This week’s match report starts with a reflection of the season that was.
Firstly, I would like to sincerely congratulate the 24 boys we’ve had represent the Hampton Rovers Football Club in our division this year. As parents I am sure you join me in being so proud of the way the boys have approached their football. Every week they have displayed the Rovers values and they have approached each game with a team first attitude. We have a fine group of boys who have gelled and truly behaved like they are Best Mates.
The apple never falls far from the tree and I would like to congratulate all the parents who have done a fantastic job in supporting the boys, coaching staff and club this year. It has been a great ride, and we have felt your support throughout the year. Clubs are built on the willingness of volunteers to roll their sleeves up and help, and this year we have been able to spread the load with a reliable parent group who often put their hands up before being asked.
I can’t thank Chris Mitchell enough for his unwavering support and time that he has put in over the last two seasons as our assistant coach. This year Chris was joined by Daryl Weavers, who was more than just the runner – thank you Darryl for your support and insights. Finally, possibly the toughest job in our group is the Team Manager. When you see Marty in the street, please give him a massive thank you for all the work he has put in. The team would not get on the field each week without the effort Marty puts in. And of course, I am not blind, Marty has had enormous support from his wife Mary who is so passionate about the boys.
Finally, I can’t thank Skye Fix enough for the photography work she has done all season. Skye has captured some great moments for us as parents and also for the boys to hang onto. The photos each week are the most anticipated thing in our household – we all cram around the computer screen as we review Skye’s great work!
Thank you to all of you for the amazing effort you have put in over the past 25 weeks since pre-season began.
Let’s cut to the game.
Today was always going to be a challenge – but one we are capable of overcoming. Third vs Second, Second Vs Third, once the siren sounds it doesn’t matter any more. There are no advantages as long as you take belief into the game. We had plenty of belief in ourselves today. We are coming off our best win of the season and although St Paul’s beat us comfortably two weeks ago, fresh in our memory is the fact that we outplayed them in the final quarter of that game with only 16 players on the field.
The boys warmed up well and were ready to go. Max and Matt C were deservedly captains today. Both these boys do everything asked of them, they give 110% effort at every contest, and lead by example. The boys look up to them and they led very well all game today.
We attacked the ball hard right from the first bounce and pushed the ball forward. Our mids were straight into the play. James C was off to a great start at the centre bounce, Sidney showed he had come to play, Ollie continued his great form of late and was straight into his bullocking role. Max was setting up the structure well sitting a kick behind the play and Peter and Will pushed hard off the wings.
We pushed the ball deep early and forced a ball up in our forward pocket. James was able to tap the ball to himself and snap a beautiful goal. Great start – a goal up early. Good signs.
We continued to control the play early in the game and Jack Mc looked very dangerous up forward, almost getting us further in front. Jack Weavers continued to step up today and did some nice work on the outer flank, he was joined by Bailey M who was buzzing around early. Steff, Niko and James B presented themselves, but we couldn’t quite get the ball in their hands. James P and Robbie rotated into the forward line and Robbie also continued to show how his game has developed – just like last week Robbie found himself outnumbered and held the ball up until the cavalry arrived which was important to keep the ball in our attacking half.
St Paul’s started to get some run going and we were forced to defend. Jake was outstanding on their massive full forward and prevented him from getting near the ball. Matt C put some big tackles on and took some very important marks, Geordie was supporting Matt, as was Bailey S who continued his good form of late. Mitch was ever reliable and played his man tightly all quarter. Ollie F rotated into the backline and kept up the good work.
Thomas continued in a rebounding defender role off the half back flank and was off to a great start. We tried our best to keep St Paul’s at bay and we defended admirably, rebounding wide around the outer wing in particular. James C collected the ball on the back flank, ran around an opponent and kicked the ball thirty meters in the air, another 10 metres on the ground before it had gone out of bounds and we picked up 50+ meters. This was our game plan executed perfectly.
Although the boys defended desperately, one lapse of concentration cost us a goal with a St Paul’s player taking an uncontested mark 15 meters out from goal.
Quarter time and things were all tied up. Our belief was obvious and we were right in this game.
In the second quarter we got caught on the back foot. St Paul’s came at us hard and the ball spent a lot of time in their forward 50. Once again our backline were desperate. Jake continued to shine on the full back line and Matt C could not have done much more. Ollie F and Mitch were great supports and Thomas rebounded on several occasions, trying to break their wall. Bailey S continued to show his skills off, but we couldn’t hold them at bay, and we conceded two goals.
