I opened my eyes. Sunday. Great! My thoughts immediately turned to football…..I was excited. Not because the mighty Tigers were going to be playing the arch enemy at the home of football that afternoon in front of 90,000 screaming fans. Oh no. Not even close. It was the thought of the mighty U8s Maroons strutting their stuff at their own home of football, Castlefield Reserve – this thought alone made me bound out of bed and into the day…..
And so there we all came to be – gathered at 8.20am (for those who are able to generally enjoy a sleep in – bright and early – for some of us this was probably quite late) at Castlefield for the Maroons pitted against Beaumaris – a bayside clash if there ever was one….
Rohan “Sheeds” Bardwell and Ben “Dimma” Pickett were there – plotting, planning, laying out zones and putting out goal posts. Fi was spotted carrying a table and 2 chairs all at once for the timekeepers – offers of help were politely refused – her resourcefulness knows no bounds! The players trickled in – again on time – so their enthusiasm (and by extension, their parents’ organisational and time management capabilities) is well and truly up there… which was terrific!
Sheeds was pushing the “manning up and teamwork” mantra again – and the team seemed focused and ready to go – even belting out a Happy Birthday song for Will before the game.
The captains were selected and Bertie & Sam, with chests puffed out, led the team onto the field for the all-important coin toss.
The first quarter saw the Beaumaris team jump the gun. The ball pretty much stayed in their forward zone for the whole quarter. Obviously, the Maroons defence was right in the action. Will was celebrating his birthday by throwing himself into everything, applying pressure, tackling and generally playing well above his weight! Alex was dominant – his marking a particular feature and combining very well with Sebastian, who was providing great drive out of defence. Caitrin’s handballing was terrific, she was finding teammates; and Lucas and Teddy were taking a leaf out of Will’s book and were hurling themselves everywhere. A highlight of the quarter certainly was Alex’s last gasp, on the line save of a certain goal – Sheeds was brimming with pride at that one!!
The second quarter saw a shift in play, where the Maroons certainly started to match it with the Beaumaris team. Angus in the midfield was reading the play beautifully and started to win the ball. Arlo was picking up where he left off last week and was tackling like a madman. Bertie won a hard ball and handballed to Sebastian, which was just what Sheeds was after. Well done Bertie. Sebastian also continued to win his own ball, and executed a great smother, and was instrumental in keeping the Maroons in the game. Diesel was revelling in the fact he was playing for the Rovers again after his dominant display for Cheltenham last week and executed a great chasing tackle. The highlight of this quarter though, was Angus’ unbelievable chase and tackle on a Beaumaris player, who it might be said, certainly took a little bit longer to get up than what ordinarily would have been the case! It was a fair tackle, but showed the commitment of the players to do their best for the team.
Half time saw an intake of oranges, water and a shuffling of zone wrist bands in a scene reminiscent of a busy traffic intersection in Beijing. Eventually the boys settled in front of the master coach Sheeds for his half time pep talk. Trainers were seen attending to Dimma (who was in charge of the wrist bands’ allocation and dispersal), who had been seen after the band allocation, wandering around the group aimlessly, muttering incoherently to himself, shaking his head and making strange burbling noises….
The third quarter saw Bertie bounce out of the blocks, and being very strong in the midfield. Jack laid a great tackle, and also provided a great lead, which was honoured. Running to space and putting pressure on certainly is improving with each week! Sebastian continued his great game, with his raking left foot gaining more metres than Hugh Bowman & Winx would ever think imaginable. Harry and Diesel were combining well and Dan laid a great tackle, followed up, and had a great snap at goal – only for it to marked on the line! Will had completely forgotten that he most likely had some sort of cake and party waiting for him later on and continued to throw himself around and got a great centre clearance. Sam and Caitrin’s tackling was a feature. Jason pinpointed a pass to Diesel. The highlight of this quarter certainly was Seb winning a hard ball, passing to Jack, who in turn, found Harry on a hard lead! Sheeds was beside himself on the sidelines. Dimma (who had recovered from the half time debacle) was seen gently calming Sheeds down….
The final quarter was upon us. What would it show? Well Charlie & Diesel were dominant in the centre, and Angus again was tackling his life away. Tim was really strong down back and held the fort as best he could. Alex and Angus continued to feed Seb who was driving the ball forward at every opportunity. Niko and Ben were holding their own in their respective positions (great stuff Niko and Ben!) and Lucas continued to work on his high-pressure game. But the obvious highlight of the quarter was certainly Dan winning his own hard ball and whipping a quick flick handball out the side to Harry, who, without breaking stride, then drilled a great running goal!!
The team didn’t win at the end of the day, but the improvement and potential is obvious across the team and everyone was really proud of the group and how they all went about it. Thank you to all the parents who volunteered with match day duties and particularly to Fi and Maria for their relentless pursuit of organisational team management perfection! Well done Maroons!