Falcons triumph in the Middle East

The Abu Dhabi Falcons were tense in the sheds before the game. A few were attempting banter but it was difficult to get much more than nervous laughter out of anyone. Uncertainty over what the Doha Kangaroos were capable of was the main concern. That and the fact we were missing three blokes who were pretty handy.

Coming out into the 37 degree heat let us know this was footy in the Middle East. Warm-ups were cursory, although still had a few reaching for the water. After the pre-game introductions and the National Anthem, (no arguments about whether it was appropriate, it’s the GF!) the game was on.

Doha got away to a flyer. Their ruck, Joe, was getting first hands on the ball and the Falcons mid-fielders could not stop the ball being kicked forward where their full forward was taking it lace out. Our defenders could not go with him for pace, so were not able to exercise the punch from behind rule as practised in every other game of the season. Despite taking the marks wide on the flanks, he put the first 3 through the big/rugby sticks before the third change of backline personnel led to a slowing down of that avenue to goal. The Falcons had to work much harder to negate the high leaping Joe, relying on sharked scraps to feed the ball forward. Even then it took until the last moments of the quarter to put the second major on the scoreboard. Trigga and Stu were basically nullified by not being able to get hands on the ball.

In what would ordinarily result in a shorter report, yours truly was momentarily knocked out a good two steps after taking a chest mark on a long lead from a kick in. The full circle jersey sling resulted in the back of my scone making contact with the turf in a violent manner. Despite accusations from the inner circle the resultant baby giraffe walk was not put on in an effort to influence the umpire. Shouldn’t have needed to milk it as it was blatantly a mark and clearly unnecessary. As was the unseemly haste Trigga put in to take the ball from my hands to claim another stat. His smirky midget claim that it was all about moving the ball on quickly to our forward area barely cuts the mustard. The brain was a bit fuzzy during the rest of the game, so details mostly come from others impressions.

The break had Coach Brooke asking for a return to Falcons footy. The plan was to get the ball out of the centre sharply and hold it in the forward line for as long as possible. Running with the wind in the second quarter, the Falcons got back to within a point of the Kangaroos by the big break. A couple of big plays that helped create belief involved players getting to the ball first and winning free kicks. Gary Tracey, won a crucial free kick putting his head over the ball Joel Selwood style to put a stop on a Doha forward push which resulted in a goal to the Falcons. Mick Molnar seemed to be the mid-fielder who was everywhere. At one point he kicked forward from the true left wing under pressure, ran forward to mark the ball and then ran in to the scoring zone to kick the goal. Team lifting stuff. As was Woody’s effort to centre the ball after a mark rather than having the shot from out wide. Certainly the first time that happened all season.

The third quarter saw Doha get a few goals on the board to re-establish a lead, although it wasn’t the 4 goal lead of the first quarter. Doha in front, Falcons with the wind for the last. Changes to the Falcon game plan were made. Captain-Coach Brooke went from first ruck to Full-Forward. The forward line was functional, but not firing on all cylinders. If we were going to win, we had to score goals. I was asked to start in the ruck. Pride was diminished with the realization that we needed to at least break even in the middle to have any hope. And that was yet to occur consistently in the previous three quarters.

I managed to get hands to a couple of ball ups and at least negated Joe’s attempts to get the ball to their mid-fielders giving our guns Trigga and Stu a chance of getting the ball forward. Dan was taking some contested marks and kicking the goals. Steadily the ship was righted. Having to run for longer in the ruck was a challenge although adrenalin, second wind or perhaps the absolute certainty that this was the last ever game kicked in and I managed to surprise myself by lasting a fair while longer than I thought. I also managed to cop a knock to the right knee in a marking contest and a knee to the ribs. If I wasn’t on the field I was on the bench breathing hard. As it got towards the end of the quarter, the Falcons were hanging on to a 7 point lead. Trigga took a mark in the scoring zone, the siren went and Sami the Froggy Pom ran on to dance around Trigga before he slotted the goal. Falcons by 13.

