Under 11 Division 2

Elimination Final

West Footscray vs Flemington Juniors

 

Finals are special. The old blokes say that’s when the real stuff starts. We wouldn’t know. We have never done it before. I should also point out that old blokes say a lot of stuff. Some of it factual, a fair bit of it made up, a little bit of it just weird and confusing but 100% of it is exaggerated. With this in mind I set out for Wyndhamvale with an open mind. It’s too hard to think of anything at that time of day on a Sunday anyway. 8:50 start? Surely a typo. Amateurs! Just in case I had pestered Bec and all the parents with a mountain of emails to remind them of the importance of punctuality at this time of the season (on the advice of some old bloke). We overtook the Thomas family just as we entered the freeway on route to the ground. Their car may have 67 HDMI inputs in the dashboard alone, yet it as no match for my new ute and my tendency to arrive everywhere at least 30 minutes ahead of schedule (insert the sound of Amy sighing). After reaching a top speed of 150+ kph on the freeway and running every red light we arrived at the ground. I was super pleased to see just how many had beaten me there. I was also super pleased to discover the benefit of playing the early game. You get a car park! This was of massive advantage as I was stricken with that nasty virus that is doing the rounds and couldn’t really be fagged walking too far. With the knowledge that the season could end within an hour or two I dragged by highly infectious body out of the car and towards the rooms in what was clearly the most superhuman, courageous, stoic and selfless act the 20 or so people at the ground would see before 9 am (for all screenplay rights enquiries, please see me at the conclusion of training on Friday).

Anyway, enough about me for now. All were available for our very first final with the exception of Angus. I had lost my ruckman. Not a great start as he had played a blinder the week before. That’s ok though. Yash can do it. He wasn’t there yet either! Thankfully he did arrive 20 minutes before the game.  Ironically his mum would be our timekeeper for the day! (Great Job Sri. That time on stuff did my head in when I read it!) He also had the wrong shorts on! Thankfully Leroy had packed spares. A warm up on the paddock then back into the rooms. The boys looked pretty excited by finals football. We emphasised the one percenters. Tackle, run, Shepherd and talk. They listened intently completely unaware that my gravelly voice, breath and it’s highly contagious contents had the capability to get them a week off school. A good coach will do that! Talking time is over. Let’s do this finals football thing!

Courtesy of a favourable coin toss we would kick with the wind in the first.  Weston would start at full forward to see if we could snag a few early ones and to ensure his ankle was up to playing a game. Leroy would also go forward to add a little steel to our forward half. The ball was bounced and Yash attacked the bounce with vigour. Felix attacked it on the ground with all he had. The boys had been instructed to play with more width today. The ball was continually fed out wide to Kadin and Christian and they were not wasting it. Christian played a fantastic first quarter. He showcased his usual run and clean disposal but had added some serious defensive work to his game. Kadin glided through traffic and set up his team mates further afield. Leroy had the Flemington boys thinking twice before taking possession. Jack was in everything. His attack on the ball was brilliant and he drove it forward repeatedly. Yash and Felix were doing the same and our forwards were seeing plenty of it. Weston may well have faked his ankle injury to get a run at full forward. He was moving beautifully! Half way through the first he gathered the ball and turned a few opponents inside out before snapping a beauty on his left. Great play! Several minutes later he hit Elijah Moon on the chest with a cracking pass from the forward pocket. E-M went back and coolly slotted our second to continue his great form of recent weeks. Vinh was proving why he had been so dearly missed with his injured finger. Cool as ice under pressure with great skills and decision making, he was controlling the game from the midfield and repeatedly setting us up. Flemington had their chances in the first but were unable to break our back six.  Cooper and Frank mopped up everything. The tackling in defence was outstanding with Samuel, Zack and Xavier leading the way.  Time after time we turned defence into attack. Kadin and Christian were killing it on their wings. Just before the siren Jack would find the ball with time and space inside our 50. That’s bad news for any team and Flemington would be no exception. Bang! His first and our third. Great Quarter Roosters.

