Henry and the Jets: The Underfish

It was a bloodbath of our own drawing, a mauling we sentenced upon ourselves. The Jets went down without a fight on the weekend, and we know that. Second to the ball, no body contact at the contest and all that. But what hurt us the most, at the end of a long week for a club banding together to raise some funds, is we hardly seemed to want it, to make the jumper proud.


Things like “do it for the jumper” and “take some pride in yourselves” were heard at every change of ends, and that should have been enough. But a lack of pressure at the contest showed that not even the jumper was going to overcome Boronia this time around. The Jets, clear underdogs in the second half, were unable to score in the final quarter.


But god, do we love being the underdog…


As the final siren blew to mark a 56-point walk-off for the Hawks, it was made very clear to us what the remainder of the season must entail – 4 wins from 4 games and September remains in play. Anything less was clearly too hard for some to think about yet as we licked our wounds in the mockingly painted Boronia away rooms (brown and gold wherever you looked, really?).


When the 2017 season saw us finish fifth, we were underdogs to make the big dance, yet that’s exactly what happened. When our search for a 2019 senior coach seemed dire, we secured the former Box Hill, Northern Blues and Collegians gun Kyle Emley. And now, with a grand new rebuild for Heathmont’s faithful old pavilion on the horizon, we sit as underdogs to raise the funds necessary to kit out such a facility. Personally, I wouldn’t wish such odds against any other club because they simply wouldn’t cope. But Heathmont is a different kettle of fish. Underfish– if you will.


Anyone could look at the maths and say 4 wins in 4 games is too much for an injury-stricken battler of a club. Heathmont looks at 4 wins in 4 games and says, “How good would that be, hey?” Because as the mood around the club sees it, why would anyone waste their energy on any other mindset? When Captain Dylan Sverns takes a deep breath at three-quarter time and tells you we’re going to pull through, it’s extremely difficult not to believe him.


I’ve seen belief in the faces of those who shouldn’t have much left to give. Youthful inventiveness in the eyes of a coach (Emley) who sees no other way but to succeed. Gruff wisdom in the words of our President, Rob Parker, when few others have the guts to say it like it is. It’s in certain actions of each individual around the club, even those with less of a part to play than a coach or President. It’s in those who turn up every Tuesday and Thursday night because it’s what they enjoy spending their time doing.


Characters like this, I’m sure, could be found around most if not all local footy clubs, because locals love local footy. Especially at the pointy end of winter, as clubs vie for a finals berth, every last ounce of passion is squeezed out of the woodwork, underdog or not. All I know is that, in Heathmont’s case, this week and for the remainder of August (and beyond), we’ll choose underdog every day of the week.


You better believe he clunked it – Murphy Ambrose enters the stratosphere. Photo: Chris Mirtschin



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



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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.

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