Colts-1 Division 1 2017
Coach: Robbie McKenzie
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Assistant Coach: Warwick Green
Team Manager: Suzanne Britt
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Trainer: Tim Hart
Trainer: Evan Watts
Team Page Editor: Warwick Green
Photographer: Craig Lowrie
Jack Hart (capt)
Match report - Prelim final v St Marys
From Marshall Toohey
At the 22-minute mark of the last quarter, Comrade MO’C threw the stats board to the ground. The texta went flying, forward 50 entries were now meaningless. I was thinking there was no point in writing the match report, my 3 or 4 pages of notes may as well be screwed up and thrown in the direction of the clipboard.
But like everyone and everything else, you have to face up to the bad times as well as the good. There will be no match analysis here, just a couple of general observations, and some thank-yous.
Intense start to the game, both teams excellent in defence, but our run and carry, combined with the grunt, took us to a winning position at 3⁄4 time. I think we all had that in our heads, players, coaches and supporters alike. There would be no let up.
Being the game it is, football can throw up some strange outcomes, and when the sniff of a chance came St Mary’s way they were strong enough to take it. They were stronger for longer, you have to give them credit. Forget about the mouthing-off after the game, we have to cop it on the chin. We lost. Who knows what will happen next week, and frankly, who cares.
I know desolation can occur in a whole range of scenarios, from Barcelona to Bulleen. We had our own bucket of desolation on the ground and in the rooms after the game. Togetherness and camaraderie helps deal with it, but there is not much worse than the season being over when you don’t want it to be. So close, so far.
Coach Mc Kenzie’s face showed the pain. Not much can be said that will help ease that in the short term. Big Warwick the same. The boys have been so fortunate to be in the care of such great leaders. The support crew led by Sue Britt was unsurpassed in respect of management. The level of parental support likewise.
But it’s all about the boys. To see you supporting each other on Sunday night at the Bowling Club, and then later at MO’C and LO’C’s was inspiring. Thanks for the hospitality fellows.
There will be formalities to conclude the season. And sooner or later players will start making decisions about where they will head next year. The thought process will be a bit different, no more juniors, no Sundays.
It seems to me that a group of boys – no, ‘men’ – so committed to each other can continue to be the ‘Band of Gorillas’ that they are. Wear the same colours, eradicate some pain, and create your own identity out of Brunswick Street.
Thanks folks, been a pleasure.
Gorillas football: Everyone had a crack. Worked hard. Put the team first. Everyone stuck together and didn’t try to blame someone else for the loss. These things can happen in footy. Learn from happened, and take those lessons with you into your senior footy careers. Hopefully those “Gorillas values” will stay with you in and outside of sport in the years ahead.
Match report - semi-final v Boroondara
From Matt O’Connor
With the home-and-away season ledger at one apiece, the two top Colts teams headed to YJFL HQ under sunny skies to decide which one would get the fast passage into the Grand Final. And which one would be required to return next week for a cut-throat preliminary.
The coaching head honchos had the tough job of juggling an nine-man bench, with Rupe the only qualified player to miss.
The Hawks had the advantage of the wind in the first quarter, with the Roys kicking to the Veneto Club end. As you’d expect, the footy was fast and furious from the get go, with Boroondara looking slick on the break, and the Roys stronger in the contested-ball stakes. Goals were at a premium early as the Fitzroy defence held firm, led by Liam J and Tommy S.
But despite the Hawks losing one of their key dashers to a knee injury – after a great chase-down tackle from Paddy C – they got on top through the middle of the quarter, and a couple of quick goals on top of an earlier one meant they had kicked three in a row and were threatening to break away. To our boys’ credit, they lifted their tackling intensity and attack on the ball at this point, with Nicky V and Sunny standouts in this endeavour.
With more of the ball, we managed to set up some efficient forward moves, and Isaac’s pinpoint pass to Gracey set up our first goal. Gracey turned provider soon after, spotting Jackson inside fifty and we had our second. An 8-point deficit at quarter time was a reasonable result given the breeze.
An early bouncing goal to Harvey in the second term had us right in the hunt, and Charlie followed up with a bone-crunching tackle to set the standard. But we were quick to learn that you can’t take your foot off the pedal in finals footy, as the ‘Daras slammed on three quick goals to once again set up a mini-break.
Inspiration was required, and Liam O provided it just before half time, running down a Hawk defender, winning a holding the ball free and slotting the set shot from deep in the pocket. We went to the main break 14 points behind, down but definitely not out.
A huge effort was required in the third quarter into the wind, and for the lion’s share of the term the Roys delivered. Max K’s centring kick found Paddy for the first goal of the quarter, and the boys then knuckled down in defensive formation to stay in the game. With five minutes remaining on the clock, the margin was only 8 points, and we were coming home with the wind.
But those five minutes proved decisive, and not in a nice way. For the third time in the match, Boroondara found three quick goals in a row, led by the brilliance of their number 29, and the gap at the last change was a daunting 27 points.
Tommy Mac entered the fray for the last term, and had an immediate impact. Receiving a handball from Isaac, he wheeled onto his right foot and found Gracey dead in front. Once again, we had kicked the first goal of the quarter, and the flame was still flickering. Donovan won a free with a superb tackle and found Gracey again, but he missed a tougher shot.
A goal to Boroondara was deflating, but Liam O lifted the spirits again with an unflinching attack on the footy and a run down the grandstand wing that set up Paddy for his second. Harvey kept working to the end, marking well overhead and playing on at every opportunity.
The Hawks deserved their win though. They found way to play the game on their terms for crucial periods during the game, and their defence stayed strong for most of the afternoon.
On the positive side for us, the effort remained strong all day, and our contested-ball wins and tackling gave us the ascendancy for lengthy spells. If we get the opportunity in a fortnight, we can bridge that four-goal gap with a more even contribution and one or two fewer lapses in concentration.