Quarter Time     West Footscray 3.0.18 vs Flemington 0.0.0

The second term would see some tweaks made to the team. The wind was really blowing now and defending against it would be tough. Weston went to half back to help us clear the ball. Flemington were enjoying the wind and looked far more likely to score. Aleks was great at centre half back taking some great marks under pressure and sending the pill back our way.  Aaron deployed the golden fist on numerous occasions. Yash was pushing back deep from the ruck and was having a serious influence on the game. He is great in the ruck contests and plays like a midfielder when it hits the ground.  Felix is magnetically attracted to the leather. He was at every contest and exerting his influence as well. Xavier produced his weekly effort of dropping an opponent of twice his size in a tackle to win a free. As is often the case he hurt himself in the process. Great team play Xavier. I don’t know whether to applaud it or discourage it! Flemington did manage two goals with the breeze but were forced to defend regularly. Mickey has become a large presence in our forward line this year and this game would be no exception. He is a great lead with the surest of hands. He locks it in if he can’t mark and often wins it back. His efforts in the first half were awesome. Murphy was running hard on his flank to provide options. Sean was getting his knees dirty with some acts of desperation to win the ball. Nathaniel would find himself in a two on two late in the term. He flew for the mark and then followed it up on the ground. His fantastic shepherd allowed Jack the time he needed to gather and shoot. A great goal that came about from brilliant team play. Perfect Nathaniel. Absolutely Perfect. A goal into the breeze would be worth plenty today.

 

Half Time             West Footscray 4.1.25 vs Flemington 2.3.15

 

The mood in the huddle at the long break was positive and infectious. So was the breath of the coach whose voice was now starting to desert him. This is the quarter when we can put them away. We have the wind so let’s go for the jugular (metaphorically of course!). Goals were wanted. Jack went to full forward. Weston into the middle. The wind was really blowing now. It favoured our end slightly but was doing us no favours. Christian lined up from 25 out only to have the wind blow the ball away from his foot as he kicked. Jack suffered the same fate minutes later. The ball was coming in often enough but we just couldn’t land one. Zach was playing forward this term and laid some great tackles to lock it in. Is it just me or his getting quicker and quicker as this season progresses? Great work Zach. Murf got a few hurried kicks forward. Felix was amazing. Weston pin point. Sas and Tito looked likely to snag one but just couldn’t get it done thanks to the wind and the determined Flemington defence. Flemington did occasionally make it forward. This raids were short lived as Cooper and Frank mopped up repeatedly whilst Aleks weaved his way out of trouble on numerous occasions. We were still searching for a goal. It would come off the boot of Yash who gathered the ball at pace and smacked it through the middle to continue his brilliant game.

 

3 Quarter Time  West Footscray 5.4.34 vs Flemington 2.4.16

 

3 goals was a sizable lead given the scores at the last change. Would it be enough? I wasn’t going to take the chance of it not so I became the coach I despise in junior football. I played a loose defender! Would my shame be worth it? I hoped so. Jack and Weston had a back flank each. Cooper went to the middle. Mickey would be our loose. The last quarter was desperate. Flemington tried time after time to break through but couldn’t do it. Weston was always in the right spot and used it brilliantly coming back out. Yash and Felix showed no signs of fatigue in the middle. Aaron was a wall. Cooper a machine. Vinh played with the poise of a veteran. The boys looked determined to live another week and Flemington had their enthusiasm drain away with each unsuccessful attempt to score. The tackling and shepherding was fantastic. This pattern would continue for the entire last term. Neither team would manage a score. The siren sounded and signalled the end of a great season for Flemington.  We were still alive!

 

Full Time              West Footscray 5.4.34 vs Flemington 2.4.16

 

A great performance by our boys in their first ever final. There were nothing but smiles as they headed back to the rooms. Sanctuary Lakes and “The Lump” would be their next challenge. That could wait though as the song needed to be sung. “Take it away Felix!”

 

Damian

 

 

Qualifying Final: U13’s West Footscray V Sunshine

 

At last the finals have arrived. I am sure many of the players have been thinking about this week for a while now. Everyone was at the ground in time (thank you). Most of the team squeezed into some smaller (harder to tackle) jumpers as we looked for every advantage. Tim got around to each player with some instructions for the game. Finals can require some extra leadership on the field, and two of our best leaders in Samuel and Liam were announced as co-captains to cheers from the team.  These boys epitomise all that is good about Roosters footy and there is no doubt when these boys are ‘on’, the rest of the team follow their lead.  We love the way they play their footy and know when they are in possession of the ball, a sense of calm comes across not only the team, but also the supporter base.  We look forward to them leading the charge toward premiership glory.  The Roosters seemed switched on as they charged out onto the ground.

