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

So Near, Yet So Far


By Guy Gorilla 

I wandered into the change rooms underneath the freshly proclaimed ‘Kevin Murray Stand’ prior to Senior Men’s game against Beaumaris. The four debutants, Charlie Hogg, Luke Minahan, Layne Holden and Jack Wotherspoon were receiving fresh Roys jumpers from their more senior playing comrades. As a change in protocol, parents and loved ones in the rooms was a beautiful touch. It showed clearly how much running out in ‘that’ jumper on ‘that’ ground means. The 2s had won in a romp – a very strong 2’s side indeed. The scene was set for the challenge of us being seen as a serious contender.

Unfortunately in hindsight, our first quarter probably cost us the game. We were edgy early, not clean enough in the clinches, and mistake-prone in defence. Beaumaris had tall timber in attack, and smooth midfield practitioners. Rhys Seakins kicked brilliantly for our first major, but midway through the quarter we were five goals down. Best laid plans! The opposition appeared much better drilled, and we were too reactive; we had to get our hands dirty, get first use. Needless free kicks and kicks upfield are gifts to the opposition. Hogg, Donovan Toohey and Matt Kyroussis combined for our second, but as the siren rang, it was 42–12 their way.

At the huddle, coach Mahoney called for composure, to think a bit more, to re-set, and to stop being so free-kick generous.

Big Bill Clayton was doing well in the ruck and up forward in the early parts of the second, and our tall defenders Max Ellis, Darcy Lowrie and Jock Green were meeting the challenges posed. Dos Doherty is a mean spirited, hard-nosed defender, Seakins continued to show Ellis-like maturity. A head knock stung Wotherspoon into action. We had a lot of the ball for little return, Beauie scoring against the run of play. It was 48–20 at the half way mark, looking as ominous as the return of Melbourne winter rain. A change of season, we needed a change of approach.

We quickly scored a major, and there seemed a definite lift in intensity. The problem was nothing was ever clean. Lowrie was growing in confidence in defence, stoutly spoiling and running the ball out. Toohey was winning a stack of the ball through the central corridor, using it well, and then scoring a major from the ‘Hill’ pocket. Predictably, our improved efforts were countered by a couple of goals against the tide. It was 64–35 at the final change, everyone waiting for the tide to turn.

The coach acknowledged the effort, but demanded better ball use, “take the speed off the game, the gaps will open up”.

And open up they did. I think it was George Pyers who snapped the first of the last, Captain Jack Hart got it to Ted Clayton for another, and Kyroussis bombed another after an exchange from Minahan and Toohey. Bravely, Minahan had returned from a clash of the titans to win his share of the ball. The difference was now only 11 points, and the cat from the grandstand was among those pesky pigeons. Professor Ross Boland was presenting handsomely, and he goaled after the two Greeks combined. 5 points, and time left. We were all over the travellers from down south.

Can willpower win games? They kicked a settler at the 25-minute mark, and slowed the game down. Cramp was settling in everywhere. Holden marked and kicked one after the siren to bring the final margin back to 5. Brave but defeated. That first quarter malaise killed us.

Next Saturday is a must win against Ajax. Their home digs are hosting that car race, so it looks like Elsternwick Park Number 2 is the venue. Guy Gorilla cut his teeth there as a player and coach in the mid 70s and 80s. Our most stern contests in the day occurred when the mighty Elsternwick FC took on Ajax. Wars! This gruff old bugger might shed a tear next Saturday if Baby Gorilla graces the turf against the Jackas. Alongside the ghost of my great mate, recently passed, the legendary Gary ‘Lumpy’ Rosewarne. Go Wicks! Go Roys!

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