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TWILIGHT TIME (The Platters)


Arriving at the Brunswick Street Oval at 2 pm is a break from my normal routine. The Thirds had just come off a one-point win in the early game, the Twos were on the park ready for combat, the Senior Men in club beanies with smiles on their faces. And a huge humming crowd eating up big from the barbie in readiness for the twilight top-of-the-table clash later on.

The Twos were significantly undermanned against physically superior opposition. However, there was no lack of effort, and the game was a great learning experience for many of our younger graduates. Truth is, player unavailability is playing havoc with our numbers and depth across all teams. We knew this was coming I guess, we are in the middle of reality right now.

At any rate, the Twos went down 61–29. They will be back on song in a week or two.

Five changes again confronted the Senior side. Doherty, Holmes, Parker, Roberts and Wilson were all out, every one of them injured. In came Curcio, Green, Kewell, Lester and Heath Ramshaw, courtesy of a Carlton VFL bye.

I took a snap of the three Ramshaw boys before the game. Heath, Laird and Keane, two of them playing together for the Fitzroy Men for the first time. Keane I’m sure will return to the Roys once he overcomes his leg injury.

I tried as hard as I could to get father John into the photo. He point blank refused, saying “this is about the boys”. John is a terrific Fitzroy man, now seeing the fruits of his Fitzroy Juniors labours.

Anyway, the game. St Bernards are on top of the ladder undefeated for a very good reason. They are very good. Could we challenge them with our undermanned playing stocks?

Heath Ramshaw had two possessions, a slip on the cricket pitch, and a shot at goal within 30 seconds. It was clear that he had come to play, not just go through the motions of someone coming ‘down’ a level.

Ted Clayton, as is his wont, seduced a free for a goal. They responded promptly with a chain of forced possessions. Ellis was defending well, the Ramshaws and the Claytons playing like brothers in arms, but we only had one Laidlaw.

Our forward conversions were an issue, because we were at least holding our own in general play, just not getting reward for effort. To validate the point, St Bernards goaled against the run. They duly converted again after  ill discipline upfield resulted in a 50 metre penalty. It was 22–9 their way at the first change.

Coach Mahoney urged positivity at the huddle, despite the deficit. We were matching them around the ground.

It was clear that the opposition were very slick with their hands, linking up in waves. Our pressure gauge was up, but we continued to turn the ball over.

Faubel was into everything, but we already knew that. Then Laird Ramshaw, prominent on a wing, Pyers darting in and out of traffic, combined to find McKay for a goal.

Unfortunately, they responded almost immediately. Even more unfortunately, Davie went down with what looked like a serious leg injury, with play stopping for a considerable period of time.

The question was: “Who would respond quickest after this break in play?”

Green was providing tons of endeavour in defence, and we were restricting their scoring. The problem was at the other end of the ground. 34–15 at the main break.

It was getting dark, sometimes too dark to see (thanks Bob), and I hope the lighting on the ground was better than from my spot in the stand.

At the start of the third, instead of slotting an easy goal from the goal square, we allowed them to swarm upfield for a two-goal turnaround.

Finally Heath Ramshaw goaled, but true to form they responded almost immediately. We kept trying to the max, but coughed the ball up regularly. In the ruck, Bill Clayton was toiling admirably.

Then Curcio entered the fray, leading up strongly for a couple of possessions. Tauber goaled from long range, and Curcio won a free and 50 to goal. It was back to a 14-point deficit. Could our willpower overcome them?

Predictably, testament to their class, St Bernards kicked three of the last four for the quarter, their running numbers overwhelming us at times.

In between times, Grace marked on the boundary and slotted a beauty from range. However, it was 69–40 at the final change.

We went into attack to find Heath Ramshaw at half forward. My journalist cum teacher mate Patty Smithers remarked that he was a bit ‘Bob Cunis’ as he went forward, his kick neither a shot at goal nor a pass. You work it out.

St Bernards kicked the opener, then Laidlaw snapped one after a Ramshaw run. My eyes were starting to trouble me, someone snapped another, I think it might have been Minahan, and through the mystic I reckon I saw Heath Ramshaw handball to his little brother Laird for a goal. Ted Clayton swerved one through after a strong mark, as did Megennis.

It was back to 14 points and try as we might to bridge the gap further, Father Time intervened.

As I write this Sunday morning ‘coming down’, the VAFA website has the final margin at eight points, yesterday evening it was 29 points, the Fitzroy Facebook page has it 13 points, so I’m not 100% sure. I’ll plonk for somewhere between 13 and 14.

We are currently second on the ladder, two games and percentage clear of sides third, fourth and fifth, three games clear of sixth. There are three games left in the home and away season.

Simply put, we need a win.

We travel to St Bedes Mentone next Saturday. Let’s take the same effort, the same willpower down south, along with improved forward conversion, and that victory will be ours.

Guy Gorilla

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