Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Annual Player Awards - 2010

Your Ladyship, M'lord, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and gentlemen,

at long last I am proud to present the Mighty Bras annual player awards for season 2010:

The Bilbo Baggins Award

Deb Wood

In the first few years of the Bras, Deb often voiced reservations about returning the following season. She hasn’t done this for some years now, and it’s not surprising. As well as her love of you lot, and her adoration of me, Deb continues to improve and this year she made many instrumental saves; one memorable dive against Plenty Valley at home, and another with her nose from point blank range. But as good as they were, her best save of the year occurred a day after we played the Roosters at Dallas. It was in the car on the way home that Deb heard an anguished scream from Helen: “Where is it? Where is it? They stole it from us! My preciousssssss.” A search of the boggy ground for Helen’s engagement ring proved fruitless, but Deb was not to be put off so easily. She returned the following day and, like the always industrious Bilbo, stumbled upon the ring of gold. When Deb fronted Helen soon after, and Helen asked her “What has it got in its pocketses” Deb had the best answer of all.

The Keep the Fire Alive Award

Jess Horey

This is freaky, but here’s part of what I wrote about Jess last year: ‘One of the most passionate Bras, poor Jess suffered a shocking injury on the eve of our opening game, snapping her wrist and scuppering her hopes of an uninterrupted, injury-free season. Things didn’t look good for Jess when the doctors recommended a full amputation. But Jess went ahead with a pioneering bionic arm and returned to the field to play most of the remaining half dozen games remind us of what we’d been missing for most of the year—her passion, poise and positional nous.’

Well, as you know, this year, Jess also suffered a shocking injury early on, this time, during, rather than before, our opening game. It wasn’t a broken arm this time, but the twanging of her planter fascia was just as bad, and it saw her reduced to a limp and a moon boot for much longer than she would have liked. But just like last year, showing great determination and drive, Jess —who screamed out ‘Keep the fire alive, Zebras,’ incredibly, without embarrassment during our narrow away win against the Lions— shook off the pain and deep frustration and made it back onto the field for the second half of the season. And just like last year, she, and we, were better for it.

The Eat Your Heart out Lady Ga Ga Award

Sue Giles

You couldn’t open a newspaper, browse a magazine, switch on the radio, or turn on the TV this season without hearing or seeing our beloved captain, Sue. Admittedly, she wasn’t wearing a dress made out of prosciutto or shooting fireworks from her nipples, but Sue did perform a series of accurate headers on live TV, an act which would certainly be beyond Lady Ga Ga, the only person on the planet who came close to the amount of media exposure Sue attracted this year. But while Sue charmed the nation it didn’t mean she rested on her laurels. As always she was as committed on the pitch as she’s ever been, and her skill set continues to grow. No one in the team works harder than Sue on the field, and if the definition of a captain is someone who leads by example every match, then they should cut out Sue’s picture and put it in the encyclopedia. For you young ‘uns who don’t know what an encyclopedia is, Google it.

The A Monkey Stole My Toothpaste but I’m Okay Award

Bridget McPherson

As we know, the world went crazy for the Bras this year. Pleasingly, every player kept a level head despite the adulation, with a few of you even deciding to give something back — even though it meant missing games. Oh the sacrifice! So it was that Rosie ran football clinics in Nepal, Frannie did likewise in China, and Bridget ‘Timmy’ McPherson took the good word to South Africa—and never mind the danger. Although she could have been driven quite mad by plastic horns, although full-scale psychological collapse was on the cards after watching the Socceroos lose 4-0 to Germany, and although she came within minutes of being snatched from her room by rampaging, flea-bitten monkeys, Timmy held her nerve. It was just the kind of gumption she showed on the pitch this season. More committed to the tackle, more incisive with the pass, more clinical in front of goal (scoring a commendable 7), and even more entertaining off the field, Timmy just gets better and better.

The Tip-Top Award

Jo Stanley

The past six months have made two things abundantly clear. One, if you want to build some freakishly large apartment blocks in Brunswick, for God’s sakes make sure Jo isn’t living anywhere nearby. She’ll be all over you like shingles, and by the end of it all you’ll get approval for is a one-room cubby house. The second thing the past six months have made clear is that you can actually turn back time. Despite being a Bra on and off for eight seasons, and despite in that time having given birth to two beautiful kids, Jo played the 2010 season with as much spritely energy as she did back in 2003. While you still wouldn’t back her in a 30m race against a chest of drawers, Jo showed more deftness with the ball, and more agility in the turn, and more accuracy in the pass, than she ever has. Not one to be underestimated.

