Tim Cassidy’s version!
It’s been a long wait between courses but footy is back and boy o boy were the boys hungry for it. The Tuffleys were so keen they arrived at dawn for a 9am bounce. The glorious sunshine and still calm air whet the appetites of players, coaches and parents and all were hoping for a clean game. However, there were dangers lurking down at Albert Park Oval 11 even before the siren had sounded. The mind games started early with both ticket machines ‘out of order’, requiring calm heads and resilience from multiple parents to coordinate calls to Vic Parks and locate a functional ticket spitter.
Coach Marty Wells, fresh from a coaching course and armed with valuable insights, took the boys out for a longer than usual warm-up. In theory he wanted each boy to handle the footy 100 times before the first quarter, but the practical application needed refinement given a distinct lack of balls.
One of the pleasures of being part of the travelling Rovers family is the comfort you feel in the familiar. Within seconds of the ball up the oval was reverberating to the classic Kelly sound of “GO TOMMY!!” soon followed by Andrew’s mantra:
Go Mitch, Get ‘im Mitch, BAAAALLLLL!!!.
The boys were contesting well. Henry using his size, Luca chasing down the loose ball, Mitch laying in some brave tackles, and Paddy was having a brilliant debut crack on his birthday. I can only imagine the ball appeared to be a tempting present for both sets of players as there was always a crowd of kids around it, making the opening quarter a mass of tight contested play. The scrappy play led to occasional shouts of consternation from the side lines, “listen to where you’re running too” was a gem of useful instruction sure to clarify any confusion. South Melbourne were in no mood to gift us an easy time however and despite Ben’s valiant efforts at full back, at the first break we were 3 goals down.
The quarter time instructions from Coach Wells were to spread out, use our running game and keep contesting. Ed, who had come on for Henry due to a knee that needed some attention, applied himself and began to win the tap outs. Our on ballers started to click with Will T leading by example and showing poise, skill and courage. You would never have known that Paddy T, Adam D, Hugh H, Sam H and Damien Paino were playing their first game in the Green and Gold. They were playing their hearts out and the crowd was evidence of that -“No Pain-o, No Gain-o” was the chant after a big tackle by Damien. Noah was dominant, tackling, finding space, taking clean marks and distributing the ball. Amongst his endeavours he copped a knee to the lower back and needed a few minutes treatment. The boys made a much better go of it and commensurate with their effort, the scoring chances came along.
Halftime. South Melbourne 4.4 28 Hampton Rovers 1.4 10
Coach Wells, remembering with mild disgust how much phlegm an overly enthusiastic coach of his had shared with his charges, took a decidedly calm and reassuring tone at half time. The boys reflected on how well they were playing, on how the simple game plan of playing a running game, playing for each other and using space was working. And, importantly, he reminded them that they were bloody good at this game!
The premiership quarter.
With Marty’s encouragement ringing in their ears the boys believed in themselves and each and every one of them played a blinder. Expending huge amount of energy, the boys out-ran, out-chased, out-tackled and out-scored their South Melbourne counter parts. There were standout passages of play all over the park and the new faces were in the thick of it as much as the more experienced players and it was really fantastic to see some of those first gamers snatch a goal (Paddy T, Damien P, Hugh H). Tommy helped himself to another maximum too. What a quarter!
It was always going to be hard to maintain the pressure and level of endeavour from the 2nd and 3rd quarters into the 4th quarter. The home team began to raise their game again and found an extra bit of speed. They converted twice to no reply and the scores were back to within a point. It was tighter than a gnats arse (TM D COMETTI) but who would have the sting and who would be left scratching? That was up to the boys and their will to win. I said it would be hard….but not impossible. The boys hung in there, leaving everything on the park and took their first win of the season. As if there was any doubt!
It was a great start to the season, laying the foundation for friendships and embedding the importance and power of teamwork that will surely benefit the boys long into the future.
Full Time South Melbourne 43 Hampton Rovers 44
Patrick and Teresa Troy’s version
Up early and excited to play the first game for the season and the first game ever for four of our boys namely Adam Doyle, Paddy Troy, Hugh Harris and Sam Howe.
9am start and off we go. South Melbourne come to play and run all over us from the first bounce, our boys can’t get the ball into our forward area for the entire quarter and before we know it South Melbourne are up by 28 points to Rovers’ 0 at the quarter break. We walk to the huddle a little shell shocked.
Second quarter and the Rovers are a different team, our intensity and pressure around the ball, our skill levels suddenly lift… we just take off! A few short minutes in and Paddy Troy takes delivery out of a scramble and snaps a beauty, first ever goal for Paddy, it’s thrilling to watch.
Will Tuffley is smashing it in the clearances and anywhere else he decides to be and continues along this way for the whole game. Tommy Randall looks dangerous every time the ball comes into the forward line and kicks a couple of great goals. Noah Hunt is using his strength, breaking out of packs and taking some ripper marks to hold up South Melbourne’s flow every time they threaten. Hard to believe Adam Doyle is playing his first game as his read of the play and body positioning is excellent, Mitch Gathercole is strong in a contest, constantly tapping on and clearing.
We dominate the second quarter and go into half time in front, an incredible effort by the boys. Howe, Duffin, Harris, Wells all firing.
Third quarter and our mid-field are a powerhouse, the supporters are thrilled to see three boys all kick a goal in their first ever match of AFL and the team get around them. We are pumped! Tuffley, Troy, Wells, Duffin, Haydon in everything, we dominate with most of the play in our forward area.
Rovers are up to a healthy 3+ goal lead at end of 3rd Quarter. Can we possibly hold on?
Fourth quarter and South Melbourne must have had some kind of a rev up and come out swinging slowly pegging back our lead. There are some tired boys and pressure by both teams is relentless. Some lucky centre clearances by our opponents and and before we know it South Melbourne have pegged the lead back to 7 points, suddenly they have all the momentum, scoring again almost immediately to find us holding a 1 point lead with 2 minutes to go.
Please can we hold on!
Last centre clearance and South Melbourne swoop on the ball taking it into their forward line, Rovers back line intercepts and we clear the ball up the wing into our forward area and manage to hold it in to finally hear the siren sound and we have held on for a fantastic and thrilling win.
What a great game we have just seen, well done to all the players they were all fantastic!