Fitzroy's senior men had their first win of 2019 on a ground which hasn't made for happy hunting in the past. Guy Gorilla was on hand to see a display full of skill, grit and commitment.
It was a long haul down to Mentone, but as I explained to my younger passengers, nothing like what you get playing bush footy. Baby Gorilla next to me watching the Celtics on the phone, we picked up Sunny Once-So-True, and dealt with St Georgeous Road. Hideous. Detoured up to High St, and the traffic back-up was higher than High. Then Punt Road. The mood in the car was not ideal. The teens wanted Boston; I wanted the calm sobriety of the Coodabeens. Teens always win.
On arrival, a strangely shaped ground, blustery conditions, some kinda heavy metal, hard rock scenario in front of the stand, and ship container rooms half a mile away from the arena. The 2s were giving their all, outplaying Bede's in what I saw of the second half. With that effort, a win is just around the corner.
Another two outs from Thursday night, Harrison Grace picking up an infection from Latrobe Uni, and Matt Kyroussis with a suspected busted hand. That's on top of Aidan Lambert and Mitch Bottomley. Importantly, Matthew Gaite returned, in post-Samoan engagement slumber, along with Max Davie, William 'Zorro' Zaghis and crowd favourite Martin Deasey. I must admit, with the car trip, the weather, the ground, the outs, I wasn't super confident. Baby Gorilla thought otherwise, he was convinced we'd get over the line. Teens always win.
And what transpired, was a victory for the ages, for the true believers. In an ominous warning for the Bede's, the Claytons combined for our first, Bill from the stoppage to Ted, true boot. Luke Baker bullocked for our second, after the Gaitor made a great contest. Captain Turner was working a treat in the middle, free from the shackles of a pinned down forward post. Lachie Henderson charged from the centre to pass to Luke Baker for another goal that the adjudicator decided wasn't. Meanwhile, the defence was working cohesively up the other end. Umpire Marshall then awarded a free, 100 metres off the ball to Nathan Jumeau, he calmly slotted another. He clearly enjoyed the extra space and freedom of a roaming role, given that the Gaitor was causing panic attacks every time it came near him.
Controlled aggression was unsettling the Bede's boys, tackling and smothering the centrepiece of our game plan. Sean Laidlaw was also proving a real pest. A super clever snap from Jumeau, and a pass to Rosco Borland led to our 4th and 5th goals. Our smothering caused constant turnovers, Jock Green took a strong mark in defence, and Reverse Samson Hart plucked one in attack. Didn't kick like Samson, however. 31-1 at the break, could have been even more, I felt reserved, but inwardly ecstatic. We were on.
The coach engendered confidence at the break. Focus on the stoppages and lower the eyes. He is a gun, the coach – calm, measured, inspires confidence and trust, knows his stuff. We wondered what end the wind was favouring.
It was clear that Bede's focused heavily on creating spares. We were honest and forthright. The question was how sustainable that was. They were coming, with an extra sense of urgency, but the Gaitor converted big time from the outside of his foot. A gem. Nathan Ligris performed the double ‘Ligga shuffle’ in the middle, and then Luke Baker's triple effort led to a goal. The Bede's were shaky in defence, but they kicked a couple against the run of play. The last 10 minutes of the endless second quarter was rolling pack after rolling pack. Then Big Bill marked strongly on the 50, and calmly goaled. 52-31 at half time.
As the second half commenced, in the early minutes, a thought occurred. We play FOR each other; they play ALONGSIDE each other. You can't bottle that sort of stuff. The Gaitor slotted another, so clever, and Nathan the Nomad converted from 50. A bit of drizzle, younger Bedes converged to the stand. But on the ground, they were creeping closer. The free kick count was not working in our favour, our own miskicks costly, it was 65-52 at the last break, and nerves elevating.
