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

Tough month, but encouraging signs


Saturday morning, I scan my phone and the fixture says ‘Brighton Beach Oval’. Well, let me tell you, the BBO is not remotely anywhere near a game of footy at the BSO.

And I don’t just mean geographically (although having the Nepean Highway closed on the drive down didn’t help on that front).

One side of BBO is flanked by huge houses with even huger floor-to-ceiling front windows. Looking across the other wing, it’s million-dollar yachts on the bay and a pavilion that in every way resembles a surf lifesaving club.

Then there’s the Old Brighton team sheet, with a list of surnames that reads like a roll call of Robert Menzies’ cabinet.

I arrive just in time to see the Twos slam on three quick goals to get themselves in the contest during the third quarter, but it ends up being the only three goals they kick for the game. Still, good to see the likes of Johnstone and Butler pushing their cause for promotion, and young guys like Larkin and Winstanley producing some pleasing moments.

The seniors run out, and in a stirring pre-game moment the entire playing and coaching groups from both clubs – plus the umpires – link arms and form a huge circle inside the centre square in a consolidated stance condemning violence against women.

There was a noticeable lack of breeze as both teams dispersed for their warm ups, which was a blessing given BBO has a reputation of being up there with Williamstown and Sandringham as one of the most windswept footy grounds in Melbourne.

When the game gets under way, Fitzroy looks switched on for the contest against the top team.

The Roys’ tackling, pressure and intensity were commendable, and led to the opening goal inside two minutes when Faubel snapped his set shot after a free kick from 40 metres on the boundary.

But the flip side was that unforced turnovers were haunting the Roys, and directly led to three quick goals for Old Brighton.

Late in the first quarter, Kewell – whose 50-game milestone this week drew an outpouring of the kind of adoring tributes usually reserved for a nun’s eulogy – intercepted a Brighton defensive switch kick and goaled to reduce the margin to 19 points at the first change.

There were a couple of excellent goals in the second quarter: one a Laidlaw crumb and snap, the other the result of a super gather, dash and pass from defender Lowrie.

But at half time it was clear that the Roys were working hard for every score, whilst at least half the home team’s goals came from unforced errors and silly free kicks by Fitzroy. The loss of Hart and Davie to injury didn’t help.

In the third term Old Brighton showed what it takes to stamp yourself as a quality A-section team. They played cleaner, sharper and smarter football and delivered with all the efficiency of a Vietnamese bakery.

The Roys fought out the match gamely. Minahan, Johnson and Ramshaw were the most prominent midfielders, while the backline unit was solid, led by Vlassopoulos, Ligris and Seakins. McKay was on top in the ruck, while Faubel, Laidlaw and Nelson had influential moments. Up front, Harvey and Megennis presented and competed throughout.

At the end of the day, this was the undefeated top team, playing on their own patch and looking as slick as any team we’ve seen at the premier level.

The Roys had a decent crack but after the match, as the players made their way across the road to the beach for their recovery session (did I mention this was not remotely Brunswick Street Oval?) some were probably slightly disheartened to be 0–4 after the first month of the season.

But there is an old footy saying for tough times like this: Feeling discouraged? Encourage another.

If the Roy boys can draw upon that, keep their intensity up, their pressure up, and their spirits up, they might just draw even more encouragement by notching up their first win of the season at home this Saturday against Old Melburnians.

Garry Gorilla

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