A grand final is a strange beast

Sunday August 18 2013

Grand Final

St Kilda City Under 11 Red VS Highett

Mentone Grammar Playing Fields, Keysborough – Oval 3


By Ken Barlow

“‘Pick me up in pieces. I’m scattered and broken.” – Grant McLennan


A grand final is a strange beast. You get to play in it by winning a bunch of regular footy games, and then you get to the day, and it is nothing like a regular footy game. Everything about is bigger. People ask you about it  all week and they want to know if you’re nervous or excited. You drive up to a huge sporting complex a long way from home with ovals and tennis courts and soccer fields everywhere and you have to pay at the gate to get in. There are hundreds of cars going in and out and parked all over the place inside. There are scores and scores of kids wandering around sporting the colours of a dozen different teams. There’s an electronic scoreboard and a countdown clock and a bloke on the roof of the kiosk with a movie camera. There’s a loud sound system blaring out (for some reason) Girls Just Wanna Have Fun on a continuous loop. Everybody’s mums and dads and sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles and grandparents and mates and teachers and family friends all come along to the footy at the same time, for the first time. Your own brother is there, and he never comes to the footy. There are a hundred people in the rooms when the coaches give the pre-match address. You run through a banner and music plays over the PA and that music is a recording of you and your team-mates singing your club song. You line up, arm-in-arm, and sing the national anthem before the first bounce. And then the game itself…….. well, we’ll come to that later.


The day dawns pretty fine down home in Elwood and St Kilda and Balaclava and certain parts of Caulfield. It is sunny and only a fraction blustery and, up ‘til the mid-morning departure time at least, it looks like it might turn out to be the type of day that will suit our skillful, running, attacking brand of footy. The ground that we are playing it is an unknown quantity. It is located well outside our bailiwick but the name of the joint gives off a pretty encouraging vibe. We want something nice and roomy, and “Mentone Grammar Playing Fields” – surely that suggests spaciousness and ampleness? And conjures up a vision of a vast sward of open greenery such as you might find in a novel by Anthony Powell or Evelyn Waugh? With the First XI playing cricket and chaps lolling on the grass by the sightscreen? And eating cucumber sandwiches and exclaiming “Jolly good stroke, that!” and then slowly walking back through the gloaming to their House in time for a bang-up supper of bangers and mash? Or something along those lines, anyway? Doesn’t it?


In fact, it turns out that oval number 3 is nothing like that. For a stand-alone footy venue, it is tiny. It is possibly the smallest ground that we have played at since the old under 9 lightning premiership days, when they put out some cones and marked some lines and turned Toorak Park into 3 snug little bijou footy grounds. What’s more, while we have been making the long trek to the ground, the weather has been closing in. The cloud is low, rain threatens, and the wind is diabolical – hard and cold and blowing diagonally across the ground. Not even Demis Roussos could make friends with this wind. To stand still in it is to become subject to mounting annoyance and then despair, as it whips around your ears and blows your hat off and sends crunched-up styrofoam cups tumbling across the grass. You hear about certain winds being crazy-inducing and you chalk it up to urban myth-making, but after standing around in this thing for 10 minutes, you’re willing to believe every word you’ve every read about the devil winds of Santa Ana and their deleterious effect on human psychological equilibrium. Footy-wise, in this weather, on this postage stamp, it might not be a run-and-carry kind of day. It might be a in-and-under and grind-it-out Plan B kind of day.


40 minutes until game time and things are actually pretty mellow in the rooms. There’s an orderly queue of boys waiting to sign the team sheet and there’s some friendly chit-chat and some lively banter and a bit of chiacking but all is calm. No sense of panic. No stage fright. After boys have signed the book they array themselves around the benches, and as each new arrival comes through the door, he is greeted like Norm Peterson, with a loud chorus of his own name – “SWEENEY!” “VINNIE!” “JAKEY!” Coach Marcus does a slow lap of the room, greeting each player individually, giving them each a friendly word or two of encouragement. Atypically, there are a good dozen or more mums in the room as coach Brian stands up in front of the group and and says “Welcome to a grand final”. He goes on to congratulate the players on their efforts throughout the season and to thank them for giving us all the opportunity to be here on this day. And it is a point well made because it is not just a big day for the boys, but for the rest of us too. We’re all thrilled to be here and we owe our presence here to the hard work and the talents of these lads.


