A hamburger walks into a bar, goes up to the barman and orders a beer. The barman looks at him, and says: “Sorry mate, we don’t serve food here….”
Cue Cricket noises here..……….
Now that I have your undivided attention, you have recovered from your laughing fit and picked yourself up off the floor, it is important to let you know that the U8s Rovers Maroons journeyed out to Bentleigh bright and early on Sunday morning. It was about 3 degrees and a beautiful, shimmering dew was sparkling in the bright and crisp sunlight, as it shone all over the ground.
It took me back to my own junior footy playing days in Yarrawonga. Wet ball, wintry chilly mornings, freshly cut grass, and the excitement I felt when I knew that a game of footy was about to be played. I was actually quite envious of the kids as they all arrived, rugged up in their Rovers’ hoodies, spindly legs with goose bumps galore, and trying to work out if they had their mouthguards. Signing in was tricky with those shaking, cold fingers, and then out on to the ground for some “warm” ups – ball handling, running etc. I wished I was that age again – with their whole life in front of them – to see the keenness in their eyes and wanting to do what the coaches said – a real football team is emerging in front of our eyes….
Sheeds was calm. Unrecognisable, but calm. Calm because he, in his awe-inspiring role as Maroons’ Super Coach, had looked after himself at the wildly successful Rovers Gala evening the night before and “pumpkined” himself to be home at midnight….his eyes were alert as he scanned the whiteboard and Teamstuff for the 40th time, making sure he knew his Plans A – M (inclusive) and modifying each one, depending upon player availability. Unrecognisable, because he was rugged up in a jacket and a beanie plonked on his noggin, with only his eyes essentially visible – but it made no difference – his careful planning over the last 7 days was paying dividends. And he finally settled on the side for the game (the mighty Maroons ended up being one player short).
Dimma was up and about, not because a footy game was about to be played, but because the mighty Tigers had mauled/destroyed/smashed/humiliated (just insert other great, derogatory words here) the Dons the night before. His constant chirping to Sheeds, accompanied by hysterical laughter and throwing the coloured buckets into the air was consistently ignored (I wonder why), to the point where Dimma eventually sat down in a corner by himself with a hot coffee and wished he could replay the game over and over… but apparently Dimma did know that BWS does currently have a special price on Pepper Jack Shiraz…..but that’s another story for another day….
So – on to the game, I hear you say? Absolutely. Why not? That’s why we are here, isn’t it?!!
I will use an analogy here. For anyone with a lawnmower – on a morning such as this, cold, chilly etc – when you go to start it, you prime it first to get the petrol moving and then spend approximately 5 minutes alternating between pulling the cord, pushing out a few profanities, pulling the cord – you get the drift…… before it starts…..the same I think could be said on Sunday morning – without the profanities obviously….the kids seemed to be in “cold start” mode, and took the first 5 minutes or so to work out that their legs actually did work and they could move around!!!!! Thank goodness for warm ups. And off the kids went, just like a good ol’ Victa!
Captains for the day were Alex and Harry. And you could see how rapt they were at the honour. Great work, Alex and Harry!! And they led the team out onto the ground, with strong and purposeful strides.
Tim won the first ball out of the centre, and Diesel was again having a big presence up forward, and Jacob was leading and presenting well, offering great options. Sebastian and Harry were terrific in defence, driving the ball out long, looking for his midfielders. Jack, Sam, Tom and Lucas were noticed for their great tackling, just like they had been taught at training during the week – well done! Dan and Ben were chasing hard and pressuring the other mids really well. But the highlight was Jason’s courage. After copping an absolute ripper of a ‘falcon’, wet ball at short range right in the face, it was great to see him get straight up and keep playing (after a minute or so checking that his eyes, nose and mouth were still in the correct place). Not quite the present he had hoped for, but fantastic courage, well done mate.
The second quarter was very tight. The ball pinged from end to end, as the mids for each team battled hard to win supremacy. Diesel stopped a certain goal to Bentleigh by marking on the line. Cate and Jack were lifting the team by winning the hard ball in the middle, and dishing out selfless handballs to their teammates. Sebastian continued his good game and Niko was really showing how much he had improved down back by winning his own ball and then kicking to a teammate in a better position. Great stuff Niko! Charlie was dominant in the middle of the ground and has really come along in his improvement in the game. Well done Charlie. Highlight of this quarter was the great team play where Jack handballed to Harry, who then drove the ball long into the forward line. Really great to see.
The third quarter was more of the same, and while Bentleigh had scored a couple of goals, it was quite an evenly fought game. The Maroons were battling hard, given they were 1 down, and this team’s ability to fight hard and never give in is a really great attribute and one I know the coaches are very proud of. Dan was playing very well in defence in this quarter, manning up and getting the ball out when he could. Alex was proving to be a headache for Bentleigh, with his size and attack on the ball really obvious in this quarter. Well played Alex! Jason continued to tackle hard and won some good birthday balls for his team. Sam, Charlie and Teddy (welcome back Teddy!!!) were making sure their opponents were accountable and pressuring and tackling at every opportunity. Highlight of the quarter undoubtedly though was a great hard-won ball by Sebastian, who kicked to Jack, who then duly goaled. Terrific stuff!
The final quarter was a real battle as both teams played the game hard, but in great spirit, which was great to see. Some great teamwork saw Tim get the ball to Harry, who passed to Sebastian, who in turn, passed to Diesel, who just missed a goal! Dan was a handful in the forward line, with his pressuring on their defence a highlight and a great tackle rewarded with a holding the ball decision. Well done Dan! Ben was everywhere and his ability to get the ball in the packs (really good stuff Ben!), along with Cate, Jacob, Sam and Teddy putting in as hard as they could, really helped the team win the ball. Highlight of this quarter saw Sebastian win the ball at half forward, dodge 2 Bentleigh players and drill a great goal. Some kids were saying it was 45 metres, maybe even 50 metres. Hmmmm…..I reckon it was 60 out, but that’s just me….
Overall, the team went down fighting (but no one keeps scores do they?) and they all retired to the rooms, warm, happy and satisfied with a really good, strong team performance. Special thanks to Maria/Fi again, Matt (runner), Paul (umpire), Josh (trainer), Carolyne (timekeeper), Kerryn (Umpire’s escort and oranges and snakes and for ensuring Dimma received a red snake), and Sash for doing such a marvellous job as goal umpire. It’s such a great thing to have so much parental support each week – not only in specific match day roles, but in getting kids to the ground on time, kitted out, with mouthguards and often very early on Sunday; it certainly is very much appreciated by Rohan and Ben. Thanks to you all. Well played and GO ROVERS MAROONS!!!