Game On!

So let’s re-cap where we are at: Brunswick’s WVL1 season has been bouncing up and down around like opinion polls, but generally at the southern end of the table.  Grannies on the other hand have been sitting a-top o’ the ladder admiring the view, much like the Brunswick VL1 Men’s team.  In fact, let’s go one-step further and compare the two of the highest ranking Brunswick teams of 2017:

Quality table showing the key stats of two of Brunswick’s teams in 2017

Both teams are unbeaten, at the time of writing, the men have a superior goal scoring record whilst the grannies are tighter defensively.  (I love how I am seamlessly comparing Men’s Vic League 1 with Women’s Masters B Grade.  But hey, I nearly scored a Max-esque toma-goal the other week so I think it’s a fair comparison.  Irrespective of grade and the fact that even the length of matches have a 20 minutes differential).

Both teams are sure things for finals.  Both wondering if a loss before finals might be a good thing?  Not sure.  Certainly from the Grannies’ perspective we are seen as the team to beat and the opposition we face each week come out tougher and meaner and delight in inflicting pain on us, and if we were only going to lose ONE GAME in the season, better it be in the home and away than in the GF.

Actually it’s better not to lose at all. Ever.  Next week I will provide a comparison of the Grannies to Meg’s Under 12 Girls’ team – also unbeaten.  Look forward to that.

Back to the recap.  I have a broken foot but I am now off crutches. And as the Saturday night Brunswick pub crawl showed, I am capable of wobbling about with the best of them on the dance floor at the Retreat.  Anyway, I have put myself into the mix for selection this week even if I can only turn whilst hopping on the good foot.  I can run in a straight line though, if I sit about for ten minutes beforehand convincing myself that I can do it, and pain is only in the mind. Small victories.

Pub crawl kicks off at the Union

Let’s wind it back a week.  The Grannies, aka the women’s masters B grade team, faced their 2016 Grand Final foe in Yesterdays Heros [sic] at home for Round 15.  You may or may not recall, or even care to remember, that the away leg out at Greensborough took us totally by surprise and we ran away 3-0 winners in probably our best game of the season, and that was against a full-strength Heros’ side.

For the home fixture Heros were missing one player, but were otherwise still strong through the middle and had speed in the inners.  The Brunswick grannies were still full of running, and had the bonus speed of Wendy to boot, and a 16 yard stuffed-up clearance from the Heros saw Ceitlin pounce on the bobbling ball, run into the D, take on the keeper and slam the ball into the back of the net.  It was a very good goal, but what could Heros throw back at Brunswick?

I then stupidly started to take passing stats – now I do like to do stats of sorts when on the sideline, whether it’s passing-round-the-back stats or free-hit-success-rate stats, but on this night I decided to count the number of passes-strung-together-successfully stats, and I kinda wish in retrospect I hadn’t.  The stats I came up with were for the last 5 mins of the first half (when I started) to the end of the game, where Brunswick only managed 3 lots of 3 successful passes in a row.

The reason I regret doing these stats is that actually the team’s strength is not in passing the ball about the place (it’s probably only a natural game for two of the girls), but in running with the ball up the field and creating opportunities – either by winning free hits or just clattering through defence with sheer determination (apologies but we’re not exactly showing off the skills of the best Indian dribblers in the world).  So I think it’s unfair to say that’s a full reflection of the game, but it is some reflection.

The opposition, in comparison, managed many successful passes, often up to 6 in a row, the difference in their passing game being that they didn’t always look forward for passes that weren’t 100% but, if nothing was on, looked back to their halves or full backs to receive the ball and start a new batch of passes on the other side of the field.

Fun times at the Retreat. One of these girls had to work out at the Fields of Mordor Sunday morning… and had to uber there,  a little fearful of driving…

This, in itself, does not equal goals, much as territory or possession stats in rugby does not have to equate to points scored.  But it does mean that it is more likely than not, on the balance of probabilities, that more chances will arise creating more goal scoring opportunities.

