VFL Round 20 – Sandringham v Casey: Rainy days and Zebras

Trevor Barker Beach Oval, Saturday 29th August 2015, 2pm

It was a day full of four seasons, the coldest and wettest day for a while, with a few moments of sunshine teasing us throughout the afternoon. I parked 500 metres from the Oval, wrapped in layers upon layers of clothing, and walking under the umbrella as the first of many streams of rain came past.

I stopped to get a program. My Saints membership gets me free entry into the ground. Five dollars buys a footy record of all the VFL details. This oval has been renovated, and there is now a pathway behind the goals with concrete seating and a higher level, all the better to watch the game from above. I stand above as I watch the Sandy boys, and I watch Peta Searle passing to the forwards. She is limping, apparently I find out later, because she’s hurt her leg in training with the boys. I smile as I watch one of the young men mimic her limping and they laugh together, then continue to train.

As they complete their warmup, I head to the grandstand. The umbrella is protecting me from the rain until I head into the stand and find a seat. Other sensible people have taken to shelter as well, especially as the rain is our constant companion. I see familiar St Kilda faces, people I have met on my journey, whose stories I have already told.

The theme songs ring out and the teams are on and the play begins. A gentleman, Chris, sits beside me and we watch as Casey Scorpions get their first goal through Jay Kennedy. They follow up with a point and then another goal through Tim Smith. I chat with Chris, as is my habit, and find that I am sitting next to Cameron Shenton’s dad. He’s come over from Adelaide for this last game; this is his fourth time for the season. He usually watches Cam on TV when he’s playing with the Saints. Cam used to play with Norwood. Chris himself used to vaguely follow the West Coast Eagles because his cousin Karl Langdon played there. He played for the seconds in WAFT in Perth. Cam has played 10 senior games this year, Chris tells me.

Meanwhile, in the sleet and showers that are constant, Trent Dennis-Lane (TDL) misses with a point, followed by another miss by Casey. It is wet and difficult footy. Jay Kennedy gets the Scorpions’ second and it is quarter time.

Sandringham Zebras 0.2.2

Casey Scorpions 3.2.20

I lose my companion to my right as the masses join the boys on the oval. I watch as adults and children alike flood around the players and coaches to hear what the players hear. Many old and young are kicking the footy around in this 10-minute break. I can smell the sausages being cooked as the smoke and odour waft past my and others’ noses, tempting us to come and buy, to satisfy our stomachs and the home grounds’ coffers.

Out on the ground, there are two huge circles which begin to disperse when the siren tells them it’s almost time to begin. The crowd disperses in an orderly and surprisingly quick manner.

The second quarter begins with an all-Zebra attack. Ahmed Saad gets the first goal from a great pass, and then Luke Delaney, TDL and Yilber Zijai all score minors. At least the Sandringham Zebras are now controlling play. And are they controlling play. Clint Jones gets another goal, Josh Saunders a behind, Shenton another goal (I think of his father, who is now standing around the fence where he was before he came to the stands for the wet first quarter). There is a point to the Scorpions but it is for naught as Saad takes possession from a centre turnover and Saunders kicks the goal.

Zebras have defended better. The quarter continues its brilliance as TDL goals after dodging and removing his opposition. Josh Hutchins from the Scorpions takes a screamer of a mark. Matthew Rennie for the Scorpions scores a goal before a behind brings up half time.

Sandringham Zebras 5.9.39

Casey Scorpions 4.2.26

The bathroom and BBQ called me. I ate the sausage and onion without the bread. I chat to my Moorabbin Winger mates and realise I have forgotten the open training that was on this morning. All these other mad Sainters have been at Moorabbin for the training and then a function thanking all those who got involved in the Saints Experience working groups.

I signal that a seat is available next to me when I see a familiar face of a man and his young son. Nanna Yvette is in action again, and the man is familiar not because I have got his story before (as I thought) but because he is Saints Chief Operating Officer and general counsel Ameet Bains. He is with his 3-year-old son Harvie. Ameet says he’s now a full-on Saint, as are his two young children. Harvie is suitably attired. Ameet grew up barracking for Carlton, though his father was Hawthorn, but says his father didn’t care that he didn’t follow his footy footsteps.

There are two behinds to occupy us between storytelling. Ameet is wearing a Red Sox jacket, and he says he came to USA sports later, but his wife’s dad did a lot of work in Boston and they once all went to see the Boston team play. His father migrated from India in 1971 (another painful year for the Saints). He came at the beginning of the year, and a bloke he knew played for the Hawks reserves and then was part of the Premiership win over St Kilda. So his father stuck with the Hawks. Ameet played for Old Melbournians himself, at his fittest in the midfield, he laughed, and in the end, deep forward.

Back on the field, another point to Casey before TDL gets the first goal of the quarter. It is followed with a point for Casey before Delaney kicks another goal and Max King gets one back for the Scorpions.

I notice the fluorescence of the umpire’s outfits and wonder why their brightness has evaded me until this moment. They are flashing like a beacon, and I realise the sun has actually come out momentarily.

More behinds before Saad does his now-famous walkup to goaling. Someone behind is counting his steps. There are 23 or more, moments before he kicks truly. Shenton and Delaney both get minors, and another one shows at least most of the attack is Sandringham’s.

Sandringham Zebras 8.13.61

Casey Scorpions 5.9.36

I join others in the centre of the ground and find my very tall mate David Downer. We snuggle in and listen to the coaching, though I can’t hear a thing. Then David joins me for the rest of the game, and I find that in all the years he’s come to Sandringham (and there are many) he has never sat in the stand. Usually he is on the wing standing against the fence. When I have seen him in the past, that’s exactly where he stood.

We caught up with each other’s lives while watching the last quarter. Sandy keeps attacking through two behinds. Sandy goals through Saad and Zijai. All the attack is Sandringham. There are no further scores for Scorpions. TDL, goal. Paddy McCartin, goal. Sandringham Zebras are into the finals, in second place. As the crowds disperse, we say our farewells. Dave has a 30 km run tomorrow before he heads to the Saints game. Ah, the energy of the young and fit. (I found out the next day that Uncle Bob and a friend were sitting on the other side of the grandstand and we didn’t even know it, so unusual is was that either of us attended a Sandringham game.)

Sandringham Zebras 12.17.89

Casey Scorpions 5.8.38


About Yvette Wroby

Yvette Wroby writes, cartoons, paints through life and gets most pleasure when it's about football, and more specifically the Saints. Believes in following dreams and having a go.

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