The Hardest Working Men in Football

What a week it’s been in life and footy, Eddie.  Sorry, I’m suffering from Wrap Deprivation Syndrome.  Who would have thought that he’d desert TLSWRF* and take the $1.5 million a season from GWS to ghost write Sheeds’ column for the Blacktown Bugle? (*The Long Suffering Wrap Reader Faithful). 

I thought we were the family club here at the Almanac.  Its all about winning Miles Franklins here at Almanac FC (go TBirch you good thing), not taking the big dollars to generate tabloid tripe in Sin City.

But like my Eagles, as soon as we lose one star another three step up to take their place.  BDickins came out of retirement to star on the urinal wing.  MZurbo returns from tropical climes to light the bonfire with rolled-up copies of the Examiner.  And GLaslett debuted with revelations about the only footy team tougher than the Eagles.

Top stuff, Knackers.  Didn’t I need it out here on the fatal shore, where the workplace increasingly resembles a Kafka novel.  (Christ does the boss read the website?).  Of course I meant Lenny Kafka author of “1,001 Habits of Effective Leadership for Fun and Profit”.  (Phew, that was close.  Wouldn’t want to do a GAblett and get caught out by social media.)

Tried to forget my troubles by cheering for the Doggies on Friday night, and then the Rising Suns against the Barry Crockers on Saturday.  Talk about little reward for effort.  Both games reminded me of the old schoolyard joke about why do elephants have to wear rippled soled shoes when they play the ants at basketball?  To give the ants an even chance.

My antennae tell me that playing under Figjam and the Rossmeister is as much fun as having your toenails trimmed by Christopher Dale Flannery.  By mid-season Eddie will be taking the ink out of the pens at the Lexus Centre to stop the rush for interstate autographs.  And the Freo players will be pushing the coach in at the deep end off Cottesloe Beach with horsemeat tied to his ankles, and a homing beacon for the local White Pointers.

And so the Avenging Eagle and I arrived at a cold damp Subiaco Oval with hope in our hearts and dread in our shoes.  Our favourite thespian Josh Kennedy – “a full forward of fine and infinite jest” was gone for 3 months.  Our tall rebounder and most improved, Will Schofield, was unjustly absent for a gentle love tap on an antagonistic Tiger.  How much worse could things get?

Plenty.  As the teams ran out I saw #29, Scott Lycett, doing his Baby Elephant Walk as he strode out among our warriors.  Surely Woosha hadn’t taken leave of his senses and picked this muleing and puking infant to replace Kennedy?  No, he was here to lead our rucks in the absence of Nic Nat who had secretly done a hammy in Dancing for the Stars rehearsals during the week.

My heart immediately went into atrial fibrillation.  I know little of other teams, but JBarnstable, Smokie, MNaqvi and AStarkie had convinced me that the RooBoys were the real deal.  I had seen the last quarter of their Catfight, and they looked good.  Any team coached by a Scott is bound to be ruthless and hard at it.

I had invested my hopes and the week’s wages (forty seven cents – thanks Boss) on the Eagles at the short odds, and now it looked like we’d be joining the train fare evaders on the way home.  If ever there was a line ball game it was this.  We had a debutant on the backline (Monkey Brennan’s boy Jacob) and a second gamer as Cox’s backup.  The forest on the forward line suddenly looked like it had been denuded with Agent Orange.

The first quarter was even, with the Eagles dominating possession but wasteful as usual.  North played fast break running ball, with clean skills and leg speed on the few occasions when they escaped our press to run it forward.  Our Paddy Boy (McGinnity) showed the footskills that made him a hurling legend, by missing with a set shot from the top of the square.  I decided we should send him over the fences at the ‘Bool next year to sharpen him up.  Seems the Irish do their best work there.  Oh well, someone had to take Our Josh’s place in the comic relief department.  Quarter time was tight – our 4.4 to their 4 straight.  I was reassured that our appetite for the contest was undiminished, but worried by how clean the Kangas looked when they got clear.

The second quarter told the story of the game.  The Rooboys kicked 3 in the first 10 minutes to skip 2 goals clear.  The best of the game was a DWells special where he gathered back of centre and bounced down the wing to the 50, and launched an inside out torp that went through post high.  Effortless and sublime.  At his best early in this game he was the equal of Cyril, and I applauded despite myself.

