Water Polo Round 18 – Hungarian Eagles v Russian Tigers: Blood in the Water

The footy was cancelled in Perth on Friday night due to the weather.  Instead we got a rematch of the vicious Hungary v Russia “Blood in the Water” game at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, with the gallant Hungarian Eagles ruthlessly cut down by the Russian Tigers.

Water Polo Sun

The Subiaco Pool started to fill as the Avenging Eagle and I arrived at our seats a half hour before the game.   The taps were on full and by 10 minutes into the match the Indian Ocean end had reached its standard 2.1 metre depth, while the Nullarbor end was an unusually soggy 1.5 metres under water.

Although we sit 6 rows back under cover at the Nullarbor end, the sideways biblical flood still splashed in rendering my usually watered-down beer the constituency of cats piss.   In desperation I turned to shiraz, but after more deluge it weakened to insipid mateus rose’.   Things were getting tough out on the field too.

The Russian Mafia led by Vlastuin and Maric were starting to get on top.   Martinovic and Delediovic were dominating the clearances.  Still the plucky freedom loving Eagles were hanging in there at 4 goals each close to half time.

I knew the ground was getting muddy when there were a half dozen Eagles players blacker than Nic Nait.  He dominated the taps, but it was a game where the best players were those who ignored every coaching instruction they had heard in the last 10 years and reverted to the tactics of the sandpit.

Hit outs or kicks to a target were a waste of time because nothing could be directed.  Fierce tackling only invited a free kick for high contact, and most players coughed up the larded pigskin without any prompting from opponents.  The ball ran through players hands like cash through punters at the racetrack.

It best suited Dustin Martinovic for whom ignoring coaching instructions is a natural way of being.  He is taller and leaner in the flesh than he looks on TV, and kept his hands clean and head clear when most were losing theirs.  He is an instinctive player, but this was a night where instinct trumped planning and thought.  Born in a swamp – by Staincross out of a Royal Artist mare.

In desperation to breach the impasse “Vladimir” Hardwick ordered rebel ruckman Tyrannosaurus Vickeri to bring down the much-loved Eagles hero Dean Cox.  The unsuspecting Cox was carried off dreaming of goulash.

Hungarian water polo

Not content with their cowardly 5-4 lead at half time, the Russians took to kicking out the ankles of our best player Luke ‘Wonderboy’ Shuey, like he was Neymar at the World Cup.  The 3 Russian judges ignored my pleas to the Security Council for reparations.

Robbed of their offence and leadership, the Eagles could only hope to defend the homeland.   An 8-6 loss was a brave effort.

No prizes to Eagles dunderhead Simpson for persisting with allowing the Tigers an extra man in defence in the last quarter.  We started to dominate possession for the first time in the game, but all of our attacking forays were turned back by the Russian fortifications.

Teaching a game plan and structure is all very well, but persisting in futility is a sign of madness not strength.

Tyrannosaurus is expected to front the International War Crimes Tribunal in the coming week and should be spending the remainder of the season in the salt mines.

Hungarian water polo 2


Malarkski Medal Votes:

3 – Martinovic (Murrunindi Medal – Order of the Red Star)

2 – Milesevic

1 – Delediovic


EAGLES    2.1   4.1   5.4   6.6 (42)

TIGERS     3.2   5.6   7.8   8.11 (59)



Eagles: Darling 2, Kennedy, McGinnity, LeCras, Tunbridge

Tigers: Vickery 2, Martin 2, Vlastuin, Miles, Cotchin, Riewoldt



Eagles: Priddis, Shuey, Mackenzie, Naitanui, Hurn, Hutchings

Tigers: Martin, Miles, Deledio, Foley, Ellis, Conca



Eagles: Cox (concussion), Shuey (left ankle)

Tigers: Nil


Russian Judges: Margetts, Dalgleish, Rosebury


Official crowd: 32,270 at Patersons Pond


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Peter entertaining and very clever .A perfect case of that there should be a send off rule at afl level may have been 1st time needed since , Hall re Staker . Also re suspension wise for a very serious offense it should include the next time the two sides meet in this case obviously West Coast v Richmond

  2. Very good Peter, I like your reference to water polo. The brute who hit Cox did receive a rather painful looking elbow to the solar plexus a few seconds before the incident. Not that that is any excuse for what he did. Poor old Coxie was unconscious before he hit the ground, and let’s face it, that is a long way to fall. Very much like Staker was, except Hall was a bit more obvious in his intentions.
    Was that you who invaded the pitch, I mean pool? It looked a bit like you..

