Waaia v Tungamah

It has been well documented on the Almanac website that the Waaia Under Seventeens aren’t a good side. We’re a good team, but the quality of some of the players is questionable. So the feeling of walking into the changerooms, knowing that you’re a massive favourite to win comfortably, it was a nice change. The side we were against, Tungamah, had just 13 players, with most of them borrowed from the U/14’s. Waaia boasted a side of 18, not including the young tackers. It was these facts (I knew we’d have the advantage over them, numbers-wise during the week) that led to this conversation on Wednesday:

“Hey Mum, if I kick 5 goals this weekend, will you take me to Shepp and buy me the new AFL game when it comes out next week?”

“You’re on.”

I was pumped walking into the rooms. The Tungamah changerooms are very country-esque, with a roller-door being the only privacy we get from the netballers and the various mum’s. The coach had mine and some of the other players’ jumpers, and he was running late, so many of us were still in our t-shirts as we ran out on the ground for a warm-up at three quarter time of the U/14’s. They were getting flogged, but I didn’t care. I just wanted my number 20. Back in the changerooms, the coach had arrived…with no jumpers! Anarchy! A few of the team officials stood around looking at each other with blank faces, and with roughly 15 minutes until we were required on the field, a drive BACK to Waaia, then BACK to Tungamah was on the cards, which would take up to about 50 minutes. When the fourths finished, some of the boys stole their jumpers, which just wasn’t going to work for me and a couple of the other bigger guys. So we had to wait, on the bench, as the match started. And we started in emphatic fashion, two goals in no time. The kid, who had taken my position on account of me being on the pine, had kicked two goals. It was painful to watch.

Quarter time came, and still no jumpers. Waaia were leading by a goal, and it was a slow trudge back to the bench to begin the second quarter. The kid taking my position kicked another, that was three goals that could’ve and should’ve been mine. I didn’t like feeling sour when the team was playing great footy, but I was definitely one sour grape. To make matters worse, the Tungamah coach ran across, and asked if he could borrow a couple of our players to make things a bit even. Waaia’s coach turned around, and looked at me. I looked him in the eye and shook my head, no way was I going to ditch. Two other boys, good on them, swapped their red and blacks for the maroon and gold guernsey. After what felt like an eternity, I was tapped on the shoulder and my guernsey was thrust into my face. I put it on, and was immediately put onto the field, ironically against one of the ‘Waaia’ boys in the forward pocket. I was hellbent on kicking a few goals, to make up for some lost time. But the siren went for half time not long after I ran on. Thankfully, I was still on the field for the third quarter, in the forward line.

GOAL NUMBER ONE: Playing on a skinny, dark-haired 11 year old, I was craving for that ball to come to me in a one-on-one. Not long after the bounce, it did, with a long kick from the boundary straight to me, 45m out directly in front. It was a fair distance, but there was hardly any wind, and I knew I could kick it. I completed my rather-unorthodox preparation as I lined up, but spotted a teammate standing 15m away from me, all on his own. I chipped the ball over the ‘man’ on the mark, where he marked, and kicked a goal. No one ran to me and gave me a high-five. Perhaps I should’ve had a crack…

GOAL NUMBER TWO: Again leading my opponent to the ball on the half-forward line, I marked. Looking to the middle, I saw a teammate streaming forward with no one on him. I geared up to kick to him, but at the last second noticed that he was headed right into a Tungamah player. I kept the ball in my hands, but the man on the mark had gone for a smother, and off I trotted around him. I looked up, the goals were ahead of me, but I was a few metres in from the boundary. I chipped short to the leading full-forward, who failed to mark. Gathering the crumbs was one of the midfielders who snapped the goal. A few of the seniors players clapped and cheered towards me, so I felt a little bit better.

So, despite the rather misleading subheadings, I didn’t kick a goal for the day (the last quarter was a formality, with Waaia banging it down from the midfield, right onto the full-forward’s chest 9 times out of 10) and we ran out winners by 67 points, 6.8.44 to 18.3.111. The win felt awesome, and singing the song has definitely been the highlight of the season so far for me. But, next time around against this mob, I’ll get on the board, and hopefully a guernsey to start the game with.

About Josh Barnstable

21 year old North Melbourne supporter from country Victoria. Currently living in Melbourne studying a Bachelor of Sports Media. Dreams of becoming a sports journalist and broadcaster.


  1. John Butler says:

    Very amusing Josh.

    Lesson # 1- no duck tastes sweeter than a sitting one.

    #2- every young man should learn to do his own laundry. To avoid such lost opportunities. :)

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