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I'm often asked this question when out visiting fellow gorillas when on leave from the zoo. I almost always decline. Strange, because I normally like a drink. I reckon I’ve worked out why I decline.

I don’t really like Old Scotch the team. I mean they’ve done nothing really to offend me, nor our club. I guess it’s what they stand for. That’s VAFA Premier division, and the truth is that while we’re giving our all and competing above our station, it’s just so difficult to get the four points.

First time around against OS back in Round 2, the Roys were competitive for three quarters, but ran out of class, gas and discipline in the last.

Four changes for the Roys: McShane, Nelson and debutants Winstanley and Johnstone came in for Bombardieri, Johnson, Megennis and Staples. Our depth was being tested, especially in the middle of the ground.

Cool and overcast conditions, dry surface. The Roys ran out to the song. Charlie Faubel followed about 100 metres and 30 seconds later. It gave me a good vibe, Charlie’s a different cat. Then veteran Julian Turner ran out a minute later and hurdled the fence. Dunno. He calls me ‘Buckles’; ask him why.

The game. We matched OS early, but kicked minor scores. The opposition missed from 25, but were given another chance further up the ground. This pattern of lime green decision-making recurred during the afternoon. A minute or so later, another penalty was applied to gift OS a second goal. Either I missed the email, or something was going on.

We needed to maintain discipline and focus on what we could control.

Hart was presenting strongly, and Ligris was backing up his Big V aspirations with cool aplomb. Kewell then found Faubel for our first.

The Roys were now hunting as they should but OS went end to end for their fourth. Elevated pressure saw McKay snap truly for our second.

32–14 their way at the first break, we were competitive but careless. ‘Careless’, a great Paul Kelly tune, "how many notes in a saxophone".

Coach Ronaldson preached man on man, 18 on 18 at the break, and that we were a much better side when we had our hands on the football. Too true!

For reasons unknown, at least for those watching, OS were gifted another simple shot for goal at the start of the second. We then went end to end to find Turner who artfully dodged 2 or 3 times to snap a major. In his mind, he hurdled the fence again to celebrate.

A vigorous centre bounce clearance saw Haward find McShane in unfamiliar territory. He marked and goaled Royce Hart-like. It was back to 12 points.

The adjudications were not going in favour of the underdog, let me tell you. And I’m not whinging or bashing.

Wright was defending well, not just saying that because his mum was a couple of metres away in the stand. Most of his defensive comrades followed his lead.

McShane then presented front and centre again, and slotted a long, beautiful left footer. Lowrie re-entered the fray and his fuse was lit. I could tell.

The OS game plan had been reduced to needle-threading, but finally they sowed up a shot from 20 metres. The siren rang, the goal was kicked, but denied by the central umpire. No one really knew why, we were all left to summise and assume over cakes, sausage rolls and samosas in the community rooms at half time. 42–33 their way, a good quarter for the Roys.

Can the Roys persist? Maintain the rage? Can the midfield continue their contribution? In the third, as in the previous half, Kewell was proving to be a solid contributor, unassuming and committed.

The third saw OS gradually build dominance. Our forwards couldn’t provide reward, we needed our keys to step up. Harvey goaled out of a ruck infringement, but it was 70–44 at the final change. We’d need a lot to go right to win.

OS clearly realised that swift ball movement would do damage against our undermanned midfield. They goaled at regular intervals, and it was a similar last quarter scenario to round two.

I decided to put the pen away, and informed Ms Wright that I’d reached the point where nothing productive could be written. She nodded knowingly. It was 109–51 at the final siren. Disappointing.

Next Saturday, the Roys are at home again to St Bernards. Our contest with them in Round 1 should have delivered four points. Should, would, could, hope: all apology words. To quote the great John Kennedy, "DO".

Guy Gorilla, the ‘Old Scotch Denier’.

Images courtesy Phyllis Quealy

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