Vote 1 Uni Blacks – From the Mallee to Perth

As the Blacks fans streamed into Elsternwick on Sunday, each had their own take on the events of the previous day. With many being followers of footy and politics, some were celebrating wins, some were dealing with defeat and many oscillated between the two. A conservative Pies fan (yes, we have a few) would be more likely to watch a replay of preferences being distributed than the previous night’s 2nd half, for example.

It seemed that as usual Mick and Steve Comma, originally of Shepparton, but more recently of the inner north, were the only ones to be truly happy, given the appointments of Roos and Abbott in consecutive days. That is, of course, until you ask them about how the hipster population has affected the price of Melbourne Bitter in recent years.

Thankfully, there was one topic of conversation that everyone could agree on, and that was the news of the birth of senior coach Matt Kempton’s baby girl in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Warm congratulations to Matt and Lizzie from the entire Blacks family.

Despite having been rolled by a comfortable margin against this same opponent just 8 days previous, the Blacks fans were confident of a good showing. Although this club has occasionally been defeated in finals in recent years, they have always guaranteed a fierce contest. The key inclusions of Broc McCauley and Tom Howgate also provided confidence.

Although purple, Palmer, Pauline & Port Power had been all the rage on Saturday, the Blacks had their hopes pinned to their own ‘P’ in Adam Pattison. The spearhead delivered immediately and kicked the first goal of the game. Patto has been a revelation at the Blacks this year and his team mates can’t help but admire the way he hangs on Coach Kempton’s every word. This is especially impressive considering (a) he has played the game at the highest level, and (b) his ears could probably pick up the sound of the ‘50c extra’ cheese being applied on the Elsternwick Park hotdogs.

Before the Blacks fans could get too dreamy, the Cardinals responded with two quick goals. As was the case last week, their foot skills were clean and their running was impressive. With a fast track and little breeze to speak of, it was clear the Blacks would need to be much better than they had been in previous weeks to have a chance of victory.

The necessary spark was soon provided by Charlie Richardson, who chased down an outgoing defender like he had cut in on Chaz’s last wave for the day. After slotting the resulting free kick, he soon followed it up with a goal on the run.

By the time Huw Lacey snapped another one through, the Blacks crowd was buoyant. Although Scotch steadied with a late goal, the Uni were right in it.

After the first change, Scotch again had the running and kicked two early goals. Again the Blacks were being threatened by hard running and sweet skills. Although Bede Mahon was able to slot a major, this was rebuffed by another two goals from the Cardinals. By halfway through the 2nd quarter, Scotch was up by 25 points and many in attendance were contemplating a result mirroring that of the week before.

With the Cardinals players humming along, it was perhaps appropriate then that the Blacks players who first started to haul in the lead were those who hail from a place meaning ‘Song of Birds’. In an inspirational piece of play, 2011 Cordner Medallist Scott Weekley won a crucial ball and delivered a pin point pass to his former Tyntynder team mate Jake Matthews, who cooly slotted the major. Not to be outdone, Josh Gaylor showed that you can be from ‘the town’ and still have some tricks as the lad from the Swan Hill Swans bounced, baulked and side-stepped all in the one motion to nail a goal that brought the Blacks within 14 points. I have it on good authority that those handing out ‘how to vote’ flyers at Gayzie’s polling booth were soon left with twisted knees as he performed his trademark fancy footwork on the way to casting his vote.

With a Scotch major almost immediately cancelled by a Pattison goal on the siren, the Blacks trailed by 14 points at half-time. As the crowd gathered in the Elsternwick sunshine, no one dared predict the result.

Thankfully for Blacks fans, the fast starts of the first and second quarters were not replicated by the Cardinals and it was the Blacks who got off to a flier. Having started forward before being placed down back in the first half, Broc McCauley was again given a spot in the Blacks goal square and he did not disappoint. He opened the Uni’s account with a strong mark and goal in the opening minutes and when he again competed in the air, skipper Mahon slammed home the crumbs to make the margin 2 points. The game was well and truly alive.