Will S was doing some great work on the wing, collecting the ball and sinking his foot into the ball to send it out of the danger zone – his tackling was also a feature. Peter was giving us lots of run as we have become accustomed to and Ollie Mc was constantly popping up in the way of St Paul’s and was a real thorn in their side. James C ran hard before getting a rest to hit the second half hard and was relieved in the ruck by Niko who is showing some great form in the centre when his opportunity comes along. I think Niko has strung together his best three games for the Rovers and I’m looking forward to seeing him continue in this vain next year.
Bailey M put on a couple of big tackles on boys he has not right to bring to the ground as we tried to penetrate our forward 50. He also picked up a couple of possessions and gave us some livewire action. Jack Mc continued has good start to the game and was looking dangerous.
We came into half time chasing the game. 14 points was not too much to pull in but we were going to have to do something to change the momentum. The big changes were, Will S to the bank flank to pick up Thomas’ rebounding role – Will was fantastic and selfless in his approach to this. Thomas onto the wing for some run and carry – he had been off to a good start but lifted even more across the middle. James P approached me about heading down back to help out the backline, which he did a terrific job of and his swap was with Geordie who provided a great avenue to goal and nearly turned the game on its head.
The boys were fired up at half time and they hit the contest hard in the third. James C was fresh and we got on top straight away in the middle. Sidney lifted and had an outstanding quarter, Ollie continued to work so hard and Max had probably his best quarter of the game. Peter worked tirelessly with Thomas on the wing and we pushed very hard forward and repeatedly hit the scoreboard.
Our first forward thrust found Geordie running onto a bouncing ball, caught on the wrong side of his body but he was able to manoeuvre himself enough to get a good shot at goal…bouncing….but just the wrong side of the post. We set up our wall and locked the ball in, we kept pushing and we had St Paul’s in a bit of a panic. Jack W took a mark, followed by a quick hand pass to his namesake (Mc) who narrowly missed. James B brushed off a corky and was in a number of pieces of play in his best quarter for the game.
James B got on the end of a deep entry in the goal square, got a shot off only for it to be touched by a lunging St Pauls player. Another close miss! Finally, Geordie was rewarded for some great forward work with a mark at the top of the square and we had the goal we deserved Things we getting close with less than a goal in it.
Ollie F had enormous pressure put on him a couple of times down back, being outnumbered but he responded perfectly and held St Paul’s at bay. Jake and Matt C continued great games and James P was a welcomed addition down back. St Paul’s responded to our goal to make it a 10-point game at three quarter time. We’d swung momentum our way, we just needed to ride it home.
The last quarter was tough going and for some reason all the scoring was done at one end. St Paul’s pushed forward early in the quarter and we had to work hard to repel them. We had some mis-matches down back and we turned to Niko to play an unfamiliar role in the back pocket – he acquitted himself perfectly and prevented their big forward pocket from getting near the ball.
The backline never gave up, I’m incredibly proud of their never say die attitude. We kept St Paul’s at bay, Jake saving a couple of goal line attempts, Matt C leaving nothing in the tank, Max working hard as an option on the way out, Bailey S showing poise and class deep with his marking and passing. Will S completed a great game and great finish to the year.
The mids worked their hardest and gave everything they had. Peter never stops running, Thomas rounded out a year where he has taken a really big step in his football, James C gave us everything he had and Ollie was superb, capping of a terrific year – particularly the back half.
Our hearts and spirits were finally broken with a 50/50 free kick going against us at the top of their goal square, resulting in a certain goal. With not enough time left to close the margin, we swung a few things around and St Paul’s managed to hit the scoreboard a couple more times.
The final margin was not a reflection of just how close the game was and how big an effort our boys put in. I couldn’t be prouder of them.
Congratulations boys on a really successful year. I don’t measure our success on premierships, I measure it on development, comradery, teamwork, respect and the approach we bring to our football. We were not lacking in any areas and we’ve seen real growth in all these facets of the game.
Thank you for listening to me barking out instructions over the last 25 weeks. I’ve had a lot of fun and enjoyment playing a part in your football journey. I can only hope you had the same experience and that this journey continues next year for each of you.
I look forward to catching up with you all at presentation night.
Our under 12 brothers in Wayne’s team had a terrific win today and advance through to the division one grand final. It would be great to get some support along to their game next Sunday – keep an eye out for details.
Hampton Rovers – Best Mates!