||8||4||4||0||0||0||595||521||114.20||16|
|8||La Trobe University||8||3||5||0||0||0||518||580||89.31||12|