The Perth Reclink Community Cup: Hounds Hunt in Packs

There have been some evil, cynical teams in the sporting world in the past.

You have the 1995 flag winning Carlton side put together through John Elliot’s heavy paper bags, ex players’ influence at AFL house and a side covered in the fingerprints of the Moran Family.

Then there’s the Argentinian side from the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Coke fuelled, brutally cynical tactics and pretty much had the world against them as a half fit and overweight Diego Maradona almost dragged them to back-to-back World Cups before they imploded in the final against West Germany.

In Basketball you had the ‘bad boys’ that were the Detroit Pistons in the late 80s and early 90s. A side that featured Lambeer, Thomas, Rodman, Dumars and a host of other thugs that trash talked and bludgeoned their way to back-to-back NBA titles to a soundtrack that was a chorus of boos.

None of these teams are the most loathed of all time, none of them are the Bandgropers.

Last Sunday was time for the third instalment of the Reclink Community Cup in Perth. In the first edition in 2015 perhaps we Newshounds (made up of the local media contingent) were naive in thinking that the Bandgropers (made up of the local music community) were not all that. Perhaps it was a little ignorant to think they would be all big drinkers on limited sleep from a gig the night before lining up on the wing with a fag dangling from the mouth Ronnie Wood mid guitar solo style. You have got to love a stereotype.

They were in fact more skillful, fitter, highly organized and younger…so ever ever younger than us. Maisie Glen, a player for the East Freo women’s team and local folky in another life, dominated in the middle in that first game winning the best on ground medal as those Bandgropers took advantage of the no tackle rule on the girls knowing they had Maisie in their ranks. Those dirty Bandgropers using the rules to their advantage….

The following year Maisie co-captained with Tom ‘Fish’ Fisher to make it back to back as the Newshounds again struggled to overcome the Bandgropers who uncovered another star in Billie Rogers and won again with their vast pool of talent. How dare they have decent tactics at a charity game, how dare they make us look silly. We sulked, we drank, we bottled it up like Nick Riewoldt on the dias at the G in 2009. Those damn Bandgropers…those bloody awful dirty tactically aware Bandgropers….

 

Image may contain: 30 people, people smiling

(The Bandgropers pre-game. Photo courtesy of Daniel Grant Photography)

This year would be different for the Newshounds though. Rob Schifferlli crossed the divide from the Bandgropers to coach the Newshounds and get the rabble together. It was a watershed moment. It was Sheedy to the Bombers in 1981. Parkin back to Carlton in 1991. Lethal to Brisbane in 1999. The switch may have been perhaps because it meant being able to play in the red and white of his much-loved South Freo.

Another inspired appointment was Ash ‘Diger Rokwell’ Hosken as captain. Diger was quite possibly the second best player to ever come from Northampton behind Harry Taylor and the best on ground for the Newshounds the previous year. Then there was the Newshounds other captain Kristy Butler. A roller derby veteran, local music/RTR FM girl about town and purveyor of Community Cup fashions.

Image may contain: 38 people, people smiling, people standing

(The mighty Newshounds pre-game. Hope springs eternal. Photo courtesy of Daniel Grant Photography)

The game this year would be played at Fremantle Oval after being up at Bassendean Oval the previous two years. As great as Basso is having the cup in the heart of Freo just seemed right. On a wonderful Spring day the crowd filtered in with rubbish from the previous days’ WAFL Qualifying Final still on the limestone terraces on the far wing along with an air of bitterness still emanating after the Bulldogs had lost to a Dockers-Influenced Peel Thunder side. The Newshounds prepared, Rob switched names around on the board looking to play to our strengths as we went through drills. There would be no Maisie this year so perhaps we could have the 2001 Brisbane belief of ‘if it bleeds we can kill it’ in a not so serious charity footy event kind of way.

In the warm up Rob supported those who couldn’t play that well and was harsh on those he knew could play, the North Melbourne-Barassi method could work for us this year. At the other end during the warm up the Bandgropers sauntered around, strutting like peacocks at times with their fancy kicking drills. Those strutting arrogant Bandgropers….

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

(Tom Fisher channeling his inner Liberace. Photo courtesy of Daniel Grant Photography)

Back to the rooms after the warm up. Diger had the tunes cranking, all dog related with the exception of 1977 rock classic ‘Barracuda’ by Heart, a track essential for any pre game rev up with an opening guitar riff to die for. A gee up in the rooms from captains and coach, a chant and a woof and growl for the team and out on the ground we went. We did our drills, we remained focused, the cup is ours and not theirs.

