BY ROHAN BARDWELL
Sheeds sat pensively on the couch. He’d just received a dreaded text message. His right-hand man – Dimma, the brains behind the champion coaching duo – was unavailable to be by his side for the big match against Oakleigh at the Boss James Oval.
Saturday night (a late night due to the big Hampton Rovers 90 / 40 ball), Sheeds tossed and turned in bed, thinking about who was worthy and capable of filling Dimma’s big shoes. Who is going to help with the strategies? Who is going to weave their magic with the wrist bands? Who? Who? Who? …
Sunday morning Sheeds woke, knowing who he needed – Matt Norton! The Blue’s famous part-time runner.
Sheeds and Matt got to the ground as the late morning fog was lifting. Matt kindly agreed to assist Sheeds for the first half before running off to other footy commitments. Matt did a splendid job warming the team up and issuing the wrist bands. It’s a big job!
Captains for day were selected – Charlie and Teddy. They led the team out and won the toss electing to kick to the club house end.
Sheeds delivered the final messages as the team got around him: man up, team work, move the ball quickly.
The players headed out to their positions, siren sounded, and the first quarter was underway. Oakleigh were on earlier and peppering shots at the goals. Harry, Jack and Niko, the first line of defence, had their work cut out for them. Charlie, Jacob and Ben were standing tall in the last line of defence. The back-line teamwork was fantastic and it soon payed dividends.
The ball moved out of our back line, the midfield moved across the ground and Diesel and Sebastian teamed well. Alex was taking every mark that came to him, while Dan, Xavier and Arlo were at the bottom of the packs wrestling the ball from the opposition.
We transitioned the ball from one end of the ground to the other and before we knew it we had kicked 2 goals in the first quarter. Angus, Jason and Tim were applying great pressure in the forward line, while Teddy, Tom and Sam were handballing the footy out of packs.
Before we knew it, the hard work had paid off Angus took a ball on the run and banged it through the middle – GOALLLL. It wasn’t long before Sam, through sheer persistence and football smarts, collected the ball off the ground brushed off 2 Oakleigh players to bag another goal. The Rovers crowd went wild – Sammy, Sammy, Sammy.
The second quarter display was even better than the first. The teamwork kept improving. Tom was in the mid-field and was on FIRE. He tackled, collected kicks, handballed and set the tone for the second quarter. Angus and Jason were in full flight. Teddy as usual on the bottom of the packs getting the all-important handball out the outside runners in Tim and Sam. While Oakleigh scored a couple goals the back line stood up well, with the back 6 following the game plan of kicking down the flanks. In the second quarter a great piece of team-work saw Alex score a much needed goal.
Half time break. Matt stepped out and in came Sasha as assistant coach to help Sheeds prepare for the second half. Even Sasha had the wrist bands down pat, commenting to Sheeds, “Geez, this is easy”.
The second half of the game was a beauty. In the third quarter Tommy carried on from the second quarter throwing himself into packs. Charlie and Harry laid some big tackles to slow the opposition down. Sheeds asked for a special effort from Jacob and he didn’t let Sheeds down, with some great pressure and some hard ball gets. Dan was making great leads in the forward, and line and Jack kicked a ripper as well.
It was a tight match with scores very close going into the last quarter. The mighty Hampton Rovers played a great last quarter. Diesel and Sebastian were gathering possessions and moving the ball well. Jason and Harry in the forward line were teaming well and Jason scored a much-needed goal. Charlie and Teddy as captains were leading from the front. Xavier and Niko were putting their bodies on the line and Tim was Mr Reliable as usual. As the game came down to the final few minutes Oakleigh kicked a couple of goals to steal the match (even though we don’t keep score in U9’s… the kids knew).
Sheeds, Sasha and Matt were so proud of the team. They manned up the best they had all season and moved the ball beautifully.
Charlie and Teddy handed out the awards to the following great players:
Niko – Guts and Determination – in the packs handballing out to his team-mates
Jacob – Most Improved – delivered in the second half with some great pressure and hard ball gets
Charlie – Outstanding Contribution – as captain led from the front with some great tackles and timely kicks
Tom – Coach’s Award – Tom who had his best game for the season – outstanding.
Thanks to all those who volunteered on the day.