Junior Footy – Preston Bullants v Banyule Bears: Putting it all on the line.

After a roller-coaster of a season nothing mattered to us but one game, the elimination semi-final against Banyule. We, the mighty Bullants, had beaten them by four just last week in a tight finish, but in the week leading up to the final our captain, Darcy had suffered a back injury while adventuring through a cave. It was by no means ideal but we knew Darcy at 70% was just as good as anyone else whose fully fit.


The weather was perfect and we were all rearing to go. I started at centre half forward but after a quick goal from the Bears in the first five minutes I resumed my usual position in the ruck. Banyule again attacked and scored a goal but we knuckled down and pulled it together by grabbing the next goal. After the frantic start both sides’ defences swung into action and it was still two goals to one at the first break.


After our coach had assured us not to worry about trailing early and to attack the ball harder, we went out prepared for the contest and desperate for the ball. However in similar fashion to the first term, Banyule kicked the first major. Fortunately we struck back quickly with a great show of strength from our full forward, Chilly who was returning from three weeks off with an ankle injury. The momentum was again shifted back in their favour with a flashy goal from a tough angle. With just seconds left before half time the ball was kicked to the top of our fifty where our centre half back took a trademark courageous mark and slotted a long bomb to keep the deficit at one goal going into the third.


We again ran onto the ground inspired after another lengthy pep talk from our coach. I managed to get us underway in the second half with a goal from a set shout about 30m out. With the difference down to one goal, we surged forward looking for the lead but a costly turnover led to a counter attack resulting in a goal for the Bears. They kept piling on the pressure and they achieved two more goals in succession for their efforts. The margin was now out to three goals but we didn’t give up the fight and a fabulous passage of play saw us close the gap with a goal. But Banyule once again struck back with just two minutes to go. We made one last push in the quarter to keep the scoreboard pressure at bay and I grabbed my second of the quarter on the stroke of three quarter time.


We all knew how hard we had to work if we didn’t want this to be our last game of the year but it was strongly reiterated by the coach and his assistant. As we broke from the huddle I was given the news that my beloved Bombers had just won their second game of the year by defeating Gold Coast. As the siren blew to start the final term I hoped the we could replicate Essendon’s performance. We couldn’t have started any better as we kicked a goal inside the first two minutes to trail by only seven. Yet as had happened all day, Banyule instantly reasserted their dominance and blew the game back out to three majors. We fought hard for the next centre clearance and our efforts earned me my third goal for the game. But It wasn’t enough as they dragged the lead to 24 the biggest difference of the contest. We needed a miracle but it didn’t come although we did get two more goals which made the scores much more respectable and reflective of the contest.


We were devastated knowing that the result could easily have been different if a few calls had gone our way or if we had kicked straighter, but in the end we all did our very best. After being last on ladder after six rounds and then going eight and two to make finals, the season had by no means been a failure. But, in the end, Banyule were stronger and faster than us when it counted.

About John Harms

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

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