 

1st Quarter

The wind was still blowing strongly across the ground but the sun was out and the ground looked big and fast that should suit the Roosters. Finals are usually tough games and defence is usually the key to any victory. Sunshine got the first clearance and within a minute they had kicked the first goal. We had loaded our backline with experience in Leo, Lenny and Daniel and they didn’t panic – before long they had clamped down on Sunshine’s forwards and you can see from the final result what that means for the team. Isaac C started the game well with some good possessions and lots of work on the ‘windy’ wing. Navindu was switched on today using his pace and attack on the ball from half back. Alex started in the ruck and played a strong game all day against some big opponents. Zidane and Liam were strong in the contests and tackling Sunshine’s key play makers. The ball had spent some time in our forward line before Samuel cruised through half forward and got us on the board with a long goal. Diesel was fast and fearless as usual and was rewarded with two excellent goals, and before the quarter was done we were back in front 3. 2. 20 to 1. 0. 6.

 

2nd Quarter

Juma, Lockie and Isaac T were swung into the action to give us some fresh energy and keep the pressure right on Sunshine. Ben was playing the wing on the attacking side really well giving us plenty of options to switch play and launch attacks. The umpires were good at rewarding the player in first to the ball and Henry collected his share of free kicks today, as well as winning plenty of the ball from running hard all day. Kailey and Luis presented well across half forward threatening to open the game up. Liam and Socrates gave everything to the contest and also did the job this quarter on the scoreboard with a goal each.

Half time and the Roosters had the result 5. 4. 34 to 1. 2. 8, but the game didn’t feel easy.

 

3rd Quarter

The arm wrestle continued mostly around the east side of the ground thanks to the wind – that boundary umpire was working overtime. Sunshine kicked the first goal of the quarter and the pressure was on. The Roosters were playing smarter and harder football though just couldn’t convert with 5 straight points, it looked like it was going to be a tense last quarter. Just before the quarter ended Jonathan suddenly found the key to unlock the coop – grabbing the ball in traffic he sold the candy 1… 2… 3 times in a row (even ankle breaking the great Gi Gi – ask the boys what that means) before finishing with the goal of the day. The team all got around him and the energy went off the scale. Zidane ripped the ball from the next centre bounce and the Roosters were flying. Another goal to Socrates just before the siren saw the Roosters finally take control of the game. 7. 9. 51 to 2. 2. 14.

 

4th Quarter

The energy continued into the last quarter. Daniel gathering cleanly to repel Sunshine attacks. Hamish also gaining confidence as the game went on with some good possessions. Sunshine managed a couple of points, which just gave Samuel a chance to reload from the kick in and launch another offensive around the attacking side of the ground. The ball was spending a lot of time in our forward half now and Alex got on the end of one while resting at full forward. Jonathan also kicked another from a loose ball in the goal square. Abdullahi came to life in the forward pocket with his evasive skills and a great mark running back with the flight – his shot hitting the post. Abdullahi’s best play was a centring kick to Liam from the boundary, who went back and kicked an excellent goal in the wind. Bailey was also applying great pressure in our forward line with some tough contests to lock the ball in. Diesel wasn’t done either yet, having run the Sunshine players ragged all day, he took this burst ‘ALL THE WAY’ and slotted the Roosters fourth for the quarter. Sunshine did keep battling to their credit and were rewarded with another goal before the end.

 

Great start to the finals campaign! The team should be very proud of their season so far. Next week is another big challenge against Sunshine Heights but the team should take some confidence from this first win and the knowledge that they can play really good team football when the pressure is on.

 

Huge appreciation for the boys asked to do the team thing today.  The point was made in the post-match address that all 22 are required to play their role in order for the team to achieve success and that will mean sometimes more out of position play will be required, or heavier rotation through the bench.  Having now guaranteed at least 3 finals, the opportunity to swing players will be greater and different roles will be assigned at various stages.  Credit to the boys for taking these challenges on and who knows what can be achieved – needless to say, exciting times are ahead.

 

Thanks to all the supporters on the day, particularly this weeks’ helpers: Con & Arjuna (double the security), Liza & Kris (the Lakusa water team), Briohny (great job handling time-on with the clock), medico Margriet, and Andrea with the fruit and jumpers (never enough football). Also good to see Jack running the game out on his dodgy calf. Well done Tim on your calm and motivating approach to coaching the whole team. Look forward to seeing you all next week.

 

Roosters 11. 10. 76 def Sunshine 3. 4. 22

 

Goals: Diesel 3, Liam 2, Socrates 2, Jonathan 2, Samuel 1, Alex 1