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



There was an eerie sense of dull as I entered the Melbourne University precinct for Fitzroy Men’s clash with top of the table Uni Blacks. Overcast, drizzling, a busy car park, pre-season cricket training, a hockey match, the occasional athlete honing javelin skills, and a regular stream of undergraduates with boxes of shady grog, heading in the direction of the colleges. And yes, by the way, a game of footy on a heavy, soggy oval.

The Twos got away to a confident start against the ladder leaders. There were times during the tussle when it looked like they might be headed, but there is resolve about this mob, and unity under coach Bernie Carter. In the end, a terrific team-first victory, with the reward being top spot. Let’s stay there.

Three changes from the win against Ajax. Ligris, Turner and Fendyk in for Ramshaw (plague), Megennis (foot) and Curcio (unlucky). By the look of the ground and the sky overhead, it was going to be a day for strong calves, thighs and backsides, and long, direct kicking, minimal handball. We had to match the Blacks physically, and negate their system. And we had to score more efficiently than previously.

In the first stanza, we competed strongly but had trouble getting it past half forward. It was a hard slog. Our defence was performing admirably, Green and Ellis showing out, and Hogg was dominating his flank early. The Blacks were wasteful in front of goal after bouncing one through early. Hogg again found the ball, hitting a nicely weighted pass to Turner for a goal. When the air raid siren sounded, it was 11–7 their way, we’d take that.

The huddle board revealed 14–6 inside 50s their way, a key indicator for me. The instruction for us was to gain territory in a simple straightforward way, kick long, minimal handling.

McKay was dominating the ruck and our midfield of Ted Clayton, Toohey and Wotherspoon doing plenty of grunt work. Ted then goaled after a confident attack on the ball, and bingo, we’re in front. Belief seemed to be setting in. The opposition then replied after a dubious holding the ball in front of goal, and overuse in the backline led to their third. It was 26–13 their way at the half.

The lights were on at the hockey field, but budgetary constraints left it dark on the footy field. Long passages ensued where we were in possession without converting. There was an air of inevitability about the contest, it was so difficult to reverse the 13-point break they had, especially in the formidable conditions. Fendyk then snapped a left footer out of the blue, the goal umpire prevaricated theatrically before he saluted with the two thumbs. We had pulled the deficit back to 6 points. The great tragedy of it was that they responded quickly with three goals, one of them again from a head-high tackle adjudication. Correct tackling technique has to take on greater importance in the current climate, there’s so much doubt in decision making. At any rate, 46–22 was a score line almost impossible to overcome.

Coach Mahoney demanded that we keep working them over, gain territory however possible, and to get low, get low, get low in the contest. There was resolve from the group.

Hogg slogged an off-the-ground from the middle of the pack outside 40 for a goal, and we continued sustained attack in the forward half. Only for the Blacks to surge the ball forward, and win another head-high free kick in their goal square. Don’t know why we don’t get them. A slick transfer then found Wilson for a goal.

However, it was 63–35 at the end, probably a fair reflection of the gap in this game. We needed to pay closer attention to the coach’s instructions on a heavy day – get it forward long by foot, minimise movement by hand.

Other results meant we kept OUR spot in the four. A return to BSO next week for a must-win clash with St Bede’s.

We have to win the games we have to win if you get my drift.

Guy Gorilla

Image: Phyllis Quealy

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