But first there’s the small matter of St Marys, who will be desperate to atone for their last performance against us a few weeks ago. We’ll need calm-headed Gorillas on every line.
Gorillas football: Liam O just kept cracking in, winning the hard footy and putting pressure on the opposition throughout. There was no drop-off: he just hit it hard, focused on the next contest and went in hard again.
Match report v Banyule
From Marshall Toohey
The last time we played Banyule I couldn’t get over the noise made by the opposition pre-match. Bravado-type stuff, and clearly there is a history between the teams. They went on to inflict our first loss of the season. It was pretty quiet pre-match on Sunday at Vic Park – I may be reading too much into it, but there seemed to be an acceptance from the Bears that they were under the pump with key players missing. How good is it to have a deep, determined and talented list, one committed to the cause?
You could sense this in the rooms before the game, the calm before the storm. The coach again stressed focus, sacrifice, contested ball and the practice of our structures as key elements of our strategy. There was an enthusiastic ‘welcome back’ to Jock after some coat hanger problems in the upper torso. The warm-up was calm and considered. I heard the coach say “we got the power” and Alice Cooper in a Roys jumper immediately came to mind. Our Department of Youth.
We had the wind to the Yarra Falls end in the first, and while not fully capitalising we were in control for most of the quarter. Our lock-in work on the forward line was excellent, but worryingly Banyule kicked the first, end to end from a kick-out. We have to be mindful of this against teams like Banyule and Boroondara who like the run and carry out of defence. Yianni Z kicked a monster from 50, the pair of Z’s playing in close proximity on the forward line, like a shared bedroom in Northcote. McKenna May was a great target again, John Z-Man kicked another after great clearance work at the bounce from Riley and the Wrecking Ball, and we were away. Sunny was on the money, Max cracking in and Miles getting plenty of it. Errors occurred in the conditions, still not as many as in the game under the roof the night before. Harry T was beginning to put his stamp on the game.
A challenge faced us into the wind in the second. Quick as a wink, Donovan banged one through from long range after a smart pass from Harry. We were constantly inside 50 and our smothering and defensive work was magnificent. Wrecking Ball Liam leads in that regard, Isaac’s tackling a good copy. Chris Z skilfully passed to Josh in front of the social club and we all know what happens from there. Donovan won a 1 on 3 in the middle, got it to Josh for another and we were comfortably in control at the half time hooter. Banyule was showing signs of frustration.
As was the coach at half time in the rooms. He clearly didn’t want bad habits creeping in, didn’t appreciate players spectating or any lack of urgency. I reckon this was his first spray for the year, although it was still relatively moderate in terms of sprays I’ve heard. He wanted to send the Bears back to their caves with their tails firmly between their legs. A much greater effort was required.
It was obvious at the start of the third that Banyule was going to play a ‘chip-chip’ game into the wind. Pressuring them into mistakes was critical. A great turnover led to John Z kicking another, Charlie Faubel took a great mark from a kick-in, played on and goalled, and we were in total control. The rucks, Captain Jack, Riley and Darcy gave first use all over the ground, their work out of the middle showing great technique and control. Paddy C was sensational with his ‘rovering’, kicking goals off the packs. Sunny and Donovan combined again to get the ball to John Z who slotted another. He liked it too. Total dominance in the third, in line with the coach’s instructions, starting at the centre bounces with the big men.
There were lots of changes, rotations and resting in the last quarter, but the dominance continued. Harry T was racking them up ‘big time’, left and right foot, one to Charlie F who converted. Jackermanis kicked another, Paddy C grabbed a loose one to goal, and John Z bombed from long range, the culmination of a team effort.
And that’s the message, from here on in, as it has been all year, it’s all about the team. ‘Team’ will win the flag, ceteris paribus, all other things being equal. Good luck boys, it was obvious from the ‘after match’ in the rooms and at the bowling club that you have our complete support and confidence. The Department of Youth, you got the power!’
Gorillas football: A great example of how to seize your chance. Harry T has been in and out of the team this season, but every time he’s come in he’s had an impact. He came off the bench on Sunday and had an impact. He marked strongly, cracked in to win the hard footy and used it well. Plenty of guys will come off the bench in this finals series – use this as an example of how to put the team ahead of yourself, how to come on to the ground and influence the match.
Match report v Ivanhoe
From Warwick Green
Without truckloads riding on the game, and form suggesting it was probably going to a fairly one-sided encounter, it was probably tough to expect the boys to bring their absolute best against Ivanhoe.
So the focus was on improving certain areas as individual players and as a collective, and not letting any poor habits creep in.
In the end the boys found some of that improvement and produced a good solid win against a very determined and sustained effort from Ivanhoe.
The Roys were well served by the guys who relish the contest, with Millsy, Liam O’Connor and DT cracking in across the middle of the ground. Jako spent a bit more time on ball, and a highlight was some of his tackling and pressure acts.
At times our ball movement was super, particularly given there was a bit of a flukey wind, and it was good to see a bit more run and leading up across the ground.
An area that could have improved was our work when we didn’t have the ball, and that’s something we will need to ramp up in the coming weeks.
Our young fellas, Paddy, Chaz, H and Zac did well and brought some enthusiasm and urgency to the team.
Well done to the backline for keeping things tight and offering some run out of the defensive half. The forwards offered mobile targets, with Josh his usual reliable self, Jono leading up and marking strongly, Keithy and Paddy working hard and Chris intelligently distributing the footy.
In the ruck, Darce’s follow-up work was superb, the skipper clunked some timely grabs and Simmo produced some quality tap work, including a deft backhander to Millsy that set up a goal straight from a centre bounce. How good was that moment when Jack just ruthlessly attacked the ball and sent one of the Ivanhoe players cartwheeling as though it was Marcel off the back of a two-metre wave?
All in all it was an efficient win, but with room to be better. Would be great to tune up for the finals with a more complete effort against Banyule, and atone for ordinary day we had against them earlier in the season.