Marcus produces the whiteboard, reads the team and gives each of the lines the 411 on what’s expected of them today. The backline needs to be tight. No loose marking. The forwards have to lock it in from the Highett kick-ins and hold the ball in the zone with pressure. In the middle we need to smash in hard from the first bounce and make the Highett boys know we’re around. Legendary hard nut Sam Dawkins is called out to the front and offered up as the personification of the hardness and determination that we are going to need when the ball is on the deck.



Over the back we go to a windswept soccer field for a handball drill. The ball stays off the deck, for the most part, and there’s plenty of positive chat from the players. Big handclaps and bigger voices from runner Randall and trainer Tim, whose distinctive Scottish burr is one of the signature sounds of our Sunday mornings. The boys move on to kicking practice and the breeze plays havoc, dragging the pill off course and putting unsuspecting spectators at risk of a boning out. Off to the side, coach Brian and captain Roman stand deep in conversation, throwing handfuls of grass in the air and trying to figure out which way to run, and where to aim our kick-ins. Coach Marcus weaves in and out of the scene, pulling each boy aside in turn and giving him the detailed lowdown.


Back in for a last word. Coach Brian exhorts the boys to work hard and encourage each other but also to soak up the atmosphere, be in the moment and enjoy the day. Our boys take to the field to the strains of the club song, then link arms and stand as one for the national anthem. And then we’re on.


First Quarter


Highett got the first tap and took the honeydew away from the centre circle. The leitmotif for the day’s symphony was introduced in the first bar – the ball was locked down on the kiosk wing. Time and again throughout the afternoon, this theme recurred. Every time we got a chance to get clear in broken play and construct something, the same thing would happen – Highett would converge in numbers on the kiosk flank, surround the ball, lock it in and slow things down. If it was a deliberate strategy by the Highett coach (and he did give the impression of being a canny little rooster), it couldn’t have worked better. Our signature run-and-carry style never got any steam up and we were forced into an untidy, disorderly, knock-down-drag-out street fight.


Not that we can’t hold our own in a scrap. Our backline brickwalled it in the first term. Patrick Twigg and Nicholas Tu have been solid contributors in the back half all year, courageous and reliable, and we got more of the same from them today – strong marking when Highett kicked the ball forward, fierce tackling when they carried it. Jack Pougher chucked his frame into the fray across half-back. Sweeney Crabb put his physical well-being on the line, cracking in hard to win the ball on the deck. Marlon Trevitt and Vinnie Farrelly were in good marking form on a tough day for grab-taking, holding a couple of valuable chest marks on the last line.


We had a real tussle on our hands through the middle. Highett plays a swarming, suffocating, oxygen-denying brand of footy, and our classy ball-players found it hard to express their creativity. Roman Anastasios’s name had obviously come up in the Highett meetings, because he was being closely tagged. Nevertheless, his class prevailed and he was able to get clear and drive the coconut into the forward line on a handful of occasions. Alex Goldman is worth his salt and much, much more on a day like this. His elusiveness and speed enabled him to break free of his opposite number and buy himself a yard or two of space in which to try to set something up going forward. Sam Dawkins was as hard as theoretical astrophysics in the guts, holding his own in the clinches and taking some of theirs, and then getting free down the non-kiosk wing and taking a grab or two inside the attacking 50. Jake Austin had a job to do today, running with one of the league’s premier midfielders, and he gave his all, as he always does, halting the Highett go-forward with fierce tackling.


Cold air, drizzle, fierce cross-winds and a postage-stamp-sized footy ground do not add up to favourable conditions for ball-playing forwards. Our forward 6 looked a classy bunch on paper, and they were pro-active and up-and-about in the first term, but they battled to put together meaningful stretches of attacking play. Luke McIntyre was on the move, leading to either side of the ground and bringing the ball to the deck. Elijah McMeekin was mobile and inventive, running on to loose balls and getting himself into space. Ty Glennon went up in the packs and provided a handy marking target. Clean marks were hard to take, but each of these 3 boys did his bit to halve a contest and give our crumbers something to work with. Of the goalsneaks, Jordie Gray looked the boy most likely early doors, snatching the plum from the fringes of the pack, jinking and jiving. He looked like giving us an early lead when he got free next to the square and seemed set to take an uncontested mark, but he was spoiled by a teammate whose eagerness got the better of him.


