Coach: Courtenay Moxon
0412 839 622

Assistant Coach: Adam Kooloos

Team Manager: Richard Colyer
[email protected]

COVID Officer: Yuri Kozzatz
COVID Officer: Lou Scally

Match Reporter: Steve Marmo
Team Page Editor: Clare Barry
[email protected]

Team Photographer: Peter English
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Team Photographer: Richard Colyer
[email protected]

The Team

William Attard - 17
Spencer Blamey - 8
Leeroy Cocco - 13
Dylan Colyer - 12
Joshua Daly - 22
Sebastian Donnellan - 1
Matthew English - 21
Sol Hooper - 26
Rocket Hope - 19
Archie Johnston - 15
Felix Kneipp - 10
Harry Kooloos - 5
Angus Kossatz - 18
Freddy Marmo - 2
Duncan McKie - 23
Jack Moston - 24
Roman Moxon - 9
Henry Nelson - 11
Henry Timothee - 7
Ned Tyrell - 14
James Vagias - 16

Round 11 - August 1 - 2021

After a three-week COVID-induced hiatus it was just great to see our Royboys back on their own dunghill at BSO, with the sun shining and a gentlish two-goal westerly breeze greeting our worthy adversaries in Parkside.

Click on this image to see Match Video

Fred’s mum and I turned up to find the match underway (despite it being only 12.57!) and see the ball arrive on Jack’s chest. From about 30 out on a slight angle he kicked truly to get the day off to a lovely start.

And by the time we had walked around to the wing, Jack had done it again and we were well and truly on our way. The boys in the guts were having a field day, Matty was up and about in the forward line and everyone was tackling with a ferocity reminiscent of Jude Bolton.

Duncs dobbed one from 50 after the ol’ one-two via Henry, and when Gus got on the end of one from Felix who again received from a burning Roman, the boys had put four majors on the board after just 13 minutes.

After some great bullocking on the flank, Ned’s handball released Felix whose searching kick forward bounced through a vacant goal square for our fifth. The icing on the cake was spread by Roman who marked Solly’s exquisite pass and put through our sixth post-siren.

What a start! 6.2 – 38 to no score at quarter time.

But we all remember how good Parkside was the first time we played them, so there was no room for complacency. Those worries were confirmed when they kicked two in the first five minutes. But the quick answer was supplied by Jimmy whose crunching tackle in the goal square saw the lads steady the ship.

But it was about to become the Henry show when he first got on the end of a glorious coast-to-coast trip from the backline and then got a holding free to bring up our ninth. But while there would be more to come for Henry, ‘The H Show’ highlight of the day was provided by an ever-gutsy Harry who flew courageously into a pack of four to take an absolute screamer, hit the deck hard and have players land on his back. And what did he get – nada. He wouldn’t have been able to take the kick anyway, but boy did he earn one.

Anyhoo. The half-time score read 9.3 – 57 to 2.0 – 12 and a possible percentage booster loomed.

The first half was probably the most cohesive half of footy the boys had put together all season. Though possibly a tad handball-happy at times, the lads’ ball movement was exemplary, and the load was spread across all lines.

But that cohesion appeared to dissipate somewhat early in the third and it wasn’t until the 10-minute mark that Henry added his third in a row and our 10th. Then the boys did the old get around him after Solly kicked his first of the season after getting a free for a push in the back. And when Henry marked Jack’s snap on the goal line and put through his fourth, normal transmission had been resumed.

The lead had ballooned out to 64 points (12.5 – 77 to 2.1-13) and the challenge to top the ton was thrown down by the coaches to the lolly-snake gorgers. Four goals against the wind was the request.

The task was just three after Gus converted a free in the second minute. The ever-enterprising Leeroy passed to a humorously tetchy Roman who made sure his hapless opponent knew where the mark was before converting from 35 to cut the necessary number to two goals for the ton.

But it appeared a 100-point victory was out of reach when Parkside finally got their third goal to trail by 71; 91-20. However a glorious Felix snap from the pocket (to the cries of “Centre it” from Courtenay) meant we needed just three points to get to three figures for the first time in season 2021.

Henry then got the ball to Jack whose shot hit the post to make it 98. Matty then appeared set to bring up the ton but was brought down on the line and his shot skewed away to make it 99 at the 11-minute mark.

