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




By Garry Gorilla

Driving into Monash University, a line from the English humorist Douglas Adams came to mind: “It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced the expression ‘as pretty as an airport’.’’

That’s because no football fan on Earth has ever looked at the fixture and thought “I’m really looking forward to visiting Monash’s picturesque Frearson Oval’’.

On a bitingly cold Saturday afternoon, the Monash wind farm has about as much charm and appeal as the adjacent three-story carpark. It’s even less alluring when you lose, as Fitzroy did in its most recent visit four years ago, putting in a shocker to go down by 15 goals.

Fortunately this day’s football began on an upbeat note, with Bernie’s Twos producing a masterclass to win 109–3. They showed how to play the ground, defending impeccably against the strong breeze and moving the ball slickly when they had the wind at their backs.

Importantly the Twos continue to showcase footballers who look ready to slot straight into the higher level if needed.

During the curtain raiser, word reached the Gorilla cousins that Pyers and Turner were late withdrawals from the selected 22, replaced by Curcio and Fendyk. With Roberts and Long already out – replaced by McKay and Grace – that made four teams changes.

But then, with 30 seconds left in the Twos game, Toby Kewell was frantically summoned to the bench – it seemed that he might be needed for the seniors after Fendyk’s back had started spasming during the final warm up.

It made for an unconventional build up and meant several Roys would be asked to play different positional roles than they normally do.

With all of this context, the Gorilla eye was trained to see if the Roys would begin against the winless bottom-placed Monash with some real vigour and intent. This was never going to be about racking up touches or pretty football – the canary in the coal mine was going to be the basics: attack on the ball, clean hands, tackles, voice, spoils.

There was the odd slight hint of looseness in the first quarter – a bit of fumbling here, an unnecessary free kick there – but also signs that the players were on.

Our first goal came to Megennis after just two minutes, after he and Minahan started the push by sticking a strong tackle on the wing. Our second came a few minutes later when Toohey beat two Blues in a contest to set up a rebound. When Tauber charged onto a contested ball in the centre and drove a left-foot pass to Grace, we had our third.

We’re more used to watching Curcio snap for goal, but I loved seeing him push into the backline late in the first quarter, putting his body on the line to cut off a Monash forward on the lead.

The Roys were 29 points up at the first change and by the time the rain came down and the lights came on just before half time they had extended that lead to 41 points.

When the margin blew out to 62 points at three-quarter time, the Roys were in total control and the sting was out of the contest. If Ben Stokes were captaining Fitzroy he would have already declared by now.

Perhaps the players let those thoughts creep in too, because for the first time this season they conceded more goals (three) than they scored (two) in the final quarter. Heading into this round Fitzroy had outscored the opposition 41 goals to 17 in fourth quarters.

To be fair, it was also a tribute to the spirit shown by Monash when they could easily have given up the ghost.

Post match coach Mahoney would acknowledge that Monash grit. But he also reminded his charges how important it was to not deviate from the game plan. Better teams will pounce on and really punish such lapses.

Over the four quarters, Ted Clayton and Wilson led the way through the midfield while Megenis, McKay and Faubel presented well up forward. Ligris and Green marshalled a counter-attacking defensive unit that has welcomed the addition of Parker.

The player who most deserved praise, though, was Kewell. Backing up for another four quarters he could easily have been excused for drifting through stints in a forward pocket. Instead he brought energy and effort to every contest, and kicked a classy 50-metre goal as well.

Having helped secure a ninth win from 10 rounds, no doubt he – like all Fitzroy supporters – would have slept well on Saturday night.

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