Twelve Months on a Pogo Stick

 

by Bill Walker

Preamble

Wynyard is a sleepy little seaside town on the North West Coast of Tasmania. It has three pubs, one set of traffic lights, an annual tulip festival, an airport, basketball, cricket and footy clubs, a writers group whose leader is aspiring to Colleen McCulloch dizzy heights, numerous stray cats and dogs, a police station and all manner of cultural artefacts commensurate with it’s place in the scheme of world demographics.

Oh I almost forgot. We have two spare retro goal posts and our very own Wynyard Footy club joke.

The goal posts turned up at the club some time ago, apparently spirited into the ground just after the infamous no result State Premiership clash immortalised in a Jeff (Hook) cartoon in the Melbourne Sun the next week.

Recently Wynyard have been the easy beats of the competition. We are considered a nursery for other ‘more important’ competitions. Many home grown boys play in other leagues and we have had more than our share of them go on to play in Melbourne. That provides no solace when week after week, season after season, the lows swamp the occasional high and no matter how much you dream you can not claw your way out of the hole. Same old, same old disappointment; but you must trudge on.

Like all small clubs where every player is the son, brother, friend or boyfriend of some one in and around the town Wynyard has many characters who volatilise and disappear. Philip Murphy is one such who intermittently attends games and takes residence with other great and witty commentators at the can bar. In his two appearances last year (2011) he managed to bring ‘Murphy’s Law’ with him. The consequences were so bizarre one can only laugh.

In the first instance we were doing alright against one of the competition’s hot shots, Penguin, when one of our players bumped a goal post and knocked it out of the ground just prior to half time. The rules, which we later found out that the league’s hierarchy only selectively use, stated that as the incident occurred before half time the match result would be considered null and void and the points shared. At the half way part of the season we sat near the bottom of the ladder with a 2 ½ to 7 ½ win loss ratio.

Without consistency we managed to scratch out a few wins and the dream that was finals football continued to taunt us. Bad kicking here and damaging injuries there would set us back once more. So close, but so far away.

And so it happened that Murph turned up again to a must win home game against perennial competition performers Ulverstone. As usual his effervescent nature brought good cheer and, strangely enough, good luck: for a while. With the Cats playing well they took a modest lead into half time. Within one minute of the return to play Murphy’s law struck again, with a devastating effect.

A young player who had earlier been rotated onto the field was replaced at the break but with a communication break down he was not aware of the situation and re-entered the playing field. The opposition kicked a goal within the first half minute and in that time the player realised his mistake and left the field without any advantage being gained by us. But it was too late. In the ensuing bedlam a player count, initiated by an inappropriate opposition player and outside the clearly defined section of the ground clearly stated in the Leagues rules, ensued.

There can be few things in sport as deflating than seeing your score (68 points) removed from the board in an instant with the realisation that your season was over. However, what happened next may well be the turning point in the contemporary history of the club.

The crowd went silent and the game went stale for about ten minutes. It was at that point that Shannon Bakes, an ex player who had returned to coach, called through the weird silence. I remember hearing it clearly from the other side of the ground. “Come on, it’s not over, we are going to chase it (65 points) down”. His generally young charges responded.

Of course it was too much but the margin was halved. The “eight point” nature of the game eventually cost us a spot in the finals. The young Cats were cheered from the ground as all supporters milled around their clubrooms. There were tears. The winners left in silence.

From that day Wynyard did not lose another game but fell short of the finals. Apart from the points loss game they would have won their final six straight games by an average of eight goals. The beat the eventual premiers by ten goals at their home ground, turning around a one hundred and thirty five point loss at home in the first round. All opposition hierarchies openly stated that they were glad Wynyard failed to make the finals.

They had momentum and belief. We the supporters had hope. But that was last season.

 

Comments

  1. Looking forward to the season unfolding, Phantom. I have friends from Ulverstone so my allegiances will be torn.

  2. Andrew Fithall says:

    Lookng forward to seeing Wynyard FC live on 2 June when a few Almanackers venture across the ditch. I can’t imagine that we would bring anything but good fortune to the team. Any Almanacker interested in joining in, details at http://footyalmanac.com.au/?p=33876

  3. Phanto – will be very pleased to cheer on the Wynyard Cats on our Tasmanian excursion in June. Bring a footy so we can have a kick at half time.

    Good luck to the boys for 2012..

  4. Pamela Sherpa says:

    Wynyard sounds like a lovely spot for a day at the footy.
    Gigs , I also have a friend – from Kerang days, who now lives in Ulverstone .

  5. Does Vonda Bounds still live in Wynyard? Maybe I should ask SOS Price :)

  6. Phantom – Is Wynyard a suburb of Burnie? I remember flying to Wynyard airport many years ago to visit Burnie – the capital of the North West.
    Is Stephen Bakes interested in an AFL coaching job with his impressive results? “Come on, it’s not over, we are going to chase it (65 points) down”. Could well be the Demons’ half time clarion call.
    As for “They had momentum and belief. We the supporters had hope. But that was last season.” Sounds like the Corio Cats.

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