Game day is only a small part of the amazing contribution that so many wonderful volunteers make at the Hampton Rovers Football Club.
Saturday night was a highlight on the Rovers social calendar and it was great to see so many of the Under 8 Team Yellow parents support the club by attending the club’s Casino Royale function at Brighton Town Hall. It is worth noting everyone’s appreciation for Deb Hopkins (Kai’s mum) who worked tirelessly to put on a great night for the club – Thank you Deb!
As is always the case – a great night ends, and if it was a really great night – there is sometimes only a handful of hours between the final boisterous renditions of White Horses and Closing Time, and the alarm going off to get ready for the game. One by one the Team Yellow boys (and their parents) started to arrive at Castlefield oval, ready for the challenges that they would face. For some the challenge was how they were going to play today, and how well they would find the footy on the reduced length of the Castlefield oval. For a select few the challenge was how they were going to hold a pen and write legible notes in the face of a strong icy cold breeze that seized up fingers, and for others it was formulating the discreet responses to sheepish grins from other parents – a reminder of the memories of a fun event the previous evening.
Off the back of the win last week Coach Julian had thrown out a challenge to Team Yellow for this week’s game. The focus at training on Thursday was to work on finding the “First Option”, and using it to get the ball in the hands of a team mate in a better position. At training the coaches were impressed with some of the skills, yet we were all unsure of how well the uptake and processing of this new challenge would translate to decision making of the boys in the heat of the game.
In the first quarter the Rovers were kicking into the strong breeze. Normally this would dictate that the flow of the game would favour the Vampires team, however the Rovers midfield were up for the challenge. Kai arrived ready to scrap at every contest, Cooper and Seb applied strong tackles, and before long it was apparent that the boys had been listening at training. Kai, Seb and Archie linked up with great flowing play – each boy looking for their teammate in a better position, with quick handballs, or kicks to advantage of their teammate. The end result of all this great play saw the loose ball being pounced on by Jackson Block. Jackson B. weaved his way through heavy traffic and slotted his first goal for the Rovers, in a fashion that emulated some of the great St. Kilda small forwards Jackson has idolised. After the restart the ball was attacked with ferocity by Team Yellow. The Rovers new tackling machine – Louis – attacked the loose ball, Kit showed pace and a new found enthusiasm to take on the opponents with his dash and flair when he had the ball, and Harry and Archie were playing great linking games across the half forward line. Jackson B. continued to find his new forward line confidence and kicked a couple of more points for the quarter. The boys were responding well to the challenge from their coach. All the boys were quick to look for the first option, and from the sidelines, the coaches and parents were starting to see Team Yellow dominate the game and the Vampires opposition.
The Second Quarter rotations saw Josh Sill move into the midfield, and following on from Josh’s dominant midfield time last week, he kept running to the next contest (another of the Coach’s challenges to the boys) and managed to get a lot of disposals providing plenty of opportunities for his teammates. Lucas was playing in the forward line, and took a great mark showing great courage to run back with the flight of the ball, while the shot at goal only resulted in a point, the ball was still locked in the forward line. The next player to get his hands on the footy was Eddie (Betts) and as has been a highlight in games this year, Eddie took a great mark and kicked the Rovers second goal. Other highlights for coaches in the second quarter included Caelan M. on a fast break from the centre with a perfectly timed “first option” handball to Jackson Nelson to send the ball into the forward line. Freddie had a great kick to find Eddie Betts who marked the ball in the pocket for a resulting point. With the ball spending a lot of time in the Rovers forward line Ethan pounced on the ball, running towards goal, only to have his kick smothered. The great players don’t give up, and Ethan chased the ball down with a brilliant second effort, picked up the ball and kicked the Rovers third goal. Ashton and Angus were involved in lots of quick “first option” plays in midfield and the team was playing well, because the boys were all doing the things that Coach Julian had asked of them.
The Third Quarter started in a similar fashion to the second quarter. Archie had listened to Coach Julian, and he gave a quick handball to Jackson N. who kicked a point. The players were linking up really well, and from a mark on the wing Lucas was able to find Cruz in the corridor, who found Caelan M, who was like an unstoppable steam train heading towards goal. While the score was only a point, the quick ball movement the boys were showing, and the use of the players in the best position was providing a big challenge for the Vampires team. The boys now had a taste for quick play, and the next sequence of play saw Jackson N. find Caelan M, who kicked it to Kit, who transferred it to Eddie Betts who kicked his second goal. Whilst Eddie was the beneficiary of this great team work, the coaches were very impressed with how the boys were always looking for their teammates. The rewards for the team effort were starting to flow, the boys were all up and about, and the parents that had been a little bit dusty on the sidelines had now found their voice and were cheering loudly. Kai “Diesel” Hotton was playing one of his best games for the year. He was the “extractor” in and under the packs winning the ball at each contest. The next sequence saw Kai win the ball and then his kick found Jackson N. at centre half forward, who then kicked it into the forward line with Caelan M. running into Pagan’s Paddock for what seemed like a certain goal. Caelan had a great attempt at the difficult mark, but the Vampires defence were able lock the ball in for a ball up about 20 metres out from the Rovers goal. Josh roved the ball up like a cheetah chasing it’s prey, and snapped through a great goal for the Rover’s 5th of the game.
Team Yellow have been the beneficiary of the great pre-game planning from Coach Julian this year, with all the rotations planned in advance of the game. Julian’s uncanny ability to foresee how the game will play-out days in advance, lead to more great rotations for the final quarter. Caelan K-F and Freddie had moved into the midfield to provide the team with quick ball movement, and Jack P. had started the final quarter strongly in the forward line, getting his hands on the ball quite a few times in the forward pocket. Cruz, Cooper and Ashton were also working hard in the forward line, with the Rovers looking to find one more goal. Seb wanted to share in the spoils of the Rovers goal feast, and after kicking a point, he found another opportunity to showcase some of his fast running and kick the Rovers’ final goal of the match.
The final scoreline of 0.0 to 0.0 was slightly flattering to the competitive Vampires team who had tried very hard all game. Team Yellow made their way back into the rooms, where they launched into a loud and proud rendition of the Rovers song.
Well done to all the boys. The coaches were very proud of all of you today, you all played your part, and the teamwork that was displayed today will make Team Yellow a much better team going forward. It was one of those games where the coaches wished we had an award for every boy on the team, as they all followed the instructions, and played the game the way Coach Julian had asked them to play.
Awards – in no particular order:
Archie – team work award
As always – thank you to all the parents that help with official roles each week, as well as those that help out at the quarter and half time huddles. We have a great group of parents supporting the Team and the coaches and Team Manager really do appreciate everyone’s willingness to get involved and help out.