When it rains it pours……goals apparently

The Postman and Gus

Falcons Vs Bahrain

One of the great tactical minds of the 20th Century, Sir Winston Churchill, once said “Anyone with half a brain starts their puzzles from the sides and works their way in”.  I believe it was in reference to the battles won on the cold outskirts of Europe that eventually led to the Allies victory in World War II.

Like those grim winter days in Europe, grey skies and patchy rain met the players on arrival to the Zayed Sports Centre and the thought of a little wet weather football, as well as getting word that Bahrain would have a small and weakened side for the fourth round clash, saw the Falcons anticipating a fun day at the office.

Not long after the commencement of play, anticipation and reality soon mirrored each other.  The Blues started well enough showing vigour and a direct style of play however it soon became evident that the Falcons held a distinct advantage in skill, endurance and numbers.  One Touch was leading strongly and converting with Woody and Flash providing the support. Jim was immense in the early exchanges and led the rebounding from the backline. The authors one kick for the day led to his early exit with a hamstring, however once he found the Gatorade seemed happy enough.

As has become the hallmark of the Falcons season to date, the second quarter saw shock and awe that would put old Dubya to shame.  It also spelt the end to competitiveness for the afternoon.  The home team put on many, many goals to none with Falcon highlights including:

–     Trig putting together ten minutes of absolute world class football here in our very own Middle East – what a treat;

–     Supercoach (Blinkers) giving his recently errant dominant side a rest to guide a wobbling drop punt through off his left boot from a 30 degree angle (modesty prevented him from telling anyone it was in fact his left);

–     Mick Molnar showing shades of Daicos circa 1990 to dribble one through from deep in the left pocket;

–     Stu finding paddocks of space in the right pocket seven or eight times;

–     Sammy running through packs possessed and putting himself in great spots to help his fellow forwards and have a couple of shots himself; and

–     Scotty slotting truly in his long anticipated and popular return to the team.

(bullet points especially for all those engineers out there)

I’m assuming that the start of the third quarter started much as the second had finished.  However, the author can only hazard a guess as he was changing into clothing more appropriate for the weather.  The quarter saw Brunsdon and Dev interchanging at full forward to great effect.  Tracey and Lips were providing strong support for Will and Jim in the backline and the centre was dominated by Sully, BC, Stu and Trig.  While the Blues were still putting in effort and finding the odd linkage in play they didn’t look close to scoring.  Gus put his hand up for play of the day with some handy roving on the far side wing which looked likely to end in a goal however the big man forgot that he is a lumbering ruckman for a second and proceeded to take a bounce that never returned cleanly to his hands.

The third quarter ended with the Falcons clearly on top of the game and Supercoach and Watto went all Under 12s and flipped the team board.  If you have ever seen seagulls scramble for a single chip you will have an understanding of the movement within the Falcons forward line from the moment the whistle blew to start the last quarter.  Old legs appeared new again, selling dummies become the norm and running 50 metres to receive a handball in the goal square was the new black.  The Blues legs were well and truly shot and the Falcons appeared to be able to propel the footy forward at will, and at Will, with the backline gentleman showing us he can do it at both ends with two goals.  Lips also chipped in and Dev added to his growing tally.  Not only was Dev kicking them himself but he also gave away quite a few showing all and sundry that chivalry has not been lost in football.

The traffic was not, however, all in the Falcons direction with the Blues kicking their first goals of the game.  Much like three famous trees on a hill in the woods, (a cryptic tribute to the coach’s inspirational metaphoric pre-game rant, that nobody quite understood until after the game), Supercoach dreamt too big and realised the hard way that it takes poise, control and great judgement to hold down a spot in the backline with a marking contest ending in Bahrain’s full forward kicking truly for their first of the afternoon.  Three more Bahrain goals were to follow for the quarter with the Falcons understandably easing up after such a memorable and strong performance.

The siren saw the Falcons claim a big victory scoring 31.14.200 to 4.2.26.  Five goals were each kicked by Dev, Stu and One Touch.  Woody and Scotty snagged three apiece and Blinkers and Will each scored a brace.  Any Falcon player could have collected votes on the day with best afield adjudged Stu, Trig and Dev.