And ultimately, that is what happened.  Heros had more time in their attacking 25 than we did, Brunswick made many great and often amazing on-the-line saves, but the goal did eventually come.  To the Brunswick lasses’ credit, they held on when ultimately Heros had more scoring chances than we did.  A 1-1 draw was a fair reflection of the game, and gives us something to mull over.  The Grannies travel out to Werribee tonight which will likely be one of our toughest away game of the year, and I wonder if I have tempted fate by declaring to the world our magnificent unbeaten record.  Also I hope I haven’t offended any Granny with my stats and follow-up musings – this is for someone who on Saturday night said I needed to be more controversial in the blog.

Not to worry.  Back to the bouncing opinion pollsy Brunswick WVL1 team.  They were out at Knox on Saturday, on the famously disappearing turf (at the end of the season disappearing, not during the game disappearing).  I don’t know what it is about the place, but we did have to play a quick game of Knox, Knox, who’s there, not Nicole, Wendy and Little Meg, beforehand.  Wendy, distracted by Coach Nic’s musings, started heading off to the beach on the drive over.

As I said, we were in Knox.  Burwood highway.  Nowhere near the beach.

With no HV tech bench arriving, I had to revert to old school paperwork but was happily crutches free for the first time as team manager.  Dutifully I noted down the team numbers, the timings of the interchanges and the goals, advised of the clock and minutes to go in the first half, and things were going swimmingly at half time.  With the team munching on my wonderfully supplied oranges, we were 3-0 up.

Jenna, making her debut, scored a wonderful deflection goal worked by Keira from a free-hit outside the D.  Jessi, displaying complete appreciation of the pre-match chat from Coach Nic, took on the keeper and made no mistake with the finish, and on the stroke of half-time, Bridge direct-hitted in a PC goal.

Second half started and then this happened:

Keira “50% of my digits have never been broken” Offer

A few messages from the medical centre later told me that we won 5-1, later edited to 4-1.  A few messages later on determined that the bent was now straight, and all was good with the world.  Aside from the fracture and splint. I was just happy that I managed to drive Keira’s van safely from Knox school to the medical centre in Westfield, successfully negotiating all 6 gears + reverse, and managing to park it without totalling it or other surrounding cars.

I hate driving other people’s cars.  And now make it a van = sweaty palm situation.  But I wasn’t the one having to drive it later on with a dislocated finger…

So now we found ourselves (I’m still saying “we”, I am playing crucial ambulance-driving, orange-providing team managerial services) in the four!!  We are actually within a shot of finals.  And it’s a reasonable shot too.  Not without some effort but it’s certainly do-able.

Who would have thought that in June.  Credit to the girls, the coach and the wonderful team manager… two rounds to go and it is totally GAME ON.

A hangover from the pub crawl found several days later. Not sure if I won…

As I Recall

As I recall, when I got felled in Casey to a ball to the foot I believe I said “I knew I was cactus”.

Turns out the medical phrase for it is “broken”. (Actually, it’s fractured, but broken sounds more intense despite it meaning the same thing).

I had only popped into the Royal Melbourne Hospital on the way to work a week ago Monday to get it checked out, so I could advise Coach Nic that yes, I had sought a professional opinion and I was allowed to run on the foot, through the bruising pain, and to infinity and beyond.

I had figured I’d be fine for masters on Wednesday.

“Four to six weeks out,” the doctor said.  “And non-weight bearing for two weeks; you’ll need crutches of course.”

Once the tear had finished dribbling down my face and onto my credit card as I sat waiting to pay for the crutches, I slowly processed what this meant.

Yes, I’d be fine for masters. Finals.