Coach Mahoney epitomised cool, trust, convinced the group they were favoured by the breeze, no big asks, work the way we had. Zorro kicked one after sustained pressure – he strikes with the sign of the 'Z'. Deasey committed the odd sin, but always buttered up. The Bede's persisted, another goal, they were edging closer, and I was getting too nervous to write notes down. Nervous Guy.
A sensational kick-in from Jacob Long, who had been exemplary all day, found Big Bill on the outer wing, on to Max Davie and a run-in goal. Frenetic forward pressure caused a turnover, and the Nomad kicked his fourth. Another great mark to the Gaitor. We were home.
Honest, competitive contesting is not always easily coached. It requires a committed playing group. We were honest in the extreme, effort rewarded.
A brief mention of Bill Clayton's game. The best game I have observed from a Fitzroy player in the relatively short time I've been watching the men. Not built to dominate the ruck, he did anyway. Calmly tapping to his little-big brother, and then when the opposition woke to that, decided to clear it himself. Maybe a dozen stoppage clearances alone. A huge game. Marks, tackles, taps, clearances, a huge presence. (Bill is pictured above leading the team off after the win).
The scene in the container was pure joy. '22 warriors giving their all' (a tribute to Mike Williamson), a proud coaching group, overjoyed supporters. Pack that container up, put it on a slow boat to China, you could buy the Chinese economy.
A victory for the true believers. Let's not leave it there. Get on a roll, knock over the students at Monash tomorrow.
PS - for those heading out to Frearson Oval at Monash Uni tomorrow for the senior game, due to renovations of their club rooms, the post match function will be at the Notting Hill Hotel.
Fitzroy Youth Girls set to make history tonight at BSO
When Fitzroy’s Youth Girls run on to Brunswick Street under lights tonight, they’ll be adding another important chapter to the history of the traditional home of the famous Fitzroy Football Club.
Friday’s game will be the first competition game played at the ground under lights.
The Fitzroy Football Club and Fitzroy Junior Football Clubs have been working with the City of Yarra with funding awarded by the State Government, to ensure additional games can be played on Brunswick Street Oval.
Expanding the opportunities for women to play football in Melbourne’s inner city was a central plank to a successful bid for funding under the State Government’s Pick My Project grant round, which was awarded on the basis of public vote and announced late last year.
Tonight the Fitzroy Youth Girls will be the first to play under lights. Planning Minister and Member for Richmond, the Hon Richard Wynne MP, and Cr Danae Bosler, Mayor of the City of Yarra, will be part of the proceedings as the upgraded lights are used for their intended purpose.
“This is a wonderful result which sees the public wishes come to life, but very importantly expands on the opportunities for our women and girls to play more football at the main home ground of Fitzroy Football Club,” said Fitzroy President, Joan Eddy.
“We’re extremely proud of the work we’ve put into this but it would not have been possible without the generous funding of the State government and the hard work of the City of Yarra, who have ensured we have the required 100 lux lighting to enable our players to play safely.”
Fitzroy Junior Football Club President, Phil Murdoch, said he was thrilled the Fitzroy junior girls – the future of women’s football – would be the ones who would get the first opportunity to play under lights at Brunswick Street.
“Our female players will be leading the way this Friday night and this game is just another sure sign of the growing commitment to ensuring women and girls get equal access to play the game they love.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved to this point and invite the whole community to come down, see the game and cheer on the teams."
The Fitzroy-ACU Senior women will be part of a guard of honour as the Youth Girls side runs on for their historic game against Surrey Park.
Come along and be part of history tonight.
Unders over the moon
A comprehensive win by Fitzroy's Under 19s has kept them in touch with the competition leaders in Under 19 Division 1.
The 85-point away win over Old Haileybury was their second in a row and it was smiles all round in the rooms afterwards, as captured in this photo by assistant coach, Mel Story.
Pasquale Curcio, who is in a bit of a purple patch, kicked four goals and Ariel Baressi also chimed in with four. Marcel Laidlaw was best on ground.