And like Plugger’s point in that ecstasy-filled 1996 preliminary final, Fred’s searching left footer to the right side to crack the magic 100-point mark will be spoken of in awe by all those who saw it! (You owe me boy.)

Matty continued the minor-score massacre to make it 101, quickly followed up with Gus’ second goal after a high one and then a wonderful personal afternoon was capped by Henry when he put through his fifth on the siren.

So a final score of 17.13 – 115 to 3.2 – 20 was testament to the superb team effort put up by the lads. Not only the effort to score 115 points in 80 minutes, but keeping a side with as many talented players as Parkside to just 20 points was equally noteworthy. The centre-square work was outstanding as were the efforts of ALL our lads in quelling a host of Parkside’s representative players. Congrats to all.

The big win sees us up to fourth on the ladder by percentage only, equal on points with the next four teams with a huge game against the second-placed St Mary’s this Sunday.

So, let’s hope for a repeat of last week’s superb performance again this week eh lads?

Round 10 – July 11 – 2021

Out to the wilds of East Doncaster where the brightly sun-lit Zerbes Reserve acted as the venue for our much-awaited return match against those jumper-stealing Beverley Hillbillies.

You may recall the lads’ first match against this team when the Roys were suffering from an injury curse that saw us battle manfully despite only having 14 fit players to choose from? Though we went down, our mob’s core qualities of resilience and courage were on full display.

On this day we pulled together enough players to have a bench of four! Hopes were high. (Special thanks here to our doughty U13 ring-ins Austin Fitzgibbon, Finn McCreadie, Lachie Muraca and Johnno Watt.)

The Roys presented wearing black armbands in honour of Duncan’s Pa and Cam’s dad Bob, who sadly passed away the previous Monday. On behalf of the team and parents, our love goes to the McKie family at this time.

Our high hopes improved after winning the toss with our lads heading to the south end with a slight, possibly two-goal, zephyr a-blowing.

But within the first couple of minutes the Lions had one on the board and our boys appeared just a little unsettled. They were running through the middle of the ground with our lads seemingly unable to keep up and things looked a tad ominous.

But it wasn’t long before Roman stopped the rot when he intercepted the ball at half forward and banged through our first from about 35 out.

The lads lifted as a result and despite not getting much on the board, the defenders to a man repelled the Beverley Hills onslaught until the last two minutes when they kicked a couple more and went to the quarter break with a well-deserved 13-point lead 3.3-21 to our 1.2-8.

The strong defence continued in the second quarter and things looked good when Henry got on the end of some nice work by Felix and put through our second.
But it appeared a false dawn when the Lions piled on the next three to take a 6.4-40 to our 2.5-17 lead into the long break.

They had shown their bona-fides as a top-four team during that quarter. They ran beautifully, they were hard, out-tackling us despite them having more of the ball, and they played smart as well, heading through the guts to enhance their wind-fuelled advantage.

It just didn’t appear to be our day.

That was confirmed during the third when despite again kicking with the breeze, our opponents slammed on the first three, giving them a run of six unanswered goals. It was looking a bit spooky.

It was left to Gus to stop the rot this time when he
coolly slotted one home from 25 metres out – but we still trailed by 35 points.

Then just when things couldn’t get worse, Leroy’s glasses were smashed and they again piled on another four in a row to take a 10-goal lead into the last break.

The last quarter began well when Jack played on after a terrific mark in the middle and he delivered a glorious 30-metre stab pass to Gus on the lead. Though Gus’ opponent made a wonderful spoil, our gutsy number four followed up with a bone-crunching tackle, drawing the free and duly converting from 30 metres for his second.
Back to a trifling 53-point deficit.

It was back to just 47 after Roman marked and duly saluted from 45 out and it appeared the lads’ perseverance was beginning to pay dividends.

But alas, as they say in the classics, that was all she wrote.

The Beverley Hills boys clicked into another gear to kick the last three and ultimately come out 71-point victors 17.5-107 to 5.6-36.

It was a difficult day for the boys. Sometimes you have a bit of an off day and the opposition have a day out. And I’m sorry that it was also a difficult day to write about. Not many highlights. Not many goals.

