Seagulls fail to bring home the hot chips!

Well, the big day had come. Saturday morning arrived with a southerly breeze and the promise of mainly sunny conditions. Drew couldn’t believe how quiet and tranquil it was. I told him that had he been here during the week he would of experienced the roaring forties in all their glory trying to blow anything down in its path.


Drew and his wife Marita had come down the Friday night with their two daughters Lucy (4) and Ava (1). Lucy had warned Drew not to get injured during the game in anticipation of their trip to Fiji this coming weekend. She was also having bets as to who would kick more goals, Drew or I.


We were both up early to entertain the kids. My wife Nicole gets the thermoses and sandwiches ready for a day at the footy. Tonights dinner of tuna casserole and pumpkin soup is also organised. Drew’s relaxed, taking advantage of the Olympic coverage on pay TV. I am quite nervous. Thirteen years is a long time not to play footy with your brother or anyone else for that matter. Despite that, Drew and I prepare our footy bags and bid adieu to our wives and Drew also to his girls. Driving to the ground, we decided to stop by the car park at the East Beach to see whether any whales were about. Too our surprise, there were a couple frolicking in the bay. A crowd has gathered here as well. I don’t think too many people can say they enjoyed some whale watching while making their way to a game of footy !


Arriving at the ground I parked the car on the fence and we watched the PF under 18 side. They are playing well against Cobden and had a five goal lead at the time we made our way to the sheds to gear ourselves up for the big game. A few of the boys are already there keenly watching the under 18’s with interest. I introduced Drew to the club president, administrator and other players. One of the trainers gets him all taped up ready to go. Preparation for ressies footy is a bit different to that for seniors. Most of the guys just seem content to have a kick of the footy around and joke with each other. There are no Tommy Radonikis face slaps or Barassi like fire and brimstone sermons. Most talk relates to the function in the social rooms later that night. Browny, the coach is still a couple of players short for the ressies but he gets word a couple of under 18 boys will step, buoyed by the fact they are likely to get up for the second win of the season. The ressies boys gradually get some drills going inside the rooms and start to focus more on the game at hand. Winning today, we are told, will get us off the bottom of the ladder.  This would be a boon for the boys who have struggled most of the year to get a side on the park.


The siren goes for the finish of the under 18 game. The boys have won by 11 goals. They smile from ear to ear as they form a line to encourage the ressies boys jogging onto the ground. I can even hear them booming out the club song jogging around the ground. We get into a very loosely formed kicking exercise in one of the 50m arc’s. One of the umpire blows the whistle ready to start the game. Umpires in reserve grade footy are supplied by the clubs in the Hampden league. This is a topic of some debate around league circles, particularly how they interpret the rules in comparison to their AFL colleagues at a national level.


We are kicking against a 3-4 goal breeze favouring the Warrnambool end of the ground. Drew and I both line up in the forward line. The siren goes and the ball is thrown up. Cobden get the first clearance and appear more settled. They kick to advantage and use their run and carry. Before we know it, they have scored 4.5 in the quarter to donuts for us. We seem a bit rattled and confused. The ball rarely makes a foray into our forward line and when it does the movement appears to be rushed and under pressure. The quarter time siren goes, much to the relief of all of us wearing the purple and gold. Scores- PF 0.0 Cob 4.5


Browny tells us to forget what happened in that first quarter and focus on getting a quick score on the board in the second quarter. The boys jog away from the huddle feeling a bit more confident and sure in themselves. I have pushed deep into the forward line, while Drew lines up closer to the wing in an attempt to get more involved in the general play. Browny’s words of wisdom have worked a treat. Our boys are constantly getting the ball out of the middle through our ruckman Thorney and whippet like rover Timmy into our forward line. Before Cobden know it, we have kicked 4.3 for the quarter with Cobden failing to score. Drew has managed to snaffle one on the run inside 50 while one of the under 18 players who made the step up, Billy Ryan, also slots one. Our ruckman Thorney is from a soccer background had never played a game of aussie rules prior to this year but has learnt the trade over time and is acquitting himself well at this point. Most talk however was about my run down tackle on the forward flank. People say they have not seen me move that fast in ten years. My opponent, a young cocky ball of energy is not too happy about it and has taken to niggling me straight out of the Michael Gayfer school of tagging. I ignore it and try to get on with the game but he seems adamant on getting me to retaliate. I maintain my composure and the siren goes for half time. Scores PF 4.3 Cob 4.5


