Local footy: Off on the Rabbito Express

Mrs Derrinalphil and I decided to make the big trip and go out to the Rupertswood game. The “trouble and strife” asked “how do we get there?” Not by the “Rabbito Express” unfortunately. Up until the late fifties a steam train would leave Spencer Street station very early on a Sunday morning and travel up past Sunbury, Clarkefield and terminate at Romsey. It would be packed full of young lads and some not so young lads, who would be laden down with ferret boxes and nets.

They were going rabbiting. My late father said that half the people in Heathcote existed on rabbits in the depression. My father in law has spoken about catching rabbits with ferrets, giving all the neighbours and relatives a few, and selling the rest to the local butcher: a shilling a pair.

An observer might be lead to believe that there was millions of rabbits around Clarkefield back in those days as lots of rabbiters would get off here. No so, but the Clarkefield pub would illegally open for lunch. Not a bad day, catch a few rabbits early, have a beer or two and catch the “Rabbito Express” as it made its return to Melbourne. The pub at Clarkefield is still open but Mrs Derrinalphil and I dropped into the Romsey Pub for tea on Friday night. It is owned by Martin who also runs the North Fitzroy Arms, one of our major sponsors. I have decided that I prefer the Romsey Pub. They put a bit more in the glass at Romsey and they have a car park next to the pub. I reckon Martin needs to get a bull dozer or two and flatten some of those old awful terrace dumps that disfigure the area around the North Fitzroy Arms in Rae Street.

We stayed in Sunbury and Mrs Derrinalphil dropped me off at the ground at ten in the morning. I got the job of umpire’s escort, in both the Twos and Ones, and I must admit I was not up to it. Peter Clark and Stev Fenton, those lovers of umpires, were both at the ground, and their love of the men in white made them the natural choices. I love my footy and cricket, proper footy and proper cricket, amateur footy and amateur cricket. The Packer soap on at the moment glorifies the change from cricket being a sport where the administrators were payed “zip” and the money would be channelled down to the lower levels to what we have now where the sport exists to make the elite players a fortune. The administrators make more than I do. Grrrrrrrrrrr. The word amateur comes from the Latin verb amo, amas, amat, I love, you love, he she, or it loves.

What I noticed at Rupertswood was when Sharon (our UNPAID team manager) turned up she immediately gave their unpaid seconds team manger a peck on his cheek. When Joan turned up, she immediately gave their unpaid president a peck on his cheek as well. I must admit their club president did “pay out” on the umpires at half time. The Rupo umpires escort in the seniors was young lass whose brother played for the team a few years ago. He died tragically and she commemorates his memory by staying involved with the club. His name was Stephen Buckman and someone who is a computer person should put a linko thingo from the Rupo website into this post. (Here it is.)

All the players that played for Fitzroy today play, purely, for the honour of wearing the jumper. They also pay for their jumper and socks. They also pay to play.

The Twos game was a walk over in all but name. Cuzzie (first game back from a broken finger) played a game where it was obvious that he was playing below his standard. Michael Lee played a game that gives the selectors a headache for next week.

The seniors started with poise, dominating the first quarter. Rupo scored the only three times they got forward in the first quarter. I thought we should have been more than twenty in front at quarter time. The quarter time scores of 6.2 to 3.0 did not tell of our on field dominance.

Circle work was the order of the day in the second quarter. We would win the ball in defence, switch the ball to the “dead flank,” move it forward and then kick it out on the full. It was boring football. Seven behinds, between the sides for the quarter and young Nathan, Peter’s nephew, retrieving the ball after each miss, kicked more goals than both sides put together.

The second and third quarters were tight, scrappy affairs. Matthew Quigley had the ball on a string and seemed to have no opponent as he marched around the ground, demanding the outside ball and banging it forward. Three seven to two eight told the story.

In the last quarter the flood gates opened and we buried them. The game story was of the first and last quarter, the book ends according to “Fletch,” where we looked like a top two side. The final margin of sixty seven points has become so important with Marcellin losing to Camberwell.

A few points to finish: the first being the move of Jimmy O to the forward line. We look so much better with Matty Brown, Ablett and Jimmy giving us three tall forward targets. I must admit to have enjoyed Polly taking a contested mark right in front in the third quarter. “That what happens when you have a tall target,” was my quip. Parko, the leader of the “porcupine” has been instructed to run forward more often. He made several good leads (they were ignored) in the last quarter and then moved out of the area so leaving space for other forwards to use.

Young “Won’t He” Fenton played his 150th game and he did do the proper and natural thing in the last quarter. He grabbed the ball, twenty yards out, ignored several options and banged it through. The Tram Conductors broke into a chorus of “Hungry.” That’s what we have been dying to say all season.

Won’t He is a smart young bloke and I suppose we can forgive him for giving Rory a cheap goal a few minutes later. Will could have had a shot himself but giving the captain an easy shot at goal, late in the last quarter of the second last game is probably a wise move. I mean, young Will has trained as a Lawyer, those smarmy, blood- sucking vermin; oops, that’s the umpires isn’t it?

The form of Michael Cussen in the twos gives us another big target for the finals. Speckie did not play and Pickers was nowhere to be seen.

One last home match. See you all at the BSO.

Go the Redders

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