What’s wrong with Willy?

V.A.F.A., DIVISION 1, Rd 6 Review

After a sustained period of success, featuring back-to-back premierships in 2008 and 2009, the Williamstown CYMS Football Club has suddenly fallen on difficult times. Having last season missed the finals by percentage only, not even the most pessimistic of observers – inside or outside the club – would have foreseen a 0-6 start to the 2012 season. And as someone who played with the club, I am constantly being asked “What’s wrong with Willy?”

The first and most obvious answer to that question is “injuries”. Yes, all clubs cop them, but Willy has had a torrid run of casualties this season. Last week, 25 players were unavailable, which made it a meritorious effort to field a Clubbies team. The injury situation has been compounded by the fact that they have been to key players. Another issue has been recruiting. Over the summer, the club also lost four of its best to the lure of the coin, a battle which most Ammos clubs face. Filling the big shoes of the departed proved difficult.

Thus, the CYs have fielded an even more youthful outfit this season. These maturing bodies have been unable to compete for sustained periods with the more seasoned teams such as NOBs and Peninsula. But there were positive signs in last week’s defeat against the visiting Pirates, particularly in the first half. The Pirates were given a scare early, but got away after half-time to record a comfortable 87-point win, spearheaded by Shaun Payze (6 goals) and Stefan Barbour (5). The fate of Williamstown’s season probably rests in its next three matches, when it plays Glen Eira, Ormond, and St John’s. At the half-way point, we will all know if Willy is destined for the drop, or whether something can be salvaged from the wreck.

Old Mentonians celebrated skipper Brad Norton’s 100th game in style, knocking over Whitefriars by five goals at Mordialloc. Coincidentally, it was also Friars skipper Michael Mirabella’s ton. A couple of Panther majors late in the first term gave the hosts a buffer which the Friars were never quite able to overcome. Mentonians, with Warwick Stone dominating the ruck, and defenders Ben Johns and Eliot Macquire on top, extended their lead to an imposing 47 points at three-quarter time and it was virtually game over. Best for the visitors, who battled on until the end, were Emille Abdallah, Dan Hogan and debutant Damien Loh.

A disappointing second-half fade out meant Ormond could not build on the previous week’s heroics. Eight points to the good at half-time, the Unicorns made it two in a row, finishing the game full of running with a seven-goal to three second half. Best for the Monders were Matt Oaten and Boyd Upstill, whilst for MHSOB it was Luke Campbell and Will Taft. The Unicorns have now moved up to sixth place, and look set to cause some headaches to top teams.

The bigger and stronger bodies of North Old Boys – St Patrick’s proved the difference against the younger St John’s team at Doveton. The aerial power of forwards Matt Keown (7 goals) and Scott Sleep (5) was more than a handful for JOCs defenders, and the NOBs had put the issue beyond doubt by half-time, leading by 9 goals; it was a margin they maintained throughout the second half. Best for JOCs were Rhys Dyker and Ryan Thomas.

Forward Paul Ellis (9 goals) kicked his second consecutive bag in Old Geelong’s destruction of Glen Eira. The Saints had no answer to the more skilful Oggers who, when they win, are winning big.

Preview: There are actually two matches of the day this weekend, the results of which will give us a little more insight into the make-up of the final four. Whitefriars have had only one win in the past month, and so will be looking to prove they are contenders rather than pretenders when they host NOB-SP. I am expecting a return to form for the Friars at home. The second big match takes place at Como, where Old Geelong will be eager to prove their finals bona fides against a top team. I reckon the Oggers may well be fired up for this encounter, and so I am tipping them to cause a minor upset over the Panthers.

At the other end of the table, an interesting contest looms between Glen Eira and Williamstown. I expect the Saints, at home, to overcome the CYs in a match which has huge relegation ramifications. Down the coast, Peninsula should continue on its merry way against the inconsistent Ormond, whilst the Unicorns will make it three in a row in accounting for St John’s.

Smokie says: As an old forward, it warms my heart to see big bags of goals still being kicked by the spearheads in this competition!

About Darren Dawson

Always North.

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