The game swings like a pendulum back and forth in the 3rd quarter. We have possession of the ball a majority of the quarter but can only convert 1.2 to Cobden’s 3.3. A couple of set shots are missed (Drew being the culprit of one). We appear to be putting ourselves under pressure when there is no need for it. The umpires are getting a workout as well, although appear to be reluctant to pay holding the ball to both sides out on the park. Drew is in the thick of everything- diving on the ball to get the quick handball out, being the third man up in ruck contests hitting to advantage and being that valuable link player around the wing and forward flank who tries to swing momentum our way. Our other key forward, Spook is marking everything and giving us an option that we need. The siren goes for the end of the third quarter- Scores PF 5.5 Cobden 7.8, a margin of 15 points


The final quarter starts with both teams players throwing the bodies into play with no abandon. No quarter is given any way. You sense that it would only take something on the field to turn the game either way. Unfortunately, things do not go our way. An undisciplined act of aggression by Thorney our ruckman results in him being red carded and being sent off while a Cobden player is carried groggily off the field with a possible broken jaw. What compelled Thorney to do this I do not know? All hell is just about to break loose. The Cobden runner is acting like a headless chock, carrying on and challenging Thorney to round two at the back of the sheds. Drew tells him to keep out of it and let the umpires do their job. He takes offence to this and pushes Drew in the back. When the other Port Fairy players see this the Cobden runner makes a quick dash back to the safety of the boundary line. The crowd that is watching is thrown into a frenzy. The local constabulary might have a busier day than they anticipated. The subsequent down the field results in a Cobden goal. I am told by the runner, Downsy to go into the ruck. We are now a player down facing a margin of over 3 goals to claw back. I go up in a few ruck contests and bring the ball to ground for our onballers to pick up and gather. Drew gets involved and is at the bottom of the pack. An over exuberant young Cobden player decides to jump on top of him top to add to the scrum. The umpire blows the whistle for a ball up. The Cobden player will not let Drew get up. I grab him by the jumper and pull him away. The umpire sees this as holding the man and pays a free kick to him. The ball isn’t given back to the Cobden player directly and a 50m penalty is given. Another goal to Cobden soon results. In the blink of an eye, the game has been turned on its head. We try to fight back with a couple of late goals. Frustration is starting to creep into the game from Port Fairy’s behalf and I am just about physically spent. Downsy comes over to me and tells me to come have a rest on the bench. I jog to the bench and collapse on it in a heap. A few minutes pass by. Then siren goes and I look to the ground for answers. There aren’t any. I look out to Drew and see him collapsed on a heap on the ground. Players from both sides shake hands. I walk off with my brother, our arms around each others shoulders. We pose for some photos for the family. I am disappointed the way things have turned out. Drew is happy for the run and says the result isn’t important, he was just glad to play a game of footy with me after all these years. Final scores are PF 7.6.48 to Cobden 10.11.71


We watch the senior game with family, taking turns to take the girls to the nearby playground. The seniors are seriously undermanned and are no match for their bigger and stronger Cobden opponents. On a positive note, along with the under 18’s winning, a number of netball sides have won including the senior netballers first win for the year.


We head home after the siren for beautiful tuna casserole and pumpkin soup dinner. Drew finds out later he gets best on ground for his performance. The effects of today’s game are both starting to affect us and I bring out the ice pack. After dinner, Drew and Marita pack their gear up and get the girls organised for the trip home. Marita is driving, much to Drew’s relief. Goodbyes are said and their car speeds off into the dark and cool night back to Melbourne. I have a radox bath and then settle in to watch my Bloods face off against the Pies. An eight point loss just caps off the type of day I’ve had. Sunday is better though. Down to the beach for a paddle and then off to brekkie at a nearby café with the wife. The weather is picking up and is good for mowing and gardening. Drew has pulled up ok but now realises why he finished up three years ago.


I think that is it for both us. Our bodies can no longer keep up with the game. Two more games are left for the year. I will help out where I can in a non-playing capacity. Word is that there are big changes for the club next season. Let’s hope we see the Seagulls flying high from 2013 onwards.


  1. Neil Belford says

    What was the surf like – Lighthouse, Oigles …

  2. Scott Elliott says


    Was very choppy as a result of south westerly that passed through early last week. Apparently there is a pod of 10 whales in the Port Fairy bay at the moment.

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