VAFA B section -Fitzroy v St Kevins: Jim Bob wins the day

The day didn’t start very well: no canteen and I brought no lunch, the Twos copped a flogging, Rory and Matty Kyroussis were late withdrawals and Greenie will not play until week four. Last year St Kevins gave us a workover, winning easily on a cold, wet day, on a heavy ground. At least the weather seemed OK, sunscreen was much in demand and I believe that the heat had a significant role in what was about to unfold. Last year they had twenty more scoring shots than us but yesterday they could not run the game out. It was a twenty four scoring shot turn around. Their captain was spent by three-quarter time, and their run and carry disappeared. Let’s hope for a dry winter.

We had a new captain, ‘Won’t- He Fenton’, someone that I will put under the microscope later, but the only thing he did wrong all day was to lose the toss. So we kicked into a two-goal breeze to start the match. We were the first to score a goal when their number 84 centred the ball beautifully into the sure hands of Pickers. It took St Kevins, with the breeze at their back, ten minutes to score their first goal, but for the rest of the quarter they dominated the game. They missed a few easy shots at goal. Their ruckman (and captain) was killing us, giving the St Kevins’ onballers an armchair ride. Unusually, for a side kicking with the breeze, they had dropped an extra man into defence who stood at centre half back, and he gratefully accepted ball after ball dropped into his hands from poor Fitzroy disposals. At this stage the only player who had delivered the ball well to one of our forwards was their number 84! I would have manned this bloke up but the coach at half time implored better use of the ball by foot and more run from the back half. We had to carry the ball over, or pass the ball around the defence.

From the ten minute mark of the first quarter to the last few minutes of the second quarter St Kevins had a chance to ice the game. In general play they were killing us and they had complete control of the centre square. One of the Tram Conductors made the comment that it would be a rational choice to give them the ball at all the centre square ball ups and set up our defence, mimicking the set up done at a kick in from a behind. At this stage their ruckman was had the BOG award in his pocket.

There were a few things that kept us in it during this period. One was the intensity of our medium size players. Sammy Baker was in everything, laying big tackles, getting at the base of every pack, dominating the derrinalphil stats of who gives the ball back to the umpire at a stoppage (he’s the bloke who had the ball) and who is our player who tackled the opposition player and earned a ball up. I have always thought that Sam is a backman forced to play on the ball when we have players out. I may have to change my opinion.

St Kevins missed several simple shots at goal but late in the second quarter the run of play changed. We scored several late goals and went in a point up: 6 3 to 5 8. This score reflected the game well: they were wasteful while our forward line had more potency. Jules, who finished with five goals, was too quick and too strong overhead to have an effective match up. Corbin Stevic, a new player, got involved and kicked a crucial goal just before half time.

The first half finished with Daniel Bisetto slotting a difficult shot at goal, after the siren, to put us one point up at half time. Dan kicked three straight, something that we never saw last year.

The third quarter was a ripper. If you want to see just how good B Grade football is have a look at this quarter. ST Kevins would kick a couple and we would reply. Their full back kicked out beautifully, setting up a couple of goals but this part of their game crumpled in the last quarter. We were not going to roll over and they went in with only a ten point lead, but the breeze, picking up, was at our backs and we run in our legs. St Kevins were a bigger side, very important last year on a heavy ground, but this year, on a hot day, on a green-top ground, aerobic fitness was going to win the day.

The last quarter, after the first five minutes, was a procession, one way traffic, downhill skiing, hot knife through soft butter, (think of some more clichés) and it was only a few, cheap, late, St Kevins goals that tightened the score. In the last quarter we started to get some centre square clearances, an area that we were killed in for the first three quarters. I have to mention one player, Jamie Mackay (Jim Bob), who had the unenviable of playing on their captain (Lynch) in the ruck. It was a hot day, and while Lynch was probably BOG up to three quarter time, he couldn’t play out the game in the ruck and spent the last quarter standing at full forward. One of derrinalphil’s Laws of Football is ‘that any side that is playing a ruckman at full forward is in trouble’ and St Kevins were in trouble, because Jim Bob started to take marks around the ground, win hit outs and present as another option.

Jim Bob is a bloke well into his thirties, a journey man, who was played in our clubbies and thirds for most of his Fitzroy career. Our lack of ruckman (Michael Lee has a serious leg problem) means he was called on to step up several levels and if yesterday is any indication we have a ripper player that will serve us well for the rest of the year. The club put him in the best players and we wouldn’t have won without him.

This was an important win for the club as St Kevins are expected to play finals this year. The forward line looks so much better with Pickers, Jules and Stevic all coming in. Opposition side are going to find it hard this year to match up all our forwards. We have real quality to come back in: Rory next week and Greenie later. Parko played in the Twos and should be back at centre halfback in a few weeks. Young Luke Baker looked a player in his first game out of the Under Nineteens. Dylan Patcas, utterly fearless, never takes a backward step, and I am pleased I’m not his Dad, as I would worry he might get hurt.

Most of you would have noticed the improvement in our new co-captain ‘Won’t He Fenton’. The reason for the improvement is that I am now fining him twenty bucks for every hand ball or short pass he gives in the fifty meter arch (one exception). This has had immediate results. He snaffled two goals, at crucial times yesterday, and just as importantly conned two very soft 25 metre penalties out of the umpires. This is what I love from a rover. All rovers should be cheeky little buggers that the opposition player’s want to punch the living daylights out of and the opposition supporters agonizingly scream ‘don’t touch him’.

We play ‘eighteen rounds of football’. Yesterday we started with a ‘birdie’ on a difficult hole but next week we have an easier hole; back at the Brunswick Street Oval and I will see you all there.

Go the Roys

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