Then the hardest working team in football decided it was time for some serious moves.  Surely you have noticed the similarity between Matt Priddis and James Brown?  The red hair, fair skin and freckles perhaps?  Perhaps not.  More that they are the hardest working men in show biz.  Matt gathered up Nasty Selwood, Muddy Waters, the Hurninator and Running Man Rosa to put a stop to this childish impudence.  They tackled and chased and bumped until the Rooboys decided that this was all a bit hard.

The Eagles’ half time lead was only 8 points – 7.10 to 7.2.  But my petrol coupon for the week was starting to look secure.  I love teams that finish quarters strongly, and it was all Eagles in the latter stages.  The mini league entertainment at half time was a joy.  One lad for the navy team did somersaults, and then wandered aimlessly, swinging his arms and ignoring the ball.  When given a free, he refused to release it despite the urgings of team mates and coach.  The ump had a devil of a time prising it out of his grasp.  “I think we’ve found the next Josh,” I reassured the Avenging Eagles over cake and coffee.

Ten minutes into the third quarter the Roos drew level again.  The quarter was notable for 2 Eagle performers.  Angry Selwood (the littlest one) is fast becoming like Joel without the charm school lessons.  He is like the kid who robs the tuck shop, and when found surrounded by Freddo wrappers and with a chocolate stained gob, protests that he ‘just found them’ and was on his way to return them when they melted in his mouth.  He had already protested that he touched a team mate’s ball on its way out of bounds on the full, and about being ignored for 12 head high tackles that he richly deserved.

The Eagles cleared desperately to the Centre Half Back position, where Angry found himself surrounded by Rooboys with little prospect of assistance from team mates.  He fell to ground desperately punching at the ball tucked tightly under his left arm.  The Umpire suggested that his efforts were perhaps as genuine as an Abbott or Gillard election promise.  Affronted, he responded with the suggestion that Peter Slipper would have met with better success had he directed his dalliance requests to the Man in Lime.  As the Umpire advanced the Rooboy to the goal square for a celebratory goal, Woosha suggested Angry come to the bench for deportment classes.

Angry had his revenge in the end with a game high 35 disposals.

The revelation of the game was Eagles forward Josh Hill, who was truly sublime with 4 goals and many clever assists that created goals for others.  “Why did the Bulldogs let him go?” the Avenging Eagle enquired.  “Heart like a small green vegetable, and the work ethic of A Current Affairs’ favorite family,” I advised.  “No,” the AE responded “he was just homesick so he put on that act to get out of Whitten Oval quicker.”  Smart lady my wife.  An excellent judge of the devious male character.  Dunno where she learned about those tricks.

No Kennedy.  Lynch and Darling working hard, but having off days.  Arriveth the hour, arriveth the man.  Josh Hill did it all.  Marks, crumbs, shepherds, handballs, palm offs, dodges, weaves – all finished with precise disposal.  He was a joy to watch.  Like the caterpillar suddenly realizing that his destiny was always to become the exquisite butterfly.

Orange time had us 13 points ahead, and I mean points – 12-15 to 12-2.  “Hold them in the first 10 minutes and we’re home.  They have skills but no hardness,” I thought.  And so it proved.  By mid quarter we were 30 points clear, and the Rooboys were clearly broken.  There were some junk time goals both ways, but when the publican called time we had won by 25 points (17-18 to 15-5) and 15 scoring shots.  On balance of play we were a 10 goal better side.

The Kangas really disappointed me.  They looked a fast break, run and gun team made for the skating rink at the Docklands.  But on this performance they will struggle away from home and at the MCG.  It was not what I expected from ‘Shinboner Spirit’ and a Scott coached team.  Andrew Swallow worked hard all game.  McIntosh broke even with Cox in ruck and around the ground.  Wells looked dangerous early but disappeared from mid way through the second quarter.  Like Richmond the week before, the Kangas looked to have a quick midfield but were a key forward and defender short of being a serious team.  The Eagles tackling pressure too easily pushed them off the ball and off their game.

The great thing about the Eagles is their depth and their work ethic.  Kerr, Darling and Lynch all had quiet days but still worked hard and contributed.  Shannon Hurn had copped a tag the last 2 weeks and had his rebound nullified.  Brad Scott decided to his detriment not to repeat the tactic.  Hurn’s run and long kicking set up countless attacks.  Beau Waters was Hurn’s able partner in crime, while Glass and Mackenzie were solid as usual.  Matt Rosa had one of his best games as a tireless creator and link man off the wing.  Priddis and Gaff ran and tackled all game, though both were let down a little by dodgy disposal.  Sadly the Nice Selwood (you could take Adam home to Mum without worrying that he would pocket both the silverware and your daughter’s knickers) broke his hand and will take a month’s R&R.