Single-leg gym work. I’ll have the strongest left leg in Victoria

It being just over two years since I was last on crutches, the lessons that I had learnt then all came flooding back, this time with some bonus features.  Here are the lessons, according to me:

  1. Tradies.  Simply are the best people to help you.  They will give up seats, they will make sure you’re safely seated, they even ask after you.  One asked for advice on crutches, ahead of a knee operation.  I love them.
  2. Young people, or people on phones. Avoid like the plague.  And if you come across a Young Person On a Phone, just jump into the nearest lane and hide because they will only cause you more damage, like cause a break in the other foot….. AND NOT EVEN NOTICE AS THEY WALK ON BY, COLLECTING MORE POKEMON OR SNAPCHATTING OR WHATEVER RUDE, ANTI-SOCIAL THING IT IS THEY ARE DOING.
  3. I need to do more to help the infirm, elderly, sick. I have hated the last two weeks and it makes me feel a terrible person, how I must ignore everyone that has to cope with mobility challenges daily.
  4. Single disability seats on a train. SO hard to unflip down to sit on.  I nearly caused more damage trying to pull one down, I had to get someone to help me.
  5. I am so British. “Erm, excuse me, could someone possibly please give me a seat?” Said in the quietest, most apologetic voice of all time.  Not a fan of commuting on the sticks.
  6. To crutch. Is a verb for those who crutch.  I googled crutches, and there were lots of comments about “As I was crutching about,” and it made me happy.
  7. Advice.  Oh. My. Goodness.  This must be how pregnant women, or parents must feel, all the time.  The next person to offer me advice on the type of crutches I should be on, or why I’m not in a moonboot, will see me spear them through the heart with my crutch, once I remove the rubber bit on the end.  Thank you everyone for your kind thoughts on what I should be doing – but I am going on doctor’s advice, I trust her and the next opinion offered to me I get will get a piercing.  I did javelin at school, be warned.
  8. It’s a broken foot.  “How is the foot today?” when I’m non-weight bearing, is a ridiculous thing to say.  I have no idea.  I have been replying, somewhat sarcastically “Hopefully a day less broken than yesterday” is about the best I can muster.
  9. My mum still asked me “Have you named your crutches”. My response was the same as last time.  “Yes, Starsky Crutch and Hutch Crutch.”
  10. Sydney Road pavement is so wonky. I have been single-crutching for a week and I go up the street, to A1 Bakery, with Starsky set at 5-foot-7, and I return back with it set at 5-foot-9.
  11. Someone needs to invent a pouch, kangaroo style, so that when one is double-crutching, coffee, and other items, can be popped inside safely. Take-away coffee when you are double-crutching is just impossible.
  12. Impatience and Help. My first week was tough.  In the office, I set off on two crutches trying to hold an apple core in one of the hands as I needed to pop it into the recycling bin.  I only made it 10 metres, and had to call out for help.  “DAISY!!!!!!” I yelled out.  Poor Daisy had to come and rescue me and retrieve my apple core to take it to the kitchen.  Poor girl.  The next time I got up to move around, young Shane asked if I needed assistance.  “I’m just going to the bathroom,” I replied.  He shuffled back to his seat. “You’re on your own there,” he said quietly.
  13. Frozen leftovers in the freezer have a shelf-life. Who knew that a turkey risotto, frozen since Christmas, could cause food poisoning 7 months later?
  14. Crutching to work with food poisoning is the hardest thing I have done this year.
  15. I hate being sidelined. I have found myself useful, picking up team manager taskettes for the Vic League side, but the loneliness of not being part of a team (or thinking that’s the case, particularly on Wednesday nights for the grannies) has been a real challenge.

But I shouldn’t whinge.  As I repeatedly tell others, it is a first world problem and, despite the apparent constant advice on what I should be using to crutch with, or how I should be in a moonboot, I am actually very grateful – and lucky – to have friends who have helped me get around, help with coffees, offer to get shopping etc.  I can’t thank them enough.

My woes aside, the hockey world has continued.  Yes, it really has.  Turns out, it doesn’t actually revolve around me.  Who knew?

