Fitzroy Football Club: Great football, Great community, Great culture.



Driving across the Clifton Hill hump for a 9.30am bus drop off on Saturday morning, the city was shrouded in fog. Instantly the opening chords of Van’s Into The Mystic came on the radio. “Hark now, hear the sailors cry.” It was going to be one of those days, down by the bay at Beaumaris.

A beautiful new spring day awaited us as we completed the crosstown cruise. Once again, the Two’s were doing enough, swift ball movement countering the opposition’s thicker and taller menace. Coach Bernie wasn’t happy, perfectionist that he is, but the side did have 10 changes. And they have finished the home and away season as minor premiers. Well done boys, more to come.

A huge challenge confronted the Senior Men against second-placed Beaumaris. A win would guarantee finals for the first time in B Grade. However, we didn’t want to concern ourselves with what happens with Uni Blacks and De La. Two changes: Curcio with a wrecked shoulder, Lazzaro with a late illness. Dan Megennis and Hunter Staples came in. Two sailors out, two stepping in.

The opposition kicked the first, and it was clear that their mast-like timber presented a threat. We had to keep it away from them. How do you measure pressure? In tons? Tom Wilson provided a couple of tons of the product to will our first goal through. Ted Clayton was bulling and bullying as usual, and kicked a miracle goal for our second. Two strange adjudications allowed them to reply, it was 17–14 at the first break. Fitzroy had come to play – I often wonder what this term means –you don’t come to not play. Coach Mahoney was positive at the huddle.

Wrecking Ball Laidlaw was providing grunt in spades, occasionally stepping over the line. He owed us a goal and kicked beautifully from the cricket nets’ pocket. It’s hard not to come up with an adjective that adequately describes Rhys Seakins – he’s a mix of ‘rubber man’ and ‘magnet hands’. He took a fantastic intercept mark at half back. Max Ellis, Jock Green and Darcy Lowrie were doing great jobs on their talls, with Nathan Ligris sweeping up crumbs artfully.

Donovan Toohey and Ted Clayton were on top in the middle. Newcomer Matteo Bombardieri is not fazed by the standard, likewise the blond bombshell, Hunter Staples. The signs were there, the pressure gauge was up to provide a majority-possession dominance, but not quite yet on the scoreboard. But we did lead 26–24 at the half.

Clearly, Beaumaris got a rocket at half time in the sheds, and swarmed forward for the opener of the second half. The Roys then disappointingly kicked 6 points in a row, but the tackling and pressure were ferocious. Jack McKay, splendid in the ruck, kicked a ripper, and Green was sensational in defence. Fitzroy’s most improved player for the season?

Wilson kicked with calm intent from deep in the pocket, and when ‘the kid’ Staples snapped one, we were three goals up. Toohey had claimed real estate in the centre of the ground, and passed superbly to Charlie Hogg who slotted a major at the 30-minute mark. He’d been diligent and productive on his wing all game. Dogged persistence and knocking forward got it to Aidan Lambert in the goal square for more six-point reward. Another clearance from Toohey found Laidlaw and it was 67–38 at the siren. We had “rocked their gypsy souls”.

The coach called for pressure persistence, and to “open them up when you get the chance”. We knew the scores at the University, it was still close. We had to win.

We defended like Trojans in the last quarter. Stoic, we kept the ball, they couldn’t score. At the 24-minute mark Ted Clayton kicked the only goal for the quarter and effectively iced the game.

The final siren a few minutes later sparked ecstatic celebration, most eloquently expressed by skipper Jack Hart: “We did it our way!” Gusto met club song in the rooms.

I steered northerly back along the Nepean with satisfaction in the wheelhouse. I slipped Into The Mystic onto Spotify. “Come on Roys, it’s too late to stop now.” Let’s take it to Haileybury next weekend.

By the way, the player bus trip was apparently pretty effusive. Winners on all fronts.

Guy Gorilla

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