Gorillas football: Late in the game Harvey put his body on the line and laid a couple of strong tackles in the forward 50 (including one where Darce’s chase was crucial). Those efforts earned us a couple of goals. The goals were great, but the forward pressure was even more pleasing.
Match report v Park Orchards
From Marshall Toohey
It was great to be back at Vic Park for our wildlife contest against the Park Orchards Sharks. Which begs the question ‘What’s a shark doing playing footy in Melbourne’s affluent, wooded east?’ Pre-game coach McKenzie stressed the importance of continued focus, no over-confidence, team rules, aiming to develop a ‘perfect’ game style.
Complicating matters was managing the workload of the boys from the private sector, restricting them to half a game or so. Politics aside, shouldn’t the extra fees and funding allow them to play more than, not less than, two games in a weekend? Gonski enters team selection.
Better get off my soap box. The Sharks’ form has been hard to read, clearly a capable side, and aiming for top four. A strong cross breeze made scoring difficult, but we were clearly outnumbering them, and our defence was as resilient as ever. Precision kicking from Paddy C set up a goal from Josh. We had several other attempts, near misses from an English tourist, a little off-side. Still, the huddle at the first break exuded confidence, and encouragement from the coach. The wind appeared to be favouring us for the second to the Yarra falls end. Stats Man MOC, replacing Maths scholar Zapantis-Pythagoras (in Greece on a study tour with the bride) summed it all up: dominant centre clearances, heaps of inside 50s, plenty of handball receives, on top of ferocious and often unrewarded tackling.
In the second, Wrecking Ball O’Connor continued to be prominent in the packs, feeding off Captain Jack. Fellow mosquito fleet member Paddy C kicked another after great team defensive lock-in work from the kick in. Sharp handball was the focus, and it was cutting the Sharks into small flake-like portions. Donovan added one from long range after a smart kick from Holy Trinity apprentice Harry T, Miles another, and then Connor the Ox nailed one from 40 after a chain of handballs.
Sunny, as is his habit, imposed himself on the contests, in packs, through and around them, sometimes over the top. The 38-3 scoreline about summed it up at half time. Commentary from around the ground centred on strange adjudication from the men in lime, especially interpretation of holding the ball. We don’t dwell on umpiring though.
The third featured great efficiency: 3 inside 50’s for 3 goals. Paddy again, another from Chris Pythagoras, and Josh McKenna lighting up the social club like the old days with a beautiful drop punt. Hunger of the harmful kind was entering our mindset, however the need to lower the eyes and share was our best bet. The opposition’s second came from creative goal umpiring from the central ump, 71-17 at the break clearly illuminated the difference between the sides. Like the lights on at the G to the south.
Donovan out of a pack and Rupe on the run added to the margin in the last, and a rare goal from Tom Sullivan came from clever positioning and clean disposal. Sunny was involved in another strong contest, which resulted in a swollen nose post-game. The last 10 minutes lacked lustre, there were only rare and insipid entries into our back half. Our backs were exemplary – rock like, composed, disciplined and playing as ‘one’. To top it all off, Marcel Cerdan, converted from a long bomb, telling us we should all get on the garlic snails.
In all, while not ‘perfect’, getting there, the mosquito fleet blended beautifully with the talls, a mean and keen defence, well drilled, 106-16 a good indicator, and now back on top, staying there. I like our chances, let’s keep up the hard yakka, and journey to Ivanhoe with the same mindset next Sunday.
Gorillas football: In any given week, if you need an example of how we want to win the contested footy, tackle ferociously and work hard in both directions, you only need to look at how Liam O’Connor goes about it. It doesn’t matter what the game situation, he just wants to compete and compete again. It’s a great example to every one of his teammates.
Match report v Surrey Park
From Matt O’Connor
Sunday was all about getting the job done in trying conditions, and aside from some inaccurate kicking in the last quarter, there was plenty to enthuse about in The Roys’ 12-goal win at a windswept Surrey Park.
Just as we had been against St Marys a fortnight ago, the boys were switched on from the start, and a five-goal-to-nil first quarter set us up for a dominant performance.
Captain Sparrow led from the front, starring in the ruck early and then leading a rock solid defence in the second term. Our skipper was supreme in the air, one-grabbing anything that went near him, and often playing on to catch the Surrey defence unawares.
Millsy had a great first term in the middle, winning clearances and doing plenty of bullocking work around the ground. Up forward, Urban Keith bagged a couple of early goals, finishing with three for the match.
The Viking and Paddy converted opportunities when they came their way, ending up with three and two respectively. Charlie the Jet had his turn in the middle, decisively winning centre clearances and slotting a well-judged goal in the second term.
But given we held our opponents to two goals, the defence deserves a special mention. The Ox continues to gain in confidence, and set up several forward moves with blistering run from the back half.
Copsey followed suit, while the Mop Sullivan stayed back to clean things up when Surrey Park made it inside 50. Add Leaping Liam Jensen, The Photographer’s Son and Johnny Zed, and you have all the ingredients for a dynamic back six coming into the finals.
The freezing cold northerly meant the ball spent a lot of time running over the southern-side boundary, but The Roys stuck to the task to cement a place in the top two.
With a few absentees to return next week, competition for spots is hot, a healthy position to be in with three home-and-away games remaining.
GORILLAS FOOTBALL: We all know that Keithy’s pretty handy at snagging a goal. But the best part about his game on the weekend was not simply the goals, it was the work-rate and run, the creativity, the defensive pressure and the tackling. Whenever he brings that, he makes us a much better team.
Match report v St Marys
From Warwick Green
I can’t tell you how much I loved this win.
What I can tell you is why I loved this win.
Let’s start with the fact that we were playing St Mary’s, who were on top of the ladder and on their home deck (again). Throw in the fact that there were a heap of players who were unavailable: Darcy, Rupe, Donovan, Marcel, Liam, Riley, Jock, Flynn … and a couple of late scratchings, Isaac and Harvey. So, essentially we were down to 19.
