COMPETITION DRAW / GOALS TALLY
GRAND FINAL (SEPTEMBER 14, 2019)
vs WOY WOY 2 @ PAT MORLEY OVAL 1
Well believe it or not, here we were, Grand Final Day! The week was awash with correspondence back and forth discussing line-ups and those battling fitness. The curse of dodgy knees had taken another victim in Flanno. His hopes for a miracle recovery did not come to fruition nor did his appeals of taking crutches onto the field as player’s apparel. On the plus, Gregg was back albeit minus 5kgs (wasn’t just the haircut) from his bout of pneumonia, Stevie G was ready to test the knee after missing several weeks, and Scott Howison was also available. A few reminders went out. One was that Julia would honour her agreement of changing her hair colour to yellow and black, a pledge she’d made with Luca who in turn would colour his red … he did not. Another was to remember to bring your own jerseys. Dale, probably for taking the flack of bringing damp jerseys to the semi final, had decided to have everyone take their own home for the week, obviously oblivious to the superstition that you shouldn’t change your routine, especially after a win. But hey, we’d already had end of season drinks last weekend so let’s just roll with it. The reminder message did in fact do the job for most of the team, except Nige whose reading glasses are obviously faulty as he approaches the age of 50 in a few months. Speaking of misread texts, one had been sent out that the club bar would be closed so those drinking would have to do so responsibly. Dale took this to mean telling Elton not to bring the esky and thus made for some nervous jitters for the alcoholics in the sheds prior to kick off. No end of game drinks? This is outrageous!! Special thanks to Kate, Elton’s wife, for picking up a carton after the game.
Just to play with our minds a little bit more, our game had been moved from Field 3 to Field 1 and would kick off ten minutes earlier … it would take Wyoming about that much time to wake up. Despite the Tigers having the first real attacking chance - one where Mick ran up the left flank but found the side netting – it was Woy Woy who struck first, and a time when their star striker had just stepped off the field to take a breather. Complacency perhaps for the Tigers but it was looking even more dire when Woy Woy found the net for a second time albeit this one was ruled offside. Their long throw-ins were also causing some nervous moments. Wyoming started to find their groove a bit as the first half raged on. A nervous Luca worked tirelessly in the middle, Elton made a solid tackle on Woy Woy’s serial whinger who was pleading for a yellow card and Howison came from the bench to add some calmness, quality crosses and one free kick that nearly found its mark. Eventually, Mick’s ducking and weaving through the defenders saw him fouled inside the box. A composed spot kick saw parity restored. We were dominating the final few minutes of the half but was it going to be one of those days of missed opportunities? Mick was surely on his way to nab the lead after jumping onto a through ball from Andy. The ensuing shot beat the keeper but not the post. Andy also was cursed by the woodwork. Elton sent him up the right flank. Andy turned inside a defender and took a shot, only for it to shake the crossbar. So whilst it remained locked at 1-1, Wyoming were starting to feel some ascendency and a half-time pep talk by Flanno sent our troops out with the belief we had them rattled.
When Stevie G asked to be on the team sheet, it was initially just a precaution in case Aaron was injured and we’d need a back-up keeper. But with a few kilometers of strapping tape around both knees, he thought he’d have a bit of a run. Sure there was a back pass that went over the sideline instead and a shot later that veered wide but the rust was gone for one particular moment. Playing in the middle, he made a run and sent the ball through to Andy. Andy laid it off to Mick who in turn sent Dale down the right flank. After a nice little sprint, he found Mick alongside him. Mick charged into the 18-yard box and sent it across the goalmouth (we’re pretty sure it was a pass, rather than a shot) where Andy was there to tap it in. The Tigers had hit the lead. Soon after, when Mick was surrounded by about 10 Woy Woy players in the 18 yard box, he looked back to see Boz had come to help out. With the ball now at Boz’s feet, he ran along the 18 yard box looking for options. With a pesky Woy Woy player continually on his heels, he decided, bugger this, I’ll turn and take a shot. Having not scored in open play this season, why not do it on Grand Final day, and that’s what he did. 3-1. We were starting to believe!
A two-goal lead is always dangerous and Woy Woy did have their chances to close the gap. Our backline weren’t making it easy for them and when awarded a free kick or two, their ensuing shots veered either high or wide. Their closest moment came when their No. 6 raced ahead with only one player to beat but that one player was keeper Aaron who read the play perfectly and blocked the shot. Brad had a run up front and appeals were made for a penalty when he was barged out of contention. Further breathing space was given when on the counter, Mick charged down the right flank. Andy raced down the opposite side calling for the ball. Mick sent the perfect cross that bounced in between Andy and their keeper. With another defender also in the mix, Andy managed to tap it beyond the keeper’s reach and avoid a collision. With an open goal up ahead, he slotted it away. The crowd erupted, a mix of cheers and bull horns. We were up 4-1 with 20 minutes to go!!
It was now a time of composure and to keep Woy Woy demoralized. A few substitutions also helped but the referee soon grew weary, threatening to give players yellows if they took too long to leave the field. This culminated in Ryan having to be subbed on the opposite sideline (a long walk back but he didn’t mind, “I don’t mind the walk if we’re winning”) and not even waiting for Boz to come on when Nige got called off. Nige had picked up a yellow card for fouling No. 6 on the right edge. If it was any further in field, it would’ve probably been a red. Boz had collided with No. 6 at one point but his hopes of being given a yellow card (he even pleaded with the ref) to sit alongside his goal on the report sheet was declined. Worse still, he was given a free kick in his favour! Some people just can’t catch a break! The minutes wound down and that final whistle blew! Wyoming 35DS1 were the 2019 Premiers !! A brilliant effort to all involved. We’d managed to just squeeze into 4th place on goal differential and here we were three weeks later holding the Premiership Cup! A huge thank you to all involved and thanks for reading.
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz)
Goals (Assists): Mick [P] (Mick), Andy (Mick), Boz (Mick), Andy (Mick)
MAJOR SEMI FINAL (SEPTEMBER 7, 2019)
vs WYOMING 2 @ AUSTIN BUTLER OVAL 1
It was a two week wait for the semi final to finally arrive. A three-day deluge of rain the week before last saw all games on the Coast washed out. An enquiry had been made to Brad asking if he’d copped an injury and had performed yet another rain dance to delay proceedings but no, he was fine. Turns out it was Gregg who’d prayed for rain but the football gods would only grant him one week and the dreaded man-flu kept him bed ridden long enough to be unavailable for today’s match-up against our fellow club rivals, Wyoming 2. Both teams had their spies. Ryan had gotten the goss from Sanga that their goalkeeper was out due to surgery from a pancreas infection whilst Billy interrupted Boz during a run to get the lowdown on our team formations. Word is Billy tried to get Boz’s fractured big toe into a vice (aka can crusher) to squeeze him for information but Boz held out strong and just barely managed to outrun the old timer. [This last sentence may be a factual account of what happened or purely fabricated for the pathetic attempt of a cheap laugh… you decide].
So here we were, two Wyoming teams battling it out at Austin Butler Oval for a place in the Grand Final. The last time we’d played a finals game at this ground, we’d gotten smashed 11-1 in a Preliminary Final. We preferred not to think too much about that. Nerves were there but we came into this knowing we’d beaten our opponents last time and that was done without the workhorse that is Luca. Injecting the Italian stallion into the mix, surely we were in with a chance here today. Due to Wyoming 2 being the home team, they were required to wear the alternate white jerseys whilst we got to wear our preferred yellow. So far this year though the only benefit of wearing yellow seemed to be that it was easier not to get confused when passing it to teammates. Otherwise it had seemed an omen: we lost in Round 1 wearing the yellow, they lost in Round 10 wearing it. Could we break that curse? We also needed to avoid getting pneumonia as the shirts were damp upon putting them on. Had Dale only remembered to wash them that morning? Barker commented that at least they smelt of fabric softener or was that fermented sweat from being unwashed and stuck in a bag for two weeks? Speaking of odours, Mark Wallace was there to show his support, arriving at 8am to get to the bar early. He’d dusted off his old Wyoming hoodie claiming he’s burnt his Avoca Sharks attire. As we tried to warm up in the cold winds, a few of the East Gosford boys – who were playing Woy Woy 2 on the opposite field in the other Semi Final – gave us their best wishes, we suspect they did so under the guise of preferring to play us in the Grand Final.
