Sunday, July 18, 2010

Round 12, v Tullamarine Jets, away

If there’s been one good thing about global warming and the associated drought in Melbourne it’s been a string of rather mild and dry winters. I can’t think of too many games over the past eight Bras’ seasons that have been played on days both icy cold AND wet.

Until Sunday, that is. Half an hour before kickoff —just as Marian and Jo were completing their pre-game carbo load by licking their sugary fingers after devouring $1 jam donuts from the kiosk at Tullamarine’s home ground— black clouds converged like mourners at a funeral. By the time our game started they could hold themselves together no longer and thus began to weep steadily and consistently for the duration of our match.

At the same time the temperature dropped below 10˚C making conditions on the shelter-less sideline, let alone the bumpy, cricket pitch-marred field, rather uncomfortable. Icy raindrops cleverly found passage down the back of my jacket and my whiteboard, one on which I write team formations and whatever random thoughts and profundities come into my head (“God, roast chicken would be nice tonight”; “Hmm, what if farts were coloured and every one had their own distinct colour, like a fingerprint”), was unusable. No sooner would I write something down than the rain would wash it away.

Fortunately the action on the pitch was of such a nature that I was in a constant state of nervous agitation, which at least kept me warmer than I would have been had we been winning or losing convincingly. My feeling before the match that this would be a tight affair was being borne out. While we Bras enjoyed the majority of possession and field position we couldn’t ram home our advantage, even after Rosie slotted home from close range after Rhi had waltzed down the left wing before delivering to Rosie a ball on a silver platter and with an apple in its mouth. Nice wing play from Jane and Timmy followed but we couldn’t get another, and Rosie would have rued her golden opportunity to tap in a second. We may regret that, I thought, even before the Jets gave us a scare in the moments before halftime. Following a corner we endured a heart-in-mouth goalmouth scramble that featured three goal-bound shots by the Jets, one of which was all but in before Lauren got a boot to it in the nick of time.

At halftime, as the Bras wandered off the field unsure whether they were hot from their exertions or all but frozen, I warned of a Jets onslaught in the second half. We need to score early, I said, to give ourselves a buffer.

We scored early. (It’s not often the Bras follow my instructions to the letter, so mark that down in your diaries.) Ten minutes into the second half Rhi rammed home after some nice play by Jane down the right wing. And although Rhi would later hit the post and, on another occasion, we’d see a scrambled shot of ours all but cross the Jets goal line, the second half belonged to the Jets. Driven on by their screaming coach and the feeling that we must be about to crack they dominated possession and came at us in waves. (Anyone who has read or seen The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the bit where Saruman’s orc armies storm Helm’s Deep, will get the picture.) Yet while we weren’t playing our most fluid football in attack, we were at least making up for it by playing with passion and, at the back especially, smarts.

Much is made of the Bras’ older players, and for good reason. But sometimes what might get overlooked is that we also have a complement of wonderful young players who are not only astute and mature enough to see what’s good about hanging around with us crustaceans, but they also find a way to so often drag the rest of us up to their level.

And against the Jets we were indebted to youth, especially our centre backs, Loz and our youngest player, Kate. The Jets had a strong, fast, powerful centre-forward who was the target of their every move. But Lauren and Kate owned her on Sunday, either by tirelessly running her down, or snuffing out all the balls bound for her feet. (Only once did she get in a clear shot but Jenna managed to save us with a timely interception.) Even when the Jets took a different route, by tearing down the wings, Loz or Kate would shoot across in cover and find a way to boot the ball to safety. It was nerve-wracking stuff and I must have asked Emily (who couldn’t play on account of waking up with a painful crick in her back) “How long to go?” a dozen or so times.

So it was with considerable credit and relief we held out the Jets and left Tullamarine with a real sense of satisfaction —heightened later when we discovered we’d moved to equal second on the ladder. You’d expect we’d have hit the beer and chips at the pub after all that but while it was certainly an evening made for hot chips the conditions, unlike the Jets, had got the better of us.

As Timmy said, echoing the patois of the youff she works with, “I’d love to pub it but I’m satched. A hot shower’s what I need.”


[Result: 2-0 win. Goals: Rosie, Rhi]

NEXT MATCH: July 25, v Watsonia Heights, Sumner Park, East Brunswick, 11am

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