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Round 12 (10th September 2023 – Nankers – The Last Time Tour – Edition)
A sincere thanks to all those hat have chipped in with match reports this season. The constant effort to go one-up on the previous authors has to be applauded. It has made my job much easier and the resounding feedback is it has given all the members something to look forward to in their otherwise dull, colourless work week. A special call-out to Irish for providing so much fodder for content writers. Looking forward to more goal-line debacles next year. Writing this on RUOK day makes a fitting reminder that our game is about more than footy. It gives a bunch of blokes from all walks of life a bond and union that has tangibly helped many through tough times. Here’s to us!
Supers v Whalers
There was a sense of déjà vu arriving at the ground. Bassie had his eye of the tiger going, trying to rev guys up with lines John Kennedy would have been proud, all whilst shadow boxing on the edge of ground. The Whalers warming up on the other side of the ground. The sense of Déjà vu quickly faded when word spread that Bassie had actually requested a second match against the undefeated Whalers.
We were short of numbers much like the first game and like the first game there were a couple of ring ins that were keen to have a crack at the Whalers, many thanks to Matt from the Makos for his effort down back. Also, to Pistol on his Supers debut and the ever reliable BP playing his 30th Vets game of the season.
To start the game an avalanche of midges swept over the ground, maybe a sign from the gods that you don’t have to be big to be destructive, something that must have inspired Plonk whom dominated his much taller opponent in the ruck all day. Bali belly didn’t stop Danners and the midfield group led by Brock and Fev created numerous opportunities in the first quarter, it had everyone believing the Wembley midget fleet might actually be able to prevail in this David and Goliath battle.
News of our strong start must have spread, Adam turned up at quarter time, dressed in his pyjamas and sleep crust still in his eyes. It was a welcome sight, with many hoping for more heroics like his last game against the Whalers. The second quarter saw the Whalers huddle identify their competitive advantage, height. They targeted our tallest player Scotty with an un-sportsmen like knee to the back of the head, unperturbed Scotty went on to provide a strong aerial presence. The pressure around the ball carrier was notable in the second quarter, Rob led the way in a manner that would made C Mayne proud.
The 2022 Bero’s barrel winner and short priced 2023 favourite Cogs, set the tone at half time, berating the midge fleet for not getting to his feet in the first half. The third quarter started with a bang, Cambo crashed packs and won numerous contested possessions off half back and Gus used his pace and power around the contest to create back-to-back inside 50s. Rossco and Mr Little Things Gin showed the other forwards that you don’t need crumbers when you can take contested grabs. Cogs held onto a couple and kicked straight to bring us back close parity with the Whalers.
Despite the best efforts from Chidzey, Dol and Al, not having a bench to rotate players off finally caught up with the gallant Wembley side, whom the Whalers and their 10-man bench over ran by a couple goals. Everyone got through the game mostly unscathed which had everyone in good spirits for Silly Sunday down the Wembley Hotel later in the arvo.
– Reporter: Ben “Burgo” Burges
Masters v Southern Saints
A warm and slightly humid day greeted the Masters of Wembley Vets at McGilvray Oval for Round 12. That greeting wasn’t nearly as emphatic as the greeting the Masters boys got from UWA Sports Park’s resident midgie and flying ant population, who immediately set about challenging some expectations amongst the Masters squad as to what kind of game this would be.
And it wasn’t just the midgies and a bit of moisture in the air that provided an immediate challenge. The Southern Saints, Wembley’s worthy opponents for the mid-day clash, came straight out of the blocks and made it clear that their cue wasn’t anywhere near a rack, and their thoughts were anywhere but on end of season holidays, despite it being the last round of the AFLMWA year.
From the start of the first quarter, the Saints took full advantage of a very small ground and Wembley’s errant disposal and less than coherent defensive structure, as Maddington lads pushed forward with pace and class to immediately snag a couple of goals and put Wembley on the back foot. The Masters (playing in White to avoid the jumper clash) worked hard in the midfield but were initially unable to stop the quick forward movement out of the centre, a shorter ground ensuring only a single lengthy kick was required to put the ball deep into the opposition forward line. The Saints manhandled the shell-shocked Wembley squad and took full opportunity of our less than settled ball movement until well into the opening term.