We huddled around a circle prior to kick off urging each other to get stuck right into it and that’s what we did. No slow starts this time as we applied the pressure early. Mick was already causing their defenders anxiety as he was often crowded by at least three of them at a time. At the other end, their star striker Mike was thwarted early with a couple of offside rulings. Meady, Brad and Boz weaving their defensive magic to great effect. The deadlock was broken unexpectedly from a throw-in. It seemed like an age before someone stepped up to take it. Stew silenced his “this will be a foul throw” critics by delivering a perfect throw into the 18-yard box. There it bounced favorably into the outstretched arm of one of our opponents. The ref pointed to the spot. Mick put it into the corner of the net with ease. A bit of good fortune was further capitalized when a Boz header found its way to Mick. His shot hit the left post, flew across the goal mouth and into the net just behind the right post. A 2-0 scoreline is always a dangerous one to maintain as you ride the wave from optimism to complacency. The challenge was to not let them get a sniff. Losing a part of our spine certainly didn’t help when we lost Flanno to a knee injury but Elton and Porter took it in turns filling that spot admirably till half time approached. Dale ran hard but was told to not Forrest Gump it when a ball was beyond his reach. A free kick to Boz tested Ben Wilkinson in goals and Andy had a good chance with a free kick of his own and a quality through ball from Boz. At the other end, the wind and the chaos of the unpredictable bounce of the ball saw a couple of close chances for Wyoming 2 but we held our resolve, everyone doing their utmost to keep them out and scoreless at half time.
Forty minutes remained from potential a Grand Final berth. Aaron was forced to scramble several times and put his body on the line as he endeavoured to keep a clean sheet. Ryan didn’t help when he gave away a free kick just outside the box and Dale subbed himself off right as we were defending a corner kick. Some close scares but we continued to keep them out. Mick dropped back into the midfield due to groin gripes so Andy and Luca had stints up front. Luca and Elton delivered quality service after great runs but neither Andy nor Stew could capitalise with that final sting of a third goal. Fortunately the missed chances didn’t come to bite us as the whole team collectively worked tirelessly to hold on. Boz’s goal kicks consistently passed the halfway line demoralising the opposition and eventually the clock wound down. The full time whistle blew and we’d done it, we’d knocked out the League Champions – with a clean sheet to boot! Next stop, the Grand Final !!
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz)
Goals (Assists): Mick [P] (Stew), Mick (Boz)
GAME #18 (AUGUST 24, 2019)
vs AVOCA @ ALAN DAVIDSON OVAL 2
Well the equation was simple. Semi Finals were assured if we won, drew or lost by less than 6 goals. Seemed like a somewhat safe scenario but nevertheless some of the squad remained nervous. More so when with 30 minutes till kick off, quite a few players had yet to arrive. We had 16 players on the team sheet but when kick off came around we had the bare eleven geared up and ready to go. 5th placed Avoca knew what had to be done to qualify for the finals and easily out enthused us as the game kicked on. They looked to be in the lead early but some solid goal line defence from Ryan and scrambling from Aaron kept things at parity. But then a penalty. And a soft one at that. Ryan was accused of pulling a player down inside the box and the ref pointed to the spot. Avoca put it away. By now Meady had arrived to reinforce the backline. Surely this would make Avoca’s afternoon in front of goals even harder. Well not when a back pass from Nige to Aaron went so far astray from our custodian that it found the net. 2 nil up, Avoca were starting to get a sniff of finals football. Elton was particularly nervous. He’d kindly offered to host the end of season drinks at his place but not as early as tonight, the house wasn’t ready !!
Enter Scott Howison. Having only made one appearance back in Round 3, Scott had been sidelined the remainder of the season with a knee injury … until now. After Andy was fouled just outside the box, he urged Scott to take the free kick. It curled beautifully into the opposite corner of the net to put the Tigers on the board. The Tigers were starting to mount more pressure. When a semi-clearance from Avoca headed out towards the wing, Gregg bolted past his opponent to make sure he got to the ball first. He chipped it into the middle of the field where Luca coolly controlled it and sent Mick through a slim hole. “No shot, no shot” yelled the keeper. Mick wasn’t heeding to such a warning and promptly blasted a shot into the corner netting. Mick soon had another great chance. His shot got deflected by the keeper and into Stew’s path but he belted it over the crossbar. So close!
Locked at 2-2, the half time talk revolved around being more hungry and making better decisions when making subs, eg. not when we’re defending ! This seemed to fall on deaf ears though when another substitution was made whilst defending a corner. Whilst nothing bad came from this particular play, Avoca did find the lead when a curling corner beat Aaron on the inside post. “Five more to go boys!” yelled one of the Avoca players. They certainly were giving their all by appealing for anything they could: handballs, offsides, penalties. Thankfully the ref was savvy enough not to fall for certain dives being made. Up the other end, Stew had another great chance for a goal when connecting with a header from an Andy cross. Over the crossbar again though unfortunately. Avoca then increased their lead to 4-2. Would we have to rely on time being on our side? Thinks started to look grim when Mick hobbled off with an injury and our forward momentum seemed to disappear. Thankfully he returned to the field shortly after and fed by a great ball from Howison, put away his second for the afternoon. With news that Wyoming 2 were up 2-0 over the Rams, a third spot was up for grabs if we could force a draw. Mick was giving his all to make this a reality and it seemed he’d done the job when he sent Howison through a gap. Howison neatly beat the keeper only to be pulled up for offside. So close. Not so close was an ensuing corner kick from Elton that barely made it into the 18 yard box, whoops. Elton cited a lack of beer drinking before kick off was the catalyst for this. Meanwhile on the sideline, an outbreak of sulks over poor subbing and/or niggling injuries had resulted in three players losing their boots and shin pads. Not a good look for team morale as we near the finals. On the field, time ran out and Avoca celebrated their win by belting out their team song. It took some time for the somber mood to lift for us but all in all, the result didn’t really matter, we had booked ourselves into the finals! Next week, we take on League Champions Wyoming 2 at Austin Butler Oval. A victory there and we’re in the Grand Final. A huge task no doubt but if we can get our shit together – including better coordination of subs – then anything can happen ! Onwards and upwards boys!!
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz / Photos by Dale Smith)
Goals (Assists): Howison (Andy), Mick (Luca), Mick (Howison)
GAME #17 (AUGUST 17, 2019)
vs KARIONG @ KARIONG OVAL
It’s not ideal when you’re so close to finals and your injury / unavailable list is almost as long as the team sheet. As the weekend neared, only 10 were confirmed. Porter’s appearance depended on getting out of work early whilst both Gregg (knee) and Andy (hamstring) were nursing injuries; Nige and Flanno had coaching commitments; and poor Stevie G has declared he is out for the rest of the season joining Fitzy and Howison on the injured knee front. Thankfully by game day, Porter, Gregg and Andy had joined the ranks. There were however, further injury scares when a silent but deadly fart filled the sheds and threatened to gas half the team out. The culprit was never discovered but we’ll blame Ryan as he wasn’t there to help stop us losing to the Rams last week.
As a further punishment for Ryan, he was ordered to represent the team for the coin toss. If he lost the toss and we suffered from the sunlight or heavy winds at the wrong times, we could at least blame him. Not to worry. Not only did he win the toss but Ryan set up Mick for his first goal within a mere couple of minutes into the proceedings. Andy, whose strapped thighs were reminiscent of Boris Karloff in The Mummy, had been encouraged to start the game whilst his dodgy hamstring was still warm enough. After putting through two long balls that both led to Mick scoring goals number two and three, he retired for the afternoon. Mick was on song, outpacing the opposition defenders and perfectly composed, slotted the ball past the keeper each time. A perfect start. Boz was next to score but erm, for them. A Kariong player had taken a shot. Aaron had called out for it to be left but as a reflex Boz lifted his left leg. It certainly made contact and rocketed into the top corner pocket of the goal. When suggesting last week he try more shots with his left foot to give his ailing right toe a rest, this is not what we meant. The score was 3-1 at half time.
At the half time break, obviously a keen scholar of Gus Gould’s Rugby League commentary and mathematics in general, Barker informed the team that if we score more goals than them, we’ll win. Spurred on by this intel, Luca Scuri put through a brilliant ball for Mick to run onto and claim his 4th. Despite a healthy lead, the workhorse that is Luca, steered the ship in the midfield urging his team to not lose the intensity. Barker was running out of fingers on his hand to count when he put away Wyoming’s 5th. Elton, having just come from the bench to take a corner kick, found the auburn head of Barker who propelled it into the net. Then Mick was in again for his 5th with another astute shot, this one a lay off from Stew. At 6-1 proceedings were halted when one of Kariong’s players dislocated his knee. Kudos to Julia who came onto the field and strapped his knee once the patella had popped back in. Ouch! Hoping he’s okay and makes a quick recovery. Not resting at 6 goals, Wyoming continued to charge. After half the team seemed to be in the box having a shot, Dale crossed it beautifully across goals. Mick charged through with a shot and hit the goal post – bloody hopeless, how hard is it to find the net Mick?? Anyway, Luca controlled it from the rebound and passed it across the goalmouth. Unlike the swing and a miss from another shot he’d had, Stew nailed this one perfectly into the net. Ryan had a dig but his shot his the crossbar and in the final minute, Luca burst through with a koala killer shot. The 6 goal increase to our goal differential could prove vital as we take on Avoca next week who could catch us on points if they defeat us next weekend but would have to do by a six goal margin to knock us out of reaching the finals. It’s in our hands. If we win or draw, we could finish the competition in 3rd spot. Congratulations to Wyoming 35DS2 for wrapping up the League Championship today, well deserved boys !!