After the sides traded two goals each in the middle of the term, McCauley again presented, this time on the lead, to mark and goal. Like Pattison, Broc has also come from the big leagues and has also been keen to impress his team mates. Having already covered that by nailing the game winner at the Snake Pit in Round 1, he took it up a notch in this quarter and gave the Blacks the lead.

With Jandre ‘#slab’ Slabbert kicking another one before the break, our lads had a healthy lead of 11 points.

Though the Blacks fans had come from far and wide to support their side, they were still treated to the usual smattering of whispers from Coach Kempton. Whilst his final instructions were not even at a volume that would disturb his new arrival, sources within the playing group have revealed that his eyes revealed a message as illuminating as any hi-vis vest worn in the election campaign. As the huddle broke up, the fans roared in support and dashed back to their vantage points.

You don’t earn the longest current streak of seasons in Premier Division without having a bit of fight, and at the start of the last quarter the Cardinals showed the form that has kept them in the highest tier of VAFA football since 1991. With Burns slotting a major and Passador following up with a quick brace, the hearts of Blacks fans fidgeted in their seats.

The lead was now with Old Scotch, and the Blacks needed to sharpen up. Although Pattison was able to snare a goal, that was quickly cancelled out at the Red End. The Cardinals were up by 5 points, 16 minutes were gone, who could the Blacks turn to?

It’s often said that the best thing about footy is the people. Each club across the land has certain types of folk that we can all relate to.

You know the one who turns up to the club as the big interstate recruit?

You know the one who is always helping out at every possible opportunity?

You know the one who doesn’t seem to have any luck with injury?

You know the one who is always keen to buy you a drink and seems to know everything about you, despite the fact that you just got one and you’re really not that sure about yourself sometimes?

Well, in 2012, Peter O’Rourke was all of these men.

Having been held back by a foot injury and consigned to a moon boot last season, ‘Rourkey’ made the Blacks his home after moving over from Perth. He made an immediate impression through his enthusiasm around the club, despite being unable to play a single game last year. It should then come as no surprise that someone so resilient could make an impact after being switched from full back to full forward. By kicking two goals in two minutes, O’Rourke sent the Blacks to the lead by 7 points.

As the game entered time-on, it was clear that every moment was crucial and that the team who would seize those moments would emerge victorious. Thankfully, it was the Blacks who did just that as Slabbert reprised his role from the North Ballarat Rebels in the TAC Cup and stopped many of the the Cardinals’ forward entries. Not to be outdone, the Blacks also had some help from our little curly-tailed friend from Serpentine.

With the ball deep in the Blacks forward line and Scotch looking to clear it out, Tommy Napier scurried in and used all of his short, powerful limbs to dispossess the player and allow McCauley to slam through his third. Another goal soon followed from a typically classy finish from Lacey and the game was all over.

Though another final awaits next week, this game will be remembered fondly as it was the Blacks’ first finals win in the highest VAFA division since the 1970s. The win was a wonderful reward for many hours/days/years of hard work for a group of people that have known each other for both weeks and decades and have emerged from all corners of the land.

The trick is to bring it all together again in 6 days time.

The Preliminary Final will again be against St. Bede’s/Mentone Tigers at 2pm next Saturday. Same venue. Same passion please.

Match reports from the Reserves and The Phoenix to follow

The Black Hack

1st 2nd 3rd Final
Uni Blacks 4.3.27 8.6.54 14.10.94 19.13.127
Old Scotch 4.5.29 10.8.68 12.11.83 16.12.108

Goal Kickers

Pattison 4, McCauley 3, Mahon 2, Richardson 2, O’Rourke 2, Lacey 2, Napier, Slabbert, Matthews, Gaylor

Best Players

Pattison, Slabbert, Gaylor, Lacey, Mahon, Weekley

About The Black Hack

Loves scoops. Hates deadlines

Comments

  1. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Go You Black Men Good Luck In The Preliminary from Ad Uni FC Blacks
    May Bob Be With You

  2. The Black Hack says:

    Thanks Malcolm.

    We’ll be sure to sing a few of the songs we’ve ‘borrowed’ from your boys at season’s end.

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