But at least, unlike some other coaching teams, Courtenay and co went to the huddle with grace, good humour and with a sense of sportsmanship and respect all us parents yearn for. Not all teams are that lucky.

In other words, we all left as winners with our heads held high.

Round 6 – June 20 – 2021

A glorious winter morning at Brunswick Street Oval was the scene both for a return to the post-covid part of season 2021, and to take on Camberwell for the first time since “the match we won’t mention”.

But in a game chock-full of highlights there was one moment to surpass all others and which I dare say couldn’t be outshone even by a Royboys flag.

But we’ll come to that.

The first quarter was as hard as nails. Both teams looked desperate to restart their seasons in style; running hard, tackles all over the ground, and just a little bit of niggle and a fair bit of scrap. It took until the eight-minute mark for Jack to get us going – after capitalising on some good scrounging work from Matty in the pocket – and dobbing the first.

At quarter time it looked like “the match we won’t mention” would be repeated when we led 1.1-7 to 0.3-3. Two shots to three summed up the tightness and apparent evenness of the sides. As well as an understandable “scratchiness” in terms of skills.

Little did we know.

The first five minutes of the second repeated the pattern of the first before a high tackle on Roman saw the midfield bull convert truly from 40 to extend the lead into double figures. But when they replied with their first four minutes later, normal transmission was resumed. Back to a three-point ball game.

But a bit of breathing space opened with consecutive goals to the Roys after first Felix managed to be involved in four possessions from the bounce, passed beautifully on to Jack’s chest and got it on to Roman for his second. Roman quickly returned the favour after bursting out of the guts and hitting Jack on the chest. Jack’s straight kick from 35 saw us with two in a minute and the lead had suddenly bounced up to just shy of three goals at the 12-minute mark.

Things were getting ugly for Camberwell when a by-now rampaging Roman received from an almost equally damaging Duncan, and sent the ball forward deep on the right forward flank to where Henry snapped truly for a terrific, and well-earned, snag from 30 to extend the lead to a comparatively whopping 23 points.

But sometimes footy scores are put into real-world perspective, and though the next goal gave us a nigh-on five-goal lead, its circumstances made all of us forget the score and revel in the most of elemental of joys.

Like watching Paul Kelly do the short pass on to Plugger’s chest for him to bring up his 1300th goal, I’ll never forget Felix’s pass onto Gus Kossatz’s chest 20 metres out dead in front. A hell of a lot of water had gone under the bridge since Gus’ last goal in junior footy and the utter joy shown by every one of his teammates when he converted was testament to the truth that there is a hell of a lot of love in footy sometimes.

Congratulations Gus! HIGHLIGHT. OF. THE. YEAR!

After the ball was bounced and the tears wiped from the eyes, those pesky Camberwell lads, just like in “the match that won’t be mentioned”, snuck one home with less than 30 seconds left in the half to see the ecstatically happy and emotional Roys head to the (metaphorical) sheds with a nervously “comfortable” 22-point lead – 6.3-39 to 2.5-17.

But hadn’t we been here before?

The jingle-jangle twitches were eased somewhat two minutes into the third when (guess who) kicked his third after bursting through a tackle and snapped truly on his left. I trust you guessed it was Roman?

But it was back to 21 points four minutes later – when whoever number nine is for us intercepted the ball at half forward, turned around and went Bang(!) from 45 for his fourth and then Gus got the ball to Henry for his second – that the nerves gave way to a calm bliss.

And when Dunks went Bang(!) from 50 to bring up an oh-so deserved and surprisingly rare sausage-roll (“Just kick it yourself Dunks” was your correspondent’s cry), it had almost become party-trick time. Some icing was put on the cake when an exquisite pass from Jack was marked and converted by the ever-busy Harry to give us an 11.4-70 to 3.8-26 orange-time lead.

The “match that won’t be mentioned” was mentioned many a time during the break, but many of us were simply sitting back and marvelling at how gelled our lads had begun to look when one considered the five-week lay-off and the welcome addition of our five previously injured players back into the team.

