Flying North For The Winter (The CYs Preview)

Ponder with me for a few moments: a) a cold and wet July Melbourne winter; b) a London summer spent downing pints; a) sloshing around a sodden Fearon Reserve and other mud-heaps such as Aquinas College; b) traipsing around the Mediterranean partying with Italian and French backpackers. Would you choose ‘a’ or ‘b’?


Like all coaches, legendary CY’s figure Alan “Oopy” Elliott had a few pet hates. But the bugbear that probably tested his patience the most was footballers taking overseas holidays in the middle of footy season. He did not like it, nor could he comprehend why otherwise perfectly fit and healthy players would take leave during the season to journey to parts unknown. His frustration probably peaked in the year that four senior players spent a few months driving through Europe in a Combi Van. We may or may not have been relegated that season.


I am sorry to say this, Oopy, but as much as I love the Fearon, give me options ‘b’ over options ‘a’ in this particular test. In fact, I too was guilty of jetting out for a number of months back in 1990. The CYs reached the grand final that year, in the era before the internet and mobile phones; somewhere in Northern England I put through a call from a public phone box to the CYs rooms. Alas, it was then treasurer Mick Buckley, of all people, who answered the phone and would not accept the cost of the reverse charges. It took me a few more days to discover that we had been beaten in the big one.


The big question for the really good players was always: did one tell the coach at the start of the season (and allow him to stew on it), or did one break it to him a week before departing? A vexed issue, to be sure.


Current senior coach Montey, along with 2’s coach Puhey and 3’s coach Wyndy, would surely sympathise with Oopy. For over the next couple of weeks there will be in the region of a dozen CYs players heading north to festivals in Amsterdam and World Cup soccer matches in Russia. This includes senior players like Mitch Knight, Ben Deller and Ryan Joy. Just as well we have a little depth at the moment…


Of course, the CYs are not the only club who suffer from this malaise. But it certainly has been a growing phenomenon in Williamstown. When coaching junior footy at Willy Juniors some years back, I recall opposition coaches remarking that they loved playing Willy Juniors during the school holiday period, because they knew our teams would be depleted at these times. In fact, a St Alban’s coach once said to me “We don’t go away in the school holidays, we come to Williamstown!”


The last time I was in Europe with my family, we took a Sherrin with us. While waiting for buses on the dusty roads of Malta, standing on the streets of Nice anticipating the Tour de France cyclists, or wandering through Hyde Park, we played kick-to-kick – much to the bemusement of onlookers. As an antidote to what we were missing back home, I could not recommend that footy highly enough.


About Darren Dawson

Always North.

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