WEST FOOTSCRAY ROOSTERS – Under 9 Reds vs. Yarraville/Seddon – Round Two – 23/4/17.


I’m not sure who’s to blame. The WRFL for scheduling junior games at Easter or the Easter Bunny for scheduling Easter in footy season! You can’t fill the kids up on sugar and then not give them a footy to chase after, it doesn’t make sense. Anyway, I was hoping that they would hunt the ball with the same intensity that they would hunt for eggs. Fearless, merciless, ravenous all sprang to mind.


Shorten Reserve was bathed in glorious sunshine for ANZAC round, a far cry from the soggy depths of round one. Oscar’s Grandfather had passed away two days earlier and was wearing a black armband as a mark of respect; the decision was made that his team mates would wear the arm band also and had their photo taken out on the ground together. Nice touch Roosters and a nice tie in to the ANZAC spirit, well done.


Round Two would pit the Little Red Roosters against the Yarraville/Seddon Eagles, a team that we did not encounter last year, so we had no expectations. During warm up, I heard one of their players say, “Look how small they are, we’re gonna smash ‘em!” (Expectation – tick!)


Good luck with that I thought, we may be small in stature but we are big in heart.  They did look quite tall though! Another long weekend meant that we would be a few players short, once again this meant no bench; next week should see us back to normal with full rotations through the ground.


Dylan and Jackson would be playing their first games and we would welcome back a couple of older heads in Riley and Xavier. Unfortunately for us, Rylan is still on the long term injury list for at least another five weeks! Hang tough little fella.


Captains for the day would be Archer and Clara; we won the toss and were kicking to the car park.


As I mentioned last week, the tempo of the game takes time to get used to, every level in junior footy is a big step up from the previous one. More than half of our Little Red Roosters are only two games in and it becomes evident when pitted against a more experienced group of players. The fundamentals take time and this obviously comes with the afore-mentioned experience. Holding your position, positioning around the stoppages, knowing who your opponent is are all things that take time to sink in. It is quite chaotic in the middle, there is a lot going on, but it will sink in.


The experience of our older boys shone through with the sunshine today. Sasha would again be asked to take on ruck duties with his height and pace and ran all day. Still sporting the rolled ankle from last week he willed himself to every contest. Harry picked up where he left off and was again in and under everything. His first, second and third efforts are his trademark. Xavier was a sight for sore eyes. His poise under pressure and ability to read the play are exceptional. You know you have had a cracker when the opposition coach wants to congratulate you after the game. Take a bow Xavier Howe! Jami and Louis are our mosquito fleet, zipping in and out of traffic and both have terrific skills. Louis took a great defensive mark to stop a certain foray into their forward line and Jami always has the goals in his sights. Riley loves the in and under and won a few frees for his attack on the ball, his own worst critic though! Don’t be so hard on yourself mate, you had a ripper. Luca and Aiden continue to grow in confidence. Luca was busy up forward and his kicking was a highlight. Archie was feeling the pinch of having just stepped off a plane the day before and really missed the training of the previous week. He managed to work his way into the game with some great tackling, but the tank was low. Too many Pineapple shakes in there instead of oxygen!


Clara and Abby have been fantastic, both not afraid to mix it up and put themselves in the contest. Both have great leg speed and their chasing down is creating pressure on the ball carrier which in turn creates opportunity for us. Eamon and Jackson would be our  two smallest combatants but both boys were laying tackles, great stuff! Iggy, Dylan and Jack G will all be key position players with their height and willingness to impose themselves on the opposition. I can see both Oscar and Archer fitting into that mosquito fleet role like Jami and Louis with their nimbleness and nous.


Like I said, it is only two games in for most of us. We were up against a good, experienced side today, one that expected to “smash us”.  It certainly was not that. We pushed them all day, had most of the play in the last quarter and were unlucky not to snaffle a couple. It does not matter who you are playing or how good your skills are, pressure will always create opportunity and we do that really well already. Cohesion will come; skills will come, just as long as we are having fun. There were only two goals in it at the end.  Again, a fantastic effort across the board.