The grannies first played one of the Essendon sides at home, the first Wednesday I was injured.  I was late from work anyway, and when I turned up Brunswick already had 3 goals to their name and barely ten minutes had passed.  From then on, I only saw Brunswick get one more goal, and Essendon two so I’m not sure I was a particularly influential supporter in any shape or form.  I actually missed quite a bit of the action; I was having the conversation with fellow supporters that I’ve been having on loop these last two weeks…

“I didn’t do anything.  Well, I should have jumped.  Casey hit the ball at me.  It’s broken.  Fifth metatarsal.  It’s clean, nothing dislodged so it’s as good news as it can be for a break.  Four to six weeks.  Off the crutches in just over a week.  I can’t tell if it hurts, I’m not standing on it.  The doctor said I didn’t need a moonboot.  Well that’s what she said.  No, the other type of crutches are no good for complete non-weight bearing.  Well that’s what I’ve read.  What am I supposed to do?  Double-crutch to the chemist, buy another pair of crutches, double-crutch back home carrying more crutches?  Thanks for the offer, but I’m actually busy at work.  Yes, I do still need to work.  It’s quarter end… I’ve only just come here from the office.  That’s ok, I need to keep busy.  I can cope on the train.  Well there are typically seats at 5.53am which is when I like to get in on a busy day.  Yes, that’s when I like to start.  I don’t mind, I enjoy the job.  Yes, I can keep it elevated while I sit at my desk.  Yes, everyone at work is being helpful, I have a lovely team.  Well I recruited them, of course they’re lovely.  I have hired people over the years knowing they will need to help me in an injury situation.  How about that for forward planning.”

And so on.  I have tried to keep the rage under control.

The following week the granny girls were playing out at Yarra Valley.  Now Yarra had somehow sneaked their way into the four and I had thought that this was potentially going to be a tough game – considering the girls are still unbeaten, the knives are out now from every opposition they, sorry we, meet.  I was still working long hours at work and only making it home minutes before push-back, I decided not to make the drive on the cold night out to support them and went to bed instead – but not before a score update from Ceitlin.  They had won 2-1!  Excellent news!! Oh, how I wanted to be playing. Fgggggggggggggggggggggggg23jak3lk [actual cat edit but it’s kinda what I was thinking].

Vic League, having stormed to the tremendous bone-breaking victory out at puddle-some Casey, were first up against La Trobe, home-style.  Brunswick motored out of the blocks, creating chances in front of goal, but sadly the goal post was about one-foot short on the right hand side, and three opportunities sailed past the right-post and over the back-line in the first half.  With the score still 0-0 at half-time, despite having the ascendancy it could equally have been a game to lose.

Thankfully for us, La Trobe’s up-front firepower was missing, Maz was in control, so we were able to clean-sheet it from a defensive perspective.  Keira found the time and space to nail a hit from the top of the D for Brunswick’s first and young Megsy hopped and skipped her way down the left flank later on, past every defender, finishing neatly, to make it two.  It was a superb solo effort, one she does around me most training sessions so I felt relieved not to be the only defender to be on the wrong end of her speed and reverse-stick skills.

Realising that finals were actually, mathematically, not out of the equation, we set out to Ballarat yesterday, fired up and ready to go.  Coach Nic was late, but not deterred the team went through set plays, I hopped out being helpful, and we took to the field not at all disturbed by the distance, chill-factor or the fact that West Vic dazzled in their stunning FairGo! socks.

It was a very action-oriented sideline game.  Beyonce was yellow carded for not being 5 metres (no warning given, so a curious call given there was no prior warning), which left me hopping up and down to the Tech bench to see how long she was to be off for.  Having been told to go for sensible goal options, Keira nailed a toma goal, and Jessi forward-rolled with the ball into the goal leaving Brunswick two-nil up at half time.