Thankfully some calm and composed generalship from BP was forthcoming, as Wembley’s more adventurous halfbacks were called back into line to adjust for the smaller field. As the Wembley boys got their structure sorted, the team settled thanks to some confident presentation and consistently clean hands and disposal from Fev and Chairman Wal. With the initial panic settling down, Wembley was able to get back on somewhat even terms with a couple of their own on the scoreboard as a muggy first quarter came to an end.
To their credit, the Saints weren’t going to take anything lying down, even if conditions were perfect for a bit of an old bloke’s nap. Both sides had time to settle now and with Wembley’s attacking mids and wingers now reinforcing the backs, a contested arm wrestle broke out across the centre and half back lines, with Wembley consistently strangling the Saints efforts to use pace to break out and create the forward opportunities the Southern lads had enjoyed in the first quarter. With the increased pressure and contested ball, Wembley went on the counteroffensive, and began to link up with some much-improved usage by both foot and hand – the forwards were leading strongly and getting well served by hard running wings and mids that were in turn fed by the hard hitting rebounding of the backs. Continued efforts from the Saints kept things reasonably even leading up to half time, but it was clear Wembley was getting on top.
After half time, it was clear that the energy expended by both sides during the 2nd Quarter had taken a toll, but it was Wembley who’d arguably weathered the storm better. Where the 2nd Quarter had been a jostle, the 3rd was a see-sawing affair with moments of frenetic pace – Plonk’s amazing chase down tackle of a Saint looking to clear off half back was magnificent, Pistol held the line and fought off numerous Saints forays and counterattacked with intent whilst Gromit provided plenty of calm steadying composure in his play to ensure that Wembley threatened in the forward half for much of the 3rd quarter. Uni, BOM and Sarge would dice their way through Saints lines to regularly steady the ship (and did so all day), and DC’s ruck work through the centre was as reliable as it was relentless. The Southern boys were not done by a long shot, but Wembley had the best of the 3rd – Saints offensive forays were generally cut off or rebounded back with plenty of speed and spread on the Wembley counter. Where Plonk, Thackers, Mike Rowney and Sarge weren’t feeding turning attacks by Wattsie and Shane-o, then Uni, Fev and Jakey were keen to provide the service – with Prindi, Gromit and Wattsie weaving everywhere in the midst of that, Wembley looked ascendant.
At 3QT, the boys from Selby St may have been forgiven for thinking it was all done and dusted. Nothing doing. Their opponents had shown grit and guts all day, and the Sainters were not going to roll over now. They could detect a certain shift in the heavy air at Oval 3 and decided they were going to give it a red-hot go. With the Wembley side increasingly sore and fatigued from battling their opponents, not even some late reinforcements from our Supers and Seniors helping out could stem what was an all-out assault by the Southern Saints in the fourth quarter. The Wembley mids, wingers and backs were again under the pump as the Saints got their second wind and streamed forward either from centre bounces, or from transition out of their own half back line to open with a couple of unanswered goals. The match was in the balance. The heavens themselves heaved with anticipation. The Footy Gods demanded a demonstration of devotion as they considered whether to grant Wembley their grace – a ritual sacrifice, if you will. Surely enough, it was provided;
Cometh the moment, cometh the man.
Thackers, provided the requisite courage, tenacity and forgetfulness about what happens to a body aged well into the forties, and duly sacrificed his hamstrings to the Footy Gods with an amazing chase down tackle on a Saints speedster who was otherwise clear to have a running shot on goal.
What followed may not have been divine intervention from pleased football deities, but it certainly proved a momentum swing. Some timely class from Chidz, Jakey, Fev and Uni provided a fantastic link-up entry into Shane-o and Sam for a brilliant late team goal and some strong leading and only a few minutes later, a great finish from BP after some hard work by Wembley’s wingers helped to stem the flow. Not to be outdone, Dozer ignored three reasonable down-the-line clearance options late in the game and fatefully decided on a cheeky switch over to Irish but forgot two things – firstly, the ground was arguably too small to be forgiving of the less-than-precise kicking that he’s infamous for, and secondly that Irish is only likely to actually mark a kick Dozer sends his way when said kick involves Irish sharking one on the goal line. The rest of the backs tried hard to clear up the howler on the returning ball, but the Saints forwards had strong hands and sent it in for the last major of the game.