Our efforts were manful over the course of the stanza, and (courtesy of a couple of scrambled minors) we should probably have hit the first break in front, but we had a touch of ill luck with a minute or two left on the clock. A manifestly legal mark was not paid to one of our backmen, the ball was knocked free, and Highett capitalised with an opportunistic crepe sole. A bit of a blow, and certainly the unfairness of it rankled, but by no means an irretrievable situation.





Quarter Time


St Kilda Red 0/2/2 Highett 1/0/6


Second Quarter


At the huddle, coach Brian offered up the view that we probably broke par in the first quarter, by restricting Highett to 1 goal when they were kicking with a 3 goal breeze. Our boys took on board some well-earned praise for their commitment and honest effort, and bounced back to their stations hopeful of gaining and then stretching an advantage on the scoreboard in the second quarter. As it turned out, we did hit the front, but we couldn’t quite let down and kick away.


3 of our our very best players from the first term – Roman Anastasios, Alex Goldman and Jake Austin – opened up strongly in the second. Roman laid a massive tackle straight after the opening ball-up, and set  the tone for his work for rest of the stanza. Despite a hard tag, he was an effective ball-winner and, although he didn’t have a lot of time to balance up and assess his options, he was still able to move the ball forward regularly with hurried kicks out of the pack. Midway through the term, Roman notched our first hard-won major, after a typically whole-hearted effort in a marking contest by Jake brought the pellet to ground front and centre 20 metres from goal. Jake and Alex worked in tandem throughout the term, gang tackling and waxing between themselves with sharp handball at both ends of the park.


As diligent and assiduous as these 3 boys were around the ball, the relentless pressure from Highett began to tell over the course of this quarter, and some of their teammates found themselves dropping off the pace. Sam Dawkins remained cool in the thick of the action, which meant that we were still breaking fairly even in close. Highett were no more able to settle and move forward thoughtfully than we were. However, more and more of the quick kicks and handballs out of congestion by both sides were being snapped up by Highett players, who were playing in front and who seemed to be more hungry for the contest than a number of our boys. Some of our fellows seemed to be finding it hard to adjust to the frenzied pace of a grand final, and fellows who had been serviceable links in the chain during the home-and-away matches were now missing in action or being forced by the pace of the game into making costly errors. On the fairly rare occasions that our midfielders and half back line players did get time to balance up and drive the ball long, it was the Highett centre line and half back line players who were prepared to do the gut running to get to the drop zone and take relieving marks. Once again, Highett did a brilliant job of locking the ball down on the kiosk wing, and valuable minutes ticked by in which we were unable to free the ball from the congestion and get it into our forward line, where we desperately needed it to be. Playing deep forward, blokes like Jordie Gray, Xan Matthews Wood, Will Conolly and Luke McIntyre were energetic and willing, converging on the footy with intent when it did come in, but the infrequent supply and the lack of clear air and room to move were making the job tough.


Our resolute backline was our saving grace. The back 6 ensured that, even if we couldn’t supply enough ball to our forwards to build a lead, we wouldn’t tumble backwards out of the game by allowing Highett to put points on at the other end. Jack Pougher showed a ton of character by brushing away the hype and pressure of the day to play what might have been the best game of his life. He launched himself at the pack when the ball came in by air, and then when it hit the deck he threw himself into the maelstrom with verve and vigour. He got his side out of some thick soup late in the term by taking a huge pack mark under intense pressure and then belting a long relieving kick down the wing. Seasoned campaigner Xavier Field took a couple of very solid marks on the last line, and crazy-brave Sweeney Crabb continued to fling himself at the loose ball on the deck. Marlon Trevitt was superb in the last line, backing his own judgement and attacking the ball fearlessly and without hesitation, despite the high stakes atmosphere. The sight of him sliding out like Ray Clemence to meet an incoming grubber, with 3 super-motivated Highett players bearing down on him, is one that will live in the memory. Mr Reliable Ty Glennon was hard at the ball in the back pocket, and committed in his tackling, while Patrick Twigg took some valuable chest marks and did his best to spark some attacking momentum with his long right boot. Patrick also made an uber-timely, superbly executed tackle on a Highett forward who was streaming toward the goal with ball in hand, late in the quarter.


