Sunday, August 15, 2010

Round 16, v Northern Roosters, away

It wasn’t the most polished start to a match —players bunched like grapes, Marian tip-toed through a muddy patch like she didn’t fancy having to wash her boots after the game, and Jane kicked the ball into her own head (not funny) resulting in, unbeknownst to her, a muddy facsimile of the ball imprinted on her face (hilarious)— but by halftime we’d warmed to the task and trooped off with a 5-0 lead.

(This was thanks to an opener from Emily and four goals from Rhi, one of which she scored direct from a corner thanks to the delightful curl she put on the ball. More impressive than Rhi’s goal was the fact that moments before she took it I calculated the effects of a strong, icy cross wind and said to the Bras on the bench, “She’ll score here.” I know. Freaky.)

Such was my level of comfort I even allowed myself, at halftime, the luxury of getting a cup of tea from the Northern Roosters’ canteen, though this proved more difficult than I might have imagined since the elderly gentleman in charge was either deaf, not proficient in English, or suffering from the energy sapping and, I imagine, mentally distracting demands of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. (The Roosters are a Dallas (Broadmeadows)-based Turkish club and Ali, the young, good-natured club president, explained to me before the match that there were a lot of exhausted people around the place due to Ramadan.)

“Tea please.”


“No thanks. Tea.”


“No thanks. Just milk.”

He reached for the tin of Nescafe.

“No, no. Tea. Not coffee.”


“No thanks.”

Again, he reached for the tin of Nescafe.

“No, not coffee. Tea. Look. Over there. Tea.”

“Ah. Tea.”



“No. Just milk.”

He poured the boiling water over a tea bag and handed me the cup. I dingle dangled it until the water went as brown as a billabong. I waited for the milk. He looked at me like I was soft in the head. I waited a second more. He kept looking at me.

“Um, can I have some milk please.”


“No, milk. It’s just there. Look”

“Ah, milk.”


I was still thinking about this comical exchange early in the second half when I was approached on the sidelines by a short woman in a tracksuit top and headscarf. “So how do you think they are going?” she asked me in a soft, almost sleepy voice. She wasn’t enquiring after the Bras, but her team, the Roosters.

“I’m impressed with their tenacity,” I said, “and that, as Ali explained to me before the game, they’ve been turning up every week and maintaining good spirits and enthusiasm despite their results. If you can keep them all together and they grow into the game together things will improve I’m sure.”

Also in the Roosters’ favour, I said, was the fact the Roosters’ coaching staff and supporters seemed to be the encouraging type and not the dispiritingly-common lambasting type. Considering most of the Roosters’ players were 15- and 16-year-olds with little to no experience before this season (the Northern Roosters club itself is only two years old), such a support network would make it more likely they’ll return next year rather than give the game away. “My husband is the coach,” she said proudly, but and she gestured towards the pitch, she added, smiling, “maybe he is too nice.”

Prior to Sunday’s fixture the Roosters had played 15 matches and lost all of them. They’d scored only four goals and conceded a whopping 119. In such a context —as most of the Bras have experienced in prior, less successful years— scoring a goal, let alone drawing or winning a game, is a victory in itself. Which is why the Roosters entourage on the sidelines roared them on whenever their charges came anywhere remotely near our goal. “You know, “ I said, to Frannie on the bench at one point, “I’d be happy for them to score a goal.”
“Me too,” she said.

Well, thanks to their tenacity and some largesse on our part, they got their goal midway though the second half, by which time we were ahead 7-0, KP and Timmy having added the extras. The young Roosters celebrated wildly, and who could begrudge them? In fact, with their sails now filled they came desperately close to a second, first shooting wide from point blank range, then missing a penalty, given to them by a referee who made, in my mind, a host of decisions I couldn’t begin to fathom.

Sadly for the Roosters that was as close as they came to a second. And with 10 minutes remaining, and me all but frozen solid such was the freezing wind buffeting my face and knackers all game, we added an 8th, Rhi running away to place a shot in the corner. Then, with seconds remaining, Timmy latched sweetly onto a loose ball in the box and the ball was still spinning in the corner of the net when the referee ended the match.

Both teams, as you may have gathered, got something out of the match. And I got a cup of tea. Eventually. A morning well spent.

[Result: 9-1 win. Goals: Rhi, 5, Timmy, 2, Em and KP]

NEXT MATCH (and our last home game for the season): August 22, v Yarra Jets, Sumner Park, East Brunswick, 11am.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Paul, Could you please predict that I will get a goal in the next match? Thanks.



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