Franksy’s 200th game

Daniel Franks player his 200th game for the Wynyard Cats last Saturday.

Who? What? Where? Who cares?

We all do. The long suffering supporters who have shared all his pain from the bone crunching hits he has received in his protracted career of unflinching attack on the ball; the emotional pain of another belting to his home town team which he first saw while in nappies when dragged along to watch his dad, Graeme, play in a better time for the club. And of course the pleasure of, the occasional, very special wins.

Franksy is one of those endangered species that the fast evolving AFL monster is trying to wipe from the face of the earth with it’s no loyalty, expansionist business ideology. He doesn’t fit the mould. He is loyal, and plays for the club. There have been many opportunities for him to leave and play at a higher level or with more successful teams, but he stayed.

He would have been a monty to play with the nearby Burnie Dockers in their five straight premiership run early in the decade when they were easily the best team in the State. They tried to get him, and the current gun team Ulverstone have had a few nibbles, even Devonport have had a sniff or two.

On completion of his teaching degree he got a posting to the small mining town of Rosebery deep in the rain forest on the west coast. Winter is a fridge down there and it rains and rains. Sometimes you don’t see sunshine for weeks. But Franksy drove the two hundred kilometres on the treacherous, icy highway in the dark two nights a week to train at Wynyard and again on Saturdays to get to the game. He now works at Devonport but never misses a night, driving west along the coast three days a week.

The Cats haven’t played finals football for eleven years. They had a very good unders team a few years ago and won the flag. The usual sequence of events happened. Those who didn’t move away for study or work are gobbled up by the State League sharks with promised AFL glory if they move and the label of failure if they stayed where they were. Franksy has seen them come and go. He is certainly no failure.

A month ago Wynyard, last year’s wooden spooners, copped a few beltings after a promising start and slipped to the bottom of the ladder. Things were very grim. The post match rooms were a very sad place to be with players and supporters, most of whom are family or close friends, hurting badly. “It’s only football”, they say.

But this year they have picked up a few good players, some young ones have played around the fifty games and are starting to understand what it is all about. Although the support base is small it has remained firm; just.

On Saturday, after moving from last to fourth, in a close competition, with a stirring come from five goals behind last kick of the day win, the Cats travelled to play their old nemesis Penguin at their pocket handkerchief ground in the iconic coastal town. We had swapped spots in a week and they weren’t happy. They had gone down narrowly against the run away ladder leaders and were gaining momentum. We were in trouble, so the experts said.

They also had a special lunch to commemorate their last premiership against the Cats thirty years ago. The notorious crowd beside the ‘Can Bar’ would be quite fluid by the latter stages of the game and this would bring the local boys home. They didn’t disappoint.

But Wynyard had Franksy’s 200th to consider. The young players owed him, dearly. The Cats started well and took a six goal lead into the last quarter. From the bounce Penguin gained momentum and pressed. The Cats could not buy a goal but when it got very hard and tight Franksy was there in the clinches head over the ball crunching, getting crunched and bouncing up every time as the game tightened.

He was carried off by a couple of kids with smiles that made global warming seem insignificant and we all screamed the club song as had others such as Scratcher Neal, Colin Robertson, Alistair Lynch, Simon Atkins, Chris Bond and many other past Cats in better times.

But hang on a bit. What better time than now? The young, and few old, Cats have won two in a row, moved to third spot with a winnable game next week at Smithton. Those boys are hard raw boned dairy and beef farmers, but we are due.

Franksy’s fierce desire to play finals footy again for the Cats may yet be realised. The smell of spring is in the air and there is still plenty of spring in Franksy’s steps.

Wynyard: 5.4    8.8   12.10   12.15   (87)

Penguin: 2.4    5.6      6.9    10.14   (74)

GOALSWynyard: G. Walker 4, N. Pearce 4, Z. Smith 1, C. Gleeson 1, B. Englund 1, C. Betts 1. Penguin: M. Alford 3, J. King 2, N. Ling 2, L. Allen 1, T. King 1, T. Munro 1.

