Fitzroy Under 9-S v Brunswick: Roys strong in the Autumn sunshine

Fitzroy Under 9-S played Brunswick at Alfred Crescent last Sunday.

Here’s a wrap of what happened from coach Yabby Symons and keen observer John Harms:


The word from Yabby:

Wow, how much fun was that? Well done everyone for getting to the game on time, switched on and ready to play football. The three things we discussed at training last week were:

  1. stay in your zone
  2. don’t talk to the umpire
  3. shake hands with your opponent straight away after the game

We achieved all three of those goals, so great job team.

In Round 1 against Brunswick we learned that we can pick up the ground ball pretty well. Remember: ground ball is the Roys ball! We learned that we know where the goals are, but we didn’t over- celebrate when we kicked a goal. And we learned that we can take good marks.

That’s a good start, but I would like to see us get better each week. So we could pass the ball around a bit better in our zone, and try to avoid bombing it long into the next zone. That means we need to look around for our teammates, and we need to call out for the ball if we are finding space. I am happy that we have the confidence to have a shot, but we also need to check if there is a better option in closer to goals.  Lastly, we need to be careful not to tackle our opponents to the ground. We don’t want anyone to get seriously hurt, and if wrap them up and hold them up then the ball is ours.

See you on Sunday, bright and early at Preston.


The word from the sideline:

It was a gorgeous autumn morning as the good folk of Alfred Crescent and greater Fitzroy walked their dogs, dutifully carrying their plastic bags and pooper scoopers. With the lush kikuyu grass cleared of all diabolically dangerous objects (left by the pooches of lesser citizens), and the Roys sufficiently warmed up with some rigorous drills under the trees at the northern end, coach Yabby Symons called her charges in to a tight pre-match huddle.

The kids gathered around her, itching to be named in the starting line-up, but well-schooled in accepting the democracy of the rotation system. What a sight it was: as expectant a group as you will find.

Immaculately attired, and with not a hair in place (as is the fashion in the Grade 3 corridors of the Inner North these days), they looked ready to make that Sherrin talk.

And that’s exactly what they did. Leeroy pounced on the footy early and driving a monster kick into the forward line. The Brunswick kids craned their necks, marvelling at the drop punt’s enormous arc. “What did that bloke have for breakfast?” the rover said.

Olive got involved early, keeping in front of her opponent, and looking to rove to the hulking ruckwork of Paddy who was taking old-timers back to the glorious days of Mick Nolan and Arden Street. The Roys moved the ball into their forward line, Leeroy passing neatly to Frankie who was in the game early, as the Roys’ interchange bench – literally four players on a park bench – yelled their encouragement.

Seb Donnellan, co-captain with Henry Nelson for the day, led from the front. He was a tackling machine in that first quarter, bear-hugging most of the Dragons half-back line and wrestling some of them to the ground. Then when he won the footy he knew he had to do something with it and he started many a forward sorty.

When Brunswick countered the Roys remained rock-solid in defence. Jack cleared with a left foot that made him look like Nick Malceski (without the beard). Joey was calm and reliable. He might have a bit of Josh Gibson in him. Theo hovered around, working out the angles to close his opponent down, which worked, because the ‘Wicks small forwards were kept quiet. Johnny was in the thick of things as well and played his part on a very effective backline.

Yabby must have been rather pleased early with the way the Roys had listened. They were doing exactly as she asked, and playing as a team. Gus found Henry who marked at full forward. Henry knew he was just on the edge of his range so he passed in Meg’s direction and, under pressure, Meg got her shot away for a point. The first score of the season!

Henry was moving nicely, offering good leads, and was well-supported at ground level by Meg and Ollie and Gus although Henry didn’t need crumbers because he was marking everything. He kicked a nice goal after one of his many grabs. The Fitzroy Under 9-S were pumped.

Roman, who had spent the first quarter taking his turn on the bench (a tactic of some genius from Yabby), came out like a coiled spring. Released onto Alfred Crescent Oval he was in danger of turning himself into butter, such was his energy. Matt, the young racehorse, showed us that he loves a bounce, and is likely to have the highest possession-to-bounce ratio north of the Under 9 Yarra this season. His dash is an asset, and will be even more helpful to his teammates when he chooses the right moment to kick or handpass.

There were lots of excellent passages of play. Finn put his body on the line to help win the footy. He was troubling the Brunswick coaching staff, “That bloke’s everywhere,” one said. “It’s like there’s  two of him.” Luke was putting his body on the line to help win the footy too.

At times the teamwork of the forward line stood out. Seb found Ollie with a pass and Ollie, who loves a goal, went back and did what he does best. Straight through the middle. In a patch where he just kept finding the footy he snapped another one across his body. Not since the nineteenth century has Brunswick Street seen a goal sneak like Ollie. “Good old Sneaky Orr,” they were saying in the crowd (which was half way through its skinny latte), “he sure knows where the goals are.”

After half-time, the Roys continued to control the footy and win it back from the Brunswick players. It was good to watch. The Fitzroy colours looked superb in the morning sunshine. There were some nice passages of team play but there were also times when players could have looked for a teammate. That will happen more with experience and as teammates learn to call for the footy when they are in a good position.

Gus came right into the game. Running like Billy Slater he beat the paddock to kick a telling goal, and then went for another sprint around his opponent to land a second from the flank. Henry was still doing a good job and at one stage he turned his man inside out with some nice finessin’. Finn got a beaut handball away to Josh who had a useful game despite getting a knock to his leg at one stage.

The Roys didn’t take their foot off the pedal at all. They stuck to it in the last quarter, their concentration never wavering – much. Olive read the play, positioning herself nicely. Roman was impressive with his dash and his penetrating kicking. In one cracking movement Roman streamed away and darted a pass to Gus. Gus found Henry who marked again. And Henry kicked truly.

When the siren sounded the crowd applauded all the players on the ground. It was a fantastic start for Fitzroy: a good performance on the field, terrific teamwork, and lots of talk and encouragement We all sang the song with great heart and left looking forward to travelling up St George’s Road to Preston.


John Harms

About John Harms

John Harms is a writer, broadcaster, publisher, historian, speaker and teacher. He loves stories.


  1. I think we played really well and got good possession and dominated all 4 quarters.
    We pased,kicked goals,defended and had fun.
    All our players played well and we liked where the team was going.
    It was intense but we all love a good win to.
    And I would thank Brunswick Dragons for coming to play us at our home ground.
    And the Umpire made good desitions and made the game more fun so thanks to the Umpire. Well done Brunswick Dragons they played well too.

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