We now turn our attention to Spotswood away, another team that we have not yet encountered. I wonder what their expectations are?


Special thanks to Brad for donning the whistle and Libby for tending to the wounded and to everyone who filled the volunteered roles, and to those who cheered us on, we can’t do this without you, it is most appreciated.


Richie and Kane.

Under 10 Match Report

Rd 2: Hoppers Crossing v West Footscray


In the spirit of being thankful for small mercies, the drive out to Hoppers Crossing is a breeze at 7.30 on a Sunday morning.  Game-day dawned clear and sunny and with 3 little roosters buckled in we cruised down the highway, the view ahead a tranquil sea of bitumen bookending the rear-view of hot air balloons rising gracefully over the city skyline.  All signs were promising.


Maps were consulted for this our furthest away game.  The grid-like structure of the Crossing is deceptive – with its architectural monotony and lack of distinctive landmarks, entering its confines is akin to stepping into Minos’ labyrinth.  Nonetheless all players were checked in very early; whether it was fear of the minotaur or freeway traffic both were unfounded and we thank parents for making our job that much easier.


The league left us bereft of an umpire AGAIN, and knowing the unwillingness of teenage boys to arise early on a Sunday morning, one suspects this could be a regular problem.  Dave Hall stepped into the breach, as always.  A word on Dave if I may: in 2 weeks of football he has supplied oranges to both 10s and 13s, acted as field, goal and boundary umpire, and volunteered for jumper duty.  Dave is typical of the supportive parents we have at West Footscray, but we cannot exploit his generosity and willingness to help.  With 23 children on our list we should have no trouble sharing the load so please do volunteer and be ready to step in on game day if needs be.  Ignorance of the rules will not be accepted as a valid excuse for much longer – after all, it’s not an impediment in the AFL.


After a clinical warm-up Moses led his well-drilled team out onto the massive ground, reminiscent of VLF Park and not just because of the long drive or the surrounding housing estates.  As the game began it occurred to me that with my poor eyesight Des may read this report wondering if we were at the same game.  Apologies to any parents who were watching and feel I have inaccurately reported their son’s game – assume you’re correct.


With the game underway Kiir immediately made his presence felt, barrelling through the centre pack.  A clean clearance saw the ball quickly move into Wests forward line setting the agenda for the rest of the game.  Tem found space and kicked the ball in front of goals where Reuben emerged to pass it to Hamish and onto Leo for our first score, a point.  The kick-in resulted in Reuben again mopping up and this time passing to Noah who kicked our first goal.  Noah spent the entire quarter controlling the goal square in Plugger Lockett fashion, terrifying any defender who got close.  Some brilliant body work from Marlon saw our next forward advance result in Reuben quickly scoring, and back to the middle it went again.  This time Paddy cleared and with Alex dominating in the centre the ball was quickly in Leo’s hands again, onto Ziggy and back with Noah for our second goal.


As Hoppers moved the ball forward for the first time Ben swooped to quickly prevent any hope of a score.  A turnover saw the ball again move forward for Hoppers but with Ben and Paddy controlling the defence hopes of scoring were thwarted and the ball moved forward for West yet again.  Smooth and clean disposal which saw the ball pass from Moses to Hamish to Thomas to Tem was finally disrupted by a superb opposition tackle.  The resultant ball up saw a brilliant punch from Alex being swallowed by Reuben who, through Marlon and Alex got it to Kiir.  In he ran, and ran, and ran, and ran, and ran, and ran… and just as he entered the goal square which was wide open the umpire reluctantly but fairly paid a ‘too far’ decision against him, much to the disappointment of his large and fervent cheer squad.