The First Time for Everything Award

Marian Stoney

Being the oldest Bra in the team, Marian has had to endure considerable attention this season and she’s taken it with good grace, even when the media has added years to her age. These sorts of things spiral out of control and I’m sure some people out there expect Marian gets about on the backline with a Zimmer frame and oxygen canister. But as we know, Marian defies age. She has the sense of adventure and enthusiasm of a much younger woman and this year that led her to do something she’s never done before in her 70-odd years. She scored a goal — into the opposition’s net, that is. And what a moment it was for her, and all of us. Playing the Tullamarine Jets, with the score delicately poised at 5-0, Marian at first seemed to be on another one of her walkabouts, this time finding herself over on the left wing. But she knew what she was up to. An infield pass, and off she went, running into space, legs pumping, jaw set just so. And low and behold, the ball found its way back to her feet. Only the keeper to beat now, and so much time, too much time, to think. I even had time on the bench to beseech the gods. But Maz kept her head, picked the perfect moment, and calmly slotted the ball into the corner of the net. It’s a moment she, nor any of us, will ever forget.

The Keeps on Keeping On Award

Emily Johns

Unlike previous seasons, Em had a few hurdles to overcome this year, like library timetables and rare injuries — rare when you consider she gets routinely battered on the pitch. First it was a pre-season hamstring injury that didn’t really go away until the season was three or four games old, then came the bulging disc —a result of rearranging her trophy cabinet at home— that ruled her out of one game and stiffened her up for a couple more. But through all that Emily just found a way to keep putting the ball in the net. Five hat tricks, and 32 goals, to be exact, including a glorious over-the-shoulder snap against the Roosters at Sumner. But Em is much more than a goal scorer. She sets up as many as she scores, she tracks back, she makes important tackles, she puts her body on the line week after week, and her sense of timing is always impeccable. For example, she always times her arrival at Sumner so well that the nets are always up. Our top scorer, and, what’s more, the Golden Boot winner for the entire Zebras club: Emily Johns.

The Robocop Award

Rosie Wheen

Back when she was just a trainer Bra Rosie was far too accommodating on the field. She had a nice touch and a genuine desire to improve her all round game, but she wasn’t all that inclined to get involved in the tough stuff — hardly surprising when you consider her lovely nature. But through the seasons Rosie has not only improved her positional awareness and her skills —such as her shooting and passing— she’s also developed into a formidable physical presence. One who, just like Robocop, is tough but fair. This season, as well as scoring 7 goals, her biggest haul to date, she proved a rock in midfield, and she turned 50-50s into 60-40s, 63-37s and once even an 84-16. Against the Melbourne Knights in particular she was the best player on the pitch, the colossus of the midfield. Long may Rosie’s reign continue.

The Super Species Award

Jane Holroyd

For the second time in three seasons Jane has bounced back so well from the rigours of pregnancy and childbirth you’d swear she wasn’t born of woman and man but rather grown in a petri dish in some secret underground lab by US scientists creating a super strain of human in order to infiltrate and devastate our enemies. For the record, Jane’s and Andrew’s second, Greta, was born just before Round 6 and Jane played our Round 10 match against Brunswick City. Not only was she on the field but she was as strong, fast, energetic and committed as ever, and she proved ever adaptable, whether on the wing or in defence. How she escaped that mountain lab and made her way to Brunswick I don’t know, but geez it’s good to have her on our side.

The 110% Award

Lauren Richardson

Lauren may not know this but on the sidelines during our matches her name is constantly brought up — and not in a ‘Oh for crying out loud, do something Lauren, you muppet’ kind of way. No, Lauren is so regularly praised by those watching from the bench that it gets almost boring. Part of me thinks Lauren would be happiest playing higher up the field, stealing glory from the likes of Em and Rhi, but she has played so damn well at the back I couldn’t bear moving her. She runs like the clappers, she snuffs out danger before it rears its head, and she so often saves goals, and our bacon, with goal line clearances. Witness her game against the Tullamarine Jets on that frigid, wet Sunday afternoon. For the entire second half we were under siege but Lauren, and Kate A beside her, were magnificent at the back. Lauren stuck to the Jets’ big, dangerous striker like chewy to a boot, and annoyed her just as much. It typified the effort she puts in week in week out.

The Return of the Jedi Award

Rhiannon King

In early 2006 a laconic skateboarder from a mental space far, far away rocked up to training looking for a run. As we know, Rhi went on to play an instrumental role in helping us destroy the Death Star, or Whittlesea Stallions, and win that year’s premiership. Later, after a skateboarding accident that gave her and the rest of us a real scare, Rhi seemingly retired from football. But in 2010, succumbing to the power of peer group pressure, she returned to battle. Although she struggled early with persistent injury and dodgy batteries in her lightsabre, and although she wore canary yellow boots, she was soon in the form of her life. Playing only 3 of our first 8 games, Rhi went on to score a phenomenal 25 goals in our next ten. By the end of the season she’d scored five hat tricks and 27 goals in total —the best of them a goal straight from a corner against the Northern Roosters, and a thunderbolt from the edge of the box against Mitchell Rangers. To top off her wonderful season, Rhi finished runner up in the club’s Golden Boot Award.

