Sunday, August 1, 2010

Round 14, v Fitzroy City, away

So lacklustre were we in the first half of Sunday’s away match against Fitzroy that, as the Bras slouched off at halftime, Sue suggested I take a swig of water so I could give the team a good ol’ fashioned spray.

“A good coach doesn’t need water to do that,” I told her. “He can generate an abundance of saliva without help. In fact, when he’s riled it bubbles and spits like burning oil in a pan. So, yes, pass me a water bottle.”

Certainly the halftime break was an occasion for raincoats in the front row; during that first half we were half-hearted at best. After the false dawn of a 2nd minute goal to Rhiannon there was only one team that appeared interested in winning the game. And despite our rise to second on the ladder —and seeming intention to stay there beyond one week— it wasn’t us. Securing every loose ball and running with speed and purpose Fitzroy dusted themselves off after our early goal and dominated possession and field position thereafter. And we didn’t seem to mind one bit. I dare say had they given us a collective wedgie we would have meekly accepted it. Thus we could have no complaints that they scored in the 18th, 25th and 38th minutes.

So there we all were at halftime; me, pathetically lacking in spittle and rage, and the Bras needing a verbal rocket up their jacksies. Clearly I had only two options: 1. strip down to my Mr Incredible undies, fall into a foetal position on the ground and weep big fat silent tears. Or, 2., tell them the cold, honest truth, however much that hurt. Well, it was rather cold and wet underfoot so I went, less memorably, with the latter option. “I don’t know what’s up with you lot but we’ve been very, very ordinary so far. Terrible even. It’s like you don’t care. I mean, you barely seem to be trying. I haven’t seen us look this disinterested since Jo suggested we make a nude calendar of ourselves for fund-raising purposes.” Etc. Etc.

“But for all that,” I went on, seeing their sad little faces, “I actually think we can retrieve this game if we apply ourselves (And I meant it, too). We’ve got the ability, we’ve got the goals in us. It just comes down to whether or not we actually want to win this game or not. Well, do we? Do we actually want to win?”

In movies this is the point where the playing group lets out a primal scream. But I’d hardly prepped them for that with my melancholic intonation, so I got what I deserved. “S’pose,” said KP.
"It would be nice," added Deb.
"Why not?" offered Sue.

It wasn’t exactly an earth shaking response but nevertheless something changed after the break and we were a different team, not at all the wombles we were for the first 45. Instead, we were committed, passionate, vocal, enterprising and adventurous. It may have been Ian’s faith is telling everyone he had $50 on the Bras to turn it around but suddenly it was us dominating proceedings and field possession. Suddenly it was us scrapping for the loose ball and coming up with the goods. Suddenly it was us passing the ball around confidently, controlling the pace of the game. If we could just nip a goal and get ourselves back to 3-2 behind with a sniff at winning this thing, well that’d be something.

And just like that it happened. With 35 minutes to play Jane harassed her opponent and forced her into a mistake. Nabbing the ball Jane took off down the left wing like a home invader with a pinched iPad under her arm and an irate homeowner on her heels. Despite the pressure she found Em inside. Em then slipped a lovely short ball through to Rhi and from close range she drilled it beyond the reach of Fitzroy’s excellent ’keeper.

After the restart we again asserted our new found authority. Our midfielders had recaptured their old verve, our fullbacks were defending well and linking with their midfielders, and Em and Rhi were reaping the benefits. It was our determined push forward that saw us awarded a corner with 21 minutes remaining. Rhi took it and curled it in wickedly and Fitzroy could only clear it momentarily before the ball was shuttled back to Rhi. She crossed again and Em brilliantly nipped in to volley it into the net. Hello! 3-3 if you don’t mind!

Technically the game was now up for grabs. But it didn’t feel like that. All the momentum was ours. Perhaps it’s the wisdom of hindsight but it almost seemed inevitable when, in the 80th minute, Jo cut back inside, found Emily in space and our little magician squeezed a pass through the Fitzroy backline giving Rhi a 45m run to goal. Though she had a long time to think about it —and Rhi doesn’t like thinking too much when it comes to scoring goals— she kept her calm and smashed the ball into the bottom left corner.

Well, that was really something and our fans went wild, which is to say Jess’ mum and dad stood up and clapped heartily, Ian and Michael hollered from the far touchline, Tony laughed, Vic smiled, and Loz’s dad got out of the car for a second time to soak up the euphoria. Yessir, 4-3 up with only 10 to go!

Ten minutes can seem like an age in such circumstances and normally I’d be a quivering mess, pessimistically thinking it would all be snatched from us at the last. But on Sunday I just knew we’d hold out, and I wasn’t even that nervous when Fitzroy had three consecutive corners with seconds left on the clock.

As it happens, we’d just dealt with the third of them when the referee, wearing sky blue in defiance of the gloomy weather, blew full time.

A famous, famous victory.


  1. I have to say that em really did set that last goal up a few minutes earlier, when I had begun wandering towards our goal to help defend she gave me a swift fierce look and a pointed her finger sharply at the centre line.. in our usual no words to each other we knew the plan and I just needed to be ready to sprint.. it payed off. go em, jo and team. fitzroy was super nice as well.

  2. Great game by everyone! .... just feel I should clarify one thing. It wasn't my parents who came and cheered us along but rather my aunt and uncle having read Paul's book they were inspired to drive 12 hours south to come and watch the Mighty Bras play! So I am sure glad they decided to stick around after the first half as I am sure they must have been asking themselves why they had bothered... but luckily they sat it out in the rain and the cold to watch our most famous victory.

  3. This match brings to mind the amazing WC battle between Netherlands vs. Brazil - with I suppose a few minor differences....we wore black and white, the Netherlands wear orange, that sort of thing... :)



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