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'It's people like him that make this club great'


This week’s game against Old Scotch at Camberwell Sports Ground will mark 150 games for Tom Cheshire and 50 Fitzroy games for Al Green.

The two share a few similar qualities along with their quiet, determined style and their co-captain Rory Angiolella praised both of his team mates ahead of their milestone games.

Tom started with the club in the Under 19s in 2007, but he also played his junior footy with Fitzroy Juniors (starting in the Under 10s) and his neighbour and mate, Rory, says Tom loves Fitzroy as much as anyone can.

“In my eyes Tom loves this club as much as anyone, he definitely gets that from his mother (Fitzroy President, Joan Eddy). He is always the first to put his hand up to help out in any way he can; one of the first people at training and one of the last to leave.

“I think his greatest asset to the team is that he never stops trying, even when a game seems lost he will throw himself at the bottom of a pack or dive in front of harm’s way to protect a team mate. It comes back to how much he cares for the club and the people he plays with,” Rory said.

The captain also thinks 2016 will be one of Tom’s most prominent seasons. “The last few seasons he has worked on being a more consistent footballer, and along with a solid preseason I think he will really be one of the better players this season.

“Tom is going to be at this club in some capacity for a long time to come. His passion and his love for the club is something I admire and he is one of my favourite people to play footy with. He loves the competition and always finds a way to make me laugh during a game.

“It’s people like him that make this club great,” Rory said.

Al Green came to Fitzroy as a senior player in 2013, via the Alberton Football Netball League and has been an incredibly steady influence in the backline. He always inspires confidence with ball in hand.

Rory Angiolella says what makes Al a great team mate is his ability to always keep a level head. “Under every situation he performs and acts the same; I think he really settles those around him, he carries himself with such confidence and you always know what you will get from him.

“Al’s best position would be launching from half back because he reads the play so well, is a great mark and a really good user of the ball. I always feel confident when he is rebounding out of the backline.”

And could there be much higher praise than a comparison with the captain of the Western Bulldogs?

“I think he is the cool older head of the club, similar to a Bob Murphy. He never seems to lose his cool and always gives his best. It’s so reassuring knowing he is in the backline because he rarely gets beaten in a one on one and always helps out his other defenders. He is not only one of our best defenders, I think he is one of the more important players in the team. He probably doesn’t see himself as a leader but in my eyes he is everything a leader should be; he cares, he puts in hard work, has a really good footy brain, and always summarises a situation really well.

“I guess the supporters love him for the same reason the players do, he is honest, caring and really good at footy. How could anyone dislike him?”

Rory said Al’s secret talent is for music and that one of his big ambitions is to headline a country and western night at the club! We’d love to see that, Al.

Fitzroy will go into the game against Old Scotch with a big challenge ahead, having started the season 0-3 there is a lot of work to do.

Co-coach Michael Pickering will take the lead role this weekend, with Old Scotch also coming off a short break, following their game on Anzac Day.

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Anzac extravaganza


Thank you to Fitzroy’s members, fans, players and in particular our volunteers who helped put on an incredible day of local footy at Brunswick Street Oval on Monday.

A huge crowd on Hipster Hill added to the atmosphere during the triple header against Ajax, in which the visitors took the overall points for the day, winning the seniors and the thirds.

On field, the incredible highlight was a pressure kick from Jack Beech after the siren to win the Reserves game. He kicked truly to steer Fitzroy home by one goal in a major milestone game for Sam Buckley and Richard Willingham.

In the seniors, Ajax proved the stronger team and with straight kicking would have been well in front at half time. In the second half, Fitzroy showed plenty of fight and determination but went down in the end by 18 points. Tom Biscaro and Tom Cheshire were Fitzroy’s best, along with vice-captain Dom Pound-Palmieri, who took the one percenter award for the second week in a row.

Speaking after the game, Ajax coach Marty Pask said he’d like the Anzac Day game to be an annual fixture between the two teams.

For a terrific write up of the day at Brunswick Street Oval, John Harms' piece in the Footy Almanac is a must for Fitzroy fans. For more on the game check out the VAFA’s write up and they also featured an interview with our two 150 gamers on VAFA Tragics and in this story ‘Boys to Roys’.

A day like Monday doesn’t happen without the incredible commitment and hard work of a wide range of volunteers, but special mention must go to Kerry Winchester (and her fab kids) who worked the best BBQ in the VAFA all day long for a huge crowd. Bill Atherton, Wendy Symonds and Janet Graham also did a roaring trade at the merchandise table. Thank you to one and all.


Commemoration of the Anzacs 

In addition to the spine-tingling playing of the Last Post pre-game, a moving ceremony at half time in the senior game on Monday acknowledged the fallen former Fitzroy players, with wreaths laid at the war memorial at Brunswick Street Oval.

City of Yarra Mayor Roberto Colanzi and Peter Woods, President of Fitzroy History Society laid a wreath alongside another from the local RSL branch. The names and details of the players lost at war were read out by Fitzroy company secretary, Bill Atherton.

As part of the ceremony, the father and uncles of Fitzroy player Tom Cheshire sang the Flowers of the Forest, a beautiful tribute to the World War 1 diggers. Tom’s father Frank also spoke at the pre-game lunch about his uncle who had died in battle at Fromelles. The family will be going over to France for the 100th anniversary later this year. The grandfather of Ajax player Nick Lewis and father of Ajax President Ronnie Lewis, Gunner Lewis, also spoke about his experiences in World War II.


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The two of them: 300 games for Fitzroy


Sam Buckley and Richard Willingham met as nine year olds in 1993 during the very first season of the fledgling Fitzroy Junior Football Club and they’ve played together throughout their careers. This year Sam is coaching the Fitzroy Reserves team but will don the number 66 jumper for one last game on Monday to ensure he and his mate Richard play their 150th games for Fitzroy together. And what better day for a display of mateship than Anzac Day. The Red Roy asked them about their early memories of each other and how the partnership has evolved… in their own words….

