Fitzroy Under 9-S v St Mary’s: Contest on Alfred Crescent

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Jack goes ‘Bang’.


From Yabby

Apparently St Mary’s and Fitzroy have long been arch rivals, so history was possibly made when the two coaches greeted each other with a hug and kiss before the game. It was a nice surprise that I knew the opposition coach, but with that came some serious self-doubt and apprehension as he is an experienced coach and 100+ games Old Friar’s veteran .

I really enjoyed watching this match. The skills of the players are improving, notably Paddy, Luke and Finn getting early touches in defence, Olive getting into great position in front of goals and notching up the first score of her career and Meg gathering possessions in the midfield with increasing confidence. Matt and Josh where running nicely together in defence along with Leeroy, picking up handballs and kicking it into the mids. The mids combined nicely, that group really share the ball well with Seb, Ollie, Henry, Gus and Frankie all getting amongst it.  One thing we are all doing well is picking up the ground ball. Great stuff!

Roman was set the challenge to set up a goal for each forward before he was allowed to bag a second for himself. He took to this challenge with mighty effort. The credit must go to St Mary’s that we didn’t get the ball down there enough for him to meet the challenge but he sure gave it a red-hot go.  He was pretty quick to let me know that early in the game, when he kicked the ball toward goal and over Johnny’s head that it was in fact a kick to his teammate’s advantage and therefore counted as his first assist.

We certainly got off to a good start with several entries into our forward line. Jack, Theo and Jasper were finding space and it seemed only a matter of time before they would rewarded for their efforts. The first half of the game was tense and exciting.

To their credit, St Mary’s used the wind to their advantage in the third. They passed and marked the ball really well and found the goals several times.  I was very proud of the way our defenders didn’t hang their heads, they just got on with the job. We are still learning to concentrate for the whole four quarters, and to know when to watch our opponent and when to watch the ball coming in. Sometimes we got caught out with our back to the ball, and at other times an opponent dropped back on us.

When you are not winning you must be learning. In the last quarter we had a couple of terrific passages of play, moving the ball beautifully through all three zones.  We learned that when we run together and pass the ball, we are hard to stop.

Special mention must go to Leeroy, Matt, Paddy and Luke who each played a quarter for St Mary’s. I hope you are very proud of how you played every quarter of the game. And to our players who showed up feeling a bit under the weather hoping for some bench time that was not to be.

You showed us the Roy’s way –   RESILIENT, TOLERANT and FAIR.  Well done.

Go Roys!



From The Red Symons Wing


The Heavens opened in the depths of Saturday night. The Fitzroy Under 9-S team hid wide-eyed under their covers. Lightning flashed and the thunder crashed and Summer was blown away, finally. The chilly air arrived: good for football.

With the wintry conditions came The Cough and The Runny Nose and, it seemed, as the Roys Under 9-Ss warmed up at Alfred Crescent, some players weren’t quite cherry ripe for their match against St Mary’s. Yet they were still willing to push through and represent their club. They had a perfect role model in Marco, father of Frank, who was still upright despite a massive bruise on the hammy he’d pinged when he went for a torp at training on Monday night. (It wasn’t a bad kick actually.)

St Mary’s were a player short so Leeroy had a run for them in the first quarter – and was on fire (steady on Leeroy). Leeroy is a real competitor and he reads the game just as well when on the other side. Matt, Paddy and Luke also filled in playing a quarter each.

It was clear early that St Mary’s are a pretty handy side. They had some kids with excellent skills and game sense and made every effort to play as a team. Assisted by Leeroy, they attacked consistently in the first quarter, kicking with a blustery wind, but our defence, led by Josh, held firm. Three times in a row our classy left-footer mopped up, sweeping on to the footy and dashing away while looking up field and hoofing the ball to our mids. He was supported by Matt and Finn and the other backs who were talking well and learning how to combine.

Up the other end Roman and Johnny were itching to get into the play, but we couldn’t get the ball forward, despite the best efforts of all of our mids. When they weren’t running their opponents around, Theo and Olive took the chance to have a good chin-wag on the half forward flank, a conversation which resumed in the third quarter.

In the meantime, though, Olive had a purple patch. In the second quarter she made a strong tackle and also took a mark about 15 metres out from goal. Her shot, just off-line, went through for a point, her first score in footy. I know this because her Mum Sarah downed towel and DencoRub and performed the best jig from a trainer since Anne McGrath when Tears I Cry won the Emirates Stakes in 2007.

Gus took a strong mark early. When Finn won the footy, he sent a sharp pass to Seb who marked as well. Actually, we marked pretty well all day and there were a few passages where good leads were made and passes found the target, especially in front of the Roys crowd along the Red Symons Wing (Red is no relation to coach Yabby Symons, I don’t think). Henry, who played with his usual energy and determination, looked for Gus and Ollie, and Gus and Ollie looked to find a teammate, whether it was Meg or Seb or Roman or Paddy or Jasper.

We had the wind in that second quarter and we were peppering the goals, but Roman’s shots kept blowing from right to left for a series of points.

Leeroy, who was back into his Roys jumper, added steel to the backline. He took a few telling marks and he worked with Josh beautifully. Matt went for a couple of runs to clear the footy. Seb was in and under, fossicking, and got the Sherrin away from the scrimmages with neat handballs. But the wind was definitely a factor and, in the third quarter, St Mary’s consistent attack was rewarded with a couple of good goals.

At oranges (are we allowed to bring lemons?) Yabby Symons drew on her knowledge of meteorology and physics to explain that we were coming home with the breeze and that even Under 9 kicks would carry over the back of the pack and that we could run on to the footy and bang it through. Which we did! I think it was Johnny who kicked the goal. Meg got into the game with a handball to Roman who will always try to beat the first tackler (and the sixth) like he’s Andrew Bews. Then, soon after, Meg steered a nice pass to Frankie who had a shot for goal.

We were coming home like Chautauqua. The crowd stirred. But the siren beat us.

We put in a solid performance with lots of one percenters. Frankie was brave in the second quarter, Josh made a desperate tackle around the same time, Gus and Henry wouldn’t let their opponents get away. Finn put his body in as well, especially when St Mary’s were looking like getting on top. Leeroy was rock solid, no matter who he was playing for.

Roman streamed forward when he had the footy. He always draws defenders to himself, which means he has teammates in the clear and he will soon be able to use them. He kicked a beaut long, running goal in the final quarter which gave us a lift.

Both teams gave it everything and are getting the idea of team footy. I have sent the video to Damien Hardwick.

It was great to see all the players lined up together at the end of the match.

The dark clouds gathered and the wind swirled and the temperature dropped. I was expecting Heathcliff and Cathy to come running from the Danny’s Burgers End of Edinburgh Gardens.

Sunday afternoon had footy-on-the-TV written all over it. “Good night for a roast,” Charlotte noted, sagely.

It was a matter of getting off the couch to peel the spuds.

I think we had leftover pizza.

Go Roys!


About John Harms

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


  1. Fantastic words.

    Hammy’s fine …. Thanks :)

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