It was a result the other way for the Under 23s, who went down by 82 points to Old Scotch at Ramsden Street. Will O'Connor kicked Fitzroy's two goals for the day, with Matty Bell and Harry Dorat-Thorpe continuing their strong form in tough conditions.
Tomorrow both sides play at home at Ramsden Street, so if you are local, get on down to see some of the Fitzroy young talent in action.
One up, one down as Roy Girls go back to the drawing board
The Fitzroy-ACU Senior Women’s side faces a stiff challenge tomorrow as they take on the top side, West Brunswick away.
With one win in four games, the Roy Girls are starting to lose touch with the ladder leaders and are currently sitting in the relegation zone.
Facing a very strong Old Trinity side at Vic Park last week, they couldn’t back up the great win over Melbourne University.
A slow start was very costly as they went into the main break down 30 points to nil and then pretty much came out and evened the contest in the second half. The final score was 6.10.46 to 2.2.14.
Teresa Zampaglione continued her strong form and was best on ground, while Alexa Madden, Claudia Bell, Gemma Minuz and Jess Hayes played the tough brand of footy we’ve come to expect from them. Amelie Lay continues to go about her business and has been extremely influential so far this season. Emma Delaney and Emilie Goegan kicked Fitzroy’s goals.
Meanwhile, the Fitzroy-ACU Reserves have added their second win of the season and pushed into the top four in a low scoring affair with Old Trinity, where they found a way to win, 2.1.13 to 1.2.8.
It was a huge welcome back to Tess Plant-Thomas who was best on ground in her first game and kicked one of the goals. In fact her form has her stepping straight up for senior selection this week. Emily Fitt and Shannon Alexander also played strong games. Jess Anticaglia kicked Fitzroy’s other goal.
There are some very good inclusions this week to help boost the senior team. Tash Ross Harris comes back after a week out at a wedding and Lucy Kerr will also had some strength around the packs.
Thank you again to Peter Harrison for these great shots from Victoria Park on Saturday.
Book your table for the Fitzroy Trivia Night
Start studying your bands from the 80s, your Oscar and your Brownlow winners, as you warm up for Fitzroy's trivia night on Saturday 25 May in the community rooms at Brunswick Street Oval.
Word on the street is our Senior Assistant Coach, Michael Manley, runs a pretty mean trivia night. He kept our teams on their toes at the pre-season camp, but this trivia night is open to all.
Get your teams and team names ready and book in early to avoid disappointment. This is a great night for players, supporters and friends to engage in a little friendly competition, with a wide range of questions to test your trivia game.
Tables of 10 make up a team, but you can book individually too. We have only 100 seats and some excellent prizes, so don’t miss out. Last year it was a sell out.
It continues to be a big week for Fitzroy players as the VFLW sides take to the park for the second half of Round 1 and Fitzroy-ACU 2018 Best and Fairest winner, Erin Gogerly, takes to the ground with Essendon for the first time, named at full forward for tomorrow's game against the Casey Demons.
Erin joins Alexa Madden on the Essendon list. Lucy Kerr is on the Casey Demons' list and Sarah King is with Collingwood, There are four other Fitzroy-ACU listed players who are aligned with VFLW clubs, but who haven't yet played games for Fitzroy – Eloise Ashley-Cooper (Essendon), Emily Bliss (Collingwood), Katrina Neumann Stone (Carlton) and Nell Morris Dalton (Darebin Falcons and Northern Knights).
Meanwhile the prodigal daughter, Tash Ross-Harris, hasn't taken long to make her mark on the Premier Women's competition, gaining selection in the VAFA's Big V women's squad this week.
She wasn't the only one impressing selectors. The Under 19s VAFA Big V squad was also announced. It was no surprise to see senior premiership player Jack Hart named in the side, as he has taken all before him since coming into our senior team last year. In just a few short games, Jock Green appears to be doing likewise and has been named alongside Harrison Grace. Congratulations to all three.
The womens and under 19s Big V sides, when named, will play against Vic Country at Elsternwick Park on 8 June, over the Queen's Birthday weekend.