What it all meant was that the boys needed to produce something special. And they did. They produced as complete a performance as I can remember from this group of young men in recent years.
Every single player did what they needed to do, across the whole four quarters. They took the game on, they were disciplined, they concentrated, they thought about their positioning with and without the ball, they did the little things to help their teammates.
The tackling was thing of beauty, and I can barely remember a single missed tackle. We won the hard footy, but we also worked incredibly hard to force turnovers whenever St Mary’s got the pill. Intercept marks, run-down tackles, spoils when we were out of position. It’s not really fair to single out players, because everyone did it, but think about Liam O’Connor running 30 metres to chase down the kid who was about to kick into St Mary’s forward 50, or his effort running back with the flight to get a hand in and spoil in our forward line with only a few minutes left in the game.
Our team leaders led the way, our middle tier stepped up, our bottom-age players were superb. Everyone contributed, and nobody put his own game ahead of the team’s game.
And whenever St Mary’s looked like gaining some momentum, our boys responded and came back twice as hard.
The belting out of We Are The Boys From Fitzroy after the game was something to savour, with two of the key contributors, Gracey and Max, pushed to the middle and thoroughly soaked.
As Robbie said before the game, this was going to a famous win, one that we will remember for a long time. It was also a game that shows how good this team can be when everyone contributes for the whole 80 minutes. That’s the benchmark now, and a game we can draw upon for the rest of the season.
GORILLAS FOOTBALL: Big Max T. Everyone knows that he always gives his heart and soul, but this was a ripper of an effort. He was relentlessly physical, put in second and third efforts at every contest, tackled his guts out, and became more and more influential with his hit outs as the game wore on.
Match report v Boroondara
From Matt O’Connor
Lesson 1: Don’t give good sides a start.
The Roys came out colder than a Ramsden Street southerly, and paid an early price. Using the two-goal breeze to the Alfred Crescent end, our opponents combined slick and clean ball movement with excellent overlap running; and before you could say “for Chrissakes, pick the buggers up”, it was four goals to zip.
A tourniquet was required to stop the bleeding, and Harvey Massey-Ferguson (the Tractor) supplied it with a pinpoint pass to the Wrecking Ball inside fifty. LOC’s mongrel upcountry punt sailed straight over the goal umpire’s lime cap.
“Spells” Brazier then bombed one from long range, and we were back in the hunt. A goal to Boroondara after a downfield free halted the charge momentarily, but with Spells winning centre clearances and Paddy C buzzing around the forward line, the Roys were gaining the upper hand.
Two late goals to Urban Keith and the Party Boy had us a goal down at the first break, an excellent result given the wind disadvantage and our sleepy teenager start.
Lesson 2: Don’t kick to the dead pocket with the wind
Despite precise instructions from the McKenzie-Green brainstrust, we did just that. Ten minutes of utter midfield domination (featuring, among others, Spells, DT, Millsy, Marceau and the Wrecker) were wasted as we slowly buried ourselves in Cricket Net Corner.
Net result: four behinds for the quarter, to their 2.2 (from about four inside fifties). The endeavour and attack on the footy were as good as ever, a DT mark running back with the flight (below) a prime example. And there was a lot to like about the rebound from defence, led by Isaac (Bond) Fleming, revelling in a different role.
But we didn’t cope with the Dara flood, and missed gettable set shots when they mattered, mainly from the No Go Zone (or CNC). All this added up to a 16-point deficit as we headed to the rooms for…
Lesson 3: You can flunk one of the first two lessons, but not both.
Against good sides, anyway. And Boroondara is a good, albeit beatable, side.
The Hawks had the better of a fairly flat second half, and ran out 34-point winners. But us boundary line pundits felt that the die was cast (Google Julius Caesar and the Rubicon, lads) in the first half.
Special mentions should go to Simmo, who rucked brilliantly in the third term, and the Ox who kept running and taking the game on when it was needed.
But let’s move on. The St Marys coaches were conspicuous by their presence (and black and blue jackets with “St Marys” written on them). We tackle them next Sunday with at least five missing from this week. A real opportunity for a few of our quieter brigade to take the lessons onboard, step up and demonstrate their inner Gorilla.
GORILLAS FOOTBALL: Goes to “the Irishman”, Paddy Curcio. Played with plenty of energy and desperation in the forward half. Kept presenting, kept putting on the forward pressure, and kept competing throughout. Showed that sometimes you might not end up with a heap of opportunities, but when they come you have to be switched on and ready to go.
Match report v Doncaster
From Marshall Toohey
After the disappointment of losing our first match of the season, and the spell generated by the long weekend, the Gorillas ventured to Doncaster for a rejig.
The opposition seemed to have defensive mindset on the one hand, playing spares in the back half to minimise potential damage. Even in the first quarter. On the other hand, there was an element of the offensive in their attack on the ball and the man. I thought we were very disciplined in the face of that, with reference to the scoreboard the most biting response from us. Nuf said on that!
We were a little lighter on numbers this week, with Gracey, Jock and Tommy Mac playing cameos. On the other hand a new bloke looking like Jason Jackermanis appeared on the field. The coach’s message pre match was to ‘push yourself to the limit’, to play the role for the team, and to play for each other. Players were reminded that you can talk about it as much as you want, but you’re judged on your actions, following the lessons learnt from Neale Daniher.
The game. A scrappy beginning, excellent defence, Chris Z kicking our first from 40 out after a chain of handballs. ‘Wrecking Ball’ was prominent, Viking Josh presented a target the opposition was focused on, and Sunny’s presence and tap work up forward was a class above those in the hoops around him. The stage was set for a big second quarter, the huddle at the break focusing on more precision in kicking, and quick movement from stoppages.