Half Time


St Kilda Red 1/2/8 Highett 1/1/7 









Third Quarter


The whole extended Reds family, from babes in arms to senior citizens, gathered around the half-time huddle and heard some vintage oratory from coach Marcus. Far, far, far much uncontested ball was being picked off much too easily by the Highett players. We have been far too loose in our defensive pressure. We need to tighten up and take responsibility for our man. We need to tackle harder, shadow our opponents more closely and be more accountable. We’ve had the wind for the quarter and we haven‘t been able to get it down into our forward line and score points, and now we’re up against it. Highett missed an easy shot for goal late in the quarter, and if they’d dobbed it, we wouldn’t even be in front right now. As it is, we’re only marginally in front, we don’t have the buffer we needed with Highett about to kick with the breeze in the third quarter and if we don’t put the screws on them and stop them from picking up so much cheap ball, there is a very real danger that they are going to over-run us. So, in short, fire up.


The early stages of the third farthing were fairly promising. Our midfielders were fierce at the contest. Sam Dawkins and Roman Anastasios cracked in hard and got on top when the agate was in dispute. Alex Goldman’s fitness and evasive skills began to test the tiring legs of the Highett midfield, and he got loose more and more frequently, getting the chance to run and bounce and move the ball into attack. Frank Lyon and Daniel Iarussi got out into space and on to the end of a couple of Alex’s kicks. A few more fell into empty space around half forward as we failed to get to the fall of the ball, but at least we had it moving the right way. It was a start. We were coming at them, eating up time and keeping it down the right end to stop Highett from scoring.


It was important that we restrict the flow of ball into the Highett forward line, and Jack Pougher was doing his part by playing the roof off the joint across half back. If Ted Hopkins had been at the game, he would have blunted his pencil jotting down the tackles, possessions and one-percenters perpetrated by J. Pougher in this term. One minute he’s flying in the pack, the next he’s scrambling on the deck wrestling for the nudgee, then he’s laying a forceful shepherd, then handballing to Patrick Twigg on the burst and then he’s galloping down the wing and barreling a long drop punt into touch in front of the kiosk, before sprinting down to the ball-up and laying a pair of bone-rattling tackles. Just a massive, massive quarter by this big-hearted clubman.  One of the great individual quarters by a Reds player this season. The aforementioned Master P.Twigg also had a wonderful term, taking some strong overhead marks and mopping up across half back. Xan Matthews Wood and Jake Austin also put their bugles over the orb when it was there to be won. The ball didn’t spill forward of centre too often as the quarter wore on, but whenever it did, Jordie Gray played the role of defensive forward to a nicety, tackling hard, locking the ball in and ensuring that Highett couldn’t get any effective rebound from half back.


If you plotted the movement of the ball for the first 10 minutes of this quarter on a piece of graph paper, you’d probably end up with a picture resembling the contents of an up-ended bowl of spaghetti, tipped on the page more or less between the kiosk boundary and the back of the square at our defensive end. The odd strand would extend to our forward 50, a strand or two to the non-kiosk wing, but for the most part the ball was ping-ponging around within in an area comprising around 1/5 to 1/4 of the ground. This would give you the impression that the game was at a stalemate, with the 2 sides very evenly matched and neither able to gain any sort of ascendancy. This impression would be erroneous. What it actually felt like, looking on, was that we were the outsider in a 2 horse match race, on terms with the favourite at the furlong pole, but under the stick and just starting to paddle. Highett, by contrast, seemed to be still under hands and heels. Their legs seemed to be less heavy than ours, their talk louder, their reaction time quicker. As Highett began to get to the ball first more and more often, the game began to feel, in the words of Damon Runyon, like one big pile of 6 to 4 against. Certainly we could still win from here, but we’d need everything to fall our way.


But it didn’t all fall our way. We battled on and battled on and rallied and dug deep and held our ground, but then a hair-trigger holding the ball decision while we were deep in defence gifted a goal to Highett, and it broke our hearts just a little. And then Highett took the ball away from the centre square resumption and took a bounce and drove it deep into their forward line and snapped another goal, and it seemed like the elastic band holding the 2 teams together was starting to fray. Highett were rolling like a big wheel, and only an inspiring one-man defensive rally from Roman Anastasios, who took 4 splendid marks in a row, stopped a full-on scoreboard blowout. A late Highett mark in the goal square saw them notch another major right on the siren. Things were looking pretty grim.



3/4 Time


St Kilda Red 1/2/8 Highett 4/2/26







Fourth Quarter


More than a touch of urgency in coach Brian’s voice in the huddle – we’ve got one quarter of footy left to play this year. They’ve just kicked 3 goals – we can do it too. In fact, we have no choice. We have to kick 3 goals, or we are goneski.