  3. It wasn’t me Lorri. I wouldn’t go out into that weather for anything. Not even to get another glass of fortifying red.
    I haven’t booed as much since Jobe Watson. Just practicing for Hird’s return.
    What are the Purple Circus up to this weekend?

  4. Unavoidably detained at a quiz night,with all mobiles turned off, the quizmaster ruined the evening for those recording the game by mentioning the score.
    My immediate thought was that the Eagles must have lost a couple of players to injury. That such injuries were inflicted by the other side didn’t occur to me.
    And no votes to Matt Priddis? 18 tackles suggest he was at least near the ball

  5. Priddis was a brave work horse as always, but I tend to judge players on the impact they have. I thought Shuey our best until he was maimed, because his kicking and run created opportunities.
    Really other than Martin (particularly in the first half) no one stood out because of the conditions.
    Naitanui got 50 taps but they mostly went to his feet for a secondary ball up. In the last quarter he finally started to belt it wide and we got some run on. Tigers were much more aware of how to play the conditions.
    Darling and Gaff need a long walk in the hall of mirrors (to quote Roy and HG). Gaff kept creating turnovers with cute chip kicks that predictably slid off the side of the boot. Darling thinks he is Wayne Carey, and keeps trying to break tackles, when it was a first possession/first option sort of night. First time I have given Simpson a bake all season. The Eagles certainly worked hard, but they were DUMB, DUMB, DUMB all night.
    A very miserable, forgettable match. I had to whip myself into a lather over shiraz and Vickery just to stay awake and keep warm.

  6. Skip of Skipton says

    I thought Naitanui was very good in the first half. Some nice vision and handballing.

    The Eagles are very beige at the moment. Not a bad side, not a good side and nothing to get really enthused about.

    Put in harder, did Richmond. Simple as that Comrade.

  7. DBalassone says

    Ty will get a few no doubt, but to compare that to the Hall/Staker incident is outrageous.
    Entertaining piece Peter, as always.

  8. Stainless says

    I like the water polo analogy although the Hungarians actually beat the Russians in 1956. Maybe the systematic overrun of their country by their opponents was a greater spur than “doing it for Coxy”, even after Ty gave them an even greater incentive to find something.
    I reckon Priddis is your best player by a street at the moment. He was the only one who really kept persisting. Nic Nat must be a frustrating one. Started like a whirlwind last night but by the end of the night Maric had reeled him in. He’s always a threat to do something extraordinary but mostly the threat is unfulfilled.
    Vickers will see out the season on the sidelines and that’s fair enough. But to compare that with the Hall-Staker incident is like comparing me with Mike Tyson. A send-off rule would at least require the intent to be deliberately malicious. I don’t think Ty has a malevolent bone in his body nor the coordination to have deliberately timed a blow like that.
    Solid win by the Tigers and one that was looking likely well before Cox and Shuey were injured. But D. Commetti summed it up perfectly – “they seem to be at their best when the stakes are lowest”. Where was this form in April, boys?

  9. Malcolm Ashwood says

    While I think Vickery has the football brain of a mentally retarded wombat there was undoubtably the intention to strike that is where the similarity with , Hall -Staker (no not as bad ) another case is Bickley – Wakelin all blatant send offs. People forget the general law also exists on the football field ( Mathews – Bruns) at Ad Uni games yest spoke to 4 lawyers (never hard to find watching Uni) and all said Vickery could easily be prosecuted for assault. The game has been softened up in so many ways yet for a blatant strike there is no send off at the top level of the game idiotic!
    Thank goodness it exists at a amateur league level.

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