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



Let’s start at the finish, in the BSO rooms after the clash against Ajax. Look at the joy on the faces, young men most of them, belting out the song. Check it out on the club Facebook page. Not in the mix are Professor Boland, Nathan Ligris and Julian Turner, around 500 senior men’s games between them. Ligris and Turner both late outs, left-footed talismen at either end of the ground. Into the side came Heath Ramshaw returning from a quad and Carlton, maybe a dozen games; Patty Curcio, second game a repeat of his debut earlier in the season against Ajax; and debutant Harry Tauber. My first look at Harry, apart from him belting the ball around Hayes Park for the Holy Trinity Cricket Club. I like what I see. It’s comforting that coach Mahoney is happy to give young blokes opportunity. A gap of about 500 games experience is on the table in the battle for a top-four spot.

I had doubt about Ajax’s depth given the quality of their Two’s. Another victory, 116–11, for Bernie’s boys, and a battle for top spot against Uni Blacks next week. A chilling breeze howled across the top of the grandstand to the city side of the ground, perhaps slightly favouring the Brunswick Street end. We had to play to our strengths against the disciplined Jackers.

The opening 10 minutes went scoreless as players adjusted to the conditions. Hart was prominent up forward and marked a hurried Hogg kick to register our first. Tauber was lively early, winning three or four possessions quickly. Ted Clayton won a head-high (surprise, surprise) to kick our second, and Big Brother Bill took a strong mark to convert. Indecision in defence lead to their first, it was 19–7 when the siren rang. I felt confident we had their measure if we applied consistently, used our taller targets, and continued to win the ball first. Not allow them to play their game.

A bright opening to the second saw Wilson temporarily move from his tagging duties to take a pack mark, win a 50, and duly convert. But Ajax lifted, as they do, our field kicking turned ugly, and before you say Royal Derby Hotel, they hit the front. Just before the break, Kyroussis attacked feverishly in front of his hill supporters, and Lambert popped up in the square for a major. It was 31–27 our way at the break.

At the start of the third we dominated possession for 10 minutes, Wotherspoon having a lot of the ball up forward. However, we were playing like it’s been five or six weeks since we last played. Which it was. Our midfield marvels, Toohey and Ted Clayton were dominating the ball, and Ramshaw was providing 50-metre movement, frenetically exciting, but not quite finishing off his work. More bullocking, and a direct pathway to goal by Kyroussis saw Ted Clayton run on to a loose ball for a goal from the square. It was 39–35 our way at the huddle. The scene was set.

The coach didn’t want shallow entries, defend their short game, but we had to go deeper into attack. The stats board showed 17–8 inside 50s our way in the third quarter, a consistent theme throughout the game. Convert!

A goal to Curcio at the start of the last was denied by an umpire with vision better than anyone else in the precinct. Then an equally controversial decision went their way up the other end. We were now a point down, dominating play for little or no reward. The coach then made a decisive move, Bill Clayton went into the ruck, McKay went forward. Bill fed his brother and Toohey with deft touch, the latter meanwhile had negated their key mid from the action, winning the ball himself. It was a game of inches and points. Until a passage of play found Tauber about 40 out. He calmly, studiously, methodically pierced the big sticks, and then the persistence of Curcio found McKay in the square for a mark and goal. That was the other part of the coach switch.

We then chewed up the clock for a 56–44 victory and leapt into fourth spot. There were some great lessons today. An old Templestowe mate and mentor of mine, Gordon Coventry, son of the legendary Magpie icon Syd, once said to me: “Mate, you can’t beat youth.” I’ve never forgotten that. We have truckloads of hungry youth on our list, coupled with more mature adolescents and mid-20s who know their stuff, and love their club.

It's Rouge et Noir time again next Saturday at Uni Blacks. A great test of our improvement. Let’s see our colours prevail.

Guy Gorilla

Image: Phyllis Quealy

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