Will and Ned were doing what Will and Ned do. Dylan and Leroy were wheeling around in their unique ways creating havoc as usual. The little fellas like Seb and Fred were burrowing under packs, while the Hope boys, Sol and Matty were getting the ball to ground. Archie and James were showing their smarts and, according to your correspondent, Josh had a breakout match showing his G&D in spades and being one of the best on ground.

But there was still a quarter to go!

A classic Felix waltz through the middle of the ground saw him ultimately hand pass over the top to a waiting Henry for his second at the five-minute mark and all was right with the world. We weren’t the slightest bit worried (where are the emojis on this thing) when Camberwell pegged one back, but Duncan was obviously still a tad concerned as he went out of his way to drag down two gutsy high defensive marks to prove the lads were still on the job despite the healthy lead.

The boys then got into some “tempo footy”, keeping the ball from their foes and displaying an ever-emerging maturity as a team. Pretty to watch!

And when delusions of grandeur were displayed by coach Courtenay in immediately dragging Jack after kicking his third (“They do it in the AFL”, the coach was overheard saying), we knew “the match we won’t mention” would never be mentioned again.
Final score – 13.7-85 to 5.9-39

Round 5 – May 16 – 2021

After a rollercoaster pair of Sundays our Roy Boys deserved a consolidatory match – and this round they got it.

We returned to Ford Park oval to take on the boys from Ivanhoe-Heidelberg, at the scene of a 2019 Under-12s premiership win for a clutch of our lads, but boy what a scenery change.

Gone was the terrific old concrete grandstand and its protection from the Arctic winds, but most tragically, any semblance of a kiosk.

In so many ways different to last week’s match, Felix’s 50th game for the Roys began under grey skies, a blustery and chilly three-goal breeze to the south end and an actual bench after four Fitzroy Greens were added to our still injury-plagued side.

Having burst through Felix’s banner, the lads took their positions bolstered by Robbie Hopkins, Liam Ukovic (playing his first-ever season of footy), Frankie Donnini and the more than welcome presence of Chris Oliver in his customary role of back-line general.

We have to note the sacrifice made by Greens coaches Angelo and Cam in loaning us four fine lads. And after their performances on Sunday, we’re just hoping we don’t have to give them back.

So tough conditions presented but at least we won the toss and kicked with a handy breeze to begin proceedings. It wasn’t long before Roman capitalised after receiving from Jack – who showed how much he had been missed last week – by taking a fine contested overhead mark to get the scoreboard moving.

Then the ever-consistent Matt was left all alone in the square and, again making the best of service from Jack, put the second sausage on the board. We got out to a comfortable three-goal lead after the ever-dangerous Leeroy’s first.
Q1: 3.2 – 20 to 0.1

Coach Courtenay implored the side at quarter time to recognise the difficulty in defending against the ever-building breeze by keeping the ball low, using overlap running and handball, and fighting like your typical Roy Boys mob.

And so it proved to pass that this quarter’s highlights, apart from the amazing effort in keeping them goalless with a four-goal gale, included Henry’s “intercept” of an opposition player’s dash into our forward line.

But it was the bystander’s effort at returning the ball after a behind that saw him gloriously drop punt the ball back over the high fence behind the goals – but have it hit the top of the goal-post on this side then sail back over said fence again – that was the truly memorable moment of the quarter. That and the appearance of a flock of “bin chicken” ibises circling the heavy sky – obviously, like your correspondents, in serious need of a kiosk.

So the long break saw us take a fairly handy lead. But after last week we know what can happen to such a narrow margin and the match was still well and truly up for grabs.
Q2: 3.3-21 to 0.4-4

So the third was all about scoreboard pressure and things got off to a sound start with Jack taking a ripper mark and putting it through the big sticks to open scoring for the quarter.

Shortly after, a spectacular flying tackle from Jack saw him simultaneously get a free kick and end his afternoon after lobbing the ball up to Felix who shanked it from 10 metres but then the 50-gamer didn’t have to wait long for his next chance when he marked again but this time played on and made no mistake.

The floodgates opened when Duncan, having received from Seb, lined up from outside 50, went bang and put it over the goal umpire’s hat (was he wearing one?), quickly followed by an equally spectacular ball-burster from Roman from the same spot as Duncan.