Wearing many, many layers on the sideline, several admin tasks proved tricky with gloves on (such as turning the pages of Coach Nic’s notebook for her.)  Second half underway, we got a second yellow card for yet again, not being five yards before making the tackle.  With only ten on the field young Megsy slotted home a stroke – not an easy feat given the West Vic goal was on true dive-everywhere form.  Keira then reverse sticked a floaty ball into the back of the net, I was still scurrying about with various tasks, West Vic pounced onto a Brunswick turnover and got a goal back, and just as the game was drawing to a close, Beyonce, also aerial style, found the back of the net for Brunswick’s fifth and final.

This last goal came from a PC awarded to Brunswick because of a flattening of Jessi by the opposition.  In my team manager role I was somewhat hilariously sent around the field to pick her up, crutching my way as fast as I could.  Jessi, despite the neck-pain (and the fact she was a little scared by the cracking sound she heard as she fell) remained calm and tolerant, embracing inclusivity and dismissing the Coach’s comments directed towards the umpires as we collectively limped back to the dug-out.  Fairly so, Jessi received Brunswick’s FairGo medal after the game.

Visitors’ Dug Out in Ballarat holds the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Which is 5-1 wins for Brunswick Men and Women

A happy afternoon out, we are now two points of fourth place, with the team in that posi yet to have their bye.  Finals is still on the cards, and we will be keen to keep up the momentum as we hit the road yet again next week.

To finish off, here’s something I wrote during the week.  I had got an e-mail at work from someone I’ll name ‘Steve’.  Now ‘Steve’ has an extraordinary use of the English language, in both meetings and on e-mail, and my boss and I often play ‘Steve Bingo’ to see what unusual words he will come up with – “palliative”, “optically”, “redact” being our favourites, all used in an apparent work context.

In my last meeting with ‘Steve’, I caused unintentional disruption, as I was late, double-crutched in (causing chaos as I tripped over chairs, attempted to close the door, and was met with cries of “OHHH! What happened to you?!”) and I disrupted the flow of his meeting.  I felt pretty bad, and after the meeting he sent a follow up e-mail to me with a list of things for me to do, on behalf of others who seem incapable of doing their jobs.

But he finished by asking how the foot was saying , “As I recall, a hockey ball can do substantial damage.”

My boss and I fell about laughing (I felt obliged to read the e-mail out loud) and I’m not really sure why, it just seemed too funny and it was still, in typical ‘Steve’ style, so very well written.

I realised a day later, that it sounded like the start of a poem, the phrase was so structurally well-balanced.  So unbeknownst to ‘Steve’, I finished the poem.  And on his behalf, still unknown to him, here it is, now online:

“As I recall

A hockey ball

Can do substantial damage

As girl with stick

Might want to hit

And cause potential carnage

And down I fall

As foot meets ball

Curled up with painful breakage

What price a win

What might have been

Instead I’m in a splintage*”

*Poetic licence. I’m not actually in a splint.  I was just on crutches.  And no, not a moonboot.

West Vic rainbow cakes

The Fields of Mordor

Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against PEGS personally, or even their pitch or clubrooms.  It’s just all about Location, Location, Location.

To work colleagues, I described it as “Mordor, the end of the world, next to cliffs that descend into doom-iness.  And lots of planes fly overhead.”

Mordor.

I found myself out there Wednesday night for whatever round Masters hockey is up to at the moment.  Having had a two week break it’s all been a bit confusing.  Lining up, at the end of the world, cliffs of doom just a short distance away, it was also all rather cold. Now I don’t know whether my pre-game mood had anything to do with what happened, but with some players away this was by no means an easy game.  First time around, we had just beaten Altona 10-nil away and we then had to work hard to get a 3-1 win against PEGS.

Second time around, we had beaten Altona 5-0 at home, and now away at PEGS I was feeling unsure of how things would proceed.  As I said, it was not going to be easy.

I noticed the umpires first up.  Well, one umpire in particular.  Not that I have an issue with him – I actually am happy to have him umpire a game.  He’s officious, sure, he loves the whistle, sure, but he’s not biased, he calls things as he sees it – he’s just basically a man (young child really) who likes to be in charge.  I’ve played mixed hockey against him, and he likes to be in charge of everything including umpires then too… enough said on that.

