226 to 2

A 226 to 2 flogging would seem to be a weird choice as your most treasured sporting memory, most sane people would take a premiership or perhaps a chanceless century, but for me i’ll take the day the mighty Mangoplah Cookadina United Goanna’s under 18s conceded 35 goals at Gummly Gummly Oval.


It all started at about 11pm on a typically arctic Thursday night in june in Canberra in 1999, the phone rang and it was my old mate Wayne “Doorset” Smith. Apparently the Goannas were going to be short on Saturday and needed a gun ruckman, unfortunately Simon Madden had long since retired and John Ironmonger couldn’t be contacted so they would have to settle for me.


The Key Players  


Doddo (myself) – 193 cm, gangly, virgin, 11 stone ringing wet and studying sports management at the University of Canberra with dreams of working at the Sydney Olympics . Still reminisces (and tells anyone who cares) about the day he tore apart Cameron Mooney in the under 12’s. Sure Cameron went on to win 3 premierships but I had my moment in the sun. Had not played a game for 4 years.


Wayne “Doorset” Smith – 175cm, short, slower than Greg Williams, once ‘drove’ an ex girlfriend to become a lesbian, currently doing a bakers apprentice. The one player in this unfortunate group with some potential, currently getting a few kicks in the 1’s but moonlighting in the u/18s.


John “ Tonks” Tonkin – vision worse than Mr Magoo, basketball player in the mould of Phil Smyth who proved once and for all that white men can’t jump, tree cutter for a crust. Never played an Aussie Rules game before and was co-opted for the fact that he was a ripper bloke.


Brad “Cat” Carroll – the tank with a build like Micky Conlan, the evil intent of Robbie Muir and the kicking skills of Andrew Dunkley. Was a promising leg spinner on the side and was a trainee manager at Macca’s so was popular with the lads.       


Rod “loose” Guy – built like a young Mr Bean and appeared to have no arms. Good skills running down the flanks like Robert Flower. The best drinker in the group.


The Pre Match


A quick scan around the dressing identified 13 players, two of which were 22 (played under dodgy clearances and names used from the witness protection program). A quick tactical discussion takes place and it was decided that being 5 short we immediately should employ ‘Pagans Paddock’ theory and isolate Doorset in the inside 50 in lieu of having any forward pockets or flanks.


I was apprehensive but determined not to make a fool of myself, Tonks had embraced the arse pat, Cat was trying to identify the smallest player in the opposition he could barrel and Rod was asking for the oil to polish the guns.. we were ready to go. Our protagonists the East Wagga Hawks looked like pros, they had warm up tops, 22 players, coaches and skills.


I saunter up to the centre square, my opponent was about 6”5”, could jump and was discussing with his teammates call signs for where he would tap it. My heart sank further when the “apprentice” umpire informed us that he would be throwing up the ball as he can’t bounce yet. Shit, every contest will be 50/50 and no chance of a bad bounce and an easy hitout, long day ahead.


The Match   


It was ugly from the start as the hawks used their 5 man overlap to advantage and before we could blink they had piled on 3 goals in 5 minutes. Cat suggested that at the next bounce I should actually try the surprise tactic of jumping, good advice! I launched into the next contest and actually broke even and we managed to clear the ball out of the centre, we were back in town for 8 seconds until the ball quickly rebounded back over our heads. 30 minutes later and it was 58-0. Tonks suggested perhaps they were kicking with a 14 goal breeze?


At the quarter time address our coach was doing a great job pumping our tyres up and even managed to praise the efforts of “john dobson” in the ruck.. I appreciated the praise, only problem was my name was Craig Dodson. A new nickname was born, 15 years later and the lads still call me Johnny Dobson.


The rest of the match was pure ugly but did feature a few memorable highlights:


In the 2rd quarter Cat decided that he didn’t like the look of the 15 year old skinny kid wearing glasses for the hawks. When the opportunity arose as the youngster paddled the ball towards the boundary line he layed a hit that would have made mark yeats proud. I can still recall the scream from the crowd – “you weak prick”. Cat shook it off and managed to survive the following scuffle.


In the 3rd quarter Tonks managed to secure the pill and launched a midfield bomb that would have made Peter Sterling proud. Great kick, wrong game.


Rod managed to play loose most of the day which was a very handy skill when you are 5 short. As the hawks were leading by 30 goals they decided not to implement a tag.


Doorset managed to kick 2 points, a herculean effort considering he had 6 players hanging off him. Mind you to this day we still blame his inaccuracy for our loss.


I lost the first 36 hit outs but in the last quarter with the game in the bag my opposition ruckman was rested (most likely with leather poising) and replaced with a 5”2” back up. Thank Christ, I went for the throat and dominated the hit outs, which helped to lift my spirits.


226 to 2 at the final siren.


As the subsequent years have flown by weddings have occurred, children born and friendships cemented. The legend of the match has grown and four mates treasure the ‘one day in June’ when we took the field together for the one and only time and gave our all for the mighty Mangoplah Cookadinia United Goannas.  

About craig dodson

Born in the sporting mecca that is Wagga Wagga and now reside in Melbourne with my lovelly wife Sophie and son's Jack and Harry. Passionate Swans supporter and formally played cricket at a decent level and Aussie Rules at a not so decent level! Spend my days now perfecting my slice on the golf course and the owner of the worlds worst second serve on the tennis course.

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