Junior Footy – Banyule Colts v St Mary’s: Snags and Bags – The Last Hurrah

Snags and Bags: The Last Hurrah

Round 14 v St Marys


Whether it be a game of Auskick or Grand Final day at the MCG, you can never deny feeling a little extra when you play your old team. There’s no way to explain it; a knot in the stomach develops during training throughout the week that doesn’t subside until you burst out onto the ground in fierce determination. It’s a time where junior football feels like AFL, where the sporting community’s prying gaze can be dreamingly felt burning into your back. A selfish feeling is the best way to describe it. I experienced this once again on Sunday, but by now I had gotten used to the feeling and no childish feeling of importance overwhelmed me. I just wanted to win.


The weather decided to play its part, as weeks of dreadful Melbourne weather parted for a shining sky. Maybe it was the rare early game at 1PM, but a different feel came over the usual Sunday routine. No grey clouds, a larger crowd at Banyule. It all seemed set.


After last week’s disappointing first half, emphasis was put on preparation. Considering St Mary’s sat comfortably atop the ladder with a percentage larger than most of our bank accounts (well, only those who had no part-time jobs), we faced an arduous task if we wanted to score a win and maintain our faint finals chances.


The earlier arrival (compared to our normal 3PM starts) allowed us to feel more switched on, as we hadn’t spent all day lounging around like all teenagers inevitably do. A warm up and the scent of Deep Heat wafted through our change rooms as Steve and Gregg took us through the pre-game discussion. Shifted positions and structural ideas from Gregg contrasted Steve’s booming encouragement. In no time we piled out of the change rooms and once again lined up either side of the banner; Harry was playing game 100 and Connor T was celebrating a belated 100 games fifteen matches too late. Either way, the sprinting through of the banner always seems to raise the excitement level of junior footy players. A quick jog around the square and we paced down to the Yarra River end, viewing the picturesque panorama of surrounding Banyule bathed in sunshine.


It was the warmest game we had played all year – and not just with the temperature. From another failed coin toss (spectating once again while the opposition call correctly and pick the favoured Yarra River end) to the first ball up, the pressure from both teams was the fiercest experienced in a long time. The term hell bent took on a new meaning, as the skilled and tough St Mary’s players collided with desperate Banyule players. Our goal of intense pressure was working. The classy St Mary’s outfit were spraying shots at goal and missing vital targets. All we had to do now was get the ball up the other end.


Unfortunately it took a goal to St. Mary’s for us to finally kick into gear. The return to the middle finally allowed us to get past their solid defensive set up, as Chief coolly slotted our first to keep pace. Numerous points against us allowed us to both practice our kick ins and stay in the match, with a crafty left foot snap to Rohan flying through. The skilful kick made sure that we were only a point down at quarter time.


Gregg and Steve praised our intensity, with the heat causing us to sweat bullets. However, the taxing game play needed to be sustained for another three quarters. We had imposed ourselves, now we just had to maintain it.


The second quarter provided more of the same. Our intensity lacked nothing, but the class of the opposition shone through at key times. A classy left foot snap to Chief started off the term superbly, but turnovers at crucial stages allowed the quick St Mary’s outfit to move the ball at lightning speed into their forward line.


However we managed to keep on maintaining the pressure. An eventual decent set shot at goal by me (I normally spray them like Travis Cloke) was balanced by a last minute St Mary’s goal before the conclusion of the first half, pushing them just over two goals clear.


Despite all of our hard work, we still sat behind. We had given all we had, yet Gregg kept on urging structures to stand tall while Steve raved about the intensity of the footy and how it had to lift. But, it appeared that we had run our race. Like an underprepared Melbourne Cup runner, we were all but done at the half way mark. Therefore our Gatorade refills appeared to be in vain, as a dismal third term saw St Mary’s pile on goal after goal to push the margin out to around fifty points.


By the three quarter time speech Gregg and Steve couldn’t do much. They knew what we had given. We had given everything we had, yet we just weren’t good enough. To the credit of everyone involved, we vowed to fight hard for pride in the last quarter. And that we did.


An early flurry of St Mary’s goals set up a potential ugly margin. But, we managed to finish off with some dignity intact, as two late booming goals to newly turned ruckman Reece gave us some respect. With the siren ringing out and hands being shaken, our valiant effort still saw us fall ten goals short. This is a testament to St Mary’s- we had thrown everything at them yet we were still soundly beaten by a side that was extremely skilful.


All you can do is wish them luck in finals, as it’s going to take a very good to beat them. For us, we finish off our season with a grudge match against Preston. If an earlier encounter in grading games was anything to go by, the action will get pretty intense on Sunday. But that’s a story for next week.


Banyule: 6.2.38         

St Mary’s: 14.15.99


Goalkickers: Chief 2, Reece 2, Rohan, Me.

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