Whiteboard-wise, coach Marcus rang some changes at the last break. Luke McIntyre was now in the ruck, with Roman Anastasios at his shoulder, and between them they started to turn things around at least to some extent at the stoppages, getting some clean possession. Roman roved the taps at speed, breaking tackles and desperately trying to set up some forward momentum. As hard as he ran, and as hard as he tried, we just couldn’t seem to get any cut-through and make any inroads on the deficit. Still, the Highett players converged on the contest in big numbers, still they dug deep and got to the ball first, still they tackled in packs and shut us down. The first 7 or 8 minutes of this quarter were the same as the early part of the third term, with our boys desperately trying to wrench free of the scrimmage and get clear air, and Highett executing a clever Ross Lyon-style smother-and-choke game plan with skill and conviction.


Our boys gave of their best. Roman ran and ran and marked and tackled. Luke worked hard to get to every stoppage and got his palm on the durian more often than not. Sweeney Crabb cracked in with his usual fervour. Marlon Trevitt threw himself into the contest, heedless of the consequences. Jake Austin was as fierce at the contest in the dying minutes as he was in the opening quarter. He made half a dozen great tackles in the term. Vinnie Farrelly covered ground, desperately trying to spark something. Upright citizens Angus Ford and Oscar Tyrell toiled manfully, playing in front and securing some hard-ball-gets and trying to buy us some go-forward. Henry-Joe Nankervis and Alex Goldman linked up by hand and gut-ran forward to make targets of themselves. Our effort was commendable, but the results didn’t come. We couldn’t crack the swarming Highett defence. In truth, they conserved their lead superbly, never letting up, fighting to the final bell.


With 8 minutes left on the clock, and no headway made by the Reds, Highett loaded on the final straw. Quick kick forward, gather, snap, goal. Goodnight Vienna. 4 goals needed in 8 minutes – theoretically possible but, realistically, we were cooked. Highett held steady for another minute or two, got another quick kick away out of the pack. Another goal. We pressed forward with all our might in the last minute or two, but Highett held us comfortably. Fittingly, Roman Anastasios took a massive grab in the closing seconds to cap a mighty effort not just across the hour or so of this contest, but across all 18 contests for the year. Seconds later a cacophony of car horns signalled the end of the game, and the end of the season, and a well-deserved victory for Highett. Final siren and tomorrow, tomorrow we go to Phillip Island.


Final Score


St Kilda Red 1/2/8 Highett  6/2/38


Another feature of your grand final day is the after-match formalities, and our boys handled these with dignity and class. No antics at the handshake, only good-natured congratulations to the Highett boys, who played so well and were too good for us on the day. No sour grapes or recriminations among our group, only comradely hugs and consoling words and an arm around the shoulder of a suffering mate. Some boys found that their emotions overflowed, but that’s nothing to be ashamed of. A tear on the cheek only means that you care. No hard words were spoken. No blame, only a shared sorrow.


We all repaired to a grassy patch to sit down and watch Highett collect their spoils. It was a tough sit, but these things all count as deposits in our character bank. Back to the rooms and there was a big crowd on hand for the final summing-up. Coach Marcus implored the boys not to dwell on the events of the day, but to look back on the year and be proud of their achievements. Last year, we only won 2 games. This year we only lost 2. This represents a tremendous improvement in our football, and we should congratulate ourselves on how far we have come. The conditions today didn’t suit us. We got outplayed in some respects, but don’t let one day overshadow a whole season. Coach Brian spoke touchingly of the sense of community and family that has been engendered among the players and among the wider supporter group. One of the great things about our footy has been the way that it has built a bond among and between the kids and the parents and created a supportive fellowship that has enriched our footy experience. Both coaches remarked upon the pleasure that they derived from coaching this cracking group of boys. Coach Marcus rounded out the day by paying tribute to our most excellent team manager Adam Goldman, who has done a time-consuming, largely thankless job superbly well. And so say all of us.






Roman Anastasios 1


The Takeaway


As Marcus was at pains to point out, today wasn’t just about today. We lost a grand final, and certainly we would have loved to have won it. However, the fact that we got there, and the way we got there, are how we measure our season. Based on how we finished up in 2012, and how we started this season in those practice games, the year was manifestly a big success. The brand of footy that we are playing now is an entirely different brand than the one we were peddling 6 months ago. More sophisticated. Cleverer. More thoughtful. Much more skillful. By working hard and listening to the lessons from their coaches our boys have become better footballers. We’ve done well.