Although we were better in that area, it still didn’t quite click into gear. Liam Jensen, Darcy and Cooper were resilient in defence, and although the boys were better at lowering their eyes and hitting up moving targets, some of our forward entries went too wide to the flanks and pockets, where the threat of scoring is reduced. Doncaster preferred it there than at the top of the square.
Still, our run, ball movement and hitting up targets was much better than in our previous outing, and made us a much more difficult team to stop.
Just before the break, Sunny kicked a ripper out of the pack, and his work in tandem with Donovan carried on from their work in the school ground at that solid institution in St George’s Road.
In the third quarter again, we were a bit sloppy, appeared to spectate more than participate, and allowed the opposition to get a bit of momentum. Probably our best quality in this quarter was the restraint we showed in the face of some goading – we preferred actions to words. Chris Z kicked another from a snap, after an unselfish hand off from the Viking. The best answer is the scoreboard.
The challenge was presented at the final huddle, and we responded with a dynamic 8-goal blitz. Quick delivery up the corridor was the key, some great individual efforts, none better than Daniel Copsey chasing his own clearance from the centre bounce. The cream began to rise to the top, and any resistance from Doncaster evaporated. Clearly, we finished much better than we started, and there is great potential in improving our method. Remember, it’s all about the team, the ‘Band of Gorillas’.
Results fell our way, and we’re back on top. Let’s keep it that way, with another huge challenge against the Hawks at our spiritual home next Sunday.
GORILLAS FOOTBALL: A second nod for the season to Darce, who worked his backside off in the ruck and around the ground with great help from Rupe and Sunny. He epitomised our values with a couple of great smothers, and even more pleasing was the number of times he shepherded to create time and space for our running players, allowing them to do some damage. Keep it going big fella.
Match report v Banyule
From Warwick Green
In pretty much perfect conditions for footy we took on Banyule at their home ground at the earlier time slot of 1pm.
The Bears were pumped up to celebrate their 50th anniversary, and although our boys seemed a bit sluggish in the pregame warmup, it would be wrong to put what happened down to attitude and effort.
The Roys made a decent fist of winning the contested footy and laying tackles, a couple of areas we pride ourselves on.
But Banyule came into the game with a plan on how to win, and were very disciplined in sticking to that plan for four quarters. Their ball movement was clean, considered and precise, whereas Fitzroy fell into the trap of continually kicking down the line to the next contest or just bombing long to packs.
It made life difficult for our forwards who kept presenting and fought hard to make the best of the poor hand they were dealt.
Fair play to Banyule for putting pressure on the player with the footy, but it was disappointing that we didn’t find ways to break the lines with guys running past for the handball, smart shorter kicks to space, or a bit of run and carry.
There were a few players who tried to take the game on. Sunny had a crack every time he was near the contest and tried to lift the team with some adventurous play, Marcel and Nick worked hard to get things going on the wings, Liam O was his hard-at-it self, Darcy battled manfully in the ruck or in defence, Donovan stuck to the role he was given, and Jono and Copsey were strong in the back half.
But we had too many quiet players who didn’t find a way to get into the game, and as a group (coaches included) we didn’t adapt well enough to counter Banyule’s game style and tactics.
The encouraging part was that even with Banyule playing at their best, and Fitzroy having a poor day, the margin was only a couple of goals and we were still a chance to pinch a win in the last quarter.
This was our first loss of the season, but as the saying goes, ‘there are no losses, just learning experiences’, and now it is up to the team to learn from this and bounce back against Doncaster.
GORILLAS FOOTBALL: Too many times players dropped off after the first contest. Sunny was one of the notable exceptions, and a great example came deep in the forward line. After Banyule’s full back took possession and looked to kick to the pocket, Sunny cut off the option, then stayed in the contest, smothered the ball off the boot and kicked the goal. He could have dropped off but he stayed in the contest.
Match report v Ivanhoe
From Matt O’Connor
Being a diehard Pie, I was at Victoria Park in 1993 when Neil Elvis Winmar gave the Sherrin Stand a stronger appreciation of his heritage and the level of pride he felt in it. I might have boldly declared the ground one of the “spiritual” homes of football in an earlier report, but I’m prepared to concede it wouldn’t rank too high in the “cultural” stakes.
We all hope we’ve come a fair way since then, and it’s no great leap to trace back Friday night’s Welcome to Country ceremony, and the Indigenous Round night game itself, to Winmar’s impromptu lesson. Fitting, too, that the ceremony and his act occurred within metres of each other over a 24-year span, a link well drawn by FJFC President Phil Murdoch and our assistant Coach Wozza Green in their introductory remarks.
In what turned out to be a bad night for the visitors, the Colts game was preceded by our Youth Girls demolishing Richmond 156-0. To those of you who haven’t seen the Youth Girls play, do yourself a favour. They play with a lethal combination of dash, skill and grunt, and we can expect several of them to be strutting the AFL stage in the not too distant future.
It was apparent early that our Boys were just as switched on as the Girls, and Ivanhoe were soon under siege in their back half. Captain Jack Sparrow took up from where he left off last week, dominating the ruck and gathering possessions in dangerous positions. His perfectly weighted centring kick found the Viking May, who converted the set shot for our first goal.
Sunny “Spells” Brazier nabbed the second from a holding free, and then LOC went back strongly with the flight to mark and goal. This was followed by two acts of Gorillas footy that will have thrilled the coaching Brains Trust: Millsy throwing his body on the line in a brave marking contest and Zak Connor winning a holding the ball free after running down an opponent.
Three goals to none for the quarter might seem like a skinny haul given the Roys’ dominance, but it became roughly the standard for the night as the Hoes dropped players back to stem the onslaught.
I should note at this point that this report should be regarded with caution, given that any play on the southern side of the ground was close to invisible from my vantage point in front of the Rush Stand. It was only when the ball made it inside the forward 50s that things became clearer.