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz / Photos by Ngari Kennedy-Schultz)
Goals (Assists): Mick (Ryan), Mick (Andy), Mick (Andy), Mick (Luca), Barker (Elton), Mick (Stew), Stew (Luca)
GAME #16 (AUGUST 10, 2019)
vs EAST GOSFORD @ HYLTON MOORE OVAL 2
One weekend it’s sunny with rainbows – well the socks anyway – the next, miserably cold and windy. Not the most idyllic conditions for an afternoon of old men’s football nor was it looking great when planning the team sheet: Luca was in doubt all week from the injury he picked up last weekend; Elton would be in Queensland for a funeral; Porter wasn’t sure if he’d get out of work in time; Gregg was suffering from writer’s cramp after being asked to write a letter in support of Terrigal’s banished player last weekend; Dave had picked up the flu; Ryan was off learning to light bushfires, or something to do with the fire brigade; and Flanno was tied up with coaching commitments. Thankfully, Luca would brave that corked leg and give it a go; Gregg had enough electrical tape to strap his sore fingers; Elton was flying back that morning and would make it in time; Porter was on his way too with a spare pair of socks for Barker who’d forgotten his (I think he was secretly hoping to wear the rainbow ones again); and Dale was going to play regardless of the flu and found some material (possibly Barker’s missing socks) to wipe his nose on. The bad news: Stevie G felt a pop in that ailing knee during the warm-up and had to opt out.
After three straight wins we’d pushed our way back into the Top 4 and now sat only one point behind the 3rd placed Rams. The ol’ Ram himself Nigel Mead, who’d played for the green and whites for several years, offered his wisdom: We’ll go up hill the first half into the wind. Well after ten minutes of game time, we were starting to wonder where his loyalties truly lied … why? Because we were already trailing two goals to nil. Poor Aaron had been beaten by a mix of a bad bounce and high winds. He took a bit of sledging at half time on whether he had actually touched the ball but others were quick to defend him as for the second goal he had scrambled on his knees and got a touch of the ball, albeit once it was over the goal line and there was that wide shot that slipped through his fingers to give them a corner. So shush naysayers!! Porter did show him how it was done in the second half. When the ball was going over his head, he stuck out his hand and blocked it. Thankfully this was in the middle of the field and not near our goal so only a yellow card was given. A strong contender for Yellow Card of the year alongside Luca punching out the sideline flag earlier in the season.
Our cause wasn’t helped by a seemingly disgruntled referee. Early on, the banter between Mick and one of the Rams’ defenders had prompted our whistleblower to warn he had red cards at the ready if they continued. This seemed to keep Mick in the bad books as the ref turned a blind eye when their keeper literally took hold of Mick after he’d been outmaneuvered. Mick broke away from the keeper’s clutches but by then the cavalry had arrived and Mick’s shot hit the side netting. Andy had a bit of a stint up front with some quality service from Mick and Luca but couldn’t capitalise. He couldn’t rely on corner kicks either as we only picked up one the whole game. Boz had a shot that veered wide. Regardless on whether his ailing right big toe was responsible for this or not, it has been suggested he start taking shots with his left foot. And speaking of ailing, poor Luca continued to run and hobble as that leg pains came and went. It didn’t help when clumsy opposition players stepped on his foot either!
Maybe it was my imagination but that wind - that was meant to give us the upper hand as we travelled downhill for the second half - just didn’t seem as strong nor chaotic. Whilst the Rams didn’t really threaten up front, they did show more determination in the middle of the paddock and certainly could pipe up. The loudest cry of the day though came from our own Gregg. After making a solid tackle, Gregg remained floored, a rare sight indeed … had the electrical tape he uses to strap himself failed its job this one time? Clutching at his knee, the real pain was to come as strapper Julia was allowed access onto the field. “Noooooooo!” Gregg yelled. Whilst he did come off, he did make a welcomed return later in the game.
The chances came and went. Andy came close with a shot from close range that just popped over the crossbar. Mick continued to find himself marked by at least three at a time inside the box. After numerous appeals for penalties, he finally had one go in his favor. The ref couldn’t deny him this time after two players took swipes. The second trip attempt found its mark. Mick put it away with ease. Unfortunately we only had 4 minutes remaining. The Rams were quick to resort to time wasting tactics to wind down the clock. One attempted clearance from EG’s striker caught the wind and found its way into Aaron’s hands. Aaron’s huge clearance saw it bouncing its way into the opposite goalmouth but no one could get there in time to take advantage. Andy pulled his hamstring in pursuit and limped off the field. Nige was busy up front in the final couple of minutes putting through some threatening chips and Brad did his best to get in the mix for an equaliser. Unfortunately it didn’t happen and we had to lick our wounds with a loss. For the maths nerds, that was the first loss we’ve had all season on aggregate! On the plus, Avoca lost again so we remain clear on 4th spot by 3pts. We do however need to win one of our last two games not only to keep away from Avoca but also Woy Woy 1 who since we beat them a few weeks ago have now strung together a few wins - including victories over the Top 2 teams – and are charging up the ladder with a wet sail. One win for us will keep them at bay though. Gees, what’s with the sailing analogies? Is Aaron writing this report? If so, at least his hands did something at least.
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz / Photos by Ngari Kennedy-Schultz & Dale Smith)
Goals (Assists): Mick [P] (Mick)
GAME #15 (AUGUST 3, 2019)
vs TERRIGAL @ ALAN DAVIDSON OVAL 2
It was Old Boys Day at Alan Davidson on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. All four Wyoming Over 35 teams were at home soil (and all won too). We keenly watched the curtain raiser as Wyoming 2 did us a favor by putting Avoca to the sword with a 4-2 victory. This meant if we won here today we’d be in outright 4th by 3pts and a comfortable goal differential. Sporting rainbow socks in the name of charity – the club raiser over $8000 for Zaidees Rainbow Foundation – we’d also been given the chance to wear rainbow laces. Nige’s response when the text went out mid-week: “I’ll wear the socks but be f#@~ed if I’m replacing my boots. Twice”.
Our last encounter against Terrigal saw us succumb to a draw after leading 1 nil for a majority of the game and being cruelly denied a second. Could we get over those sour grapes and put this one away? Well yes, eventually we would. After a slow, shaky first half, we eventually took control with some swift passing. Mick laid it off for Stew whose “pass” across goals found Luca who unlike more recent times in front of goals decided to hit it first time rather than wait for the defensive line or goalposts to get in the way. He belted it in to increase his season goal tally to 5, yes we know, it should be up to 10 by now. When Stew was asked if that was a pass or a shot that went awry, Stew wisely replied “not telling”.
Mick was surely on his way to netting the team’s 2nd when some deft footwork left the last defender for dead. All he had to do was now get past the keeper but just couldn’t get the right bounce. He’d also given Andy a great chance but his goal scoring streak of four consecutive games came to an end, this shot sailing just wide of the right post. Mick remains convinced that Andy deliberately misses these shots to avoid letting Mick catch him on the Assists tally. To quote the wise Stew, “not telling”.
Up 1-0 at the break, the second half got into full swing when Andy intercepted a soft pass from a Terrigal defender. Finding Mick on the charge to his right, Andy placed it through. After a bit of razzle dazzle, Mick escaped the nearest defender and sent it well out of the keeper’s reach in the opposite corner of the net. Some more quick passing culminated in Andy toeing the ball ahead to where Barker was charging through. Taking a bit of dirt with him, Barker got a strong enough left-footed shot away across the goalmouth and into the right pocket nabbing his first goal of the season. Perhaps over confident, we dropped our heads long enough for Terrigal to pick up their first goal of the afternoon. Tensions flared, particularly due to Terrigal’s No. 5 who was pretty much just mouth and elbows. Terrigal’s frustration reached boiling point when perhaps their best player, No. 7, called Gregg a “f@#ing cheat” due to a dispute on whether the ball went out or not. The referee surprised us all by sending him off with a straight red. Down to ten men, Terrigal didn’t let up but No. 5 didn’t help their cause when he tripped Mick inside the 18-yard box. Mick put the penalty away swiftly only for the referee to announce that he had take it again. Andy had jumped the gun and had entered the box before the kick had been made. Mick lined it up again but this time his shot went wide. Before Andy was met with daggers, there was suddenly salvation – Luca had ran inside the box early this time. Gifted with a third, Mick made sure this shot went low and straight into the right corner. 4-1. With the second half seemingly lasting forever, those few minutes of Mick’s mini penalty shoot-out gave us all a nice breather if I do say so myself.