Anyway, it was no drama for me but I just told a few of the girls to stay in the game, play to the whistle and not to squabble.  One of the players took offence that I was telling her to just be mindful of the umpire.

“Huh! Why are you telling me first?”

I calmly replied I was off tell as many people as I could in the few seconds I had before the game had started, but she was not happy.

Needless to say, before the halftime whistle went she had been warned for waving her stick loosely at a ball and it hitting the back of the stick, for a second time.

I never said “I told you so.”  (I leave that for the blog.)  I let her have her rant the following day – “I never said anything to him” she wrote.

I didn’t respond with “You don’t need to.  Do you realise your body language could win an Oscar?”  I just thought it.

And I’m sure I’ll be hearing about it one more time once this is published.

Back to the game.  It was cold, it was tough and to be fair to the aforementioned player, she was getting hounded by up to three players (welcome to my world!) and getting clattered and battered a bit.  Hence the Oscar-winning body language performance.  We were in our deep left hand pocket when the PEGS goal came and had a side line hit between the back-line and 25.  I noticed that in a 5 meter radius we had both full backs and our left half.  I decided to check what was going on behind me – and the right half had suitably covered defenced for us.

I wouldn’t be as cold at hockey if Sweeper the cat didn’t love my cold hockey gear as much as I do

But at that moment I had simultaneously been passed the ball.  Standing around and admiring our RH (happy birthday again Bridget) meant I totally missed the ball, and it flopped onto PEGS who worked it round their mass of players and our single RH and their #19, let’s call her JD, slotted home a very well timed and aimed hit past our keeper and into the goal.

Working on my positivity, we took to the second half more aggressive on the ball from defence up, marking up tightly where we could.  Our poor left inner was still getting nothing from anyone by way of free hits, but to be fair, I was.  The umpire I mentioned before, was giving nothing to PEGS when I was near the ball and I was winning free hits when even I had (maybe) had a foot touch the ball.

My inner-Adam Gilchrist had randomly departed, being 1-0 down I was doing all I could for some miraculous equaliser.  I was not going to start admitting I had footed the ball inside my own D (although he might have played on because of an offence on me just before hand.  I’m going to pay the umpire that).

Couple of minutes on the clock left in old Mordor town, I started doing the old “let me take every free hit around” thing, and was pushing players forward.  I told the LI to get into the D, and ran off on some free hit on the left hand attacking side.  I was given space to 3D a ball across and into the D and BAM, a foot and a PC to Brunswick.

We pushed out to me… I looked up and the wall of PEGS players stood in front and around the keeper.  I knew I had to make a clinical pass…. I found the LI’s stick, she calmly controlled the ball and pushed it into the goal!

It was what we deserved, in my humble view; I had missed a shot wide of goal, and our respective wings had opportunities both on the left and right posts all in the first half.  I was as happy with my game as I could have been really.  Distribution was good and I did some toma pass up the left wing, which I haven’t tried before.  I am channelling my inner Keira.

One-all it finished, and PEGS kindly supplied soup to our frozen souls afterwards which was much appreciated.

And so to the other end of the week.  For Vic League hockey we have, amongst others, the remaining fixtures AWAY: Casey, Ballarat, Knox, Bendigo.  For Masters we have Werribee and Geelong.  I worked out that that’s nearly 1000kms of travel to go.  Wow.

Lunch time sums on a post-it

It was to Casey we travelled on Saturday.  Our men also played Casey, but at the State Hockey Centre, at the token “Everyone play your games at the SHC” Day.  (Why did we have to play P’House on this day? Why not some travelling team?!)  I turned up early, and found myself in conversation with some Casey locals.  The pitch is new and very blue.  And also suffers from puddles.  What a shame.  A passing possum the night before had also short-circuited the entire Secondary College and Pitch facilities the night before; they were in the wars a bit.