And so the pieces of the 2010/2011 season are coming together for the Abu Dhabi Falcons much like those of a puzzle.  The sides have been completed but there is still the difficult centre to finish.

Thanks again to all those that lent their hands on the day including Troy (what did the chairs ever do to you?), Watto, Pedo, Rocket, Rocket jnr and Vinnie.

The Gus Observations:

Our third home game at our new home Sheikh Zayed Sports City and the third pitch we have played on. This was again on a rugby pitch so there could have been a few goal-kicking gremlins sneaking in after the Doha effort where the Falcons made hard work of splitting the big sticks. The weather was overcast and light showers had fallen earlier in the day. For all of that the pitch was well drained, (well it is built on sand…), and while edging towards greasy didn’t really affect the game.

The game started with possibly the strongest Falcons team ever put on the paddock. Up front: Matty B, Woody, and Mick Molnar. Mid field: Supercoach, Stu and Trigga. Backline: Jim H, Jay and Will. A full bench made the Bahrain task a formidable challenge, as they only had a single player there. That they had a team at all was largely as a result of a number of Gaelic footy players making the trip. One of whom was amongst their best.

Dan dominated the ruck giving Stu and Trigga first use of the ball. And when a quick kick out of the centre is landing in the scoring arc, it’s pretty handy. When the forward line is functioning like a well oiled unit it can be an awesome thing to watch. Falcons were getting to the ball in numbers and making good decisions about who to lay the ball off to. The first quarter was very much a procession. It can’t have been much fun to have Dan take a break in the ruck only to have 6’8” Mark Deverall come on, and then have 6’7” Gus relieve him while he takes a rest in the forwards.

Most of the key passages of play involved Falcon players running past to collect a handball and either running the ball into the scoring zone or finding a leading forward. There were moments of desperate defence with ruckmen diving onto the ball in the Bahrain scoring zone to thwart a breakaway. One on one competitions were played out according to team rules, ie. punch from behind etc. But the willingness to share the ball was the most pleasing aspect.

When the ball did make it to the Bahrain forward line it was quickly repelled by Jim, Jay or Will. The game continued in this style for three quarters with the Falcons running amok, while denying the Blues any goals. At three quarter time, an offer was made of Falcons players to even up the teams. Bahrain chose to play on without topping up. And to their credit put some good passages of play together and cracking through with their full-forward kicking four for the quarter while the Falcons played some players out of position. The Blues Irish ginger also had a good game down back playing a difficult role as the boy with his finger in the dyke. What the final quarter showed was that they weren’t the team the score indicated and that the Falcons are short on versatility.

That being said only 3 players didn’t trouble the goal kickers list. The Postman who did a hammy, myself due to coordination skills not being able to cash cheques and surprisingly Trigga, who did everything else on the day bar jag one against his old team.

The game ended with a dominating score in favour of the Falcons. Lots of positives for the Falcons from the game; playing to instructions, running in numbers, sharing the ball and playing to roles. But the main thing for the Falcons is that it confirms a place in the GF, no matter what results occur in the final round. After persistent lobbying, Watto has been rewarded with the GF being allocated to the Falcons home grounds at Sheikh Zayed Sports City.

After the game the teams retired to Aloft for the pre-Aussie Day festivities that were not helped by the Antarctic conditions, (that may be relative). It was less than 20 degrees and when the threatening skies opened up it didn’t help. Fortunately a marquee (with chandeliers, are you getting a picture of this country?) was available. Bahrain won the boat race, so it wasn’t a total write off for their weekend. And credit where it’s due, it’s a fair effort to travel internationally for a game of footy and the Falcons respect the Blues for making the effort to turn up rather than just forfeiting.

Comments

  1. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rocket says:

    On ya Gus & Postman for your reports.

    One of the best post-match functions I’ve attended in football in a long time – great to see players and supporters from both teams in attendance, families, media, and the umpires all getting stuck into it! Also great to see the Aussie Ambassador at the game.

Leave a Comment

*