In all the commotion, one of the Terrigal players commented that for a team winning we whined a lot. “What are you like when you’re losing?” he asked Barker. Barker retorted, “silence”. 4-1 up and with little time remaining, the boys still went in hard. Elton sent one of Terrigal’s flying but the referee declared Elton had gotten the ball. Luca scared us all when he stretched out to block an attack at the sideline and limped off with a cork. Rest up buddy. As the sun slowly reached the horizon, the final whistle was blown. A comment was made that everyone really put in today and that was indeed the case. Special mention though to Boz and Meady, our center defenders who were particularly outstanding and not shy of getting into the thick of things. Brad and Ryan were also standouts in utility roles, ably coming back to defend whilst leading the charge in attack down the flanks. Special thanks to Tony Crecca, who almost signed up this year, for coming to watch. Though why he couldn’t let the ball roll down the hill and soak up a bit of time came into question. “I wanted to watch you boys lose” he quipped.
The win not only puts us 3pts ahead of 5th spot but now only 1pt behind 3rd with Killarney holding East Gosford to a draw. We take on the Rams next weekend in what could be our most important game of the year as we look to book a finals spot.
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz / Photos by Dale Smith & Stewart Webb)
Goals (Assists): Luca (Stew), Mick (Andy), Barker (Andy), Mick [P] (Mick)
GAME #14 (JULY 27, 2019)
vs KILLARNEY @ EDSAAC NORTH FIELD 1
Having snatched at least one competition point from every other opponent in the competition thus far, all that remained were the Killarney Kripples. Last time we’d managed an early lead but missed opportunities and fatigue from having only 11 men saw us lose out in the end. With Killarney having had to play a catch-up game mid-week against Woy Woy 1, the advantage seemed to be in our favor this time as they’d be playing their third game in 8 days. The disadvantage, after 7 straight games at Alan Davidson we had to now had to venture away from greener pastures to the patchy, sand-ridden mess that was Edsaac Oval Field 1. At least we had - despite a late scratching from Stevie G – 14 players available but that number was in question when half the boys were waiting to be strapped by Boss lady Julia who was caught in traffic, and whether Scott Porter could withstand the nagging questions from his teammates, “Where's your sister?”. Thankfully, Scott weathered the storm and Julia arrived in time.
Despite, Killarney starting the stronger, Wyoming gradually warmed up to the occasion with a few bursts. On notice from young linesmen at either end, both sides had to watch the backlines as not even starting in the defensive half seemed to prevent a flag from going up at times. Whilst swimming successfully between the flags, the Tigers made their first breakthrough when Mick send Andy through a gap down the left side. With Stew charging towards the far post, Andy attempted the cross. A meddling Killarney player arrived for the intercept and kindly sent the ball into the net. A relieved Brad praised the Killarney own goalscorer as it means Stew still remains only one goal ahead of him on the perpetual Avery / Webb Golden Boot trophy. The catalyst for the second goal came from Boz who’d made a charging run down the right edge. His shot was blocked but the deflection bounced favorably for Andy who was able to tap it into the net for Wyoming’s 2nd. Not bouncing so favorably was Andy’s next attempt. All set to try his luck for Goal #3, his shot swayed away, a miss hit he quickly blamed on the dreaded bobble of this field. Not sure anyone else believed that though. Boz and Meady had their chances with headers from corners but all veered too high. A few scares aside, the backs held the line admirably keeping Killarney’s giant striker at bay and took us to half time with a somewhat comfortable 2 nil lead.
The second half would not be described as pretty. The Tigers seemed to play somewhat more conservatively, protecting their lead rather than push forward in attack. Killarney dominated the middle for large chunks of the game and the ball seemed to bounce more favorably for them. Thankfully they didn’t have such luck in the goal shooting department even when our goalie Aaron was blinded by the light of the hovering sun. “I can’t see, I can’t see” he shouted. Shush, don’t tell them that! Some of the players found antagonists beyond their opposing players. Boz seemed to get stuck in a hole at one point; Stew got taken out by the invisible sniper; whilst Andy and Mick found the woodwork of the goalposts getting in the way of shots. Andy was no match for the diving theatrics of a diving Killarney defender when on the chase and poor Mick continues to have no luck with the refs when getting taken down in the box. Not the most convincing 40 minutes of 2nd half football but they got the job done, grinded it out and picked up a valuable three points. The win gives us a nice 6 point buffer from Killarney on the ladder but Avoca’s win over Terrigal sees them equal with us on 22pts. The good news, Wyoming 2 were held to a draw whilst 2nd placed Woy Woy 2 and 3rd placed East Gosford both had losses.
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz / Photos by Dale Smith)
Goals (Assists): Opposition (Andy), Andy (Boz)
GAME #13 (JULY 20, 2019)
vs WOY WOY 1 @ ALAN DAVIDSON OVAL 1
Last time we played this team, it was a tough day at the office. We started with only 11 and by full time, some were barely walking. We went down 5-2 that day. Could we even the score? Well yes, quite literally we could. In a cruel twist of fate, it was Woy Woy who only had the bare eleven this time … they started with 10. We had subs at least but at one stage it wasn’t looking like we’d start with many. Barker, Newnham, Howison, Fitzy, Ryan – all out. Stevie G was in doubt all week with a leg injury; Flanno would be running late; Elton was still recovering from being lured by troublemaker Chris O’Connor for a few drinks out on the town; and Gregg worried a few when strapper / boss lady Julia was assessing his leg prior to kick off, thankfully it was just a matter of Gregg running out of electrical tape for his foot and a quick trip to Bunnings would solve that. Dale too was lucky to escape injury, ala a clip over the ear from Julia, after putting all the jerseys on the massage table.
With Woy Woy only starting with ten, the plan was to hit early. Mick had some early shots but the closest he came was hitting the post. His next run he opted to switch the ball across goals where an unmarked Andy was there to slot in the first goal of the afternoon. There was a brief scare at the other end when an offside appeal fell at deaf ears and our backline stopped. Thankfully, the threat was thwarted. Meady couldn’t resist harping up though to get his first yellow card of the season, a shock to many that it’s taken till Game #13 … though to be fair, he has missed a few games this season. Luca had announced that he needed to leave 15 minutes prior to full time due to work commitments. As a compromise, he was instructed to put away three quick goals, no pressure. He looked set for his first when a through ball found him in space. The Scuri curse continued though as he took too long to get a shot away and ended up planking on the turf, embarrassed. The ever-supportive Boz told him not to worry, that he was just “shit”. A few more attacking chances came and went but it was just before half time that we got that extra buffer needed. Brad had been clipped inside the 18-yard box. After half the team wimped out of taking the penalty kick, Mick stepped up to take it, putting it away just under the crossbar and giving us a 2-0 lead at half time.
The Second half turned into quite the goal fest. The third for Wyoming began with a stellar run by Stew. Charging down the right edge, he sent the ball across the middle to Andy who sent Mick through a gap. Mick swiftly sent it across the goal mouth and into the corner of the net. It was Andy’s turn next when Mick had won the team a corner kick. With the back post undefended, Andy took a chance with a curling kick and found success, 4-0. Woy Woy didn’t threaten too much but it was a surprise that their first corner kick came so late in the game. It curled out before it reached the goal frame but they had success with their second. Aaron had forgotten to attach tie Stew’s boot laces to the back post so he’d left his post by the time the ball came through. Woy Woy’s No. 6 made it look too easy, heading the ball into the net. A consolation goal one would hope.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Andy was on the search for a hattrick. Stevie G had made a commanding run down the middle and got a ball through to him. Andy took a quick shot on target but the keeper tapped it over the crossbar. Andy’s father called out, “it’s not gonna come”. Pfft, what did he know. When Stew had forced another corner, Andy overheard Woy Woy’s keeper ordering his troops, “back post, back post”. Thankfully whoever filled that position “did a Stew” and left their post. Almost a carbon copy of the last goal, Andy found the net again, 5-1.
The second half wasn’t short of laughs namely Boz’s continued humorous sledges; “Birdman” Brad Aviary, oops Avery, getting a warning from the ref for being too “chirpy”; the invisible sniper shooting poor Gregg down yet again; and the comedy of errors that led to the last goal of the game. In the tradition of such greats as Laurel & Hardy and Abbott & Costello, Wyoming’s own comedy duo Meady & Quill delivered their own brand of slapstick hijinks. As Woy Woy challenged, Meady appeared to have thwarted the danger when he headed the ball back to Aaron or to Aaron if Aaron was a few meters to his left. To avoid another corner kick, Aaron dived out to stop it. He got his hands to the ball and kept it from going out but couldn’t contain it. A Woy Woy player, on a narrow angle, took a shot. It would’ve sailed across the goalmouth if not for Meady deciding to interact again. Putting a foot out like a showgirl, the ball made contact and deflected into the goal, 5-2. Oops. He’d ruined an aggregate win !! 7-7 it would have to be. The win puts us in 4th spot on goal differential due to Avoca and Killarney having a 2-2 draw. But with five games remaining, it’s a long way to go in securing a finals berth.
