My favourite drop kick, part 6

Vin Maskell continues his whimsical series.

Moggs Creek, on the Great Ocean Road near Lorne, doesn’t have a footy oval. The creek doesn’t even have much water. But I’ve got an old football down there, in the three-generation family beach-house.

Its scratches are not from backyard trees or goal posts or the streets of the suburbs. No, its markings are from the gravel of the road and the bracken of the bush.

On the Easter weekend of the 2009 footy season my 16 year old son and I were concentrating on accuracy rather than distance, not wanting to send the ball into the gum trees of the national forest or onto the gravel road. Little 20 metre kicks. Drop punts mainly. Careful kicks.

An elderly couple were walking up the very gentle rise of the road. As they neared us we stopped kicking to let them pass. (It’s one thing to spray a footy into the bush, quite another to knock over a pair of senior citizens.)

As the couple reached me near the crest of the road they paused and the man said ‘Can you do a drop kick?’

I do drop kicks with my Sunday morning mates but that’s on green grass, with footy boots, and expectations that a few of the drop-kicks will hit Laurie or Bruno or John’s leads but a few will also go astray.

Here, though, I was on gravel, on a slight slope, wearing runners. And I had only one chance to answer the old man’s question, one chance to grant the old man’s request, one chance to hit my son Jesse right on the chest.

The old man and his wife wait. I hold the ball, looking at its lacing, its valve, its stitching.

I imagine the man had seen and possibly kicked many a drop in his hey-day. Maybe he played down the road at Anglesea or Lorne. Or inland at Winchelsea or Birregurra.

I take a step. Maybe two. I drop the ball. It hits the gravel just as my right foot connects. The ball spins slowly. The ball spins straight. My son Jesse doesn’t have to move an inch.

The old man smiles, walks away, down the other side of the gravel road.

About Vin Maskell

Founder and editor of Stereo Stories, a partner site of The Footy Almanac. Likes a gentle kick of the footy on a Sunday morning, when his back's not playing up. Been known to take a more than keen interest in scoreboards - the older the better.

Comments

  1. Andrew Fithall says:

    Beautiful story Vin. About a beautiful part of the world. I spent a fair bit of time in Moggs creek in the mid to late 70s – the family of a girlfriend named Fiona had a house there. I can’t remember ever kicking a footy down there even though Fiona had four brothers, one or two of whom weren’t out of place on a footy field. The house was burnt out in the Ash Wednesday fires but that was long after I had already departed the scene.

    As my mum is happy to point out, Moggs Creek most famous (recent) export is Patrick Dangerfield.

  2. G’day Andrew,

    Patrick Dangerfield has an auntie, Fiona. Her brothers are John Dangerfield (Patrick’s father), Greg, Paul and – I think – Peter.

    John and Greg were fairly good footballers. John turned down an offer to train with Geelong Under 19s because the surf was up that day. He and Greg played quite a few seasons with Newcomb, a suburb of Geelong, and Anglesea.

    The Dangerfields have been part of Moggs Creek since the early 1960s.

    A Moggs Creek resident in his late 1970s, Fred Umbers, recently died after getting a par on the 11th at Anglesea. Fred was apparently 1959 Best and Fairest with Freshwater Creek Football Club. The things you learn too late, eh?

  3. Adam Muyt says:

    Beaut little tale, Vin.

    I love drop kicks. Brought up on Rugby League not Rules means I’ve always struggled with the distance kicks of the game. But I try to make up for it with a drop kick or three when having kick-to-kick sessions with seasoned Rules kicking mates. Sometimes the timing’s beautiful and I get a tickle; sometimes it’s not. Off the ball goes, dribbling erratically along the ground or wobbling off on a tangent. Sandshoes, runners, boots or barefoot – I say bring on the drop kick!

  4. Mmmm 20 metres, Drop Kick or Stab Pass ?

  5. I’ve noticed a worrying trend in the young pups at Auskick in recent months. It seems that running out to the right and then hooking the footy across the body to kick to the left is de rigeur. One of the better kids, who has played a few ‘real’ games back home and is therefore a local hero, has brought the style into play and the others want to jump on board because, well, he is the stylist of the group.

    When preyed (you could also use ‘prayed’ here as in “if you come and kick with me I’ll be a good boy forever”) upon for kick to kick with my 7yr old, even though he is yet to master the drop punt, he will invariably move around to the right to hook around the body. I don’t mind too much as I recognise this as a skill that will be needed in games and could also be used when doing the rugby union style drop kick.

    Am I heading him in the right direction, or should he be focused on the straight ahead style?

  6. G’day Gus,

    A rugby union hook-turn drop kick is better than no drop kick at all but teaching our offspring the noble almost-lost art of the drop-kick probably means they will never get a game of footy with anyone. (Or to use modern parlance, they probably won’t get any game time.)

    I taught my son to do the drop-kick when he was about seven. Now he plays soccer.

  7. Simon is also working on his marking prowess by playing a game where I handball to him while he bounces on the trampoline. It seems to be develoing his eye hand coordination. Hopefully he will be a better contested mark than his old man.

    Will keep the art of the drop kick alive as best we can!

Leave a Comment

*