It was a hard-fought contest, played in excellent Masters spirit with a worthy opponent that took the measure of the Wembley Masters (as well as a few from the Supers and Seniors who nobly and ably assisted) that would’ve netted a very narrow result had scores been tallied, with Wembley’s 2nd quarter arguably putting them over the top. More importantly, it was a heck of a lot of fun and a great way to finish a great season before heading off to Silly Sunday
– Reporter: Anton “Dozer” Avila
Seniors v Crocs
I’ve always wanted to write my own obituary so writing the match report on my retirement game feels like a good opportunity to practice.
But before I get to the Seniors game that started at the ungodly hour of 9am I thought I might go back and tell my footy story. For those concerned that I mightn’t have the space to do it justice. One, there’s not a lot of content and two, I have an unlimited word count to work with (thanks Space). So sit back and relax readers.
It all started way back to my junior days at Beverly Hills JFC (in eastern suburbs of Melbourne not LA). Notwithstanding the peculiar name it was a great club with its prodigal son at the time being Paul Roos. He did go on to achieve a few things in footy so I had a lot to live up to. Which I chose to avoid by retiring from footy at the grand old age of 17. Told you it would be a short story.
And then after 25 years in the wilderness I met a bloke in Dubai (thanks Shane) who, when he heard I was moving to Perth, said I had to come down for a run at his footy club, Wembley Vets. He seemed like a decent fella so I agreed to give it a go. We arrived in Perth in January 2011 so before the footy season kicked off I was invited to something called Sunday Superstars at a place called Lake Monger. I’d never been to Perth before so I had no idea what I was in for. Or who I was going to meet. But despite some big lanky Irishman running like he was still in contention for the 5000m at the Olympics I managed to survive and get to a few more Sunday sessions before the season started.
I can’t remember many games over the ensuing 13 years but Selfy reminded me over a beer on Sunday arvo about my first game. He took me under his wing as we walked onto the ground and assured me that Masters footy in WA was a social game and everyone normally went at about 80% rat power. After a reasonably intense first quarter I was starting to wonder whether Selfy was the fine upstanding person that I thought he was and whether he was playing the same game as me. At quarter time he wandered over to me and said – ignore everything I said before the game it’s time to crack in. And so began my journey with Wembley.
And what a journey it’s been. So many great mates made, lots of laughs and a few tears, trips to Bali, many entertaining Wednesday nights with numerous coaches, BBQs, beers and even a few decent games of footy. It’s been one of the great joys of my life playing footy at Wembley so thanks to everyone who has contributed to that experience. You know who you are.
So that brings us back to Sunday’s game.
First of all thanks to Wattsy for selecting me to play. I know that team selection is not easy given the amount of good footballers he has to choose from. And then to find that I was named at full forward was a surprise and somewhat confusing for me. Never played full forward before (thanks Wattsy). As far as I could tell from my usual position further up the field I always thought that the Seniors team played without a full forward. So in one sense the coach was merely continuing that tradition.
Once I worked out which way to walk once the umps told us which way we were kicking I hesitantly wandered up the forward end of the ground. There was definitely a different vibe up there. A bit more “look at me” as opposed to “what can I do for my team today”. And Rookie wasn’t even there!
So then I had to work out what to do. Leading and expecting one of my Seniors brothers to kick it anywhere near me felt like the impossible dream. Should I dare to dream?
Ump blows the whistle and says we’re starting early gents. Ball up, Moose crashes in, ball spills free, picked up by BP and he runs forward ..
I lead into the space left by Magic at CHF and BP flushes a low drop punt laces out and it’s on my chest. I knew I could rely on BP. But now I’ve gotta kick the slippery Burley from about 25m out. This could be a bigger problem. But somehow I sneak it through. One on the board and I’m not sure it’s even 9.00am yet! This moment of Zen was then broken by my first fuck up of the day. What to do after kicking a goal. How would I know? Apparently walking back to goal square and ignoring the backline who have run the length of the ground to celebrate with me was a bit rude. Apologies gents. I had no idea you were coming.