The opposition, despite luxuriant mullets more Heidelberg than Ivanhoe, went scoreless for the quarter and faced an almost-impossible task of kicking 10 goals to snatch victory. But after last week we know that anything’s possible.
Q3: 7.8 – 50 to 0.4 – 4

The last quarter required a total defensive mindset and the lads set off passing the ball low, clearly doing what their coach had told them in the break. Kicking into the breeze the ball got to Roman who kicked our first soundly at the northern end. A terrific mark and goal from Josh ensued after a trademark dashing run from Duncan. Then Archie marked, finishing off Roman’s good work on the flank, and kicked for our tenth and the icing on the cake.
Q4: 10.8 – 68 to 1.4 – 10

Afterwards assistant coach Pat and runner Adam mulled over a game played in good spirit by both sides, with an even performance and strong defensive effort from all our Roys over four quarters. Good tackling presence, body-on-body pressure, three goals in the last quarter against the wind, the ball seemingly on a string… Guest Liam played brilliantly, Felix honoured his 50-game milestone, Harry’s positioning, run and carry and tackle put the pressure on, Seb played a sound defensive game, Solly was back from the bench and did well in the ruck, Roman does what he does each week…

We have a bye this coming weekend so rest up lads, a replenished bench awaits.

Round 4 - May 9 - 2021

Boy, footy can be a tough game some days.

It had started oh so beautifully…

On a sunshiney autumn Melbourne morning – and Mother’s Day to boot – there was no more fitting venue for mum’s Roy Boys than coming home to the mothership of the legendary Brunswick Street Oval.

Home to then VFL Fitzroy Football Club from 1884 to 1966 – (oh for them to be still known as the Gorillas!) – it’s also where many of our lads had their first taste of club sport at Auskick and Milo Cricket, and played junior seasons for both codes.

Freddy’s Grandad John was in attendance, remembering a hard-won premiership fought on the hallowed turf 52 years ago when he played for Brunswick along with little brother Ray. Grandad and Uncle Ray might have kicked 7 points between them that day, but it was enough to grind out their second consecutive flag.

Back then the ground was enclosed, the narrow weatherboard structure at the southwest corner housing the gate for visiting members when it was home to the (renamed) Lions.

The only enclosures now are gentle hillocks on three sides, topped with low-slung copper-leafed trees which on Sunday sheltered supporting mums, nanas, siblings, uncles, cousins, dogs, friends – at least one Roys family stretched to four generations.

With injuries still taking their toll on pure numbers, Spike Hope joined brother Rocket and Henry Harrison up from U14 Greens as we fielded a squad of 19 for one on the bench, or a number we might describe as bloody luxury in this most attritional start to the season. Our opposition was a fully stocked shiver (it’s the collective noun) of rangy Camberwell Sharks, fresh off a thumping the week before and resilient as.

It was a game of four quarters, and with your scribes distracted by visiting family and a premium bacon-and-egg roll rocking lettuce and tomato, the truncated version goes something like this:

The first quarter saw the Roys kicking with the wind to the eastern end, and unfurled with a nicely spaced run of goals from Freddy, Felix, Jack, Leeroy and Felix again. At quarter time we were a comfortable three goals up and coach Courtenay urged the boys to adopt a one-on-one mentality, staying on their direct opponent, and to do it all again.
Q1: 5.1-31 to 2.1-13

The second quarter began with a spectacular rundown tackle by Roman whose resultant ball-burster free kick sailed beyond the waiting pack and through to a waiting Ned who put us over 5 goals in front. But this is a tough comp and Camberwell weren’t done, kicking the next two to keep themselves well in it. It’s what good sides do. Then a most welcome returnee for the Roys in Jack showed the form he displayed before injuring his back, taking a strong mark and dobbing the Roys’ 9th snag from the flank. So we went to the long break…
Q2: 7.5-47 to 3.3-21

Remembering last week’s stellar third quarter, the coach’s words rang in the boys’ ears as they ran back on: “This is the quarter where you put the foot down on the pedal.” And so they did, stretching the margin to 31 points with a banana from Dylan, a flurry of three goals from a now rampaging Jack, and one from the ever-dangerous Leeroy. Our Roys had led from the outset, by an ever-growing margin, and yet…
Q3: 12.6-78 to 7.5-47