Shapes that resembled the Mop, DT and Leaping Liam Jensen seemed to be dominating the backline, as they have all year. The Zed Brothers were indistinguishable in the gloom (except possibly by their parents), but their collective output was as impressive as ever. Marcel “Marceau” Laidlaw wordlessly bobbed and weaved his way to the Indigenous medal.
Given the flood it had to deal with, the forward line also functioned well. The Viking, Spells and Isaac “James Bond” Fleming bagged 10 of the 13 goals, and again shared the ball unselfishly in what must remain the mantra for the year.
But as we know, it’s not all about the glamour goal kickers. The one-percenters were on display all night, and, in some cases, well after the game was done and dusted. Charlie “The Jet” Faubel’s clever late spoil set up the Viking for a goal in the third quarter goal, while Darcy Lowrie laid a committed smother late in the piece, some achievement on a freezing cold night and with a 90 point buffer on the scoreboard.
The end result was a 101-2 scoreline, which included an inaccurate 23 behinds from the Roys. This was in part attributable to the crowded forward line, but at times our boys blazed away instead of looking for teammates in better positions. Something to work on next week, perhaps.
But Ivanhoe had 99 problems. We only had one.
GORIILAS FOOTBALL: There’s no doubt that all of the boys produced the sort of team-first play that we’re after. Some of the highlights have been mentioned in the report above. But the tackling in particular was outstanding, and one of the leaders in this area was Marcel. When the ball was in his area he was like shark in the water, winning contested footy and hunting down any opponent who got there first. Great effort boys, but now we need to reproduce it against a tough opponent at Banyule this Sunday.
Match report - vs Boroondara Hawks
From Marshall Toohey
Robert Hoddle surveyed the area in 1837 and declared it the “Parish of Boroondara“. The area was densely wooded, so he took a word from the Woiwurrung language (as spoken by the Wurundjeri), meaning ‘where the ground is thickly shaded’.
There weren’t many trees surrounding the ground, a wide, open space, suited to up and down running, hunting in packs, and using the elements to advantage. The ground was occupied by the third-placed Hawks, keen to inflict some pain against the top of the ladder Lions.
Lions or Gorillas hadn’t been seen much around these parts for many a day. It was the scene of an epic battle.
New Gorillas Kairouz, Read and “Sticks” Green were welcomed to the Band. The coach focused pre-match on the challenge of strong opposition, the size of the ground and the need to use the wind with effect. Running and carrying into the 3-4 goal breeze, long to key targets with it.
The first quarter with the wind was a mixed affair, Marcel, Sunny and Jak C in everything, Tom Sullivan, John Z, Liam J and the back half defending like troopers, but generally we were outhunted around the ball, we did not kick to targets with purpose, and the occasional error cost us big time. We allowed their playmakers to run amok. As the chief Lion tamer pointed out at the huddle, we were set for a huge challenge in the second quarter.
Captain Jack led from the front, marking everything in defence, kicking precisely, but our problem was we didn’t provide enough action and contest around the ball. ‘Wrecking Ball’ O’Connor, Jono Z (aka ‘Shorts’) and Donimator continued to provide the effort required to keep us in the contest. Trouble was we were three down at the break, playing from behind, ‘bludging’ in parts, and not taking the game on.
Choices needed to be made at the break. Do we go through the motions, maybe settle for an honourable defeat, or take the game on and win it? The team leaders brought everyone along with them, the skipper kicking a monster, Chris Z another, and the linking between Marcel, Donovan and Liam brought Sunny’s hands (and eyebrow) into the game. ‘Golden’ Miles was solid around the ball, and Tom S continued to show flair and desperation; we used to call it ’dash’. He’s got it in truckloads.
There were some key messages at the final huddle. The bit that struck me was the “we” bit, the heavy emphasis by the coach on that crucial two-letter word. Continue to take the game on, rise to the challenge, and be confident about what the collective ”we” can do.
What a quarter. It was a torrid affair. A crucial long goal from the Viking May, desperate acts from Tom and Miles, who owned their patch of turf, the centre bounce boys, tall, medium and small desperate for the takeaways, supreme effort all over the ground. Adversity was our companion, we met it head on. The great part was that every one of the boys contributed to turning it around.
Finally, a great centring kick from Tommy set up Donovan to mark and calmly goal the sealer. A great victory, a great challenge, and lessons to be had in using the conditions to advantage and manning up opposition playmakers.
The learning to be taken from rising to the occasion, and having trust in fellow Band of Gorilla members, the ‘we’ that turns possible losses into glorious wins. Never forget it as the season progresses. Well done!
GORILLAS FOOTBALL: Millsy produced his best Rory Sloane impersonation. He was as hard as a cat’s head at the contest, tackled everything in sight and showed great leadership in ramping up the defensive pressure when the game was on the line. Anyone on the grandstand wing would have seen his courageous effort late in the game when he was caught under a floating kick and backed into traffic, getting absolutely crunched but spoiling a Hawk opponent’s marking attempt. Liam O did exactly the same thing earlier in the game. Gutsy work from our team leaders.
Round 4 match report v Surrey Park
From Warwick Green
The final round of the grading games and it was great to be back at our Vic Park home ground for a match between first and fourth.
Surrey Park had racked up a couple of strong wins coming into this match, so Robbie had stressed to the boys the importance of getting off to a strong start — and that’s exactly what they produced.
Our mids were exceptional at the centre clearances and the fluent ball movement created plenty of scoring chances for our forwards, who banged on six goals to one in the first quarter. Most pleasing was the way we won the contested footy right from the outset, and the quick hands and use of the first option made it hard for the Panthers to stop our momentum.
Full credit to our ruckmen, Liam O, Millsy, Sunny and “Pants” for driving that charge, while “Dominator’’ Toohey produced another blinder.