Win all the home games and half the away games for the rest of the season would see us finish 19/4 with a double chance and home finals.  Plus a well rested Natanui, Kennedy, Embley, SelwoodA and Nicoski.

The downhill flyers will be tough next week on their own skating rink, but the Bash Brothers in the Eagles midfield will let them know that there are no easy gets when you are playing against the nasty boys from the West.

We might not be the classiest, but the Eagles are definitely the hardest working men in football.

“Wow, I feel good
I knew that I would, now
I feel good
I knew that I would, now
So good, so good, I got you”

WEST COAST         4.4    7.10   12.15     17.18 (120)
NORTH MELBOURNE   4.0     7.2      12.2     15.5 (95)

West Coast:
Hill 4, Hurn 2, Shuey 2, Scott Selwood, Rosa, Cox, Masten, Hams, Lynch, Darling, Lycett, Sheppard
North Melbourne: Cunnington 3, Harvey 2, Macmillan 2, Ziebell, Thomas, Wells, Wright, Pedersen, Petrie, Edwards, Harper

West Coast:
Josh Hill, Rosa, Hurn, Scott Selwood, Priddis, Waters, Gaff, Cox.
North Melbourne: Swallow, Cunnington, Ziebell, McIntosh, Thompson, Bastinac, Harvey

West Coast:
Naitanui (hamstring) replaced in selected side by Lycett, Adam Selwood (hand)
North Melbourne: Nil

West Coast:
Brad Sheppard replaced Adam Selwood in the third quarter
North Melbourne: Aaron Mullett replaced Robbie Tarrant at three-quarter time

Umpires: Farmer, Leppard, Pannell


Votes : Josh Hill (3), Matt Rosa (2), Shannon Hurn (1).


  1. Mark Simms says

    You got it right Peter. But the nasty Selwood boy was crucified by the umpire at centre half back. Some of the holding the ball decisions were insanely tough.

    Nice lines about the baby elephant.

  2. Nathan Jarvis says

    I am picturing the Selwoods and Ham sitting around the flatscreen studying footage of JB at the Apollo. The Godfather of Soul falls to his knees – “Please” – the MC comes to put the cape around his shoulders – “please” – Mr Dynamite lifts his arms to shrug it off – “please” – the MC starts ushering the Minister of the New New Super Heavy Funk to the side of the stage, he drops again to the floor – “don’t go” – and a light lit long ago in the backyard of the Selwoods comes on again, this time as bright as the blue Wiggle’s smile.

    The Eagles are the hardest working men in showbusiness – if you count the anticipation of getting caught with the pill, the timing of the drop of the knees, the cunning lift of the wing to force the tackle up and the sheer effort put into looking like they have just been pinged by a lone shooter in the third tier.

    I look forward to the day someone approaches Ham or Selwood and **doesn’t** lay the anticipated tackle and we are subject to the sight of a man casting himself upon the paddock, arms akimbo, head thrown back in the exquisite agony of cheating his stumpy little arse off.

  3. Peter_B says

    Nathan, Nathan, Nathan. I know that being sentenced to 3 hours of Rossball a week would make the bile rise up in any man’s throat. When the siren sounds its not the relief of winning, it’s the relief that you don’t have to watch any more of that monotonous dross. I feel like the dog cowering under the couch because the owner is home from the pub, and the dog knows that someone is due a kicking.
    I am looking forward to the Derby. Your tackling suggestions should make it interesting.

  4. Speaking of bile rising up in throats, I reckon I’m maturing. I only vomited twice while reading that match report. Actually i didn’t read it all, just a couple of bits.

  5. Nathan Jarvis says

    Not yet back from the pub, all I am hearing is a faint “Quack, quack, quack.”

    How is Honest John’s take on it? Presented with photos of Shuey and Selwood and Ham ensuring the high free, he blinks myopically and offers, “They’re still photos, right? Well, they’re open to interpretation. Those bent knees could mean they were bending to pick the ball up.”

    This being **after** Selwood the Greater has admitted that he ducks into the tackles and that his brothers and Ham do the same.

    You should learn from history, West Coast. You know what happened last time your club began routinely lying about problems they were having.

  6. The dogs are barking, but the caravan moves on.

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