In this contest the last quarter was all Camberwell’s. Within minutes they had put four goals on the board, bringing them within seven points. A final effort from Felix added six points to our tally, some comfort, but the Sharks were on a roll. One more kick and with six minutes to go the game was 13.6 apiece. An unreal goal from the boundary put them over the line.
Q4: 13.6-84 to 14.6-90

Sometimes, like Freddy’s Grandad, you can get away with bad footy, and as we all know, bad kicking is bad football – and come away with a flag. And on other days you can play terrific footy all day, play with trademark toughness, have some of your best players deliver their best games, get out to a comfortable five-goal lead at three-quarter time and yet…

As our coach pointed out, it cuts both ways.

Round 3 - May 2 - 2021

I should have learnt the lesson the night before.

At quarter time of the Swans v Geelong match my Bloods were staring down the barrel of a percentage-destroying evening at the hands of a rampaging Cats outfit, trailing 42-14, and I was more interested in the McLaren Vale grenache than the Buddy and Rampe-less Bloods.

Oh ye of little faith.

It’s history now that the Swans changed the entire complexion of the match at the beginning of the second quarter, slowly ground away at the lead until ultimately pipping the Cats by two points in a thriller.

Fifteen hours later and 15 minutes into the first quarter, an equally rampaging Parkside outfit had four goals on the board playing beautiful flowing footy against what appeared an undermanned, underweight and overwhelmed Fitzroy and things looked grim indeed.

But was it really that bad…?

Northcote’s Pitcher Park had put on a pitch-perfect autumn afternoon – warm sunshine, golden leaves, babies, dogs, Nanas, croissants at the kiosk, and floating over it all the charcoal waft of Greek Easter barbecues.

There were guests on the field – under-13s players Alessio, Charlie and Jules – along with Collingwood ruckman Brodie Grundy and Richmond triple premiership defender Nick Vlaustin as goal umpires, and an AFL ump officiating as YJFL celebrated AFL Community Umpiring Week.

Injury woes had us still several players down, and a flurry of negotiations with the opposition lifted our numbers from an initial 16 to 18-a-side. Parkside, playing up from Brown division after two strong wins, had a bench of six to call on.

Now back to that 15-minute mark when the ever-bustling Roman and the promoted U13 Alessio put a dent in Parkside’s lead and despite a whirlwind beginning the Devils led by just 12 points at quarter time.
Q1: 4.2-26 to 2.2-14

Was there a slight change in momentum? Your scribe didn’t think so, the McLaren Vale grenache obviously hindering a proper perspective on things. But the Roys’ coaches saw it and urged them in the break to “show them how Fitzroy really do play”.

The shift carried over into the second, the Roys peppering the goals unsuccessfully, before Ned won a well-earned free from a tackle and converted truly, followed quickly by Roman’s second and so just 10 minutes in the lads were back on almost even terms. But Parkside are a good team for a number of reasons (not least having four players in the YJFL rep team) and they again slipped up another gear with some high-class footy to draw away with the next two goals before Alessio scored and then Ned again, this time aided by a fantastic Rocket shepherd, dobbed one from the boundary from 40, to finish the quarter 29 to their 40.
Q2: 6.4-40 to 4.5-29

Jack’s half-time Mars Bars upped the energy for the “premiership quarter” as the Roys took it away. Josh kicked true at the six-minute mark, then a manoeuvre that started with Dylan and Will in the back line saw Roman snap from the pocket and put us three points ahead. Leeroy marked, got it to Felix who waltzed through doing the Pendlebury and in slow motion put us 11 points in front. It was a show of utter dominance as the Roys put on 25 points to Parkside’s zero. According to Leeroy: “Best quarter ever.”
Q3: 6.4-40 to 7.12-54

Despite early successive goals from Felix and Roman in the last, the score was back to a nerve-racking 14-point difference with 10 minutes to go. Players were diving in from everywhere when the ball finally came out to Roman who put it beyond doubt, locking in a lead of 20 points. Before it was all over, Felix put boot to ball at the boundary line to seal a fantastic dribble goal. And at the 15-minute mark Ned slapped the icing on the cake, clocking us over to 87, finishing with a final score of…
Q4: 8.5-53 to 12.15-87

In the post-game wrap-up Parkside’s coach generously acknowledged his team’s underestimation of Fitzroy. And in reflecting on the epic game Coach Courtenay couldn’t be happier.

