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



I can’t tell you much about the Two’s game against St Bede’s Mentone. Other than it looked like a comfortable-enough win from my spot behind the glass in the community room. Yes, even ugly old gorillas like me enjoy a solid repast from time to time. The notables in the room provided a varied but interesting backdrop. I especially appreciated Brisbane Lion’s Chair Andrew Wellington and his reference to their new development in Brisbane. To maintain the link and the connection with its rich Fitzroy tradition, a decision has been taken to grow a cutting from the ‘preaching tree’ of Doug Nicholls in Melbourne. I sensed an emotional tightening in Andrew’s throat as he related this. And Robert Shaw’s tale of the recruiting of Mark Zanotti, also in the room for the lunch: fund raising conducted on the Melbourne waterfront, one-off, signed Paul Roos and Alistair Lynch jumpers, all 40 of them. 12,000 one-dollar notes in the back of Zanotti’s car clinched the deal after pre-season training one night.

Borland and Ramshaw came in for Grace and Lambert in the main game. Needless to say, to maintain our spot in the top four, we have to win the games against those below us on the ladder. We should have been confident with our recent record against St Bede’s Mentone. They also needed to win to maintain any hope of final’s contention.

Ok, down to business. It was a very slack start from the Roys, frequently second to the ball. Nobody appeared to have turned on the switch, our forward entries were erratic, dysfunctional. 7–2 their way at the first break, very, very ordinary. At the huddle, Coach Mahoney commenced his address methodically, noting that the opposition were leading us to the ball, and no one appeared to be taking responsibility. The address then morphed into the spray that the players deserved. I was hoping for a reaction.

Unfortunately, footy is not like that, you can’t turn it on and off when it suits. Wotherspoon kicked our first, and he was applying heavy forward line pressure. However, Bede’s replied quickly after goal-line carelessness. An undisciplined 50 gifted them another, we allowed a spare player or two in their back half. We were putting junk on display. Fortunately, to stay in touch, Turner snapped one out of a pack, only for another brain fade sent the ball upfield for a goal at the 33-minute mark. 32–14 their way at the main break. Our supporters are a loyal mob, they clapped the boys off the ground, maybe in the hope that encouragement might engender some response. We will see.

Minahan kicked the opener. Then, even I was speechless (but not for long) when we conceded another double 50 for a goal. In a 6 goal to 3 game, we provided silver service in three of them. Then a ruck-dominant McKay won a free in a marking contest for a major, and Turner soared for a speccy and goal. That switch I was talking about earlier, the intensity switch, had been turned on. Doc O’Donnell was defending stoically. A late snap from Bede’s made it 51–38 their way at the last change.

Are they tiring? Are we good enough? Can we take responsibility? The key points at the huddle. Questions rather than instructions. Would we respond?

Our defence, Seakins, Ligris, Green, Ellis in particular had been on top all day, and now with O’Donnell, Hudson-Bevege and Butler joining the party, Bede’s were unable to score. Still, we couldn’t find the big sticks. Until, until, Wotherspoon found McKay for a calmly converted goal, and it was now four points the diff. Finally, a free and a 50 to Butler, way over there near the old turnstiles, took him to the square for a goal. We lead by 2 points. At the 26-minute mark there was a deathly hush around the ground. Tension, a chilling wind, ball back and forth, although we looked winners. The Roy coaches were pacing, 40 metres apart, Larkin on the back flank in front of the hill, Mahoney near the players’ gate. 36 players in the Bede’s half, a snap, O’Donnell and the ball simultaneously hit the post. Ligris calmly kicked to Toohey, who took time off the clock and belted it long and out of trouble. Siren, 53–52 winners. We’d won ugly.

The supporter applause was there again, this time joyously and double in volume. The song sung a couple of times on the terraces, and more riotously in the rooms.

Next week another challenging encounter in East Malvern against De La. I’ll be planning my trip assiduously, because Malvern is a suburb I never go to. I seem to recall a huge ice cream sign somewhere near the ground, a rail line nearby. See you there, choc top in hand.

Guy Gorilla

Image: Phyllis Quealy

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