We paused to listen to WA Treasurer and fellow Newshound Ben Wyatt’s Acknowledgement of Country, taking in the significance of what he says and what the day means. Anthems (both national, indigenous and community cup related) were sung before the game time by the ‘Streets of your Town’ choir made up of players from both sides’ female contingents. The Hounds can do this! The Bandgropers can’t have it this time. Those talentless, cocky Bandgropers…

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people standing and stripes

(The ‘Streets of your town’ Choir. Photo courtesy of Daniel Grant Photography)

The start was frenetic as we matched it with the enemy. Early in the game there was a mark to Diger in the forward 50 and he goaled to inspire as captain and put us in front. The Hounds couldn’t get another as the first and second quarters dragged on but fought bravely peppering the goals and remaining stoic at the back but it was a low score at half time. We could get these Bandgropers, karma would kick in and the balance in the Community Cup force would be restored. Those hated Brandgropers…despised, loathed, dirty Bandgropers…

Image may contain: 5 people, people playing sport, child and outdoor

(Billie Rogers and Sinead Ruby contest the bounce. Photo courtesy of Daniel Grant Photography)

We just needed to persist and stick to our guns. Fish was at full forward for the Bandgropers crashing packs and channeling Tony Lockett circa SCG 1994 but our star fullback Nigel Bird from WAM kept him honest scragging and fighting him all the way. Jack Smith was a new recruit for the Newshounds and was brilliant off the half back line and through the middle. Like a Labrador chasing a tennis ball he was involved in every contest with able support from others most definitely at a lower level on the skill set.

Treasurer Wyatt also starred on the wing with a burst of pace slashing through Bandgroper tackles like he would a Royalties for Regions scheme in the budget. As half time sounded we grouped together and headed for the rooms. We were in the away sheds and not South Fremantle’s spacious home digs probably because of the Bandgropers, those underhanded evil Bandgropers wanting that home change room…

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people playing sport and outdoor

(Newshounds Co-Captain Kristie Butler with the centre clearance. WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt steaming in from the wing. Photo courtesy of Daniel Grant Photography)

Rob got us together, no walking off or on to the ground or to a huddle individually, we had to do it as a pack. We kept or minds focused at half time between the oranges, bananas and lolly snakes being consumed. Encouragement was given and to make this half ours, we were willing for the Newshounds, we were ready to deny the threepeat and make our own history.

The third quarter was all guns blazing from the mighty hounds. Goals came from RTR FM’s Henry Maxwell and Alyshia Gatani, Alyshia quite possibly the only player of the sport smaller in stature than Caleb Daniel. The Hounds were on the hunt! Smith continued his drive through the midfield with the girls supreme from the centre bounces as we forged ahead with many inside 50s but just couldn’t convert. Yet we had those disrespectful Bandgropers where we wanted them. Those petrified, clueless Bandgropers…

Fellow Almanacker and lover of the Pivitonians Adam ‘Foxman’ Fox echoed Dangerfield wearing the #35 and was at the bottom of packs. Kristy echoed Joel Selwood copping a knock to the head diving for a ball but recovered. As the further the Premiership quarter went the Bandgropers wilted, second guessed and doubted themselves. Those pea hearted Bandgropers….those cultureless Bandgropers….

Image may contain: one or more people, people playing sport and outdoor

(Former Beaverloop bass player/lead singer Leon Ewing kicking down the wing. Photo courtesy of Daniel Grant Photography)

Three quarter time. Rob urged us to push, to stay together, to work for each other. The hounds are willing. We all felt so much part of the Newshounds and the cup, so unswervingly a servant of the cause that we all matched our emotional commitment with physical commitment. It added to the satisfaction that would arrive when Diger and Kristie would lift that cup.

The Hounds again put the Swiss cheese defence of the leaky Bandgropers under pressure. My own chance came with a mark on the edge of 50. I decided to go for goal. This was my Hawkins after the siren moment, Blighty at Princes Park, Chappy’s snap in 09. The kick was true but just wide. It was more Rocca in 2002 perhaps.

The Hounds kept coming though pushing until the end not even noticing the streaker when we had the ball in our forward pocket late in the game. We also didn’t notice the fight between the mascots (before helping each other up). Sheep stations? No, we were playing for more than that when up against the snake’s belly Bandgropers….

Image may contain: one or more people, people playing sport and outdoor

(The Bird and The Fish contest. Photo courtesy of Daniel Grant Photography)

After a bruising, end to end encounter where we looked our dreaded enemy in their beady eyes as the final siren went. We still shook hands with they who wore black, gold, red and white. If Stevie J could do it with Crowley in 2013 after all the scrapping in that qualifying final so could we with them.