Quarter-time saw Joharo being banished to full-back for doing the old switcheroo on the magnet board much to Dad’s ire.  The second quarter began in predictable fashion, with an extraction from The Dentist finding its way into Marlon’s hands and onto Reuben for a quick pass forward.  Moses mopped up the loose ball and passed it to Alex who shoved the ball down Paddy’s throat in the pocket.  A quick snap unfortunately missed but the kick in saw a Reuben-Ben combo result in a brilliant mark by Alex.  His shot on goal missed too, an inadequate reward for his brilliant marking effort.  Continual pressure on the Hoppers defence saw Paddy finally rewarded with a goal.


Out of the middle it was Paddy again who followed up a disposal with a brilliant tackle.  He was bobbing up everywhere like the gopher in Caddyshack, and just as annoying for the proprietors.  For the visitors however he was leading the way with his second and third efforts and he effected a play which saw Ziggy execute a superb kick landing deep in Reuben’s cradling arms.  His kick to Alex was relayed straight onto Zaw Zaw in a beautiful display of skill and flair.  Zaw Zaw determinedly lined up for goal despite the distance (which may well have put him in another postcode) and the crowd held their collective breath, willing-on a goal for the ages… only to witness a rank grubber bouncing along in no-man’s land.  Never mind Zaw Zaw, we were grateful for the exciting build-up anyway.  Ben swooped on the loose ball resulting in another point to Alex but the kick-in saw Paddy snap the ball out of the pack, claiming his second goal.  Ben’s subsequent quick clearance out of the middle landed with Alex who finished the first half with a skilful goal.


The third quarter began with an immediate push forward by Ziggy onto Zaw Zaw.  Some spirited defending from Hoppers saw the ball spill out but end up with Joharo who worked through Thomas and Marlon to move it forward, only to be thwarted again.  Hamish, Ben and Thomas combined to push forward for a third time only to run into the Hoppers defence which by now had become impenetrable.  Finally, the relentless pressure saw Kiir rewarded with a goal for his consistent hard work.  It was clear the opposition had come out with renewed determination in the second half, and combined with a slight drop in work rate from Wests the game appeared to become more evenly matched.  Nonetheless we moved forward again through Hamish who ran into an open goal, only to be pinged by Umpire Dave for bouncing the ball twice.  Gotta love a conscientious umpire who reads the U10 modified rules prior to the game starting…  Overcoming that hiccup, Kiir capitalised on the loose ball in the goal square and snapped his third goal.


With Hoppers swarming in defence they struggled to get it into their forward line and Will mopped up time and time again as the ball kept being rebounded back towards our goals.  Joharo pushed it forward and when his first try was unfulfilled he backed straight up, passing to Zaw Zaw who brought the third quarter to completion with a goal.


As we entered the final quarter special mention must be made of our water-boy Henry Lovell.  Not satisfied with 4 quarters on the ground today he eagerly volunteered to assist his younger brother’s crew and was overhead asking ‘what happens if I accidentally get a kick’.  One suspects he was speaking more from hope than fear but thankfully it did not come to pass.  He did however, manage to break 3 water bottles in a surprisingly clumsy display by this usual smooth operator, and his debonair features were blemished by a rare embarrassed expression.  Never mind Henry, it happens to us all from time to time.


The on-ground display in the final quarter was more of the same, just icing on the cake.  Nothing to report which wouldn’t be repeating myself.  The boys were clinical and merciless today, and while we don’t officially score we kicked 11 goals and plenty of points while keeping the opposition scoreless.  The whole team worked extremely hard and I pause to mention Nicholas and Eli.  Not all players are put in positions to kick goals and while it’s the flashy goal sneaks or daring centremen who capture the crowd’s attention, the game is won by consistent hard work all over the ground.  A wise and very handsome u13s coach tells me the best players in the AFL only have their hands on the ball for a total of a few minutes each game; it’s what they do when they don’t have the ball that really counts.  These two did the hard yards all day, frustrating the bejeezus out of Hoppers and making a big contribution to the Roosters’ dominance.


Congratulations to Alex McIntyre, the first U10 Heartland Award winner for 2017.  A worthy winner for his blinder of a first half and courageous work for the entire game.


