School, stamps and sausage rolls

Dave took the boys back to school in this week's episode as they reflected on what they've learned so far in the footy season.

DAVE: Good morning boys, what a beautiful weekend for sport with the sun shining bright but the early mornings and late afternoons are certainly getting a bit chilly. Jonty, kick us off with your best action from the weekend mate; this is like ‘show and tell’ at school on a Monday morning.

JONTY: I get the feeling we might have a scholarly theme to Let’s Talk Sport this week.

MARCUS: Dave, he only dropped the word scholar because he got a 95 ATAR.

JONTY: 95.95 to be precise.

DAVE: That’s impressive Jonty, almost as good as when I got an A+ for building a pencil case in woodwork in Year-9.

JONTY: Yeah, okay. My best action clearly goes to Joel Hillis who kicked five goals one in the last quarter to almost single-handedly win Devon Meadows the game against Edi-Asp. It was a game they had no right to win, and to condense it to one moment would be a misrepresentation of how good he was throughout the entire quarter.

DAVE: Just pick a moment Jonty.

JONTY: Okay, his first goal in the last quarter really gave Devon Meadows a lift. Dean Kent got it out of the middle and Hillis took a really strong contested mark, missed, bu then Jack Harmes effected a turnover and Hillis stood up in the contest and goaled. I just want to give a shout-out to Alex Canal for what would have been Goal of the Decade; a bicycle-kick over his head that everyone celebrated. The goal umpire said it was touched but players from both teams agreed after the match that it should have been paid a goal.

DAVE: Is that on video somewhere?

JONTY: A lot of people have been asking so I’ll definitely follow that up.

DAVE: Marcus, that’s a hard one to top mate.

MARCUS: Mine isn’t a specific piece of action, which goes against my own rule, but watching Narre Warren go the length of the field with just a few kicks, on multiple occasions, was pretty scintillating to watch. It was ‘turn-and-go’ footy, like a training-drill sometimes; everyone just knew where they were supposed to be. Their foot-skills have always been impressive, but seem to have gone to another level; darts on the chest. And also a special mention to the spray that Daniel Charles gave his Officer players at quarter time. He didn’t come in ranting and raving, he was calm to begin with, but finished with some oomph; to the point where people were walking back to the fence in a stunned silence. It was interesting that his son Zack almost gave away a 25-metre penalty for a push in a marking contest not long after they were told to lift their physicality.

DAVE: He’s probably heard the ranting and raving before at home, Marcus. My best action came in the first 30 seconds of the game between Kooweerup and Kilcunda-Bass, starting with Kilcunda ruck Dale Gawley. He taps the first centre bounce of the match to his gun midfielder Nathan Foote, who handballs to Cam McKenzie who runs past from a wing. The ball goes inside 50; Travis Tuck dispossesses a Kooweerup defender and Jed Rosenow picks up the crumbs and fires it out to Dean McRae who kicks a goal on the run. Within 32 seconds, the ruck, midfielder, winger, two key forwards and a small crumber had all completed a task that they’ve been picked for. It was the perfect start to a big day for the Panthers. A special shout-out also to Kooweerup player-coach Dale Alanis, who kicked an inspirational goal at the 16-minute mark of the last quarter to bring the Demons to within a kick. He picked up a loose ball, handballed, got it back again, and then dodged and weaved before slamming it through the big sticks. The Demons lost, but that was the perfect team-lifter. And I saw the best piece of play I’ve seen in seven years of watching women’s football on Saturday night. Pakenham first-gamer Ava Deszcz hit a 40-metre bullet to full-forward Aiesha Kolaritsch, who took the ball out front without breaking stride. Aiesha then goes back and slots one from 35-metres out. It was a piece of play that wouldn’t have looked out of place on any footy ground around the region. These young girls coming through can certainly play the game.


DAVE: Jonty, you were right, we do have a school theme this week. We’ve had our show and tell, now it’s time to tell the teacher what you learnt from the weekend’s round of matches. Marcus, let’s start with you.

MARCUS: Thanks Mr Nagel…can I go the toilet first please.

DAVE: No, uncross your legs and tell me what you learnt.

MARCUS: It’s a tough school here; although I did learn a couple of things from the weekend. What I learnt is that I am circling and highlighting 22 June on my calendar, because that is the day Narre Warren play Woori Yallock, and I think if you had to make a prediction on who is going to square off on grand final day, those two are most likely.

DAVE: Really, they’ve jumped above Wandin?

MARCUS: Well they’ve both defeated Wandin in the last two weeks. Woori got them in a classic Hills rivalry game on Saturday, and Narre picked them off by 38 points a week earlier. The game on 22 June will tell us a lot about the rest of the season, so I’m looking forward to that one. I also learned that with confirmation of the triple-relegation from Premier Division, that the fight to avoid relegation is almost going to be as interesting as what’s going on at the top. Monbulk, Emerald and Berwick Springs haven’t won a game, so they’re favourites to drop down, but teams from fifth to ninth – Wandin, Pakenham, Mt Evelyn, Officer and Gembrook-Cockatoo – are only two games clear of that trio. The competition is so even in that part of the ladder that one or two slip ups could prove disastrous.

