VAFA: Parkdale are not Catholics

I have cancelled all my Saturday morning appointments for three weeks. Better to be prepared for any combination of results of our three semi-final sides than have to rearrange both patients and staff. So it was down to Sandringham to watch our beloved Roys. I missed the first ten minutes of the Thirds, but I was soon in footy heaven as the magical sound of “ball” followed by “yeah” soon caressed the ears of derrinalphil. “Pick up number seventy,” yelled the bloke standing next to me. I ask you, why do people go to the AFL?

They have dug up the cricket pitch at Sandy. The Sandringham Cricket Club folded many years ago but Pete, not young master derrinalphil, but the Pete, who is a member of the tram conductors, told me he once hit a six over cover at this ground. Hit it onto Beach Road he reckoned. Told me he also used to spend many a winter’s Sunday afternoon, after cricket season had finished, sipping beers at the social club as all the cricket club members got a free Sandy Footy Membership. Now this last bit I can believe.

One of the goal umpires in the Thirds was Mark Thornhill, a cricketer of note. Mark is one of the stalwarts of Emmanuel South Oakleigh Cricket Club, a gentleman and sportsman of the highest order, and I took delight in being at the footy amongst friends of all colours, even those white maggots. Remember I am not talking about lawyers.

The Third’s game was a ripper. We started well, being two goals in front at quarter time. St Kevin’s had the breeze in the second quarter and went in with a two point advantage at the long break. During the third quarter, St Kevin’s, despite going into the breeze, seemed to have our measure, and several undisciplined acts looked likely to cost us dearly. However we kept persisting, and a late goal, against the run of play, by Max Oliver brought us to the third quarter break eight points up.

St Kevin’s attacked incessantly for the first fifteen minutes of the last quarter. We only went inside fifty once in this period but, as dominate as St Kevin’s were, around the ground, our defence did not crumble. Finally Brownie got on the end of one in the goal square and banged it through. Now I hate all midfielders, especially those lairs and show ponies like Brownie, but he did kick “the sealer.” He took the necessary risk to win the game. He could visualise what needed to be done. A late goal by Dan Morgan iced the win, a win against the odds, a win against the run of play, and if this doesn’t give these lads an unshakeable belief I give up.

The morning was over and we had disposed of one lot of Catholics and another mob of Catholics, Marcellin, ran on to take on our undefeated seconds. We Roy Boys played the Catholics, the Roman Catholics and nothing but the Catholics in our first two games of the day. Now, my Mum was a Roman Catholic and she had a few mannerisms that would be instantly recognisable to a “Mick.” If she cut herself preparing tea she would not show any sign of annoyance or pain and simply say a prayer (a “Hail Mary” for all you Heathens reading this). Mum reckoned she would get thousands of years less suffering in purgatory by these acts. Purgatory or hell was soon to arrive in the senior game, but, that is in the future.

At quarter time it looked like Marcellin should be saying “Ave, derrinalphil, morituri te salutant.” We were killing them with our incessant run, overlap, and spread. The Eastern Distributor, playing with buggered hamstrings, joined in the fun taking a strong mark and kicking a long goal. He then ran off and sat on the bench showing that the AFL is a communicable disease.

Down came the rain in the second quarter and the match turned. We could no longer play our pretty brand of footy; mistakes crept in. We continually hung onto the ball to long, missed our handball targets and did not seem to be able to adapt to the changed conditions.

At 12.54 it happened; the seconds lost the lead for the first time this season and went into three quarter time fifteen points down. Precisely forty minutes later, at 1.34, we grabbed the lead back and ran over the top of them. Wasn’t it great to see Speckie’s sealing goal where he banged out of the ground, into the Tea Trees that line the city side of the oval. Up to this time all was well, and, Rob arrived to inform us that the bar was open.

The seniors came out in that awful jumper (Could I ask Rick the Click to post a photo of it?) but, in the first quarter, they were still the side that finished second and with the highest percentage. I could still recognise them. Parkdale dominated the first ten minutes but we were up and running, bashing our way forward. This was typified late in the first quarter where we bashed and crashed several forward line contests and the ball finished squirting out to Rory who coolly slotted the goal. Nine points up at quarter time which I thought flattered Parkdale whose kicking for goal all day was exceptional.

The rest of the game was awful to watch for a Fitzroy fan. We were forty-four points down at half time, which just happens to be the margin that Carlton was down to the Pies in the 1970 Grand Final. Where were our Teddie Hopkins, Jezza, and Wes Lofts? Nowhere to be seen unfortunately. Our play was typified in the last quarter when Frazier dropped an easy chest mark, Jimmy O pounced on the spillage and, under no pressure, coolly kicked it out on the full.

Brian and Fletch, those downhill skiers, fair weather supporters had had enough and left before the final siren. I didn’t join them as I wanted to hear what the coach had to say.

On a personal note a bloke called Bruce came up to me to say hello. We apparently met out at the Whitten Oval in ’96 and stood together for several games. I could not remember him (I try to put that season out of my mind) but he remembered Mrs derrinalphil and the two boys. He has wanted to come to a game for years and what a pity that his first one back would lead him to believe nothing has changed.

Do you realise that we have witnessed a 272 point turn around in the last two weeks? I ask you “how can that be explained?” What is it about our sport that allows these wild swings in form? I have no idea but a few years ago Xavier beat De La by seventy points in the second semi. They met two weeks later in the Grannie and while, the Catholics from Kew, finished up winning by a point or two, they were lucky to win. We can turn this around.

Go the Redders.


  1. Steve Hodder says

    I was there, at Sandy, on Saturday. I took small children and am worried about the lasting effects of what I exposed them to. On Sunday I watched the Weagles v the Kangagang. The game was at a different ground and they wore different guernsies but it had an eerily similar depiction of slaughter to it. If Fitzroy can make the GF, then I’d be thrilled for them; but I shan’t be taking small children again.

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