After that highlight I was tempted to call it a day but the sun was slowly drying off the dew and where else did I have to be.
I thought the standard of the game was surprisingly high. I’ve never watched from full forward before but in the moments where I forgot I was actually playing it wasn’t too bad to watch. Plenty of possession chains from both sides. Unfortunately when we had the footy there was too much focus on finding the full forward to the detriment of all else. Prindi made a terrible error late in the quarter when he kicked a beautiful chipped pass to me only 15m out from a goal. Of course the back pocket in me missed the sitter and as punishment I got a lecture from the fisherman.
Quarter time and scores were level-ish.
My lecture continued through the quarter time break and in the second quarter no-one kicked it to me. This may have been deliberate or more likely a simple return to our usual skill level.
One teammate who deserves a special mention for dedication to the cause is AJ. After a 3.5 hour drive to get to the game (welcome to WA) his usual penetrating left footers were not quite carrying as far as usual. They looked the same but he couldn’t kick it over a jam tin. Let alone a wheat silo. Thanks for trying though mate.
As the ground dried out the standard of the game remained high. Prinidi and Wattsie were running amok on the wings. Brynna and Simmo were impassable at half back. And BP kicked a magnificent goal from the boundary.
And Joffa set the standard for me to aim at. I’d never kicked 3 goals in a game before so that thought was loosely bouncing around in my head. Could today be the day? Surely not. But Joffa had never been caught holding the ball 3 times in his life, so when he achieved that number halfway through the second quarter I was inspired to fight harder to get my 3. You were the wind beneath my wings Joffa so thanks mate.
By halftime the Wembley boys had our noses in front.
Second half was finals footy like. Sun shining. Fast deck. And a bunch of old blokes having the time of their lives. Ray attempted a few torps. One of which I managed to mark as it tumbled short of the pack. Still counts as a goal assist Ray!
As the Wembley boys slowly (and having since watched a few of G’O’D’s gameday videos slowly is being very generous) ground the Crocs into the McGillivray grass the lowlights and highlights seemed to blur into one in my mind – the plague of locusts, BOM giving me a handball that both the umpire and I rejected, AJ finally getting the goal assist he so desperately wanted (by hand as it turned out) and big Moose putting his head down at our level and nearly getting it taken off (lesson learned big fella).
Which brings to me to the final chapter.
The last quarter of my career.
Standing at the 3qtr time huddle I was a bit misty eyed and still a bit hungover, just trying to keep myself together for one last effort. I feel something quite large scratching around inside the back of my jumper. What the fark is that? Out pops my opponent for the last quarter –
He then proceeds to play the tightest defence of his long illustrious career. Close body checking, arm across, textbook old school backman stuff – quite impressive until you realise that we were still in the huddle.
Once we got out on the ground he was as lost heading to fullback as I was heading to full forward in the first quarter.
And that was last time he was near me or the footy for the quarter. Until he popped up near the 50m line at the other end of the ground late in the quarter and in a contest for the ball Bryn kicked his legs out from under him (thanks Bryn). He goes down like a sack of shit. Whistle. Free kick. But no 50m for the kicking free thankfully. He then negotiates with the man on the mark (thanks again Bryn) to walk back until he’s in range. After about 20m the umpire says enough is enough and stops Bryn from walking back to the clubrooms. Siren goes. A shot for goal to kick one from full back (and to be fair to him he did predict he would). Crowd yelling, he runs in and makes good contact. Yellow Burley heading goalward and the celebrations begin –
But as you might detect from the body language of the Wembley boys in the photo the footy gods had stepped in. Not since the 1997 preliminary final has anyone seen a short stocky man go so hard so early –
But then the realisation –
And then the result –
What a way to finish!
Don’t take it for granted gents, it’s a beautiful thing we have. Love youse all.
– Reporter: David “I’ll Be Back” Nancarrow