Henry and the Jets: Déjà Jets


Déjà Vu is the psychological phenomenon where a situation feels unsettlingly familiar. The term translates from French to mean “already seen”. It is said to have been experienced by anywhere from 30% to 96% of the population and the inconsistency in study results is representative of its fleeting nature and difficulty to define. But on the topic of Déjà Vu, one thing is for sure: 100% of Heathmont Jets players and supporters experienced it on the weekend.


It was a low-scoring day across the board with our Under-19s getting over Mitcham by 11 points at 3.6-24 to 5.5-35. The Colts were well adapted to a close encounter after progressing to the Prelim by just one point last week and tackled the pressure with a maturity beyond their years. Considering their devastating 3-point loss in last year’s Preliminary Final, their progression to the big dance in 2019 is a great step for a bunch of true Heathmont young guns.


Then came the Déjà Vu. It was another beautiful day in East Burwood and the Heathmont faithful lined the pavilion side of the ground once again, a stark contrast against the yellow and black of the Mitcham supporters. And yes, after the Seniors fell agonisingly close to defeating Mitcham last week, the Reserves were now faced with an identical task – this week with even higher stakes: a Grand Final berth. Same ground, same opponent, even half a dozen similar Jets players who were eligible to play in the Reserves once the Seniors were knocked out.


The ball was thrown up in the centre in the same slow-motion fashion and another Heathmont reserves Preliminary Final – the second in as many years – was on. In nerve-wracking similarity to the Seniors’ stellar start the week before, the Reserves cleaned up the first quarter with five goals to none. The supporters’ hopes were high that they would see a second team of theirs into the Grand Final next week.


I myself sat behind the goals at the far end. Amongst fellow players ineligible to join the Reserves, we watched on helpless but to cheer our brothers along. In the boots of cars, we sat biting nails between laughs and hoping to god we would be back at the same time, same place next week.


By half time the margin had been cut by only two points down to 30. Ominously, the Jets score at the main break fell on 44 – our total Senior score the week prior after four quarters plus over time. No matter, the players went into the dressing room followed by a hopeful Heathmont supporter base, determined not to let the opportunity slip.


I could hardly bring myself to stand in that change room. After sitting in there, shivering and teary-eyed for what seemed like hours after the Senior semi-final loss, let’s just say I wouldn’t return there for some old footy boots. I’ve lost a number of finals since being at Heathmont and I’ll never quite get the memories of my toughest teammates openly sobbing after such losses. It’s a form of Déjà Vu I’ve never wished to feel again, and yet…


As one we all stood, admiring coach Nathan Parker’s half-time rev-up. Soon enough – after nicking a few slices of orange – we were back out behind the goals ready to watch our boys put the Tigers to the sword. But alas, the first goal of the 3rd wasn’t to be ours. Mumbles of “I’ve read this book before” crept around our goal square group as Mitcham then put on the second goal of the half. By the final change, Mitcham had slinked to within 17 points and a nervous Jets outfit worked hard to force memories of last week’s fade-out from our minds.


One (or two) handfuls of 3-quarter-time lollies later, the huddle broke for the last time. A determined looking forward-line strolled towards us sitting behind the goal square and we cheered at every cheeky thumbs-up and reaction we could get out of them. But, despairingly, a great sense of watching the same comeback once again washed over the crowd, and we could barely stand to watch as Mitcham edged ever closer.


None of the four final-quarter goals were to be ours.


While we had the odd chance in the last, Mitcham out-played and out-thought their way past us to celebrate a 6-point come-from-behind win. A 38-point turn-around from quarter-time and the Jets were condemned to another post-finals loss coach’s address. Support staff, family, supporters and players were thanked. Positivity was dished out as meaningfully as could be and all involved were urged to come back next year for another finals tilt.


The Reserves boys have been nagging me to pen a column about them since I began this internship. I just wish it could have been in more positive circumstances. Plainly, our cruel game only allows for one winner and “there’s always next year” but, of course, none of these observations could hope to make the familiarity of it all hurt any less. Déjà Vu is a phenomenon mostly experienced by children but men and women of all ages felt it this past Saturday.


All we can hope for now is that the Colts can maintain their winning formula this Sunday and bring home one of those bloody cups we so desperately beat ourselves up over.


Controversially, while EFL Grand Finals are generally held at a neutral ground, the Colts will have to face off against minor premiers East Burwood at East Burwood, which is the allocated ground for our Division’s finals. Nevertheless, based on two strong performances in the past fortnight, you’d have to say our boys are more than up to the fight. The Hangar – back at our home ground – deserves one final, glorious send-off after all. Come on Jets!



To read more about Henry’s Jets, click HERE.



Henry Ballard is a final year journalism student at Deakin University.



Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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About Henry Ballard

21 year-old student of journalism, local footy, and fluent conversation. Of which I have perfected none and should never hope to.


  1. Well played yet again, Henry. Although we know from the start what’s coming, you lure us on skilfully, hoping against hope that there might be a good outcome in the end. But, alas, it was not to be. Good wishes to the Colts for Sunday’s Grand Final. We’ll look forward to that report next week.

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