BESTWynyard: Z. Smith, G. Walker, C. Stretton, D. Franks, S. Douglas, C. Bryan, B. Grubb. Penguin: J. Lovell, T. Munro, J. Dunham, R. Dicker, J. French, T. King.

Comments

  1. Fantastic piece, Phantom. And congratulations to Franksy. What an inspiration!

  2. Andrew Fithall says:

    Well done Phantom. Is G Walker a relative?

    I tried to remember what I had read about Penguin. Recalled it was in the Triple R Trip magazine in 2008 in an article by Bron Burton, She made a special trip to Penguin because the Groovy Cafe was a business subscriber. I wonder if it is still the same. An excerpt:

    I don’t have much more to say about Penguin because on Day One we made a bee-line for the Groovy Penguin Café (known by the locals as ‘The Groovy’), and pretty much spent the next 3 days there. Stephen and Dianne, The Groovy managers, were unsurprisingly RRR people through and through. The first thing you notice as you enter the café is a RRR sticker on the front door to greet you. The décor is old laminex tables and vinyl chairs, the green walls are decorated with anything to do with 1960s split screen Kombis, flying ducks and artwork by local and touring artists. There’s the latest edition of The Trip to peruse as you drink your beverage of choice and enjoy the sound of the waves coming though the open windows. There’s even an RRR grid pinned up in the toilet. Stephen later told me they decided they would only set up a café if they could get a good enough internet connection to have RRR streamed and broadcast through the café. The music was great (of course), the food was fresh and delicious, the view out to sea was incredible, and the atmosphere was welcoming, relaxed and homely.

  3. John Butler says:

    Great stuff Phantom

    I hope you’ll keep us posted Cats’ progress.

    Cheers

  4. Phantom says:

    Andrew,

    yes G Walker is my son. All the players are someone’s son brother or boy friend.(Obviously) Thats how these small clubs work.

    I was just in Penguin at the “Groovey Penguin” having a coffee at lunch. Bass Strait calm and a clear tepid winter day. Just heading to the Far North West Coast now for a job tomorrow.

    Another night in a fibro shack in Rocky Cape National park by the log fire which should still be glowing for the Soccer in the morning.

  5. Phantom says:

    J.B.

    I am doing a bit for the other book on the highs and lows of the WFC this year. Warts and all.

    Phantom.

  6. Martin Reeves says:

    Thoroughly enjoyable read, thanks.

  7. Tony Robb says:

    Top read Phantom, Summed up country footy beautifully

  8. pauldaffey says:

    Phantom,

    Great piece. Love it. But one quibble: young blokes have always wanted to play at the best possible level. That’s how it should be.

    In the old days (circa the Goalpost Final in 1967) the highest level was at the club in the closest major league. In those days boys from Wynyard and surrounds played at Wynyard in the North West Football Union. If you won the premiership, you played in the state final against either the TFL or NTFL winners.

    Now they go to play in Burnie, and you can say what you like about the AFL construct in Tassie’s state league, but the principle is still the same: boys want to play at the highest level.

    Wynyard can capture them on the way up and the way out: those who are finding their feet or who prefer to play with mates as teenagers and those who’ve had a go at the highest level who are ready to step back to a friendlier footy place.

    Just thinking aloud.

    I understand the focus should be on Franksy, who sounds like a rock.

  9. Rocket Rod Gillett says:

    A military attache here at the Aussie Embassy in Abu Dhabi (no names) is an old Wynyard boy who fondly recalls growing up there – he played under an old mate of mine, Kevin Madden (VFA) in the 70s…

  10. Phantom – just back from a break. Spent a week in a little fibro shack on the beach with the family, just like the holidays of the old days. It was bloody freezing but made great by the glass or two of red by the fire at night and the beach walks by day. I’m catching up on the Almanac banter over the last week and this peice stuck out. Footy of old, uncomplicated and honest. Just like my holiday.

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