The Are You Lookin’ At Me Award

Jenna Tuke

In eight seasons of football Jenna may not have developed the speed to match Lauren, or the balance of Em, but she has always given her best—and her best is getting better. Witness her positional nous, her timely interceptions, her increasing comfort at pushing upfield with the ball, and her calmness under pressure which allows her to make the right pass at the right time. Jen has also become more confident, and while she’s never been one to suffer fools, or foolish remarks, this season has seen her really assert herself, hence her securing the Are You Lookin’ At Me Award. Jenna had words with at least two rival coaches this year —the Yarra Jets’ and Watsonia’s—during the games—lacerating them with her sharp tongue after they directed stupid remarks at her and our team. And she famously had words to say to a Brunswick City bully that brought a glow to my cheeks and had parents everywhere scrambling to cover their children’s ears. It’s just the kind of gumption you like to see in a defender, and long may it continue.

The Barnstorming Buddha Award

Frances Farnan

Having come to the Bras direct from an ashram in the foothills of the Himalayas where she drank dandelion tea by the bucket and honed her acupuncture on the locals and their livestock, Frannie was, as you’d expect, exuding serenity when she first pulled on the black and white stripes. I worried that her easy-come, easy-go attitude might hinder her on the field, particularly on those occasions where you’ve just got to roll your sleeves up and get medieval on someone’s ass, but as it happens Frannie had an uncanny ability to shut off the incense just when needed and hit the greenhouse warming turbo changers. And so it was she muscled up and scored some very important goals for us this season, least of all our first against Plenty Valley, just when it began to look like we couldn’t hit the side of a barn with a shotgun. Add to that a wonderful volley against the Tulla Jets and Frannie had a first season to be proud of.

The Count Me In Award

Merissa van Setten

As we all know, it can be difficult to come into an established group with all its history, in-jokes and cliques. A lot depends on the friendliness and openness of the group, and whether or not the coach of said team has had published a kind of history of the team —available at all good book stores— thus giving the newbie something of a crash course. But even then, the newbie must make every effort to —how would Jess possibly put it— let her light shine, and, on this front, Merissa was a veritable lighthouse in 2010. In the same way she threw herself into the action on the field, showing us early that she had a cool manner and an eye for a well-delivered pass, which helped Em and Rhi to a number of goals, she embraced the Bras as a social entity and contributed smiles, witticisms and good cheer every chance she got. She was one of 10 players to get on the scoresheet this year —for which she owes a debt of gratitude to her knee— and I’m sure if she continues to grace us with her presence she’ll get her boots in on the goal-scoring action before too long.

The She’s a Good Pick Up Award

Kate Palmer

It took all of one pre-season training session to know that KP could make the Bras a better team. She was strong, quick, skilful and she had a kick on her to rival an angry mule. Well, she had all that and more. As soon as I moved her belatedly into a sweeper position, KP owned opposition defences, monstered strikers, and belted balls to safety as if to say, Get that Shit Away From Here. Then, when I gave her a rare opportunity up front, she showed she was a true all-rounder, scoring five goals including one hat trick. Despite a couple of setbacks — a raging hangover against Watsonia Heights that saw her take to the field with her sunnies, and a missed half of football when pliers were needed to remove an ear stud— her class continually showed. And any time another coach dropped by to watch with me from the sidelines they’d always say, with delightful understatement, the same thing. ‘She’s a good pick up.’

The I Played Shit Today Award

Helen Theocharous

Despite being one of the most improved players over the past two seasons Helen—who, in 2009, risked her life this year by confronting the scariest 13-year-old I’ve ever seen and, in 2010, risked her engagement by dropping her ring in the Dallas mud —steadfastly refuses to accept any compliments from her coach. A simple, ‘You played really well today, Helen,’ is routinely met with, ‘What? I Played Shit Today’. A measured, ‘I loved your determination today, Helen,’ raises a ‘Sorry, I Was Hopeless,’ and an honest ‘Your ball skills have improved out of sight’ prompts a ‘What have you been smoking, I was diabolical.’ Despite Helen’s objections I stand by all my comments. Hell, I not only stand by them, I raise them.

The What Can’t She Do Award

Kate Alexander

Once a sweet, reticent 19-year-old with a tendency to pick up every cold bug circulating Victoria, Kate is now a sweet, ebullient 21-year old with a tendency to pick up every cold bug circulating Victoria. Just why Kate is so prone to colds is not known but if I had to speculate I’d say it’s because she’s got her finger is so many pies she doesn’t get enough rest. Delightfully full of life is our Kate; an artist, a musician, a songstress, a wearer of interesting jumpers and headwear to training… and also a soccer player of much talent. My biggest problem with Kate is that she is so proficient in defence and attack that every week I’m never quite sure where to put her. But wherever she does end up I know she’ll come up with the goods. I’m also hopeful that when Kate becomes famous she’ll remember me. At least vaguely.

The Less Said About This Year The Better Award

Liz Cameron

In 2010 Liz became one of one of only four Bras to play every season since we formed in 2003 (joining Maz, Deb and Jenna). That’s the good news. The bad news is that her 2010 was dramatically curtailed when a mystery injury saw her play only four matches. In the time it took to not only diagnose Liz’s injury (was it her foot, her knee, her hip, her shin?) but repair it, the season was over. Her prolonged break did at least give her extra time to study for final year law exams which means should she wish to sue her coach for allowing her injury to occur she is now well placed.

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