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz / Photos by Dale Smith & Andrew Kennedy-Schultz)
Goals (Assists): Andy (Mick), Mick [P] (Brad), Mick (Andy), Andy (Mick), Andy (Stew)
ROUND #12 (JULY 13, 2019)
vs GOSFORD @ ALAN DAVIDSON OVAL 1
Three weeks !! That’s how long it took to get back on the football field again after two consecutive weekends of washouts. Not one game was postponed last season but that was because Brad Avery hadn’t been injured then. After leaving the field early in the Woy Woy game with a hamstring strain, Brad was in jeopardy of missing his first game since 2014. This would break a run of 91 consecutive games. Inconceivable !! To combat this, Brad presumably dropped the dacks and performed naked rain dances on ADO for at least a few late evenings … and the heavens complied. A few days of heavy rain was enough to wipe out our game against Gosford two weekends ago but here we were promptly slotted into what was initially meant to be a weekend off in the middle of the school holidays. That didn’t matter though cause Brad was back, albeit on the bench, ready to make an appearance - even if it meant only for a minute - to keep the streak (not that kind) alive.
Last time, we defeated the Dragons 7-0 at home on ADO Field 1, now here we were to face them for their home game at erm, ADO Field 1. For a majority of that game they were reduced to 10 men with no subs and whilst they haven’t won a game yet this season, there was still a need to be cautious. They’d been more competitive of late having picked up three draws and today they were boosted with a few ring-ins from the 45s. Thankfully we weren’t shy of subs either, fielding a team of 14, well 14.25 if you count Brad.
Whilst there was no rain today, there was a chill factor with heavy winds. Dale won the toss and followed Aaron’s request to run with the wind for the first half. The hopes of getting an early lead like we did last time didn’t come to fruition but there were a few chances. Mick got an early shot into the side netting and a free kick didn’t quite curl enough at the top right. The wind carried a few long balls and their keeper was savvy enough to charge ahead to thwart a majority of our attacks. The linesman didn’t help our cause either flagging us a few offsides. But finally, not long before halftime, a quick one-two between Andy and Luca saw Andy through a gap. With the keeper standing on the edge of the 6-yard box, Andy opted for a cheeky high shot and we finally had our lead.
After a few scares in the second half it was becoming clear a second goal was needed to put this beyond reach. It almost came from Andy again as he connected with a Flanno through ball. The shot however hit the goal post. Oh if only because soon enough Gosford’s major threat – No. 17 – was racing down the right flank alone. Aaron - who’d been sheltered in the cold shadows of the north end of the field for this second half - decided to get the body warm a bit by racing towards the sideline to tackle this threat and oops, he missed. Backtracking into the goalmouth, our defenders tried to stop No. 17 as he made his towards the posts but to no avail and the Dragons had their equaliser.
With about 15 minutes remaining, Wyoming continued to charge forward hoping for that winning goal but as one of the Gosford defenders kept saying, we “fluffed it”. Not enough cohesive passes meant our chances were limited. Mick had an unlucky day upfront. His closest chance came after being barged by the keeper. He remained upright though and got a shot away that veered wide. Luca put a quality ball through to Andy but his shot sailed across the goals. Boz’s free kick found its way to the clubhouse and Brad, coming on for a run in the final ten minutes, made a charging run. He got a shot away microseconds before the keeper reached him. It sailed just over the crossbar. An open goal chance some would say. Ultimately we ran out of time and that was that. A win today would’ve put us back into the Top 4 but we fluffed it.
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz / Photos by Dale Smith)
Goals (Assists): Andy (Luca)
ROUND #11 (JUNE 22, 2019)
vs WOY WOY 2 @ ALAN DAVIDSON OVAL 1
Despite beating the competition leaders last weekend, the mood in the sheds prior to kick off for today’s game wasn’t exactly jovial. Flat and somber were more apt descriptions. Even Luca’s music playlist couldn’t lift certain players from their hungover or sickly states. Stevie G had been to a workmate’s redundancy party; Brad had picked up the flu – he wasn’t going to play until he heard Meady was unavailable; and Dale, the team manager, well he had a big night on the grog too but thankfully didn’t get his car stolen and firebombed this time. Perhaps today would’ve been better suited to one of those allocated weekends CCF gives us off during the season for weather contingencies .. but no here we were against Woy Woy 2, the competition’s 2nd placed team who had only lost one game all season - incidentally to us back in Round 2. That time we put in 6, well technically 7 (hey Ryan!), against them.
Mick was running late so Barker was put up front and he almost scored within the first minute, his shot hitting the upright. Poor Brad didn’t last long, succumbing to a hamstring strain – his first injury playing soccer. We started sluggish and paid the price for it conceding two goals courtesy of Woy Woy’s gun forward whom Ryan nearly took out early on. We got one back after Andy’s free kick (courtesy of a foul on Dale on the right edge of the 18 yard box) curled around into the top left edge of the goals with a bit of help from the wind. That breeze continued to assist for the next 10-15 minutes as the majority was played in Woy Woy’s defensive half. Wyoming came close to an equaliser with several corner kicks curling in only for Woy Woy’s keeper to get a deft touch and tap it over the crossbar. Mick unfortunately didn’t win a penalty despite copping a foot in the crown jewels and then, a further kick in the balls, Woy Woy took advantage of one quick counter attack and went into half time with a lead of 3-1.
The second half was a hard slog as expected but we did manage to narrow the gap. Mick and Andy combined for a little 1-2 with Mick then weaving through a couple of players and finding the corner of the net. Luca had a bit of a dummy spit after Mick bemoaned “Luca!” when Luca’s shot at goals went war and wide. “I’m trying my best” Luca responded before he stormed off the sideline and booted a ball into the garbage bin, the sound shattering the heavens. Thankfully he was back on the field a few minutes later and looked to have bagged the equaliser only to learn he was offside before he’d deftly chipped the keeper. Up the back, Aza made a stunning save to stop a fourth when he instinctively blocked a shot with an extended leg. Boz filled Brad’s spot up the back teaming up well with Stevie G. Both had to contend with Woy Woy’s fouling, sulking beast who was eventually given a yellow card for his continued antics but not before he bulldozed Boz in the 18 yard box. Mick was concerned we’d need a bagful of sand to get him out. Beyond that, there wasn’t too many dramatics, Flanno was absent after all. The main antagonist for Wyoming was those damn goal posts. Apart from Barker’s early shot, Elton found the woodwork as did Andy in the dying seconds when he had a crack that bounced off the crossbar, oh what could’ve been !! As it stands, we sit in 4th spot but Killarney – on equal points - have a game in hand.
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz)
Goals (Assists): Andy (Dale), Mick (Andy)
ROUND #10 (JUNE 15, 2019)
vs WYOMING 2 @ ALAN DAVIDSON OVAL 2
The second half of the season begun with the local derby, up against the undefeated competition leaders, Wyoming 2! We welcomed back Aza in goals, Stevie G back on the field and the jetlagged Boz returning from the US of A the previous day. Unfortunately it’s looking like Fitzy is gone for the season with that knee injury whilst Howison is still struggling with his own. Also out - his first miss of the season, games I mean, not goals, he’s missed plenty of those - was Luca due to family commitments. Another omission today, our yellow jerseys!! Yes, unfortunately it was our turn to wear the whites which did become somewhat disorientating during the game.
Having beaten us past the post last time with two set piece goals, the word was out to avoid conceding corner kicks and fouls near the box… plus, keep their star striker Mick Donafee at bay. We thought we’d done enough with the latter when he was forced to take his shot a fair distance out – and at an acute angle – but with a fumble from Aza the ball dipped inside the near post. Not to worry, lady luck graced us as well when a wayward pass from one of their defenders went straight to Mick McGarvey up front. He finished the shot with ease to bring a much deserved parity. They were dominating the flanks. One dangerous cross came directly into the path of Billy Bulmer but thankfully it was a swing and a miss. He was however on form with his usual sledging, something Stevie G lapped up. Unfortunately a second goal did come for Wyoming 2 courtesy of Donafee again. This one chipped Aza though Ryan almost managed an attempted clearance on the goal line. At the other end, Elton’s effort went wide, Boz’s went across goals and Mick’s quality through balls weren’t rewarded with that final touch needed.
The second half fightback got underway when Andy sent a long ball down the left flank for Mick to run onto. With only their keeper Bobby Hay to beat, Mick attempted to weave past him only to be fouled. He swiftly levelled things up with the penalty kick. It was game on now as both teams pushed for the win. Andy came close with a shot that sailed past Bobby but just over the crossbar. The ref at first thought it had gone in and Boz tried to persuade him there was a hole in the net to no avail. Brad had some good runs today with a few stints up front but it was Mick who continued to pressure the defense for the majority of the half. After a couple of efforts of bursting into the 18 yard but unable to get the pass away at the right time, he finally cut one back where Stew was perfectly placed in front of goals to whack it in. We’d hit the lead but could we hold it. You bet we could. The boys stayed strong and just for good measure, out came some scoundrel tactics. Beyond the classic kick the ball out as far as you can option, Boz demonstrated time wasting techniques at its finest with the ball in the corner trick and Meady when copping some late hits, milked them for as long as he could. Finally, that full time whistle blew. Back-to-back wins and thanks to other results, we sit just one point outside of the Top 4. Special thanks to Fitzy for running the subs and orchestrating the team structure from the sidelines during that second half.
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz)
Goals (Assists): Mick (Opposition), Mick [P] (Mick), Stew (Mick)
ROUND #9 (JUNE 8, 2019)
vs KARIONG @ ALAN DAVIDSON OVAL 2
With today’s game marking the halfway point of the season, we knew that anything other than a win could put us in jeopardy of losing touch with the Top 4 pack. That being said, we still could only manage 13 players with Aza, Newnham, Elton, Boz, Fitzy and Howison all out. The rain had put field 1 out of contention so across to the more intimate field deux we went. We were off to a good start when a long shot from Andy was blocked by a defender’s arm in the box. Andy took the penalty and sent it low into net, contrary to Brad’s wager that it would hit the No. 12 square on the kick wall behind. Ye of little faith. It wasn’t much longer till Wyoming had their second. Scott Barker charged down the left flank and sent a quality ball across the goals. Andy made contact at the far goalpost and cut it back to Luca who smacked it into the net almost uprooting the net pegs (no need to do that till full time, buddy). Porter got a shot in that did seem bound to the kick wall (where was your money this time Brad?) and Andy had one of those ‘koala killer’ shots, though he claimed he was aiming for a drop bear before it reached the playground. As the forty minutes neared, it was looking like a healthy lead going into the sheds but a quick counter in the final minute saw Kariong capitalise. The halftime whistle had blown as Steve removed the ball from the net, we’d given them a sniff!
One thing that reassured the team at half time was that Mick, playing up front, had yet to score. Surely that was to come. It was, but not until he filled in for the Wyoming 35CN team later that day at Gavenlock. It was not for a lack of trying though and he found himself being barged by the Kariong keeper a couple of times. Shoulders into the rib cage, that’s a fair challenge right, referee? He did steal one assist from Andy though when he took possession from a long ball through. His shot deflected off the keeper but Luca was there to rack up his second. A nice two goal buffer so was rudely reduced by the Cougars once again when out of nothing one of their players coolly chipped the ball from the left edge over Stevie G’s head and into the net just behind the right goal post. Not to worry, Meady was here. Meady had been trying variations when connecting with the ball on corner kicks. One attempt he got a shot whilst lying on the ground, another was a chip kick over the net, and of course vintage Meady, the header over the crossbar. The latter was just as well as if it had’ve gone in, it would have been disallowed due to a scuffle between Flanno and Kariong’s keeper. But Meady wasn’t done for the day. Courtesy of a charging run and shot by Brad, the resulting corner kick from Andy found it’s way in Meady’s path and he belted that ball with a low header straight into the net. Surely we could hold onto this win right? Just for good measure, Andy sent a ball through the middle of the 18 yard box for Luca to run onto. Luca feigned a shot and weaved past one player, then another, and then another. By now he had conned the keeper with one last side step. Now all he had to do was shoot. Shoot Luca, shoot! Finally, it was hits away and into the … f#%ing goal post! Luca’s chance for hattrick glory was blown! Oh well, the full time whistle soon echoed through the park scaring away the birds and that elusive drop bear. Special mention to Stew who was in the thick of the action for a majority of the second half. We will forgive that foul throw-in late in the game at our defensive end.
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz / Photos by Dale Smith)
Goals (Assists): Andy [P] (Andy), Luca (Andy), Luca (Mick), Meady (Andy)
ROUND #8 (JUNE 1, 2019)
vs EAST GOSFORD @ ALAN DAVIDSON OVAL 2
We knew we’d be up for a tough afternoon. We only had two on the bench and were up against a team equal 2nd on points who’d only lost one game thus far. Yet we almost took the lead. Andy had found Luca on the edge of the 18 yard box. All Luca had to do was shoot but he saw Dale running alongside him. Dale had a better angle so the unselfish Luca passed it. Dale didn’t miss his shot but unfortunately he was in an offside position. The linesman’s flag and decibels of Italian profanity promptly rose.
With Stevie G unavailable this weekend, a plea was made for Aaron to return in goals despite still recovering from a hamstring injury. Plus, having already ordered his 100 game (perhaps prematurely), stats man Andy informed him he has to play all 11 games (if we don’t make the finals) to get it this year. The pressure was on and he answered the call with the proviso he wouldn’t be able to run much nor kick any bombs. Unfortunately, Nige didn’t get the memo and sliced back a backpass that had Aaron having to run hard to get to it in time. He did so, but his attempted clearance went straight to an East Gosford player who graciously took this gift and sent it into the net.
Not to worry, we hit back almost immediately. Mick had sent Boz a through ball. Hit shot was blocked by the keeper and sent the ball into traffic across the goalmouth. It bounced favourably for Andy to tap it in. Their keeper got some payback though when his bomb found bounced favourably over Nige’s head and into the path of their running forward. The No. 11’s previous two shots had sailed well high of the crossbar but not this time. The score at half time was 2-1 in favour of the Rams.
The Tigers were quick to restore parity in the second half. Gregg battled for a 50/50 ball and came up trumps, sending the ball up the field. Mick had opted to start this half up front and he didn’t disappoint as he raced ahead and got a shot away. The keeper got a touch to it but the ball spiraled out of his hands and kindly bounced over the goal line. With the scoreline locked up, a hard fought battle ensued by both teams pushing for a win. Nige came the closest with a header from a corner kick just popping over the crossbar. Mick was also unlucky not to win a penalty. One of Mick’s other shots went wide prompting one of East Gosford’s players to complain to the ref we were time wasting. Um, yeah sure, we were trying to secure a draw with us being 4pts out of the Top 4. Speaking of complaints made at the ref, there were many. Boz copped a yellow for one such gripe, as did Flanno for, well being typically Flanno. The ref’s strangest moment though was when East Gosford’s keeper stepped out of the box when making a clearance. The ref stopped play but rather than rule an indirect free kick to us, he told the keeper to take it again. What was this, the Under 6’s? So, another draw for us and the gap from the Top 4 is now 6pts. The comfort though is we were very competitive today and was our best effort in weeks. Let’s hope momentum gets us into the winner’s circle soon.
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz)
Goals (Assists): Andy (Boz), Mick (Gregg)
ROUND #7 (MAY 25, 2019)
vs TERRIGAL @ DUFFY'S OVAL
After two games of scrapping by with the bare eleven, we finally had a bench again. Free from coaching commitments due to a late afternoon kick off, Flanno and Meady were back, though the latter made Dale sweat with a late arrival. We also welcomed back Barker and Boz (sans big toe nails) from injury. Today also finally marked Stevie G’s 100th game (he has threatened retirement after getting his trophy). If he hadn’t have copped suspension last season with two red cards – and if we hadn’t bowed out at the semi final stage – he would’ve received this last year. His declaration of being “fired up” for this milestone was not meant to be taken literally though – the silly bugger burning his arm in a work accident during the week. With this and some knee strapping from Julia - sorry, the Boss - he was looking very mummified on the right side.
It was another one of those frustrating first halves where we dominated but couldn’t take advantage in front of goals. In particular, Andy, Mick and Boz all had several chances but shots either veered over the crossbar or sailed wide. A corner kick was to be the breakthrough we needed. Some nice work between Luca and Andy led to Flanno taking a shot. It was blocked but the ensuing corner kick by Andy found Elton inside the traffic. Those bright blue boots swiftly blasted the ball into the net. Our fortunes seemed to have doubled soon after when Mick made a charging run. He got fouled on the way through to the goalmouth but nailed the shot away. 2-0 right? Wrong! The ref had blown the whistle to pull up the foul rather than play advantage so we were robbed a goal. The ensuing free kick sailed over the crossbar. It was one of many frustrating moments regarding the officiating but to be fair, it is hard to see anything when you rarely leave the centre circle. There was concern he’d gone AWOL at half time as he took an age to return to the field to start the second half whilst the 22 players got sunburnt waiting around.
The second half was yet another series of misadventures. The formation was a mess, the passes weren’t finding their mark, team bickering reared its ugly head and lazy fouls were committed, one culminating in a Terrigal free kick that netted them an equaliser. There was only to be one winner today and that’s Di Burdack who receives a bottle of moet having won the bet that Flanno wouldn’t make it through five games without getting a yellow card. A toast to Di, bottoms up! With the point gained today we remain in 5th spot, four points out of the top four. Some wins are needed soon or we’re going to get lost in the quagmire of the bottom pack.
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz)
Goals (Assists): Elton (Andy)
ROUND #6 (MAY 18, 2019)
vs KILLARNEY @ ALAN DAVIDSON OVAL
With injuries, coaching commitments and one particular player seemingly visiting every pub on his way back from Queensland, we were struggling to field a full side again this week. Could we even manage eleven? Forty-five minutes prior to kick-off, only two players had turned up for the team photo (this ended up being postponed till after the game) and anxiety mounted as frequent head counts were made in the sheds. When we reached “seven”, Scott Porter bemoaned that now we couldn’t forfeit. Kudos to Scott by the way who turned up despite picking up an injury last weekend. Regardless of the dwindling numbers, Julia still had her hands full with the gaffer tape, blu-tack and staples to keep the boys upright. Boz, who was absent due to a 50km run today, had called upon Julia to strap his calves earlier in the week and made a seismic error … he called her “Boss”. So thrilled with this new moniker, she’s hoping it’ll stick even more than her strapping tape. Some players obliged but brother Scott appears to have vowed eternal defiance. Thankfully by kick off we had eleven.
We were under no illusion that this would be a tough afternoon. No subs, warm weather and an opposition who had beaten Avoca 4-0 last weekend (we were lucky to walk away with a 1-1 draw when we played them two weeks ago), plus they had a bench of subs and a match ball properly pumped up !! … So it came as quite the shock indeed when we drew first blood. In one of our rare instances of being up their end, Luca had weaved past a couple of players and flicked it out to Dale in front of goals. Dale pounced and booted the ball beyond the diving keeper’s reach. “Your first goal in 38 years” cheered Brad to the 38-year old Dale. And he almost made it two when he blocked a goal kick and took a quick shot!! Alas, it sailed wide. The majority of the half was spent repelling Killarney’s attack but a we held our own in the midfield and the backline was particularly solid. Even Keeper Stevie G’s knee held up after a nasty studs up challenge. It was a proud moment when the half time whistle blew to be in front.
The hope was to grind it out in the second half. We tried to slow the game down a bit, lots of long balls and 40/20 attempts. One long ball from Mick found a tenacious Dale on the end of it. He smashed it at goals and forced their keeper to tap it out for a corner. Something from nothing. Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time for tired bodies to slip up and an error at the backline saw Killarney equalise. Frustrations flared and soon after, Brad’s shoulder (perhaps some elbow too) sent a Killarney attacker into a horizontal position. Despite appeals that this was outside the 18-yard box, the ref declared it was a penalty and now suddenly, Killarney had the lead. There were some attacking chances but nothing came to fruition. It could’ve been worse. We could’ve taken a battering akin to the one the halfway sideline flag took when a fuming Luca uprooted it from the soil and sent it flying. I’m curious what the yellow card stats are for such an offence. It certainly lacked that Tim Cahill flair. So we weren’t winners today but we were gallant and never resorted to team bickering. On another day, with a full compliment of substitutes, we’d be singing the club victory song. Special kudos to Elton who stayed on despite a hamstring affliction and Ryan, who turned up under the weather but put in a huge 80 minute effort in defence.
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz)
Goals (Assists): Dale (Luca)
ROUND #5 (MAY 11, 2019)
vs WOY WOY 1 @ AUSTIN BUTLER OVAL
With eight players absent, we had no subs today and were marred by injuries throughout with team strapper Julia having a busy day. We were down 4 nil at one stage but managed a couple of late goals by Newnham (assist by Dale) and Mick (Luca) making the score line a more respectable one.
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz)
Goals (Assists): Newnham (Dale), Mick (Luca)
ROUND #4 (MAY 4, 2019)
vs AVOCA @ FROST RESERVE OVAL
It was one of those days where we did everything to lose but still managed to salvage a point. We looked great at the start with several attacking chances culminating with Mick McGarvey netting his 6th goal in three games after a quality through ball from Boz. Poor Boz though hobbled to the sideline shortly afterwards with a calf strain. From then on we struggled, particularly in the middle of the park. Gifting the ball to Avoca far too often and plenty of missed tackles meant it was a very busy day for Aaron Quill in goals. Miraculously time and time again, Aza was a serial menace, a thorn in the side of Avoca getting onto the scoreboard. Not only was he strong with the gloves, thwarting every shot with a catch or a block, but read the opposition’s attacking runs perfectly by making tackles at the precise moment. Unfortunately, Avoca’s tenacity was eventually rewarded. A shot hit the inside post and bounced off Aaron’s arm into the net as he desperately tried to scoop it up. Our luck could only hold out for so long. Up front, opportunities were slim. Andy did get a break from a long bomb from Aaron but his shot narrowly missed the upright. Mick and Elton also had digs, sailing either high or wide. He might have struggled being short of breath today but Luca was certainly not short in effort nor emitting a few swear words out of frustration - Mick had to remind him to revert to Italian. With only a few minutes remaining and barely hanging on, Aaron pulled a hammy whilst ending another of Avoca’s attacking runs. With Aaron’s afternoon done, Stevie G ventured to the sideline to put on the spare keeper’s jersey. He’d barely returned to the field when the ref called full time. Stevie promptly boasted he’d picked up another clean sheet in goals, unlike Aaron. Hmm.
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz)
Goals (Assists): Mick (Boz)
ROUND #3 (APRIL 27, 2019)
vs GOSFORD @ ALAN DAVIDSON OVAL 1
A big, comfortable win for the boys on home soil. Fresh from the easter break and with a healthy compliment of 16 players available, we seized control early. McGarvey found the net first after reaping the rewards of their keeper spilling the ball from Stew’s straight-into-the-bread-basket shot. He would’ve had a quick brace if not for a Gosford player blocking Mick’s shot with his hand. The ref pointed to the spot and reached into his pocket. Both teams pled for him not to send the offending player off but the ref was not swayed, producing a red and reducing Gosford to ten men. Boz sealed the penalty with ease. Scott Howison made his first appearance for the season and wasted no time making an impact. He had two close moments: a long shot narrowly sailed over the crossbar and a curling free kick hit the upright. But when Boz sent him into the 18-yard box there was no chance of missing this time as he thumped the Tiger’s 3rd into the net. And then Mick finally got his brace. Ryan sent him up the line. Mick took it almost to the goal line, weaved back inside past a couple of defenders and on the narrowest of angles slotted it just inside the opposite post. “That’s a goal” he gloated as his niggling banter with the opposition continued.
When Nige arrived a tad late after kick off, he asked Andy how we were going. Still 0-0 at that stage, Andy responded “we haven’t been tested yet”. Then sure enough a scare at the back with Stevie G following the ball and attacker to the sideline. Normally this would be quality defensive shielding but not when you’re the goalkeeper! The attacking player managed to get it past Steve and sent it across to a teammate. Thankfully Gregg was there to save the day, blocking the shot. Steve conceded he’d forgotten he was keeper until he saw gloves on his hands. Why he kicked it straight to the opposition in a later play though is anybody’s guess.
The half time chat involved an intent to go out in the second half with a focus on more passing as a unit. That’s fine except when no one ends up seizing the moment to take a shot. There were several times where we seemed to get in each other’s way at that pinnacle moment. Poor Boz just couldn’t get that perfect moment to get a shot in and when he finally looked ready, a panting, snorting Luca rushed in behind him. Stealing his lunch, Luca took the shot instead (to be fair, Boz let him have it). Blasphemous words in Italian ensued as the ball sailed towards the clubhouse. Nige also got a head to a couple of corner kicks and almost concussed himself again as he collided with the keeper and then the net. Vintage Nige!! Elton had a dig as well. We were also gifted a couple of free kicks after a frustrated Gosford resorted to fouls on our tricksters up front. They weren’t far off the mark. Mick, at the receiving end of several fouls and ridicule from the opposition had the last laugh after running onto a through ball from Stew, his second assist for the afternoon. Mick put away his third goal and retired for the majority of the remaining second half on the bench. Andy, who’d had several chances, including two quality passes from Scott Porter, was finally gifted a perfect through ball from Scotty H. Darting past the backline, all he had to do was get it past the keeper running at him like a bull. Unlike the first half, he avoided the shoulder barge and slotted it past him. It rolled and bounced agonizingly close to the upright but thankfully tucked inside. Shortly after, he found the net again courtesy of a cross from Luca. Luca, whilst not getting on the scoresheet for the first time this year, did at least pick up the team’s first yellow card of the season, though apparently he was an innocent man. Yes, after nearly 240 minutes of football, it was only now that anyone had received a yellow card, surely that’s a record. Flanno usually has one in the first five minutes of the season opener.
Full time. We’d kept a clean sheet for the first time this season and possibly the first for Stevie G’s tenure as a goalie in this team, though he did his best to avoid this. Special mention to Ryan and Dale who are doing it tough at the moment. Thoughts are with you guys. Dale in particular suffered two popped ribs in some goaL shot blocking heroics in last week’s game and then someone stole his car and torched it during the week. When it rains it pours. Hang in there buddy. Thoughts too are with Fitzy who had to be carried to the sideline early in the game after succumbing to a knee injury. Here’s hoping for a quick recovery.
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz / Photos by Dale Smith)
Goals (Assists): Mick (Boz), Mick (Stew), Boz [P] (Mick), Mick (Ryan), Howison (Boz), Mick (Stew), Andy (Howison), Andy (Luca)
ROUND #2 (APRIL 13, 2019)
vs WOY WOY 2 @ ALAN DAVIDSON OVAL 2
Two of our new recruits – Scott Barker and Mark “Boz” Bohringer - made their debuts today. They were welcomed amongst the bouts of banter and Luca’s phone emitting Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger in the sheds. A warning though when welcoming new players, always be mindful of what’s on your playlist. Luca, there is a time and place for Savage Garden’s Truly, Madly, Deeply and it is not in the dressing room. Fitzy aptly demonstrated this point when he asked “what the f#%@ is that??”. Thankfully it was not enough to scare the newbies away and de-register.
Today was our first away game for the season so we had to venture out to erm, Wyoming. Perhaps CCF felt bad that they couldn’t put us in the North comp this season so they gave us a break from having to get our passports out and venture over the bridge into the Shire. If it wasn’t for the last game of last season where we’d broken the curse by finally winning on Field 2, we would’ve preferred to play away.
The first half was certainly a goalfest. Andy found the net first, turning onto a beautiful through ball from Fitzy and chipping the keeper. It wasn’t long though until Woy Woy found an equaliser. Flanno, who’d been controlling the midfield space nicely, almost collided with Luca before getting a little pass off for the lovable Italian to charge onto. Luca took a pot shot and it paid off, racking up his second goal in as many weeks. Despite dominating possession and control of the game, one of Woy Woy’s speedsters enacted revenge with a swift run down the right flank. Beating several defenders he made it look too easy and we were locked up again, 2-2. A handball by a Woy Woy defender gifted us a penalty. Fitzy sharply put that one away. Woy Woy helped us out again with the fourth goal. An attempted header clearance from Andy’s corner kick instead found its way into the net. Andy was promptly told by Brad that he could only claim this as an assist for the stats sheet. Up the other end, Woy Woy’s biggest player went crashing down in the 18 yard box claiming Nige had fouled him. The ref obliged him. When the penalty shot sailed over the crossbar, he was promptly heckled: “it went over as easy as you did”. For good measure, Mick finally found the net late in the first half with his first goal of the season. We went into the break with a 5-2 lead.
With Woy Woy having no subs, the hope was we could tire them out and run away with this game in the second half but we made it much harder on ourselves. Bickering didn’t help. When Woy Woy found the net again, a couple of players were at odds without each other regarding effort being made. There was a concern that a couple of Woy Woy’s speedsters could easily turn the tide of the game if given too much space. Thankfully for the most part we kept them at bay. Adding to the frustration was a disallowed goal. Scott Barker had sent the ball up the left edge for Andy to chase onto. A Woy Woy defender shielded the ball as it rolled towards the goal line. Andy circled around and reached the ball before the line. He sent it into the goalmouth where Ryan surged forward and smacked it into the net. Celebrations came to a crashing halt when the referee claimed it went over the goal line. There hadn’t been any appeals from Woy Woy - they knew it was a goal - but without a linesman, the ref made a judgement call. Thankfully the decision didn’t have a baring on the game and we soon had another goal. Boz, in his first game in 6 years, hadn’t had much luck in putting one away up front but his delivery was on song when he sent Mick away. Composed, Mick sprinted forward, sliced the ball past the keeper and put Goal Number 6 on the board. Woy Woy did get a consolation goal with 10 minutes to go. Despite a goal difference of two, the final minutes were a nervous affair but we held on to pick up our first win of the year.
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz / Photos by Dale Smith)
Goals (Assists): Andy (Fitzy), Luca (Flanno), Fitzy [P], Own Goal (Andy), Mick (??), Mick (Boz)
ROUND #1 (APRIL 6, 2019)
vs WYOMING 35DS-2 @ ALAN DAVIDSON OVAL 1
With the ever-expanding Over 45s comp and a new mixed-bag Friday evening competition, the amount of Over 35s divisions has shrunk and the E-grade is no more. The leftover teams have been crammed into six divisions: The A’s, the B’s, C’s (North & South), and D’s (North and South). Despite a request to stay in the North competition, we’ve been returned to our old stomping ground of the South. Unfortunately this also means we are in the same group as another Wyoming team, founded by former teammate Ben Wilkinson. And here we were, round one, already pitted against each other for the ultimate derby. This was technically our home game so Dale made sure we’d be first to wear the new jerseys and for extra measure, he even locked one of the entry gates to the changerooms to keep Sanga from eavesdropping on team tactics, not that we have any.
On a somber note. Prior to kick off, we observed a minute silence to pay tribute to those we lost in the last few months. Steve Schultz (Ngari’s father), David Flanagan (Kevin’s father), Roberto Crecca (Tony’s brother) and Julie Smith (Dale’s mother), may they all rest in peace.
Poor weather had prevented any full-team trial games so a majority of the players were putting on their footy boots for the first time in months. In Elton’s case – a few years – as he sported a bright sparkling new pair that you could see from space. Speaking of boots, Newnham opted for a real pair rather than the joggers he wore last season and thinking man Brad Avery had a second pair ready to go, lucky too as one of his capitulated within the first minute of the game whilst trying to keep up with the opposition’s star striker, Mike Donafee.
It must be said, it wasn’t the most cohesive 80 minutes we’ve played and the 28 degree heat certainly didn’t help but we did have our chances. We could have been up 3-0 if Mick and Andy had capitalized on the chances they had. Their attempts either veering wide of the target or being marred by Bobbie Hay. Meady’s headers skimmed over the top net on a couple of corner kicks. As the first half came to a close, some things were becoming clear: there wasn’t enough communication out there and infringement penaltiies needed to be established, eg. what is the fine for a foul throw? If the answer is a six-pack of beer, we could’ve had at least a carton by the end of the game. Those offenders shall remain nameless … for now. On the plus side, the backline were particularly solid forcing several offsides and keeping Donafee pretty quiet. Unfortunately it was the opposition’s set pieces that killed us. Their first goal coming from a curling corner kick. A corner kick that was conceded rather cheaply it must be said, thanks Meady. To make it worse, their new star recruit and our former teammate, Billy Bulmer, did enough at the goal line pestering goalie Aaron as the ball curled inside the near post. Not to fear, Luca was here. As passionate and tenacious as always, Luca brought parity. Mick sent the assist. Luca, on the edge of the 18-yard box, well composed, put a shot away. The ball bounced of the inside of the far post and found the net. He celebrated in style with son Marco cheering from the clubhouse. In hindsight though, it did sadden him that he was already off the nudie list. He does after all, like to get his gear off.
We could’ve lived with a draw but a free kick from our opponents caught us flat footed as their attackers surged forward and connected. And that was that, not our day!
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz / Photos by Dale Smith & Alistair Kennedy)
Goals (Assists): Luca (Mick)
The end of season 2018 saw two events that hadn’t happened for a couple of years. One, a return to finals football and two, we’d successfully managed to organize an End of Season Trip Away !! If 2019 registrations are anything to go by, the four straight days together in Shoal Bay back in October did nothing to break up the team bond with almost all returning. This, the ninth season for the team’s founding members, sees 14 return from last year. Of the regulars, sadly Mark Wallace (work commitments) and Chris O’Connor (Kids Rep timetable) are sitting out this year. Whilst we almost saw the return of Tony Crecca, we do get another founding member back for more, Elton Richardson. Scott Howison also makes a welcomed return. Plus, three new recruits: Scott Porter (Julia’s brother), Scott Barker and after years of begging, Luca finally recruited the esteemed Mark Bohringer. Andy has passed on the managerial duties to Dale Smith who wasted no time rounding up the weary, aging troops for another year of groaning, limping, swearing, drinking and hopefully, more fun-filled adventures in the annals of football. Let the season begin …
(Written by Andrew Kennedy-Schultz)