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



A walk in the park with the dog, The Age – especially Anson Cameron and his wistful reflections – a cup of tea, then all of a sudden Baby Gorilla arises, and we’ve got INXS booming from Wembley on Youtube. I made him watch Norman Gunston’s version of Suicide Blonde to get some balance. Check out that genius. How else would you start a Saturday before a season-defining game against De La Salle at BSO.

As is the custom these days, another 7 changes to the senior side. Green, Hogg, Ligris, McKay, Ramshaw, Seakins and Turner come in for Harris, Hart, Lambert, Moore, O’Donnell, Staples and Symons. Respectfully, on balance, better ins than outs. Co-Captain Julian Turner returned to the big boys for the first time since I don’t know when. We’re all hoping. The Two’s won again, but are only “just going at the moment”. But turning halfway at 7–1 gives Brilliant Bernie Carter hope for bigger things come season’s end.

Walking past the TAB I took a quinella, 11 and 7 in the last at Fitzroy. The first quarter was a dour, defensive contest, man on man, shut-down jobs everywhere, a cross breeze blowing towards the Newry. De La kicked the first at 17 and a half minutes, we couldn’t find the big sticks, and it was 15 –5 their way at the break, predictably with a goal after the siren.

As expected, the coach stressed that we were very good defensively, but had to work on the offence. Basketball speak. We had to find a way to convert. Big Bill Clayton got on the end of a weighted pass from Toohey to kick our first. Brother Ted was bullocking beautifully. We were putting them under the pump, but in low scoring contests like this one, it was the little mistakes that can prove costly.

They kicked their third after an error, and it was 24–12 at half time. The Roy family in the stand behind me said it was a shocking game. They all are when you trail. A former teaching comrade was more optimistic, “we’ll get ‘em”, he sparked confidently. As I walked to the Bowling Club for one with MOC, I sent message to self, “we have to find a way”.

As often happens on the back of a beer, they kicked the opener to the third. It was no question of effort, it was method. Then the game changed. I’ve been working on a romance novel, something like ‘Guy Meets Gal’. Julian Turner marked on the edge of the goal square and goaled. He was surrounded by his mates, they know what he’s been through. Brute strength from Ted Clayton had willed it to the skipper, true romance. Wotherspoon then snapped a ripper after great work from McKay and Toohey. The big bloke McKay was starting to take over in the ruck. It was now only 5 points the diff.

Turner then pinched a free and goaled, and our forwards were now matching the backs for endeavour. It felt like we were getting on top all over the ground. 32–30 our way at the final change, the coach positive at the huddle, a forced, knowing, cheeky smile emerging.

At the 8-minute mark, it was still only a point our way. “Ball” the supporters screamed a hundred times, “C’mon Roys” a hundred more. We were dominating the midfield, and our wings Grace and Hogg were in command. It was a struggle for De La to get it past half way, and when it did, loose stuff was mopped up by what is now a cohesive, collaborative defence. A beautiful mix of old and new, more romance.

It was still only a point the diff some minutes later. Toohey left his taggee, ran to 53, almost exact same spot as that after the siren shot last year, and bombed. It hit the netting down Brunswick Street way half-way up. This made it 7 points our way, but the time clock was only crawling. On one of their rare entries, a free was awarded for high contact, and they goaled. I’m a bit lost, like a gorilla in the mist, but I think scores were level again. I was almost conceding a draw.

And then the final piece of my Mills and Boon. A scrimmage on our forward line, loose ball, a leftie pounced with sure-footed acumen, kicked, it bounced, and bounced through. Turner had slotted 3, including the match winner. Subsequent heroics by The Professor Boland, with a huge tackle, allied with collective defensive spirit, iced the game. The perfect romance, 7 point winners.

After a couple of happy ones in the rooms, I walked past the tote, and collected on my quinella: number 11 Ted Clayton, number 7 Donovan Toohey, in the last, at the Fitzroy racetrack.

A wasted Saturday this week, we’re here to play football, not commemorate lost empires, but as they say, “I’ll see you in the soup” at Wllliamstown Saturday week.

Guy Gorilla

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