The Doha blokes I talked to reckoned they played as well as they could and had no complaints about coming up short. It came down to the fact that during the whole of the game there were two times more that the Falcons were able to score than Doha. (Kick after the siren inflated the margin, but not the outcome). That’s it. Over 80 minutes of game time, that’s all it came down to. Both teams wanted it, but somewhere two contests were crucial in deciding the outcome. Fortunately for us, the Falcons got to sing the song. The highlight of my day was being presented with my medal by Simon, my 7 year old son. (See photo).

It was by far the most fiercely contested game played all season. A week later, I’m still hurting. It was a win that was earned and worth more than a Premiership gained in a walkover. Definitely worthy of a GF. Both teams swapping the lead. Both sides in with a chance up until the last minute. Stu Brohaska was adjudged BOG and the season’s player of the year, so with his Premiership Medallion he has carrying more bling around his neck than Mr. T, Mr. Fitty Cent and Mr Dogg combined.

Medal Presentation

Upon returning to the rooms the boys and assorted support crew (16 yr old Ash’s Mum and Dad, Steve Watson and the Almanac’s Rocket) with some assorted hangers on (Kelvin Templeton and daughters) sang the club song down the phone line to Mark Deverall, our recovering ruckman/forward who had just left hospital after a 30 day stay. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necrotizing_fasciitis Note; don’t read with a full plate in front of you…) After that each player took the Cup and said something about the player to his immediate left, took a sip and then that player said something about the next and so on. Some of the comments wouldn’t make the broadsheets.

The post game kicked off at the newly licensed Clubhouse at the ground, then moved briefly to Aloft where the Pool Party had us older types unable to recognize any change in the songs played for an hour, before heading into town. The Cup travelled well and by all accounts is still in pristine although slightly beer scented. I’m very proud to have been part of this journey. Somewhere along the line I’ll try to get a story or two about some of the characters. At the moment it is all about recovery and bathing in glory…

About Russell Yule

Indogus is the alter ego of Russell Yule. He has retired more times than actually played games, although is completely retired now in order to live vicariously through his children's sporting proclivities. Given any available space in a conversation, he will regale you with boring stories about his exploits with the Bali Geckos or Abu Dhabi Falcons, of which he is extremely proud.

Comments

  1. David Downer says:

    Congrats Gus.

    Would be tough coming up short while striving for glory in the most scorching conditions in Aussie Rules GF history!

    Must be nice tasting from the Cup following our Sainter near-misses too.

    Will the boys talk you out of retirement?

    Perhaps in a decade’s time the Doha crew will be hosting matches from World Cup/Sepp Blatter-approved air-conditioned venues?

    DKD

  2. Cheers DKD. Very heartening. Have mainly enjoyed the win from the point of view that it is a good group of blokes. Arguably there has been more talent in previous years, but not enough to get over the line. Much more even spread of players, with some exceptionals in and about as well. Doha also had some exceptional players, but probably not the numbers to allow those guys to have a rest which may have told in the final quarter.

    Retirement has taken hold, settled in and without a doubt! The best thing that can happen is there is another win, but it won’t be in a GF. I will forever be a Premiership player!

    Word is that the stadia will be transported on to nations in Africa and the Caribbean in return for the votes to get the World Cup. If there is any Middle East left in 10 years. At the moment, Qatar/UAE and the oil rich states are not under threat, but there is a potential for clashing in the nearish future as high birth rates bring large numbers of unskilled locals into employment who might start to ask questions of the conservatives in power. They kind of like the idea of paying others cheap to do work that they need. Sooner or later that bubble will burst…

    The other flaw with your 10 year Doha GF plan is that powers that be will only allow the green grass of the A/C venues to be used 5 or 6 times a year. Wouldn’t want to risk damaging it with us rough tough footy types. When they played the Collingwood vs Adelaide NAB Cup match here a few years back, they played on Polo fields rather than the 2 world class cricket stadiums they have in the UAE because the “Indian Mafia” didn’t want them to damage the wicket area…

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