Nevertheless, it seems likely that we will be up against some even more testing opponents next year, and there are 1 or 2 gaps in our footy that we will need to plug if we are going to seriously contend again. One area that has been an intermittent concern all year, and which was a problem again today, was winning possession across the half-forward line. Other sides have mastered the art of spreading and running and providing options to their midfielders in attack and getting to the fall of the ball when it comes out of the centre square. We haven’t quite done that. A lot of our goals are still being kicked by midfielders running forward, rather than by our forward line proper, and for a good side, we do get rebounded against by opposition halfback lines a fair bit. We need to develop the habit of outnumbering the opposition in the packs when the long kicks come in from our on-ballers, and we need to develop the habit of consistently running hard to get into space. Boys who work on their fitness and their leading and marking over the off-season, and who show themselves to be capable of providing a reliable target up forward, will be worth their weight in gold in 2014.



The Role Models


The Whole Reds Family – our boys could not hope for a warmer and more encouraging atmosphere in which to ply their trade. They take the field each week knowing that they are backed by all the love and support in the world, and they do their work in an atmosphere of unremitting positivity. Every single week was great fun to be part of, for kids and parents alike, and the really big occasions like the semi-final and grand final (result notwithstanding) and presentation night were joyful and life-affirming and soul-enriching. We will all look back on this in years to come and realise that we were part of something rare and special.


Adam Goldman – we are all spokes in the wheel, but Adam is the hub. The whole shebang revolves around him. He’s been doing this job for 3 years now, and doing it brilliantly. Not once have we had even a whiff of any sort of organisational trouble. Every thing runs 100% percent smoothly all the time – pre-season, season, post-season, week-in, week-out. He crosses every t, dots every i. Not only does he take care of a pile of business on our behalf that is much bigger than most people would realise, he is also heavily involved in the running of the club. We all owe Adam a big debt of gratitude.


The Self-indulgent and Sentimental Addendum


Writing these reports has been a bunch of fun, and I want to thank Brian and Marcus for offering me the opportunity to do it. I also wish to thank those parents and other members of the Reds family who have offered such kind words of support and encouragement throughout the season.


To the players – it was a privilege to write about your exploits each week, and I want to thank you for the opportunity as well, and for providing such good material to work with. Thanks for playing so well and taking all of us along on such an exhilarating journey. And thanks mainly for being such a lovely group of kids. For we duffle-coat wearers and camp followers and hangers-on, being associated with such a wonderful bunch of boys is a great thing in our lives.


Go Reds.







  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Well Done Ken for seeing the big and total picture sounds like a Great environment for Kids to learn about the game and about life being heavily involved in sport at junior and senior level way too much emphasis is put on winning and winning only I am glad your team carried out the duties with class after losing overall I it was good to read about the
    WHOLE team Well done to the organisers also v important that they were thanked the words THANK YOU are the most unspoken of the English Language
    Overall Excellent and Good Luck For The Future

  2. Lovely stuff Ken. I played in one winning Colts football GF and several losing cricket GF’s as an adult. My only memory is of them being other worldly; out of body experiences. Anxiety and fear takes over your body and rational thought processes.
    Sounds like the boys and all the Reds family had a great season.
    By the way Ross Lyon wants to know if the Mentone Grammar Playing Fields are available for Saturday.

  3. Andrew Fithall says

    Well done Ken. Very good report. It sounds like everyone enjoyed the year.

    Under 11s are great. I was having a beer on Saturday with the bloke who coached my oldest boy in an under 11 Grand Final 8 years ago and we spoke about the game. He had taken it seriously and planned meticulously. Having won the 2nd semi in extra time, the team (Williamstown Juniors) had the week off. The coach organised for someone to film the preliminary final so the coach could properly analyse the opposition players. You are certainly right about the Grand Final being different. Game day was on a non-familiar big ground with a very strong wind favouring one end. My pre-game role was to ensure we claimed the coaches’ bench at the windward end so the coach could be closer to the play. As soon as the preceding game was finished, I took up occupancy. It all came together and the team won while keeping the opposition goalless.

    Williamstown Juniors is celebrating 50 years this year and has produced a video. The footage includes an interview with former Willy Juniors player Daniel Giansiracusa and he remembers fondly his team winning the under 11s premiership.


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