Good news – the reporter strike has ended – and the sports journos are back reporting on the footy games on a Sunday – Or at least writing the report so that it makes the email rounds on a Monday morning. If Grandma and Grandpa can’t read about the game on a Monday – it probably didn’t happen.
With the team coming off a win last week – and the boys pumped up as they start to think about their first ever tilt at a Lightning Premiership carnival, Coach Julian knew he had to dig deep into his bag of tricks to keep some winning momentum. The opposition team this week were the Dingley Dingoes, and they had already proven to be a very challenging opposition for the Rovers U8 Yellow team in previous games this season. Aside from this – the coach also had other issues to combat this week.
There were whispers in the playground that Jackson N and Joshy Sill were already swapping drawings of the tattoos they were going to get if the Mighty Under 8 Yellow Team could pull off a remarkable second half of the season and taste victory in the lightning premiership carnival. Jackson, as a Collingwood supporter thought that at the very least they would have to go for a full-sleeve, whilst Joshy was more inclined to aim for a discrete 3-peat Hawks supporter style tattoo on the lower section of the calf.
The coach decided this week was all about getting back to basics. “Training is going back to basics” – he proclaimed in the weekly email to his assistants. “Tough training – no active wear on the lads (or the coaches), and the gameplay drills we will be practicing will be so advanced – we will have to turn the lights out to keep them a secret…..”
On top of his proclamation to the assistant coaches – Coach Julian wanted to impart some further wisdom on the team. Coach Julian had read a few novels during the week – given his penchant for the English prose, and he settled on Shakespeare to provide the inspiration that he was searching for, although something that the boys would comprehend was proving elusive.
The first quote that the coach put on the team whiteboard was – “To be or not to be – that is the question”.
After a moment’s reflection, Julian realised that this was going to confuse some of the Under 8’s Team – and he could already see the pre-game address was going to be a sea of raised hands from the team and blank faces from the parents. With a quick swipe of a cloth – the quote was removed from the whiteboard.
After another night reading Shakespeare (googling) the coach had found his inspiration, and a second quote was going to be neatly written upon the whiteboard. “Some are born great, Some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them”.
After all the Coach’s extravagant and diligent planning that had gone into the week – sometimes simple things can be beyond the control of mere mortals. The lack of lights at Castlefield oval for training on Thursday night prevented the secret drills from getting a run. The whiteboard pen had dried out, so the Shakespearian quote did not make it onto the whiteboard – and all that could be done to salvage the day was a shuffle of the magnets on the team whiteboards.
Finally the Team assembled at Castlefield ready to play for their mates – and their Coach. Working with his mantra – that some have greatness thrust upon them – the Coach selected Caelan K–F and Eddie J (Betts) to lead the team, and the two boys were up to the challenge. The final pre-game rev-up from the coach of randomly counting out numbers between 1 to 5 and the boys having to repeat it as a team – seemed to be the missing element this season in the pre-game address. The Boys were engaged, and they were ready for the Dingoes.
The Rovers were kicking into the wind in the first quarter, and they managed to get the jump on the opposition. The first minutes of play looked like a bomb had gone off. Dingoes players were on the deck dusting themselves off after the fierce tackling that the Rovers were applying. Sebastien was leading by example – tackling the Dingoes tallest player, and showing the rest of the team that he could be stopped. After a brief period in attack for the Rovers – the wind was becoming a factor. The defence were getting plenty of action and Kai was doing a great job tackling and breaking lines, Cooper was getting plenty of kicks, Kit was tackling hard and linking well with Cooper – and Sebastien was taking strong marks. Ethan was starting to dominate his opponents in the middle and get his hands on the ball and evading the ball-hungry Dingoes players. Quick ball release was evident today – and the boys all worked together to keep “the first option” open during the game. Eddie P, Josh, and Will were all playing well, and combined for a great passage of play in the forward zone. The end of the quarter and the Rovers were only down by a point.
The second quarter and the boys had some relief from the wind. Jackson N had entered the game and started to lock the ball down with good marks at centre half-back. Cruz was in the midfield and took the opportunity to show his prowess to spin back inside his opposition and send the ball into the corridor with one of his silky kicks. The Rovers midfield were on top – Ashton, Eddie Betts, and Eddie P, were hunting the ball, and not afraid to get into the packs and win the ball. Before long Angus, Kai and Charlie had linked a play together – which resulted in a point. The scores were level. After the kick in – Charlie won the ball and kicked it to Angus. Angus was awarded a free kick for a push in the back and he played on to deliver the ball lace-out to Ethan at full forward, who took a great mark in the goal square and put it through for a big 6 points. By the end of the quarter the Rovers team were realising that the hard running they were prepared to do for themselves and their team mates was helping them win the ball.
After half-time Jackson Block started strongly in the midfield applying a great tackle. Ethan was selling candy in the back-line, Seb was dominating the ruck, Jack P was working hard in the midfield, and Eddie Betts was slamming his opposition with strong tackles. From the sidelines – it appeared that Eddie’s opposition were wishing they had his helmet on. Archie had a great mark and kick, Louis had a great tackle, and Charlie had a big smother on the opposition’s biggest player. Towards the end of the quarter the Dingos had locked the play down in their forward line. The siren came at the right time for the Rovers boys to not concede a goal.
The final quarter had arrived – the boys could smell blood in the water and were ready to play with the wind behind them. The defence were the building blocks of the push for victory. Freddie, Calaen K-F and Cruz were attacking the ball, and after a big clearing kick from Archie the ball was worked well by the midfield to end up with Kit in the forward line. A new addition to the team today was Kit’s lucky headband, and with his long hair kept out of his eyes, he ran around 3 or 4 stunned Dingoes to slot a great goal for the team. The boys wanted more. Calaen M worked some magic in the forward line – and put through a behind for the team. With the ball deep in the Rovers’ forward line – Jackson Block pounced, and after kicking a behind moments earlier, he found the middle of the goals. The Rovers boys asked the goal umpire “How big was the fish you caught?” – and the goal umpire’s two hand response suggested it was a goal – and a big fish.
As the team made its way off the field to sing the song in the rooms – the Coach reflected on the day with a wry smile on his face. Yes he had been born great, the two captains had lead by example in the face of having greatness thrust upon them, and all the boys in the Rovers U8 Yellow team had today achieved greatness..
Well done Team Yellow.
Thank you to our Rovers Umpire for the day – Paul Kelly (as well as Matt Elliott who alternates with Paul each week), and to our Trainer Czigany. Both of these vital roles don’t get much of a write up each week – yet we would not be able to field a team without an Umpire and a Trainer. All 3 parents have done a great job all season for the team.
Next week is the final round before the Lightning Premiership. Go Rovers.
Awards today in no particular order: