As legend would have it, 15 broken old footballers headed north to the tropical climes of Indonesia to participate in the annual Bali Masters International Over 35’s AFL 9’s competition. The format of the competition was revamped in 2015, with sides being split into Division One and Division Two teams.
After much debate, the conclusion was drawn that we still are as deluded about our ability as ever and we nominated ourselves for Division One. The rationale being that it would be unfair to just belt the living shit out of the teams that were in Division Two….
I won’t go in to who was representing us at this stage, the players and their Star Wars bios – scripted by Wal – are attached and pretty well sum up both the attributes they brought to the team and what they delivered.
For the uninitiated, the competition is a legitimate well run competition, with some very handy footballers on display and our division included teams from WA, Victoria, Singapore, NT, Bali and Jakarta. There’s also a team from Borneo that play a showcase game each year complete with their own ‘local’ cheer leaders.
The mighty Wembley Vets were drawn in the Pool A ‘Group of Death’, up against the Old Dogs (Geraldton), Singapore Wombats, and equal tournament favourites, the Darwin Dugongs.
This year, it was three games played on the Friday – the results of which provided your seeding for the semis on Saturday. We had a pretty rugged schedule with our first game kicking off at 9:50am and our third game at 12:30pm. 3 games in 32 degree heat and 100% humidity in 4 hours. Gold.
The Old Dogs were our first opponent and if the warm ups were any guide, they were going to belt us by 10 goals. At some point over a number of beverages the night before, the coaching geniuses that are Devo and Paynie obviously decided that our tactic would be to start each and every game slowly, as a means of stinging us into action. Give the opposition a couple of starters and then once the old boys bodies warmed up we’d roll over the top. It turned out to be a great strategy for Friday’s games. The Old Dogs indeed got the jump on us and were a goal up after 5 minutes. The coaches then removed the problem, namely Irish, and replaced him with Boothie in the ruck and the Wembley machine started to roll along beautifully. A minor lead at half time was then turned into a 3 goal victory as Chappy and Biscuits swept up everything from half back and Fev, BP and Bassie delivering sweetly to Wal, Rookie and Puff in the forward line.
Tick off the four points and move on to our next, more dangerous opponents, in the Singapore Wombats. Again, the tactic to start Irish and lull them into a false sense of security worked a treat with the Wombats scoring 2 goals to 1 early doors. An inspired next 10 minutes from Boothie, Yappa and Fev had us all over them like a rash. At one point Rookie actually put his hand up and said, ‘please, stop kicking it to me – I’m dying of leather poisoning up here’. So, the mids duly took note and just gave it to Wal and Puff who relished in finishing off their good work. This continued in the second half and it ended up being an absolute belting of a team who aspired for greater things in the tournament.
2 for 2 it was with the equal tournament faves, Dugongs, to come. The Dugong boys are renowned as the fittest team going around, filled with fire fighters and pilates instructors. We, on the other hand, are, well…not. We have stealth and skill on our side though and the Dugongs underestimated the cunning defensive nous of Selfie, who blanketed their key forward and the sheer devastatingly distracting effect of Sarge in full voice. Indeed, we saw Sarge do the most physical thing he has ever done in 134 years of football when he bone crunched one of the Dugong boys into next week out of a centre clearance. The irresistible force meeting the quintessential immovable object. The standard of football was really high in this game and it was close all the way. So close in fact, that when Sarge kicked a point with a minute to go it was a one point ball game in the Dugongs favour. At least that’s the way it should have been. While the goal umpire, and everyone else on the field for that matter, were clear it was a point, the muppet who was the boundary umpire took it upon himself to declare the ball was out on the full. Hilariously, the goal umpire – who stood under the ball as it went through for a behind – reiterated that it was a point, but was somehow overruled by said muppet, meaning we remained two points behind. Some back and forth play ensued and the ball was returned to our forward line, with Rookie swooping on a loose ball and an open goal mouth and taking a bit long to steady to have a shot on said goal (think Irish swinging onto his left), got pushed in the back and sprayed it for a point. No free kick awarded and we went down by a point. The loss wasn’t all bad, it was good to be able to point the finger at Rookie.
So with one loss and two wins we qualified for the Divvy One finals and confronted the undefeated Darwin Waratahs in the semi on Saturday.
But first we needed to get to Adrenalin to watch the Tigers play the undefeated, all conquering Dockers on their home dung heap. The touring party had to this point ignored the wise counsel of Rookie who had stated since the week prior that the Tigers were going to give the Dockers a football lesson at the House of Domain.
And so it proved to be the case. Much to the touring party’s chagrin. That result was only bettered by Jakey showing up in a $5 imitation Tigers jumper he paid $50 for.
