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




Old Geelong Men are thereabouts in challenging for a top four spot in the VAFA B Grade. Fitzroy Senior’s previous encounter this year with OGs at Como Park resulted in a nail-biting one-point win to the Roys. The visitors ventured to Brunswick Street with a determined attitude, while the Roys dealt with another six compulsory changes.

Curcio, Ellis, Faubel, Grace, Lowrie and Minahan and were all out, a mixture of injury and unavailability. In came Baker, Lambert, Long, Seakins, Turner and debutant Marcel Laidlaw. He joined big brother Sean in the senior playing group. The ‘ins’ are all capable players, but continuity and hits to the big-man stocks were major concerns.

The Twos were similarly challenged for depth, quite a few debutants up from the Thirds, but ran out 50-point victors – a beautiful mixture of spirit, skill and team-first mentality. Professor Borland was a focal point in front of goal, and Premier Hodgman, at the other end of the ground, knows how to defend.

In the first quarter of the main game, Fitzroy was doing well in general play, but struggled to find targets up forward. Suddenly, Seakins swooped on an OG’s error to goal. They responded minutes later through their typically rapid ball-transfer game.

A great clearance from Ted Clayton found Lambert on the move for a beautiful goal on the run. Keeping your feet was crucial in the slippery conditions. We turned one over in this regard, and it was goal for goal. Toohey then slotted one from 45, and our forward pressure was excellent. OGs overlapped so well out of defence.

It was 20–14 our way at the first break. We probably had the benefit of the scoring end, it was a tight contest. At the huddle Coach Mahoney reiterated the value of turnover-based pressure.

The second quarter was, in hindsight, where we lost our way. A five goal to nil stanza. We had plenty of ‘straightliners’ in our mix, but couldn’t buy a goal up forward at the Brunswick Street end. OGs were all over us, and a 23 point deficit confronted the Roys as they headed for the sheds.

We needed an assertive third quarter. Sean Laidlaw snapped the opener through non-stop aggression, he and Marcel both providing grunt to the contest. However, we were regularly outnumbered up forward until Laird Ramshaw pinged one from distance. The opposition maintained their 23-point edge at the final huddle.

The coach implored us to play a man-on-man, 6-on-6 up forward contest, and to challenge OG’s decision making. Our defence was holding up, with Green a great linchpin, stepping up in the absence of regular comrades. Toohey then goaled again from long range to his favourite tramline end, and Bill Clayton got on the end of some great delivery to goal. It was 11 points, and the vibe in the grandstand and on the terraces was one of wondering whether it was possible. Again.

And then it happened, a sickening, accidental 3-man mid-air collision, that indefinable thwack echoing across the ground. Two players out to it, one of them the courageous Luke Baker. He eventually found his feet, but left the ground resembling Rocky Balboa around his right eye. The OG’s player was stretchered off awaiting an ambulance.

I think the velocity of this collision took the sting out of what remained of the game. Sometimes, the health and wellbeing of the participants takes on a greater importance than four points, much as we would have liked to have stolen them.

Credit all round to the support staff of both sides, the players and spectators, for their understanding at the time. Former premiership hero, all round champ, Doc Tom O’Donnell, happened to be at the game, took control, and showed how blessed we are to have people like him. In occupations like his.

So a 59–48 victory was reward for Old Geelong, and sobering reflection for Fitzroy.

We confront Old Trinity away next Friday night, 7.00pm I think, but check the time and venue to be sure. Over Bulleen way, near all that road construction.

Guy Gorilla

Image: The Twos in the rooms after a sterling performance

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