Richard Willingham – Fitzroy No 15

What’s your first memory of Sam on the football field?
Well it was 1993. That’s right nineteen-ninety-three. I’d never meet him before and along with a bunch of other 9 and ten year olds we were thrust into the under 11s. Needless to say we got flogged every week. It’s not the first memory but the enduring moment was of course that goal. The only goal the team kicked for the year was a mongrel punt from Bucks at from the western pocket of the school end of Alfred Crescent Oval that tumbled over the line.

It was like we won the world cup. More exciting was the fact that supporting fathers were nearly in tears. (*See Richard’s father’s write up of the magical goal down below).

We hear he could be a bit fiery on field – how did that work for him?
Maybe not fiery, more lippy. As a known idiot, Bucks likes to tell every opponent about the flaws in their game. A personal highlight was when he gave some lip to a player from Rupertswood, who responded by rubbing mud in Bucks’ eyes, much to the amusement of mates watching.

Does it feel strange to have him as your coach now?
It does feel odd that we aren’t out there together playing, but he brings the same passion to coaching as he does playing. I remember a time at Werribee during his last stint in 2009 when he went to shake the opposing, and victorious, coach’s hand only to have the bloke try to pick a fight with him because our Bucks barracked too much.

What qualities do you think he brings to coaching which will be good for the club and his players?
Bucks has a genuine and obvious passion for the footy club, he also gets twos footy. It doesn’t need to be complicated and at the end of the day it is about having a crack and being with mates. He also understands that it is about blokes striving to do their best. He recently told the group that he wants to play exciting attacking footy and if it doesn’t pay off so be it, at least we tried. I like that.

What inspires players to stick with Fitzroy throughout their careers?
The people. The club. The ground. Without doubt Fitzroy home games are the best in the league, no one else gets the sort of local support. The footy is also of a high quality and the club isn’t infected with massive egos and dickheads.

What are you hoping for on Monday?
Three big wins and a huge crowd embracing all things Fitzroy.

Do you intend to play out the season?

Sam Buckley, Reserves Coach, Fitzroy FC life member, No 66

What do you remember about Richard in the first year you played together?
He was playing fullback always, which is hard to believe now. Given his kicking technique and ability to kick horrible floaters, not sure why he was our designated kick-in specialist. Given he was playing in a team that only kicked one goal for the year, it’s fair to say he got to kick the ball in quite a bit….

Did you know each other before footy? Where did you meet?
Not that I recall. I think we would have just met at training. His dad was heavily involved in getting the club up and running and I think may have been our first coach or at least team manager.

After so long playing together you must have a good understanding of what he’s likely to do on field – is that useful as his coach?
Yeah, I think that’s useful. I understand pretty well what he will do when he is playing. He is very tough and competitive and will always throw himself in 100 per cent. As a coach, I know I can rely on him to give his all whenever he is on the ground. I still don’t like it when he kicks the ball though….

Is it hard to coach your mates?
It’s interesting. I actually quite enjoy it. I get the sense that the boys enjoy me doing it and we have created a good buzz in the first few weeks. I’m not afraid to give my mates and spray if need be and I think they have taken that well. It helps that I know them pretty well as footballers and I like to think I’ll be able to help bring the best out in them.

What’s the best thing you and Richard have done together (that we can print!)?
For me it’s probably all the stuff outside of footy. I have very fond memories of a few nights out in New York, in London and times just down the beach smashing tins. Recently, we have had quite a few friends’ weddings interstate and various others places and being able to share that with our mates has been pretty special.

What are you hoping for on Monday?
Most importantly three wins for the club. Especially in the 1’s. Personally, I’d like to not tear my hamstring and get at least one kick.

Will you feel sad once you take off the boots for the last time?
Not really. I have accepted that my time as a player is done. I’m looking forward to helping out in other ways now off field and coaching. Still very much want to be involved, just not on the field!!

That first fateful goal

Sam Buckley’s name is etched into the folklore of the Fitzroy Junior Football Club (FJFC) as the kicker of its first ever goal (and the only one scored in its first season.

The following is an extract by Graeme Willingham from his piece on The birth of Fitzroy Junior Football Club: 1993, in which he describes that very first goal.

Graeme was Fitzroy-Carlton Vickick Coordinator in 1992 and then a committee member and a coach at FJFC

“The result: for weeks, never a goal was scored.

Well, not until that D-Day, Downpour Day.

Late in the game, from under their streaming umbrellas, the proud parents looked east through the rain. Suddenly, about CHF, one of the old brigade (an 11 year-old) threw the mud-leaden vinyl “Sherrin” on to his preferred left boot and off it went, bouncing, then skidding, spinning backwards, aqua-planing towards the gap between the tall white perpendiculars, never deviating off its originating line because it could find no traction in the sludge.

It was impossible from their behind-ball-angle 80 metres away and through the thick rain for the faithful adults to tell just how close the ball was sliding away from them towards the line, but they could see two opponents closing the gap on the escaping ball.

The defenders dived desperately at full length into the pools of grey goal square soup to affect an all-important touch. They couldn’t be the team to let Fitzroy score its first goal. Heaven forbid! The shame!

The home team players close enough to see what was really happening threw their arms in the air in exultant hope as the sliding opponents showered mud over the sodden, but watchful goal umpire.

The “crowd” at the other end started to lift their feet from the glue, hearts pounding at the prospect.

In a split second, the moment was defined. A two-finger salute, of the football variety.

Fitzroy Junior Football Club had scored its first ever goal.

The Roy Boys were back in town!”


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