We’re three goals down and it’s started to rain

‘We’re three goals down and it’s starting to rain.’


I overheard this classic football spectator’s lament during a match in September 2019 when the speaker answered his phone and was evidently asked “how are the boys going”?


Since then, I’ve been itching for an opportunity to employ the observation. (It’s been a sustained itch.) Last Saturday (24th April) provided the occasion.


As late as Saturday morning, I was still tossing up whether to make the trek to the Big Smoke to watch Carlton take on Brisbane. In the event, I settled for the clash between Barwon Heads Seagulls and Torquay Tigers at the lovely seaside reserve on Barwon Heads Bluff.


There was quite a bit at stake. The neighbouring towns met previously in the 2019 Grand Final – just four games previously thanks to the Covid-blanked season 2020. Then Barwon Heads prevailed to bury a two decades-long premiership drought.


The two teams have emerged as front-runners in the early weeks of this season. There is also a recently established perpetual trophy, a surfboard (naturally) sponsored by the two towns’ hotels, which are owned by the same interests. The trophy changed hands twice during 2019.


In prospect, I sensed that Torquay might struggle, weakened by a couple of key injuries and the fact that the gun recruit full-forward (LA) had contrived to have himself rubbed out for an indiscretion in the preceding match against Drysdale. I was somewhat heartened when I saw the teams in the Friday edition of the Geelong Addy, as Torquay’s ‘outs’ listed three players, while seven were named as ‘ins’. I figured that if we played 26 against 22 or 22 on the field against 18, we were in with a fighting chance. I wasn’t privy to selection issues for Barwon Heads, so I couldn’t readily evaluate if they were other than at full strength.


As a newly-minted supporter, I’m relatively unfamiliar with the players although I have already acquired a few favourites, the dashing defender of the penetrating drop punts (KS), the all-day goer (PB), and pack terrier (CC) in particular, as well as the reliable old heads (BR) and our imaginative playing coach (DG).


When the game began, it was apparent that Torquay were abiding by the rules and had only the regulation 18 players on the field. In fact, as the game unfolded, I was able to say to myself ‘we’re four goals down (27 points actually) and it’s started to rain’. Barwon Heads’ slick runners controlled the opening quarter to establish a lead of 5 goals to 1 at the break, suggesting perhaps that they had managed to sneak one or two extras onto the ground.


This margin was maintained through the early stages of the second term however, with the rain, the bigger-bodied Torquay began to work their way back into the contest, initially with goals against the run of play. Late in the quarter they had drawn to within three points but the Seagulls responded with two late goals to have a 15 point advantage at the main interval. A feature was both teams’ accuracy, with 8 goals and no behinds for the quarter.


The third quarter began with the teams trading goals but, midway through the quarter, the Tigers found their mojo. Aggressive running, excellent backing-up and teamwork produced a run of goals which saw Torquay establish a 9 point lead at three-quarter time. Continued accuracy was a major factor as they had registered ten goals straight before their second (and final) behind was scored.


The early minutes of the final quarter were an arm wrestle. Barwon Heads missed two gettable shots, registering a behind and an out of bounds on the full. This represented their last roll of the dice as the let offs enabled the Tigers to pounce and two goals stretched the lead beyond the home teams’ reach, particularly as their goal kicking radar now deserted them. A goal at either end produced a fifteen point margin at the final siren.


Ultimately it was a meritorious victory as casualties during the match extended Torquay’s concerning injury list. The spirited comeback to overturn the four and a half goal deficit leading to a decisive victory sets the Tigers up for the challenges ahead.


Watching local football is a different experience to attending AFL matches. Standing, exposed to the elements, no scoreboard replays and the absence of the overt commercialism of Marvel Stadium or the MCG provides a (mostly) refreshing contrast. The competitive enthusiasm is much in evidence, even as a lesser skill level inevitably creates more mistakes and more contests. The creature comforts of the Melbourne stadia have obviously softened me. Standing on a banked mound for two and a half hours tests my aged legs. In fact, my nod towards the date – Anzac Eve – was to be reminded of Eric Bogle’s line from The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, as I dragged myself up the hill to the car park: ‘The old men march slowly, their bones stiff and sore’. Of course, I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to imply any comparison between my watching – and enjoying – a football match with the privations endured by those on active service.


My decision to watch the local game was vindicated as the evening unfolded. I arrived home at an early point of the 2nd quarter to see Brisbane take the lead. Carlton had been winning on the car radio but soon fell out of contention on television which suggests an obvious implication that I should have continued driving. Alas, the Blues remain on a road to nowhere, or heading up a blind alley or some similar metaphor.


Barwon Heads 5.4  8.4  10.5  11.9.75
Torquay               1.1   5.7   12.2  15.2.92


Best Players:
Barwon Heads: L.Spiteri, S.Harris, W.Jacobs, S.Witherden, N.Brown, L.Mitchell
Torquay: C.Currie, K.Loftus, M.Hurley, C.Page, J.Darke


Major Goalkickers:
Barwon Heads: D.Horbury, F.Young, K.Polley, A.Hildebrandt 2
Torquay: W.Doyle 3, R.Holmes, K.Loftus, C.Currie, P.McMahon, J.Darke 2


The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in 2021. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order HERE



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  1. Loved the mix of report/reflection/comment/wry humour, Peter! The phrase ‘road to nowhere’ now has Talking Heads buzzing around inside mine.

  2. A great report, thanks Peter.

    The son of a good friend of mine is back playing with Torquay this season and enjoying it greatly.

  3. Peter Fuller says

    Thanks Ian & Smokie. I thought my offering was perhaps too self-indulgent and too narrowly-focused to be of interest to the world beyond the Bellarine FL, so happy that you found something in it.
    Given our AFL teams struggles, Smokie, you and I need to turn our attention to Willy CYs and Torquay.

  4. An entertaining read Peter. It has appeal to anyone with an interest in country or community football. Competitive enthusiasm is far more appealing than overt commercialism.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Enjoyed this Peter, as a newly minted supporter of a community club myself. I keep an eye on the Bellerine league due to my work association with Queenscliff (go the Coutas), hope you keep us updated with Torquay’s fortunes. Like you, given the form of my AFL team, I’m very happy to jump back in to local footy.

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