Students pip staff as Bulman achieves goal

by Adam Bulman

It’s funny how things can change in a matter of moments.

In the space of a few seconds during the Eltham High Staff vs. Year 12 students footy match, I went from hoping to actually get a kick to celebrating a goal in total astonishment.

It’s not as if I’m a totally awful player – I’m an ungainly yet generally effective kick, and I can mark quite well (although being 190cm tall helps). However despite my love of AFL I am primarily a basketballer, not a footballer, and in my first ever football match since Auskick I was out of my comfort zone. I’m not at all an in-and-under mongrel type player – quite the opposite in fact.

There was a lot of hype leading up to the game, and a lot of aggressive verbal banter being exchanged between the Year 12s and the Year 11s who were filling in for the teachers team (as usual, there weren’t enough teachers who wanted to play). One particular smartass blond-tipped midget year 11 was so cocky that he effectively painted a giant target on his jumper before the match. Naturally, he got his due treatment during the match from many of the Year 12s.

My contributions in the first half on the half back flank were few and far between: late in the half I got two effective handballs in the space of about 10 seconds. Just before that, I thought I’d had my first kick, but I hadn’t noticed the ump’s whistle and it was brought back amidst calls for 50m. Despite this, we were 3.2 to 1.1 at half time thanks mainly to the efforts of our Herculean ruckman Jai and the more experienced footy players in our midfield, so I went off content.

Since we had made no interchanges at all in the first half, I wasn’t optimistic of returning to the match, so I sat down with the rest of the bench and some non-playing mates. The biggest surprise was when Hillary, the only girl on the students’ team, made her only contribution to the match by kicking a goal. “She’s kicked more goals than 90% of the boys.” I remarked.

After the teachers got their third goal, I noticed something funny…the teachers had 29 players on! In a flash I ran onto the ground, telling everyone else on the bench to do the same.

I positioned myself up forward this time, thinking it was a more natural position for me where I could utilise my height and athleticism. All I was hoping for at this point was to get a kick, I barely considered the possibility of kicking a goal. But it happened anyway.

I’m sure I didn’t particularly earn the heroic status I earned for what I did – all I did was be in the right position to receive a handball from Luke 30m out on about a 35 degree angle, then attempt to coolly assess my options. In the space of about two seconds, I observed that there was a 2-on-1 matchup in the goalsquare in our favour, but neither of the two were distinctly separate from the one, so I acted on instinct and booted the ball towards the goal.

The sight of the ball sailing between the posts didn’t immediately register. However, when it did, I went through several mental stages at once in the wrong order – first I realised I’d managed to get a goal, in fact quite a good one, then I realised I’d managed to get a kick. As my teammates came in to congratulate me, I made the decision to go back to defense, to prevent our 14 point margin from being bridged.

And it very nearly was. The staff got 2 more goals to bring the margin back to two points. I contributed by smothering a Psychology teacher’s intended snap on goal and laying a solid tackle on a PE teacher, albeit a female one (no chauvinism intended). With 25+ players on the field for each side, the ball descended into a “boot the ball as far as you can” struggle in our back 50 until the siren sounded. We had won by 2 points.

After shaking hands with the other team, we then received the giant cup and posed for obligatory celebration photos. Our ruckman Jai received a deserved medal for best on ground, and then the most bafflingly unexpected thing happened of all – I got chaired off the field, in front of just about the entire school. Sure, I had kicked a crucial goal, but I knew I hardly had earned this honour with my 3 disposals. Perhaps because of this, I looked to have a bemused expression on my face in many of the photos taken afterwards.

Then a Year 12 student who had helped commentate the match gave me a brief interview – I can’t even remember what the question was. I produced a speech that would have sounded ridiculously clichéd and overly modest coming from an AFL player, but reflected my actual thoughts. At least, I tried to make it that way, my brain was a jumbled mess at the time. I wasn’t entirely certain it had actually happened, but the regular congratulations I received as I left the field with my teammates helped it sink in.

Before the start of the match, I wasn’t expecting much. I knew my fantasies of sprinting at full pace along the wing, taking four bounces, eluding teachers and delivering passes of pinpoint accuracy were unlikely to come true. In fact, when I had the ball I discovered I was slow and uncertain, a true novice. I wasn’t the worse in the team, but I was far from the best, and because of this I was astonished at the turn of events, my transformation from non-factor to match-saver, and at how fate had chosen me of all people to be the designated “hero”.

However, nothing could prevent me from feeling extremely satisfied and happy with my performance and I know it will be a memory I’ll cherish.


  1. naww! thats cute :)
    you shoulda got it on video, woulda been nice to see.


  2. Thanks Danni.

    I thought about carrying a video camera with me during the match, but chances are it would have reduced my chances of kicking the goal.

    I think the match was being filmed anyway by someone.

  3. Well done, Adam!

    Definitely deserving of hero status ;)

    Gee, “no chauvinism intended” – I wonder where that idea came from :p

    And you’re far too modest – practically every other guy your age would be talking themselves up in a huge big way!

  4. Good work Adam, I feel like i’ve read this before..

    Hope you keep things honest, take things week by week as they come and hope the boys have a win next week. (And any other cliche’ you wanna chuck in here).

  5. Know your role and play your part. Stick to the plan and go through the processes …

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