Josh ‘’Slayer’’ May, Sunny, Rupe and Isaac continue to do a great job presenting, impacting every contest and following up at ground level, and it’s great to know that even if they’re not the ones kicking the goals they’re prepared to create opportunities for smalls like TMac, Keithy, Jako and Paddy “Circus tricks’’ Curcio, who again impressed in his 100th game.
Was interesting to note that the Surrey coach praised our boys for having the better of his playmakers. So well done to “Shorts’’ (Pants junior) for being in everything at half back, and the other members of ‘’the men’s department’’, such as T-Sul and Jenno for shutting down numerous attacks and then rebounding so well with their run as disposal from the defensive half.
We welcomed another couple of Gorillas to the fold this week and they certainly contributed in the way we had hoped.
Chas and Riley Mac both had an impact when they got their chances: they were hard at it, applied plenty of pressure and created for those further afield, and it’s a great tribute to our depth that we’ve got guys either in the Colts 2s and 3s or coming into this team who look very capable at the higher level.
It’s a highlight seeing these new guys getting soaked in the middle of the team song every week.
Now the season enters the next phase, with the Div 1 teams about to be settled and the fixture soon to be released for the rest of the season. That means a new set of challenges.
All we can ask is that we keep upholding those Gorilla Football values every week, and keep playing the selfless and team-first footy that is the key to our success so far in 2017. We are on track with the goals we identified before the season – so let’s not ease up now.
It’s exactly the sort of thing we’re after. Surrey Park got the ball in their back half and kicked it in board, where they had a couple of free players. They looked to be out and in a pretty good position to sweep the ball downfield. Jack left his man and — as the Surrey player tried to gather — threw his body in, forcing the ball to spill clear, allowing Charlie Faubel to win possession and set up a goal. No stat for the skipper, just another one of those inspirational one-percenters that his teammates know he’ll deliver week in week out.
Round 3 match report v Bulleen Templestowe
From Marshall Toohey
An away game to Bulleen Temp was another test for the Gorillas. It’s only round 3 and the quality of opposition is largely unknown. The mood and preparation before the game wasn’t ideal, with 4 or 5 players doing the ‘Alir Alir’ – it is not possible to sleep through an alarm clock for a 3pm game. It’s a non-negotiable to be there in the right frame of mind by 2pm. Apart from our usual non-negotiables, the coach hammered the importance of proper preparation, never taking the opposition for granted, being switched on from the outset. We welcomed Jack Walter and Jimmy Kern to our Band of Gorillas.
It was not surprising to see the Bullants kick three in the first quarter. They had wind assistance, and we paid the price for not being properly switched on. Some mistakes occurred due to some overhandling, remembering that it was a pre-match instruction to use the hands more. Despite some occasional fumbles, it was clear that Jack and Darcy would dominate the hit outs, that the clearance work of our mids was mindblowing at times, great forward pressure led by Sunny the Slayer, and Josh and Tom Mac presenting and converting in exemplary fashion. At the first break, the coach stressed the need to be conscious of the umpiring style, to not get sucked in by the home team and to do away with any lazy tackling technique.
In the second, the handball and forward pressure was again to the fore, but the entries were erratic early. Simply put, we were missing sitters. Donovan, Marcel and “Wrecking Ball’’ Liam were racking them up in the midfield and to their credit, also rolling back in defence. Big Rupe’s hands continued to be a great target, with Josh still creating havoc closer to goal. As is becoming our practice, Chris Zed-Man kicked a ripper after the siren, being on the end of a beautiful pass from Max Keith. At half time, we were well in control against weaker and frustrated opponent. The challenge for the second half was to ignore the niggle of some of the opposition players and the urgings of those who should know better in the outer. A ferocious tackle is always better than rubbish push and shove, especially if the rubbish cops you a week or two on the sidelines.
In the third quarter The Band responded as directed. Crunching tackles all over led by Sunny and the Skipper, while Millsy was a force along with Pas Curcio, and strong crunches continuing from Josh and Rupe. The follow-up work on the deck in the forward line was a delight for forward-pressure maniacs like myself. Likewise, the clearance work from the centre bounce was sensational. Baby Gorillas wouldn’t have heard of ‘Thompson to Price to McKenna, goal,’, but ‘Lowrie/Hart to Toohey to May, goal’ had a reminiscent ring to it. It reminded me of the 1960s and ’70s, with Mike Williamson bellowing “champagne football” on the footy replay.
In the last, the Bullants kicked their first score for nearly three quarters. We were urged to finish strongly, and the pressure was ‘on’ big time. There were more turnovers than you’d find apple turnovers in a country bakehouse. Josh continued to be a great target, and the Skip, Rupe and Sunny combo dominated the air. Donovan converted with a great 720 degree roll and snap, and there was another great conversion after the hooter from Isaac.
To sum up, the margin ended up similar to some of the other one-sided results in the round, but the more importantly the development of ‘team ethos’ is plain for all to see. We showed great restraint and discipline, and the the clean, skill-based passages of play were a joy to watch. Ability is one thing, team commitment and being switched on are critical in success. I’ll leave the ‘best players’ to the coaching panel, they know what is required when, how and by how much.
The Band of Gorillas look forward to taking on Surrey Park at what used to be the Centre of the Universe next Sunday, on a day we’ll make all mums proud.
GORILLAS FOOTBALL: “Metal” May stood out, and not because he bagged seven. Even better was his ability across four quarters to present, to impact every contest and throw himself into second and third efforts.
Round 2 match report v Doncaster
From Matt O’Connor
In perfect autumn conditions, the Mighty Roys took on Doncaster at the other spiritual home of football, Victoria Park in Abbotsford. The Cats are up from Div 2 last year, and kicked off their Div 1 campaign with a big win over Ashburton last week. Plenty of Donald Rumsfeld “unknowns” for us to ponder.
Jacko Cowley joined Mr Dependable Riley Simmons and Jock “Strapped” Green in the casualty ward, providing a late call up for Party Boy Rupe. Bottom-ager Harry Tauber made his Div 1 debut.