There were hip hip hoorays and tales already being told waiting for the presentations. Jack Smith was awarded best male player, Kristy inspiring as captain and awarded the best female player before the handing over of the cup. There it was, the cup adorned in the streamers and handed over by Newshound and Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt. Handed over and lifted in to air to a chorus of cheers…by Axle Harrington and Billie Rogers who were captains of the Bandgropers.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

(Harrington and Rogers lift the Cup for a third time in a row. No glitter cannons unfortunately. Photo courtesy of Daniel Grant Photography)

You see, the hounds had kicked the first goal but then the Bandgropers piled on a heap of goals in a row along with a bevvy of points to be well in control by half time. If they had kicked straight it would have been all over by the big break with some 14 scoring shots to 3. We did get goals in the third quarter but some were down to the umpires trying to close the gap and giving us some very soft free kicks in the name of sportsmanship.

My chance in the final quarter? It was when the game was in junk time and it was after one ump (who I play Masters footy with) had taken the ball off a Bandgroper with a mark and kicked it to me. I managed to not only miss the goal but not even make the distance from around 25 metres out. Should have given it off.

The Bandgropers off the half back line were just too strong with too much talent to choose from as we had some great players but were never in the game despite the desire to deny three in a row. The Fish was a bit part player for them and they had Maisie out but then there was a host of others to pick up the slack. Some team.

The loose man in defence mopping up easy marks was something to learn for next year for us if the game is to be played that way. The Bird did defeat the Fish in the battle in the goalsquare but it took a couple of fellow teammates to triple team at times for him to do it. Diger kicked the first but was normally double teamed after that negating his influence.

Image may contain: 8 people, people smiling, outdoor

(The victorious treble winning Bandgropers. Photo courtesy of Daniel Grant Photography)

Jack and Kristy won the medals (along with Alyshia for encompassing the spirit of the event) but that was only for our team. The winner of the best on ground for the Bandgropers was Sean Gorman. Not the Sean Gorman will know and love at the Almanac but one who plays music with the band Salary, has a turn of pace like Speedy Gonzalez (as most of us hounds found out) and doesn’t have a coopers pale ale or red wine in his hand whenever we see him at an Almanac gathering. Blair Pascoe from the band ‘Hussy’won the women’s medal for the Bandgropers.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, outdoor and nature

(The Non-Almanac Sean Gorman receives his medal. Photo courtesy of Daniel Grant Photography)

Three in a row for the Bandgropers but who lifted the cup was (like all Community Cups across Australia over the past two decades) a moot point. What the day was about was Reclink and the amazing work they do for those figuratively taken high and over the shoulder but not given free kick in life. While a lot of you may be reading this on public transport on the way home from a well-paying job or reading it on a laptop in a nice house as loved ones are nearby the cup is for those who haven’t had a life that has gone straight from point A to point B so to speak. To give hope by raising funds through sport is a very welcome bonus too.

While there were cheers for the goals, for the cup being lifted and words from the coaches and captains it was the speech at the start of the day from Reclink founder Peter Cullen that got the most applause in the rooms, that drew the most inspiration for those playing for either side on that day. “Mad Sunday’ also continued on at Fish’s pub for some after the craft beer got flowing as soon as players got back to the rooms. The pseudo rivalry between Dog and Groper done for another year.

The Cup was denied but the Hounds will be back. The Brisbane Lions couldn’t do four in a row, nor Hawthorn and the next cup would have to be played on Fantasy Island for the Bandgropers to make it four if the Hounds have anything to do with it. We’ll make sure it doesn’t happen against those damn Bandgropers, those rather skillful and triple cup winning Bandgropers…

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, crowd and outdoor

(The Class of 2017. Photo courtesy of Daniel Grant Photography)

 

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM presenter and Glory Guerrillas pod co-host. Cat, Cardie, Glory Bhoy and Socceroo by pain of death. Seen too many Geelong and Socceroos disasters to mention and worships the holy trinity of Larsson, Mifka and Senna.

Comments

  1. Not quite J but the ump is Greg Dear. Local musician for a very long time. Played in The Holy Rollers who were a very decent indie band in the 80s and is now in the Beautiful Losers. A sometime player for AFL Masters team The Central Crocs too.

  2. Sean Gorman says:

    Den – who was in the mascot dog?

  3. Stu Groves. Local punk about town for past 20 years or so and RTR FM Presenter.

  4. Hello, my name is Doggo.

  5. Stu aka Doggo says:

    Me!!! :)

Leave a Comment

*