This team are an impressive unit.  They are hard-working and disciplined at training and on game day.  The listen carefully to their coach and are respectful to their manager and team officials.  Most importantly they look after each other, playing with a competitive but fair spirit, encouraging and gaining the best from one another.  With many games scheduled for 8.50am they may well be this year’s quiet achievers but if you’re a footy fan of any description they’re well worth getting up for. Congratulations to Des for whipping them into shape so quickly, and to Kiernan Box for training assistance.  Thanks to all the parents for support and please do keep playing with those doodles.  Once you get over the first-time nerves, experimenting with them can be quite fun.





Under 11 Division 2

Round 2 West Footscray vs Hoppers Crossing


The longest fortnight of the season was over and finally we would get a chance to play football again. Hoppers Crossing were an unknown combatant. Are they good? Can they play? Why did the WRFL fixture give directions to the soccer fields down the road instead of where we were playing? Only two of these answers would be revealed. The dodgy directions would have to remain a mystery.

Leroy, Sass, Mickey and Yash were unavailable for the clash, but fortunately Kadin, Christian and Angus would bolster our numbers for the big game in their first hit outs for the season. We would need two captains for the game. Alek was able to hoodwink me into thinking he hadn’t done it this season (how good is my memory), fortunately his team mates were all over it. Felix and Zach would get the nod after playing great games the week before. Someone won the toss and it was agreed that we would kick to the right of screen in conditions that could only be described as the ultimate meteorological alignment for football.

The Hoppers boys took the vast expanses of Hogans no. 2 and it was immediately obvious that they must be related to the men-children of Newport. They had some large units. This would be tough. Our defence was stiffened for the game with Zach, Frank and Manny on the last line. Alek (the fist) was at centre half back and had Cooper and Samuel on his flanks. Kadin was in the Ruck with Weston, Vinh and Jack camped at this feet. Murphy and Felix had a wing each with acres of space to run in. Sean, Elijah Moon and Christian were our half forwards with Angus, Nathaniel and Xavier looking to hit the scoreboard. The ball spent the first few minutes trapped in our forward line. Eventually the pressure told and we conceded our first score for the season. Today would take a special effort I thought to myself.  Completely undeterred the roosters spread from the restart. Weston has terminator like accuracy and began feeding his team mates the ball. Vinh was amazing. Winning hard balls and making great decisions when he had the pill. Jack was feverish and at every contest as always. Felix was everywhere. His tackling, running and effort were outstanding. Sean was twice as quick as I’ve ever seen him down forward and constantly getting to the ball to keep us in the game. The big bodies seemed irrelevant at times as the Roosters got their running game going. A long kick to the top of our square would spill off the pack and straight into the waiting hands of Murphy. His perfect roving would see him rewarded with a goal with his quick shot at the big sticks. His first for the year and our first for the day. The remainder of the quarter would see a titanic arm wrestle with Hoppers Crossing. Alek was spoiling bigger opponents. Cooper was clearing the ball with long kicks and his trademark grunt.


Quarter time:  Hoppers 2.4.16 West Footscray 1.3.9


A few tinkering by the coach and the boys were ready to go in the second. Once again it was a contrast of strength vs speed. Zach (the blanket) was obviously thriving on his captaincy. Tackle after tackle with repeat efforts at every contest were his brilliant contribution all day. Frank and Samuel were playing blinders deep in defence. They attacked the ball and won many crucial clearances. They had plenty of chances to do this as once again we were under siege down back. When we got out we looked dangerous. Weston was once again involved in many forward sorties by our guys and Cooper seemed to be everywhere.  When we got it forward Xavier (the Doona. We already have a blanket) was tackling like a mad man and locking it in. Angus was winning the ball and looked lively and Christian was starting to warm up in his first ever game and getting to dangerous positions and keeping his opponent honest. Vinh copped the most powerful falcon I’ve ever seen from point blank distance and was forced to the bench, only to return after about 10 seconds. I would have taken a week off work after that! The tackling in the second was amazing. Huge run down tackles by Weston and Kadin stopped Hoppers in their tracks, whilst Zach laid three tackles in just a few seconds to prevent a goal for Hoppers. A swift chain of passes into our forward line saw Sean arrive and create a contest. The ball hit the ground and we won it. Wasting no time we moved it forward quickly to find Sean still moving toward goal. He slotted a great team goal. A real team lifter just before the break.