“They ground out that win. What brought us down initially was we weren’t accountable but we became accountable.

“We just had the courage to dig deep again, the courage to run with no bench, the mindset to forget about fatigue and just make the ball the No. 1 priority and support each other.

“In one way this is so much better than winning by 10 or 15 goals because we came from behind, we didn’t drop our heads, we rose to the challenge and we played the type of football we want to play.”

A lot of AFL coaches talk about “Saints/Blues/Dogs footy” and often it’s a desperate call from a coach to lift his not-so-great team.

But when it comes to these lads, the last two performances prove that to talk of Royboys footy talks to bravery, an unwillingness to stop, a belief in their comrades and coaches, and possibly the most important of all – camaraderie.

Faced with a substantial injury list and against stellar opposition, the ability of these boys to put heads down and bums up has been a joy to watch and stands them in great stead for the coming season.

They all should be proud to be a part of this team.

Round 2 - April 25 - 2021

There’s not a footy team in the nation that doesn’t benefit from a little Anzac inspiration, and on Sunday Coach Courtenay was brimming with rousing pre-match lines for our boys.

Given a lack of soldiers with three on the bench they were to play narrow footy and have each other’s back, leave no teammate outnumbered, and put on a bit of run and dare.

And so they did, in a mighty effort that wavered only as the ranks of our walking wounded swelled beyond recovery late in the piece.

But first our 18 boys lined up in an all-white clash strip against a sympathetically reduced Beverley Hills squad for the Last Post and a minute’s silence, then into the fray.

Five minutes passed before any score was posted, both teams sparring between the 50-metre arcs and setting the scene for a torrid battle between two very evenly matched sides.

It don’t take long for the spirit of Gallipoli to reveal itself with a head-on charge to the ball by Ned Tyrell, an early highlight. Shortly after Freddy marked and passed to Seb then a busy James who delivered to Jack whose set shot sailed through from 40 and the Roys were away.

But the fight was quickly resumed when their No. 9 – who in size and abilities resembled our own midfield bull No. 9 Roman – scored a beautiful goal on the run to bring things back to level. That was quickly followed by a defensive screamer from Will.

While it seemed light years since the last full season the young fellas had played, the obvious leap in both the boys’ abilities and the standard of their game were apparent. After a highly entertaining, tough and evenly matched first quarter the home team led 2.4 – 16 to our lads’ one straight kick.

But it was in the second that injuries began to pick off our doughty lads. For the next 30 minutes – the entire second quarter and first half of the third – the match truly resembled a final. Both Beverley Hills and our defence stood bravely, trading blows between the arcs, their efforts reflected by half-time’s level scores.

To that point some of our players Josh, Ned, Will, Harry, Felix, Roman and Duncan showed our reliance on defence, up against what is purported to be a premiership fancy.

While they bravely stood tall against class opposition, it became increasingly obvious that our lack of personnel was beginning to show. Game-ending injuries reducing us to 14 fit players at three-quarter time meant overcoming the deficit of 28 points would call for a monumental effort in the last.

It was always going to be too hard. “Heads up” was the coaches’ rallying call at that break. And at about the moment a resurgent MCG clocked the world’s biggest sporting crowd since March 2020, Courtenay reminded the boys just how much we’d all missed out on last year.

Heads were indeed raised in the last quarter. While Beverley Hills constantly bombarded their forward line (possibly in search of a percentage boost against a stricken opponent), the Roys backline bravely repelled wave after wave of attacks and, incredibly, split the quarter 2.2 apiece, ultimately going down by 28 points. But showing a level of commitment and bravery synonymous with the timeless theme of the day.

All in all, with the exception of the last half of the third quarter the boys managed to keep the scores level for 70 of their playing minutes.

Coach Courtenay was “proud and happy” with his charges’ performance. “You gave it your all … you had the courage to keep running when you were sore, the courage to play new positions, the courage not to drop your head, the courage to forget the scoreboard and just make the ball No. 1.”

Now “well entrenched” in Gold division, we await their next encounter.

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