DAVE: Well done Marcus; a gold star and an elephant stamp for you.

MARCUS: Elephant stamp?

DAVE: Yeah, back in my day if you got a gold star and an elephant stamp you knew you’d done a good job.

MARCUS: Righto.

JONTY: Yeah, I didn’t know that either…must be an age thing! On the weekend I learnt that Devon Meadows has no excuse come September, because they were far, far, far from their best footy in the first half, they had no Paddy Ryder, no Dean Kent for the last 15 minutes, but despite all that they still only lost by a point to a team that plays their home ground so well. They appear to be the best two teams in it, but Devon Meadows was not near full strength, while Edi-Asp was closer, so the Panthers are going to be very hard to top when the whips are cracking. I also learnt that Doveton will be thereabouts again in Southern Division Two. I had doubts about them coming into the season, but their scoring has been a real feature; something they struggled with last year. They’re sharing the scoring load a lot more evenly now, with players like Sammy Muirhead really coming along, and I’m confident they’ll be there over the last two weeks of the season.

DAVE: What I learnt boys was that you don’t have to go and watch the premiership contenders to see a good game of country footy. Will Kilcunda-Bass and Kooweerup trouble the likes of Inverloch and Nar Nar Goon this year? Probably not, but it was a cracking contest on the weekend. And I also had a refresher course on the importance of the old saying “bad kicking is bad football”, because Koowee kicked 4.7 to 2.2 in the last quarter to fritter away their chance to win. They were 28 points down at three-quarter time, then dominated the last quarter but shot themselves in the foot with some bad kicking. Ironically, they’ll be kicking themselves because they probably deserved to win with the footy they played in the final quarter. They were manic, but just lacked the composure at times to finish off their good work.

MARCUS: Clearly, Kooweerup obviously didn’t get enough ‘elephant stamps’ at Auskick.


DAVE: Alright boys, we’ve had ‘show and tell’ and you’ve told the teacher what you learnt on the weekend and now it’s lunch time. I want you to pick someone out of the schoolyard (our footy leagues) to sit down to have a chat with at lunch time. Who are you picking and what will your first question be?

JONTY: What are we eating first? I always liked a hedgehog slice, but that’s not a lunch – more a snack option – so I’ll go a good old-fashioned sausage roll. And I’m going to share it with Cam Williamson from Doveton. I spoke before about how their scoring has really increased, and I’d love to sit down with Cam and talk about how his role has evolved this year. He burdened a lot of the load last year, but Doveton has more options this year and I love to get Cam’s thoughts on the importance of the roles that they play. He has been released and is now arguably playing better footy than last year, setting more goals up while still being dangerous himself. And I’ll let Rob Roberts from the Pakenham Warriors sit at my table as well. He turned the culture around at the basketball club when he returned a couple of years ago, and I’d love to find out how the ‘family culture’ at the club has been developed.

DAVE: What would Rob have for lunch?

JONTY: Something a tad more sophisticated than a sausage roll; maybe a roll of some sort with some salad.

DAVE: Marcus, who are you sitting down to have lunch with?

MARCUS: I want two people at my table; the first is Jake Gains from Officer. It’s my understanding that when he was at Casey VFL, the last ruck spot on the list came down to Jake and another player. That other player was Oscar McInerney. I’d love to know if he thinks that was a ‘sliding doors’ moment in his career, and whether he thinks that Oscar McInerney is playing out the career that he always wanted. The second one would be Kurt Mutimer, who made his West Coat Eagles debut in a Derby against Fremantle. We don’t get what the scale of that is here in Melbourne, but we can relate it to someone like Jack Watts, who made his senior debut on Queen’s Birthday; one of the biggest games on the footy calendar. I would ask Kurt if he would prefer the debut that he had, or would he like to sneak in off-Broadway…without all the limelight.

DAVE: Mason Cox debuted on Anzac Day

JONTY: Sure did; kicked a goal with his first kick in football.

MARCUS: How did this turn to Collingwood? Anyway, they’re my two questions.

DAVE: Well researched Marcus. I’m bringing the Vegemite and cheese sandwiches out and sitting down with Ellinbank and District Football League (EDFL) President Ray Wall and West Gippsland Football Netball Competition (WGFNC) Operations Manager Brett Tessari. Boys, it’s as plain as the nose on your face that divisional football is required throughout the region. There are 23 clubs across the EDFL (11) and WGFNC (12); which would provide the perfect platform for divisional football; two or three tiers would work. There are clubs on the periphery – Drouin, Pakenham, Officer for example – that could fill the vacancies over time until you have 30 clubs, playing 18 rounds, across three divisions. I’m even happy to bring an esky full of coldies, whatever tickles their fancy, to get these talks underway. Clubs need to be involved in promotion and relegation or they just get stuck in a rut, and several clubs in the WGFNC have prior connections to the EDFL as well. The invite is out there fellas…I’ll start buttering the bread!