Time: 5am, Sunday morning. The morning of the Mighty Maroon’s last game(s) – the Lightning Carnival – to be held in Port Melbourne.
Place: Sheeds’ shower.
“Dum de dum.., dum de dum….la la de dah, ta ra de dah……oh, I do like to be beside the seaside, oh I do like to be beside the sea….hmmmm…..gotta ring Dimma. He’ll be up by now. I’ll give him 15 minutes, after I finish shampooing my scalp, and shining up the ol’ noggin, so the sun reflects off it….gee this body lotion is good. I’ll have to tell him how good it is when I see him…. Where is that loofah? Aaaah…….there it is…..nothing like a bit of skin cell rejuvenation at this time of day….. that’s all done…..now to dry off, a bit of hand cream, bit of moisturiser, some aftershave, face cream….pluck the nose hairs, need to look my best today…..”
Sheeds certainly was looking good. He looked sharp. He glanced in the mirror. He really looked magnificent. The last game. He pranced out of the bathroom, still humming the Rovers’ theme song to himself, though being careful not to wake anyone else up…..it was Sunday morning after all. He’d been crossing off the days on the calendar for weeks now, not because he wanted the season to end, oh no, because he had THREE games as coach in the one day. He was excited. Nervous. His skin tingled from his loofah activities. This was it. He reached for the phone and dialled his trusty lieutenant’s number….
….ring ring….ring ring….
“Sheeds? Hey! It’s Dimma. How are you, oh master, mentor, Super Coach? I’ve been up since 4am – just fiddling around; I have cleaned the buckets twice and been plucking the grass seeds out of the wristbands….did you know that the blue ones seem to attract the most grass? It’s weird, I compared them to the red and yellow ones, did an analysis on the laptop, and you wouldn’t believe it, but 89.1% of them need serious attention, as opposed to 43% red and 32% yellow….bizarre….and then what I did was lay them all out in a row, by colours, and started actually counting the seeds….”
“Dimma. Dimmmmma. Diiiiiiimma. I certainly admire your dedication – but I really don’t care. That’s your job. Glad you are all over it. I expect the buckets are in tip top condition…. Look – I am ringing to let you know that I think we should get there early today. There’s going to be heaps of people, carparks will be at a premium and we need to set up the Rovers’ marquee. So – I will get there at 7am, and expect you to do the same, as I need help with the poles….”
“Sure Sheeds – I was thinking the same thing! So – after all these weeks working together, we are finally on the same page! Gee I feel good today….I have started using this loofah thing like you – it is great….”
“Listen Dimma. I don’t really give a fat rat’s clacker about how you are feeling and your showering habits. I just want you there at 7. Ok?”
“Sure Sheeds, on it right now – see you then….” Click….
Time: 7am Sunday morning.
Place: JL Murphy Reserve, Port Melbourne.
Dimma had arrived, expecting to see a hive of activity, car parks rapidly filling up, kids running around, and the chatter and general controlled mayhem you would expect to see when 20-odd football clubs descend on the one place for about 50 footy games…..
The wind blew hard and cold across the empty fields. Dimma had pulled up right next to where the marquee was going to be. The first car in the street. A magpie flew past. Nobody was here, except a few men vaguely putting up some white marquees…
Screeeech!!!!! Sheeds pulled up in his red Lamborghini. “DIMMA!!! You won’t believe it! I just got pulled up by the police on Beach Road. Unbelievable. I was only going 40kmh over the speed limit – seriously. Anyway, when I told them who I was, they let me off with a warning and an autograph – but it put me back 10 minutes…..hmmm……where is everyone?”
“Well, there’s not many here, Sheeds, but I am loving the fact we can spend some quiet, quality time together before it gets really busy….”
“Yeah, yeah….whatever….ok – let’s get into it!”
So, for the final time this year, Sheeds and Dimma worked as one, and in no time at all, the mighty Rovers marquee was put up, a towering bastion of yellow and green, in amongst the sea of uniform, white tents…..and off the Maroons went!
The first game was against Caulfield Bears – Dimma’s nemesis side from earlier in the year. Lucky for him he had been to see Dr Ness Mindful 20 times over the past few months and was feeling good….
The kids were here to play!!! The first half saw a great team effort down all over the ground, and this was certainly noticed by the huge crowd that had flocked to see the Maroons strut their stuff. Dimma thought it was at least 30-40,000 strong, but Sheeds just cracked him over the head and told him to get a grip….however, I digress…. The second half was a hard-fought affair, and each Maroon’s team member were making every possession count. The coaches were marvelling at how the team as a collective were working together, and the teamwork was outstanding. All in all, this was a wonderful game by the team and they won (though no one keeps score at all….no one……just want to emphasise this)! The team adjourned for oranges, water and snakes whilst they waited for the next game. Against Ormond.
And this was a cracking game!! It was hard fought, quite willing and the team were tested to their limit. Ormond got the jump, kicking with the wind and a number of goals were scored by them, to their credit. And then the Maroons really got down to business in the second half! They pressed hard, won the hard fought ball, linked up with the ball and scored some goals! A great effort. They only went down by 6 points and considering the quality of the opposition, a really fantastic achievement. Sheeds was very proud. More snakes, oranges and testing of the adjacent baseball facility followed, and then the team watched their fellow U8s play and cheer them on – great Rovers club spirit!
The final game was against Bentleigh – the score line for the year was 1-1, so it was all up for grabs as far as bragging rights go. This was also a terrific game, and the Maroons more than held their own during the first quarter, kicking against the wind. They pressed hard, ran the ball as much as they could and Sheeds and Dimma were particularly taken with their ability to not only spot, but find their teammates on a lead. The second half, with the wind, was a pleasure to watch. Long kicks out of the middle (following Sheeds’ instructions) and then pressuring in the forward line, to lock it in and score whenever possible! A great effort and the kids came away with another win!
All in all – a wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning. Thank you particularly for all the parents, grandparents, friends and family of the Maroon team for coming down and supporting, not only on the day but throughout the year. Whether it be through suffering in cold, rainy training nights or fronting up early on Sunday mornings on time with the kids, it was greatly appreciated by Rohan and Ben. A final, special thanks to Fi and Maria for such a stellar job this season as Team Managers – Rohan and Ben were very lucky in this regard! Thanks also to Paul (Razor) for his great contribution as team umpire this year. And to all the other parents, who willingly ran, goal umpired, were medical trainers, umpire escorts, B&F vote givers, sourcing and cutting up oranges and providing snakes to the kids (and a red snake to Dimma) after each game. It just doesn’t happen without you all, so a heartfelt thankyou.
Particular mention also should go to Rohan “Sheeds” Bardwell, the Maroon’s Coach, for his time and dedication in guiding the kids in their first year of footy – their individual and football development is a credit to him. And for providing such wonderful match report fodder for yours truly. Well done, Rohan – hope to see you back next year….
See you in Season 2019 for more passion, teamwork, fun and respect!!!
GO MIGHTY MAROONS!!