Half Time: Hoppers Crossing 4.4.28 West Footscray 2.5.17


The boys looked pretty tired at the break and really tore into those oranges. The message from the coach was simple. Move it quickly. This was not the team to try out a don’t argue on.  Despite Hoppers having the best of the contest so far, I, and the boys sensed we were still right in this. Only 11 points down, they had left the door open for us. Straight away Kadin tapped the ball straight down the throat of Jack who promptly smashed it forward. Elijah Moon was on a wing now and was getting to a lot of contests on his side of the ground. He was reeling around on his right and pumping it forward at every opportunity. Manny was hunting the pill as well. His efforts both in, and around the packs impressed his coach. Our backs still had work to do. Aaron was doing some great work down back as was Frank who put together an incredible 30 seconds of football which involved many tackles, spoils and shepherds. An outstanding display of effort and commitment despite being outnumbered which resulted in us clearing the ball. Our boys were really starting to run now. Linking up through handball and finding space. Christian was starting to become prominent across half forward. He won the ball a few times as his confidence began to rise. Nathaniel was providing a target deep in our forward line. His strength when the ball hit the ground was proving extremely beneficial. Weston produced tackle of the day on the wing he ran down a much larger opponent after giving him a 10 metre head start. Not his first such effort, but clearly the pick of  them. Hoppers just couldn’t shake us off and could manage only a few behinds as our Roosters began to really start firing. Eventually our hard toil and running paid off as Jack smacked one through from about 20 out. A huge 3rd quarter effort and we were well and truly back in the game.


3 Quarter Time: Hoppers Crossing 4.6.30 West Footscray 3.6.24


It would take a similar performance in the last quarter to get the chocolates today. At the huddle the boys looked tired. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them work as hard as they did in third. The message was the same. Move it quickly and run, run, run! The first 5 minutes were a real arm wrestle with neither side able to gain the ascendency. Vinh and Jack were still banging away in the middle and now had Cooper to help. Kadin was still rucking and putting in a massive effort. Felix was still running at a million miles an hour. The bigger bodies were beginning to be telling. The efforts of the guys all day against them was also starting to show. Still our kids pressed on. Aaron came to the pine after an accidental knee to the head that could be heard from the bench. Not long after Jack went down clasping his knee which would force him out of the game. Now with no bench and the petrol tickets just about spent our Roosters still gave all they had. Our back line were amazing in the last as were our mids. Our forwards didn’t see it much. Christian lead and marked perfectly for us midway through but was unable to get the goal from his hard work. It mattered little as the game had now slipped away. The Roosters were exhausted and the siren would be welcomed.


Full Time: Hoppers Crossing 7.9.51 West Footscray 3.6.24


Despite the final score I can confidently state that this is the best game I’ve ever seen my guys play. The efforts of all were outstanding and our game looked brilliant when we could get it going. We played a much bigger team and performed amazingly. Vinh was absolutely brilliant today and won himself a Heartland Award. Well done Vinh! We can’t get our guys any bigger (Thanks for that Essendon!) but we can fine tune and improve our game to capitalise on our strengths. Look forward to that at future training session’s guys.





Round 2: Williamstown v West Footscray


The morning began with some bright sunshine and the promise of a glorious day for football.  The conditions we found were exactly that – perfect for us to show our skills and take on the boys from the seaside.


Lenny won the toss and we kicked with what little breeze there was.  We subsequently lost the first two clearances which saw the home side skip out to an early lead.   The message was – in order to nullify the Seagulls, we need to tackle hard and hold our position.  Those two centre breaks came on the back of missed tackles and an inability of our mids to track back to help out our backline.


