Waaia break the long drought

Waaia v Rennie

Waaia Under Seventeen’s. 29 games without a win since late 2008. Since then a lot of water has flowed under the bridge. Today, we played Rennie, a team from New South Wales. They made the long trip down, prepared for yet another easy win over Waaia.

I woke up at 7am, not being able to sleep due to the freezing coldness of my room. I sat in bed for two hours, listening to the radio and drifting to sleep every now and then. Finally, I got up to get dressed and watch a bit of Rage on ABC TV. God there is some weird music on that show. After gathering all my gear, Dad, Mum and I leave home.

I slowly get ready, putting my footy jumper, shorts and boots on. I kick the footy around in the rooms, trying to see how many kicks I could get in succession without the ball hitting the ground. I got up to six. As the siren sounded for three-quarter time of the U/14’s, I run out on the ground with the rest of the boys to have a few shots at goal. Back in the rooms, we start our stretches and then a circle handball drill. Finally, we sit down in the corner of the room and our coach, Bobby Meyland, addresses us. After last week’s embarrassing, pitiful and insipid effort against the previously winless Katamatite (109-0), we were keen to make amends against Rennie, who have notched up a couple of wins so far in the season. Last time we played them last year; we played well but lost by 55 points, 6.5.41 to 14.12.96. Yes, it is possible to play well and still get done by nine goals.

Finally, the siren ends to finish the U/14’s match. Waaia won convincingly, 14.21.105 to 0.1.1. I remember playing in the U/14’s, we rarely won a game, much like now, yet as soon as I went to the higher ranks of football, they kicked off and have hardly lost a match since. Typical. We do a run around the ground, and stop in the goalsquare for a last minute stretch and start a small kick-to-kick drill. We get called into a tight huddle by our captains, David Low and Nick Tyndall. They give us a last minute address, and the game begins. We are kicking towards the Netball courts, the civilized end of the ground. The other end has a dam and a few paddocks behind it. The ball is bounced as I shield my eyes from the glaring sun. I’m playing on the forward flank, pushing up to the wing at times. Waaia get the ball inside 50 and control about 80% of play in the first 10 minutes. Aaron Booth receives a free kick and pops through the first of the match for the Bombers, but Rennie soon answer. At quarter time, Rennie lead by two points, 1.3 to 1.1.

Rennie have an interesting jumper. It’s mostly white with green on the shoulders, covering down to the middle with small squares, much like North Melbourne’s old logo with the small blocks and the kangaroo hopping, but the kangaroo is replaced by a fierce grasshopper. Don’t ask how they make a grasshopper look fierce. The second quarter begins and things are tight. The ball is kicked back and forth between both ends. Waaia look to have a slight upper hand against the bigger bodied Rennie players, but we can’t make it count on the scoreboard. The ball is kicked near me; it’s bouncing towards the boundary line, right in front of the Rennie bench/cheersquad. I get to the drop of the ball, but it wildly bounces the other way, forcing many jeers from the Rennie coaches: “You judged that well sunshine!” Waaia win the ball back though and Stephen Botterill, our general in defence, wins the ball in the forward line and kicks a floater towards the goalsquare. It doesn’t deviate from the goals; it bounces through as Waaia take the lead. Rennie win it back though, and at half time they have a slender lead.

I take up my spot on the interchange for the start of the third quarter. Waaia kick two goals to get a handy lead, but Rennie win it back after one of their forwards marks on the boundary line and easily snaps without a man on the mark. I get told to go to the back pocket and to give a few instructions to the rest of the backline. The only man free for Rennie was a small kid, about 12 years old I’m guessing. Easy. The ball is kicked into their forward line, where the kid shockingly judges the ball, leaving me to mop it up. I get the handball out, and Waaia run the ball downfield to score a goal, giving them a 13 point lead going into three quarter time. The last time we led at the last break was two years ago. We can win this. Everyone could sense it as a few Rennie players start abusing ours. I grab a few players, telling them to come into the huddle and get a drink instead of starting fights. Bobby gives us a final charge, telling us we can win this. We can end the drought.

The final quarter starts and I’m still in the backline on the small boy. He is small in stature but he can sure run, making me chase him all around the defensive 50. Rennie kick a goal through their big, uncoordinated centre-half forward, but Waaia get the buffer back. The clock ticks down, the ball is kicked in a few times but Waaia clear the ball each time, before Rennie kick a goal after a free kick and 50m penalty. There must be only five minutes remaining. Waaia lead 6.6 to 5.5. Darcy Botterill, only 13 years old and already playing seniors, is blitzing the midfield, and kicks a telling goal to give Waaia a 13 point lead. Surely we can’t lose this. But still, Rennie win the ball back into their forward line and kick a goal through one of the other small kids. I’m guessing it was my opponent’s brother. “Blow the siren!” I hear the crowd yell. They start banging on the signs around the ground. Rennie give a final push towards goal, but its rebounded back, and the siren blares across the field. I pump my fists, as other Bomber players fall to the ground in celebration. We have won. Waaia have won. I can’t believe it. 7.7.49 to 6.5.41.

We congratulate ourselves on the field after shaking the hands of our opponents. They don’t seem too happy about the result. They had written us off, and expected to win easily. We gave them one hell of a shock, and to remind them of that, we went into the rooms to belt out our club song. We sang it with happiness and relief, and we sang it bloody loud.

About Josh Barnstable

21 year old North Melbourne supporter from country Victoria. Currently living in Melbourne studying a Bachelor of Sports Media. Dreams of becoming a sports journalist and broadcaster.


  1. Wow Josh, I can imagine the excitement you must be feeling after such a long drought.

    This Darcy Botterill kid sounds like a gun, will we possibly hear his name in the future?

  2. I still can’t believe it Adam, it feels great to experience that winning feeling.

    Very possible that Darcy will make it in the big time, he’s only 13 and he has abs of steel and last week he played his first match with the seniors. We also won without one of our best forwards, who is also only 13, he was out with a knee reconstruction.

  3. :| what a shock, looks like you guys didnt need the numurkah boys after all.

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