Hawks fall short as Rams pinch win
It was perfect conditions for playing footy on Sunday with a clear blue sky and plenty of sunshine and a hot 16C … perfect if you’re used to it.
For Woodenders who are used to grey skies and temperatures in single digits we needed a sombrero, welding goggles and sunscreen. A kite would’ve been handy too.
A 2.5 hour bus ride from Woodend enabled us to enjoy some downtime with Bushy giving history lessons, fillips of philosophy, and reminding everyone he’d turned 40 the day before.
In fact some of us even got a phone call on his birthday to remind us. That’s a sign of a good mate. Your wife isn’t going to call you on her birthday to remind you it’s her birthday, but Bushy will. What a top bloke.
Anyway, sixteen of our finest made the trip to Kerang on the bus with Woody being Woody and turning up after the game had started with Al riding shotgun.
The journey out to the Wandella footy club on the outskirts of Kerang saw the bus deviate off the highway and down a few dirt roads leaving us wandering if we’d been lured to our deaths – or some Kerang practical joke. There’s nothing there!!
But in the middle of nowhere is an awesome ground.
Green and big… and a wing with a slope high enough to enjoy views over the ground. It’s where Robbo set up a picnic on his own and gathered uncontested possessions all game.
Robbo’s ability to find space and gather possessions is impressive. You’d think he hadn’t bathed in weeks with no opponent willing to go near him… mind he did get a blood nose in the warm up after running face first into his teammate’s chest – a fine specimen of a teammate at that! So there is proof of one contested possession for the day.
For the first time we were undermanned and as such recruited our bus driver Jake and two Kerang players – Cannon and Ben – to fill the side, and we loaded up on Grippo.
Knowing we were going to be run off our feet the notion of slowing the game down to conserve energy was an early game plan. Then the game started. It wasn’t long before the mocking calls of “this is unsustainable!” were heard through the ranks. Jase will never live that call from Gisborne down.
Woodend controlled the ball early but a swirling wind made scoring difficult. Mango’s rucking with Watto and Showbag roving gave our forwards plenty of chances, but the ball was constantly floating offline and a scrap in our forward-50 would ensue.
Despite being late, Al and Woody made their presence known with Al’s bullish runs through the middle and Woody’s strong marking in defence.
McBride’s rhino-like presence on the wing saw him gathering plenty of possessions and driving the nut forward or simply just rugby tackling unsuspecting opponents.
The Rams scored the first goal after we missed a few shots in the blustery conditions but Hodor made a statement early nailing his first of five goals. We were all impressed with this marking target because he normally drops the mark and near crushes an opponent, or teammate.
He got a bit cocky when celebrating a rare mark and the big fell fist-pumped the air…. Then sprayed the shot on goal to well out of bounds on the full. His teammates did enjoy the laugh. His Tool nomination was stamped.
We went into the first break with a two-point lead.
The second quarter settled a bit and Razor, who’d been getting his hands dirty on the half forward flank setting up the forwards, crumbed (yes crumbed!) and slotted one himself.
We knew we’d hear about it later.
Razor: “Did you see my goal? I haven’t kicked a goal since 1992!”
Bushy: “Yeah, yeah … I was 15 then, did you know I turned 40 yesterday?”
This may be a slight embellishment. Razor didn’t bang on about his goal, but the big fella’s effort was rightly celebrated on the field.
Al was like a bull tearing up the centre of the ground and at some point got ahead of himself. Sure the Kerang fellas’ average age is high 40s and speed’s not their greatest asset, nor ours to be honest … but after witches-hatting four blokes he was nailed for holding the ball. It looked good until he was tackled. A bit like playing British Bulldogs as a kid with half a dozen in pursuit. More laughter was heard.
Showbag was again busy along the wing, and slotted a quality goal to not much fanfare. We were too busy talking about Razor’s goal. What a goal that was!
Both teams kicked 3.3 in the second quarter with the ball moving up and down the ground with the wind making shots on goal difficult.
Robbo was certainly robbed of a goal having again peeled away from a so-called opponent (Robbo says he was a direct opponent but we think he was just running to position) and snuck into the forward line and kicked truly, only to be denied. Razor is spewing as it would’ve gone down as his goal assist. The rest of us saw it as a match-winning goal.
Throughout the game the Hawks showed great skills when moving the ball out of defence with some smart handballing before hitting up a target, mostly Hodor. McBride had plenty of chances to score but opted to kick finger-breakers to the forwards. There will be a few wedding rings unable to be worn for a week or so thanks to Pete!
The last quarter was a battle of two tired teams desperate to take the win. Kerang nailed the first goal of the quarter to take a four-point lead. But the Hawks responded with Hodor putting us back in the lead. More chances came but scrambling bodies in the goal square saw us just miss an elusive sealer.
The Rams scored another and the pressure was on. Our fellas attacked and controlled the game but just couldn’t break clear to slot a goal. In a final crack, Mango tapped the ball out from the boundary throw in to be collected by Jacks who handpassed to Watto.
A goal beckoned but Watto was spent. The dishevelled look on his face said it all when he kicked a great pass to the opposition deep in our forward line, who cleared it away for the siren to sound. Kerang were winners by 2 points… or we won if we count Robbo’s goal. We’ll let them have it this time.
Watto’s and Mango’s games were top shelf and both looked stuffed on the siren.
Both clubs were rapt to have played a good honest game of super rules footy with great spirit, fairness and a lot of laughter throughout. They’re certainly great blokes and we look forward to playing them again next year.
A great after-match feed was put on and impressively the ladies were treated to some pampering, with a table dedicated to a manicure.
Having won the Milko award, Razor then began to win four bottles of wine after stocking up on raffle tickets. It was his day!
There was some slight player movement on the bus with Bushy subbed out and Al brought in. And we could all get a word in on the way home. The banter on the trip home was top shelf and we encourage more players to join us for away games like this as it’s truly team bonding and a chance of cracking a rib laughing.
A huge thanks to Deano for driving up to take care of trainer duties, and Fordey for taking over as our game day coach, runner and water boy!
Kerang-Swan Hill: 1.3 4.6 7.6 9.7 (61)
Woodend-Hesket: 1.5 4.8 7.10 8.11 (59)
Goals: Whiteman 5, Tadd, McDaniel, Kohne.
Best: Tadd, Watkins, Whiteman, Mango, McBride, McDaniel, Mitchell.
Milko Award (Best player): Ray Tadd
New Leaves Smart Play Award: Christian “Hodor” Whiteman
Woodend Nursery Award: Pete McBride
Tool of the Week: Christian “Hodor” Whiteman