The first quarter played out as an even contest for the remainder after Liam was able to snag one that seemed to bounce every which way then in to open our account.  The message at quarter time was to ensure we hurt Williamstown on the counter attack and continue to be accountable.


The second quarter began with a few minor adjustments to our set up – Zidane (on debut) slotted into the midfield and we continued to pose some difficulties for our hosts through willing pressure acts – Lachie, Luis, Lenny, Isaac C managed to all get involved.  Frustratingly we didn’t hit the scoreboard as we would have liked (4 behinds) whereas the Seagulls jumped all over a few nervous moments like, dare I say it, a Seagull after a hot chip, to notch 3 more goals taking a healthy lead of 23 points to the main break.


From that point, the game changed liked the roaring South Westerly that comes in off the bay after a day of warm sunshine (in this case a hot roasting by the boys in Gold and Blue).  All that needed to be tinkered with was the execution and completion of our tackles combined with a sharpening up of our skills and for those that were there to witness it, I doubt you would find anyone to disagree with the sentiment that what ensued, may just go down in Rooster history as the best half of football played by a junior Rooster outfit.    Navindu moved forward and Socrates played out of the goal square to mesmerise the opposition.  The boys were told that the first two goals would see the Seagulls panic, and not unlike their feathered namesakes, scurry for the safety of the overhead power lines, but in a football sense, the role of spectator, as wave after wave of Rooster forays began with turnovers forced by bone crunching, possession changing tackles that would have made those at the AFL level stand up and take notice.  The Roosters put on a tackling clinic with a record 12 holding the balls paid to the boys in the Red and the White.  Liam, Lenny, Kailey and Zidane got it happening in the middle, but it wasn’t only these boys – Samuel, Jonathan, Daniel, Leo, Alex and Abdullah in the back half refused to yield in their endeavours to follow the coach’s instructions.  Up forward Juma battled while Navindu and Soc put the ball through the big sticks on almost every occasion.  Ben, Luis, Diesel, Isaac T all got involved in keeping the ball going West’s way.  When the cow bell rang to signal the end of the third, 7 goals to nothing was just reward for our strong, hard-nosed and disciplined Roosters.


A 20 point lead is always a funny one as the early momentum in the last can go a long way to deciding the overall result.  Word had spread that the 13s were on the verge of something special and with the arrival of senior club stalwarts, Dave and Shaun, the feeling was, that these Rooster boys were taking the 4 points home and nothing was going to get in the way.  The coach implored the boys to give everything they had in the final 20 minutes – continue to run and tackle, whilst maintaining the disciplined positioning and seek the sanctuary of the interchange bench should they feel the need for a breather.  The final stanza saw the boys from Shorten maintain the rage and run the Seagulls off their legs.  Simply put, the ball was too hot and the will to compete was gone from Williamstown as the machine kicked into overdrive to register another dominant quarter (6 goals to nil) resulting in a 13 goal to nothing half.  Credit to every player who donned the Red and White – faith in our system is growing, a willingness to compete and refusal to yield is at an all time high (at least in this observer’s opinion) and the results are coming.


Most pleasing was the number of guys who stuck to a specific role – Issac C on a wing was exemplary, Daniel bodylined several balls that needed to be halted, Henry’s running continues to astound, Alex and Kailey continue to gel into a formidable ruck combination.  It was also great to welcome Zidane into the fold and the performances of Soc and Nav after half time to post 6 and 5 goals respectively – outstanding!!


Liam tackled his way to the Heartland Award and the machine wouldn’t have worked without our terrific parent support group (PSG) – to you all; please continue to volunteer to be a part of something that is brewing in to a genuinely special group of boys.


We continue to put points in the bank and work on our style – all of which will hold us in great stead for the coming weeks.  Top Shelf boys – rest up and we go again at home against the winless Deer Park.