The game on Saturday against the Warriors didn’t start until 2:30pm. The Wembley boys didn’t start playing until about 2:48pm. Needless to say that a side with superior talent gave us a touch up. They would go on to win the whole caper, which was thoroughly deserved. A Magarey medallist in their forward line, an outstanding ex WAFL player in the midfield and a ruckman who would vie for player of the tournament honours proved too much for those that came before them. It must be said though, that Bassie did an honourable job on Shaun Hildebrandt and restricted his usual output.
It must be said that nearly all the regular boys nominated this as one of the best trips ever. It revisited the days where the focus was going away to play some good footy with some great people and enjoying all aspects of the trip. While we tried our best on the field, we weren’t focused on winning and therefore not disappointed with losing. While footy is the focus, we had some great meals together as a group, some of the boys enjoyed the local golf course, the Tigers beat the Dockers, the scooter trip to the beach was a real highlight, and even those that didn’t go by scooter met up at the beach with those that did.
In terms of overall effort and application, I’d suggest Yappa gets best on tour, closely followed by Chappy and his family. Yappa was like salt – in everything. Played well, but got involved in all off field activities and made himself known to every individual on Jalang Oberon. As most reading this would appreciate, by the third day he had all the locals calling out ‘Hey Jakey!’ as we walked down the street. It was great to meet Chappy’s crew, who were troupers and immersed themselves into the footy and the greater Bali experience. I know his daughters stating that Rookie was their favourite player is a bit of a sore point, but at least they know quality when they see it.
A big shout out must go to Devo and Paynie, who while unable to play, did a sterling job coaching the side. Even if they were half cut for most of the tournament. Also big shout out to the ladies that accompanied their men for the tournament who also gave the bottle a nudge during the game (Andrea (Mrs Wal), Karina (Mrs Biscuits), Stacey (Mrs Payney), Sophie (Mrs Sarge), Tracy (Mrs Chappy) and his 2 daughters).
So, if you’re reading this and have been thinking about getting involved in a future Bali trip, it comes highly recommended. It’s brilliantly run, the footy is fun, the sledges are quality and there’s laughs a plenty to be had.
Until next time. Happy Birthday Devo!!!
Wembley Vets Player Profiles 2015
Sarge: Old Ben Kenobi (Episode IV, V, VI) – So old & wise, but he gets cut up because he can’t do what he used to.
Fev: Anikan Skywalker (Episode I, II, III, pre Darth Vader) – Just a little on the dark side.
Hurls: Wedge Antilles (Red squadron leader in Episode VI, V & VI) – Sees himself as the hero but is just the guy who happens to be there to claim the accolades at the end.
Wally: Snow Storm Trooper (Episode V The Empire Strikes Back) – Looks to be an important part of the empire but when required just blends into the background.
BP: General Grievous (Episode III Revenge of the Sith) – A little bit of Action and I’m sure you’ll hear him wheezing as he captures his breath.
Yappa: Jawas (Episode IV A New Hope) – Annoying little creature that says a lot but no-one can understand him.
Boothy: Count Dooku /Darth Tyranus (Episode II & III) – Always away on a far off planet and probably the closest we have to a character look-a-like!
Selfy: The Opening Credits (All Episodes) – A long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…. Yes, yes. Can you give us the short version?
Irish: Groot (Not Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy) – Seems to be from a different galaxy, only says 3 words (I am Ruckman) and clearly resembles a tree.
Rookie: Darth Maul (Episode I The Phantom Menace) – This guy appeared to have all the moves and should have featured in more episodes. Maybe he became a victim of his own sense of self-importance, or is he the real phantom menace?
Biscuits: C3PO (Just about all episodes) – Anyone else know of any other flamboyant orange headed characters in a Star Wars film?
Puff: Princess Leia (Episode IV, V, VI) – Once had cute buns and has been known to make out with her brother.
Bassie: The Emperor (Episode VI Return of the Jedi) – Thinks it’s his empire and he can shoot lightning bolts from his hands, but we know the truth, he’s just broken down & old!
Chappy: Sarlacc (The pitt monster in Episode VI Return of the Jedi) – Can be found in the desert and will swallow anything that comes his way!
Jazz: Jar Jar Binks (Only from Episode III Revenge of the Sith) – No real part and clearly someone I’ve had to CGI into the team.
Devo (Coach): Yoda (Only from Episode V The Empire Strikes back) – once he realised he could no longer be part of the action, he exiled himself to another world, but is still willing to give out advice.
Payney (Fluffer): Admiral Akbar (Episode VI Return of the Jedi) – Had planned on being part of the action until he realised… “It’s a trap”!