Plenty of man love as the Thirds take to BSO tomorrow
The Fitzroy Thirds take on St Bede's/Mentone Tigers tomorrow at Brunswick Street Oval at 11.40am in their only scheduled game at the main ground this year.
Coming off their first loss of the season and playing on a ground they love, the team is sure to step up.
In the lead in to the game, we asked Coach Trent Coleman to tell us a bit about his two charges who hit the magical 100 games mark in recent weeks and it was nothing but man-love, especially for captain Tim De Natris. Trent says his captain brings to the team a real ‘Roy spirit of ‘never say die’.
“He has earnt the respect of the boys – and me – leading by example on and off the field as well as by offering up solid ideas in real time as how to fix any issues we are having on game day. And he’s not a bad bloke either.
“I think the thing the team loves about him is that he’s so approachable and his ability to get the boys up and about by slotting goals. He’s a hard-leading forward with a fantastic ability to read the ball mid-flight.
“He probably already knows this, but a few of the boys would also kill for that smile of his.”
Trent pointed out that despite the smile and the guns that would put most in the team to shame, Tim is actually a very modest bloke.
Owain Dunn also reached 100 games for the Thirds last week and Trent also had praise for his long-time charge, who he described as a ‘little hardnut’ in the midfield. He was a 2012 Premiership player and Trent says, being a real smart arse helps him fit right in with the Thirds.
But in all seriousness, Trent says the expectations are high this year for his team, having made the preliminary finals in 2018. “We don’t want to take a backwards step, but rather to take a massive leap forward. We have improved greatly each year and I (like the boys, I think it’s fair to say) expect that to continue as the hard work that has already be laid on the track is really beginning to pay off.”
If you're in Fitzory tomorrow and keen to see a fantastic standard of local community footy, the Thirds won't let you down. Come across and check out their form at Brunswick Street.
Don't miss lunch with Hung Le
There are just a few more days to book in for the Reds Foundation lunch with Hung Le next Saturday as Fitzroy plays host to Beaumaris.
By the time it gets to election day, we might all be keen for a laugh and comedian Hung Le has taken up the challenge of headlining this year’s Reds Foundation Political Lunch on Saturday 18 May at Brunswick Street Oval.
Hung Le is a former violinist turned comedian who first made his mark in 1987 as the winner of the TV show, Hey, Hey, It’s Saturday’s Red Faces. Hung is also an author, actor and all-round song and dance man. He is a favourite at the Montreal “Just for Laughs” Comedy Festival, Edinburgh Festival and Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Hung’s memoir, The Crappiest Refugee was published with Affirm last year.
Hung may well touch on the Federal election, refugee policies and the comedy of politics and you can be guaranteed to have a good time leading into Fitzroy’s all-important clash with Beaumaris.
Book now for one of the most popular lunches of the year with the Reds Foundation.
Bookings close Wednesday 15 May.
This weekend's games
Fitzroy Thirds v St Bede's Mentone Tigers – VAFA Thirds Division 1 – Brunswick Street Oval, 11.40am, Saturday 11 May
Fitzroy Under 23s v St Bernard's – VAFA Under 23s – Ramsden Street Oval, 11.40am, Saturday 11 May
Monash Blues v Fitzroy Reserve Men – VAFA Premier B Reserves – Frearson Oval, 11.40am, Saturday 11 May
West Brunswick v Fitzroy-ACU Reserve Women – VAFA Premier Reserve Women’s – McAlister Oval, Parkville, 12pm, Saturday 11 May
Fitzroy Under 19s v Collegians – Holmesglen U19 Division 1 – Ramsden St Oval, 2.pm, Saturday 11 May
Monash Blues v Fitzroy Senior Men – VAFA Premier B Seniors – Frearson Oval, 2pm, Saturday 11 May
West Brunswick vFitzroy-ACU Senior Women – VAFA Premier Women’s – McAlister Oval, Parkville, 2pm, Saturday 11 May