Sporting a new haircut and the Number 1 guernsey, “Millsy” Nelson was in everything early, and we had two goals on the board before the Shoppingtown Boys had even touched the pill. And Tommy Gun gave us ten minutes of sunshine (including a nice straight set shot), before being “managed” off the bench for the rest of the game.
But after the initial onslaught, the Cats found their feet, and strung together some slick passages to set up two sausages of their own. One more to both sides for the term meant they head to the first break locked on 3.1 (19) each. As legendary caller Smokey Dawson used to say: “One more point apiece and they’ll be level.”
Jolted by the visitors’ comeback, the Roys lifted their intensity in the second stanza. Warwick told me not to hold back on praising my combine-harvester, so I’ll try not to. LOC had a reasonable first term, but created some mayhem in the second, mainly inside the forward fifty. One crunching tackle on an unsuspecting Doncastrian led to a holding-the-ball free, and the Harvester converted from a reasonable distance.
If LOC was the spit in the second quarter, Donovan “Dreamteam” Toohey was the polish, racking up possessions at will and hitting targets inside 50. One such target was the Harvester, who again kicked truly to the Yarra Falls end.
All over the ground, the Roys locked down on their opponents, and the Doncaster goals dried up. The Zee Bros, Chris and Jon, joined with Jumping Liam Jensen and Tommy “the Mop” Sullivan* to form a wall across half back. Josh May and Paddy Curcio piled on the forward pressure, following the coach’s instructions to the letter. The Party Boy, Jack “Skipper” Hart and Darcy Lowrie took control of the grey skies over Collingwood, and the end result was a five goal to one quarter in favour of the home side.
That scoreline was replicated in third quarter, with Zak Connor providing plenty of run and carry through the middle, and Harry Tauber dominating his wing. In the one-percenter of the day, Darcy executed a desperate smother deep in defence, won a crucial contested footy and dished off cleanly to a running teammate to set up a forward thrust.
Down in front of the Sherrin Stand, Josh May raked in a brilliant one-hander from a long Chris Z kick, and kicked his second. Isaac Fleming and Sunny Brazier shared some unselfish footy in the forward line to set up goals, while Dreamteam slotted two of his own and celebrated in style.
The margin was near enough to ten goals at the last change, but to their credit, Doncaster broke even in the last quarter, finishing full of running. Our defence held firm though, and one goal each was the slightly anti-climactic final return.
In summary, a strong team effort against a worthy opponent, but plenty to work on. The boys sang the song with gusto, and drenched Harry T in the now traditional “first win” initiation.
* relates to his propensity to mop up in defence, not his hair
Darcy Lowrie gave us plenty at the centre bounces and was selfless with his work around the ground. The passage of play that MOC described above was a great example of what we rate highly: a desperate one-percenter followed by a second and third effort. Great work Darce.
Round 1 Match report v St Mary's
From Warwick Green
What better challenge to start the new season than heading up to sunny Greensborough for Round 1.
After St Mary’s put on a stirring ANZAC tribute, the boys were pumped to put a long preseason behind them and get into the real stuff.
The first quarter was a strong showcase of Gorillas football: we had guys like Liam O, Millsy and Nick V winning contested footy and laying strong tackles. A bit of a classic was Liam going head to head with his old ginger mate and bringing him down hard a couple of times with some uncompromising tackles that earned free kicks (further demonstrating the intensity of the duel, after one of the free kicks, Liam didn’t push back his five or six steps off the mark and old ginger managed to get in a smother). It was brilliant stuff and it was really pleasing that Liam went his absolute hardest but stayed disciplined and focused. Exactly what we’re after from the boys.
It was one of those games where every kid made a significant contribution at some stage during the game, and it was hard to single out best players.
But here’s a few pleasing observations.
Guys playing their first match for the Fitzroy Colts all chipped in with great efforts. Nick busted a gut on the wing, Donovan and Chris Z were hard at it in the clinches, Zak and Ox had a nice balance or being accountable and giving us some overlap run, and Jono Z produced some telling efforts in a variety of positions, and like Nick and Josh May, kicked clutch goals.
The forward line functioned really well. Well done to Josh, who presented well but also fought hard to compete when he wasn’t in the box seat. Sunny impacted every contest and created for others. Isaac was the focus of some close attention, but selflessly worked his way through it and had an influence as a scoring threat and battled to keep the ball in the forward line. Keithy bobbed up to snap a few clever goals and tried to set up others. Outstanding debut by Paddy – we all know he can snag a goal, which he did, but it was the way he tackled, chased, harassed and set up opportunities that was most impressive.
The backs — we call them the men’s department — were their reliably solid selves. They made sure they got their primary job done —stopping their opponent — and then created play sweeping out of the back half. We had Tommy putting his body on the line taking intercept marks, and Copsey repelling attacks whenever the ball was in his area.
Special mention for the mids, who did a great job in the clearances, were relentlessly hard at it, adjusted to whatever St Mary’s threw at them and were the architects of the win. The skipper and Darcy did an outstanding job in the ruck contests and around the ground, and didn’t miss a beat when we had to ‘’rest’’ them in other parts of the ground rather than having a spell on the bench.
It really was a case of every player doing his bit and a great example of two of our core values for 2017: having 24 leaders and selfless footy.
I also loved the fact that the boys pushed the new players into the middle of the huddle when they let rip with the team song in the rooms after the match.
A great start, and we ticked off one of our team goals: Win Round One. Now for another another of our goals. Win every game on our home turf.
Copsey, playing his 100th game, epitomised our values. He played a selfless game, and was a calm and disciplined presence in the backline. Competed well in the aerial duels, and was great when the footy hit the turf. Quite a few times when St Mary’s was sweeping forward he got involved and turned the tide, and the next thing you knew the ball was getting spat out the other direction and heading back our way. Well done Daniel, keep it going.