It was still cold, it was far from Melbourne, it was like Mordor on the south side.  You basically drive as far as you can down the Monash and then just fall off the end.  Even in the Reserves game, one of the umpires was late.  “I got lost!” she told me (see, it pays to know umpires).

“Surely you’ve been here before?” I said to her.

“Only once,” she replied.

New pitch. New puddle.

For our game, the HV rep never even showed with the Aliurst password, so our live score is not as live is one would hope.  Coach Nic was not put-off her game plan “I was out at PEGS this morning,” she said.  “OH!” I replied, “That’s the fields of Mordor!”

“That’s what I was going to say!” she responded, a little miffed I mentioned it first.  Blog already mentally written, see.

Starting off at right half, with the puddle in my attacking 25, I wasn’t too disheartened with the longish turf and slow pitch – it helps us old ones.

Within the first 15 minutes, I had a couple of attacks on the right – in fact overall, overall we had more of the attacking play. (Slight pause; England Women’s have just beaten Argentina 5-2 in the world league ¾ play off, insert small cheer here.)  I was being needed in cover defence, but we were organised enough to absorb the pressure.  Working a free on the right side, I looked to take the free but heard Coach Nic “Take off, Rachel!”

What? Run with the ball? In Vic League?

I’m normally told off for this.  But set off I did, 3D’d the ball around the puddle to something like a Mush or a Megsy who worked  the ball round the back, but up to the top of the D, passed through open space to a flying Keira who ran onto the loose ball on / about the spot and made no mistake of finding the target.  One nil to the Brunswick lasses!  I actually Toyota jumped (back on the 25 yard line) – bearing in mind, I can’t bend my right leg all the way, this was some feat.

It was game on.

Now forgive me for some blank-ness.  This happened.  I was interchanged back off and then on to CH where I jabbed and tried to make some useful passes (but boy, it’s a faster game than Masters….)  At some point we scored again, and then Fiona took on a personal tennis serving game with the Casey Keeper and finally smacked the ball into the net for 3-0.  I was off for this I think.

Second half began, I was jabbing their CH for loose balls where I could and enjoying the challenge. But not before she slammed the ball into my foot… and I knew it was cactus.  Whilst I was bandaged up again for the last 5 minutes, the fact that my eyes were squeezing tears out for pain without me realising it, means I’m sitting here, a full 24 hours later, a little concerned about the next week.  If I wake up in pain again tomorrow, I’ll head to the hospital.  Fingers crossed I get an overnight recovery.

The game got tough; Casey got a green card, then another card for the Captain because of coach abuse towards the umpire.  Brunswick players were told to “remove themselves from the situation” using words that start with ‘F’ and ‘O’, but we’re from Brunswick and we’re a witty lot, and we might have replied “Make me.”

Defending hard in the last 10 minutes, we managed to absorb the pressure again, and Maz was saving things left right and centre.  Megsy the older copped a hit to the thigh, whilst Megsy the wiser got an awesome fourth goal for us.  Which, had not my view been blocked by supporters, I’d be able to tell you more about.

All up – well, it was a 4-0 win against a higher ranked side that is currently in the 4, and it was our most impressive performance of the season so far.  By a country mile.  It was great to get our hockey-on, finally.  But for me, tinged with disappointment that I was not on the turf for as much as I’d have hoped for yet another injury.  And ball-on-foot injuries are the worst, because you give a free-hit away at the same time.

Sigh.

We will wait for Altiurst to update and for the other scoring thing to be done (I hope someone’s on to the admin…) I will hope my foot does some kind of recovery sooner-ish rather than later-ish, and otherwise, as I have already declared to a couple of girls, next training is Bomber Sock Tuesday.

Starting to fly high Brunswick ladies, let’s get this thing going again.

Brunswick WVL1 – back on a roll?

Bye Bye Baby

Spare a thought, if you will, for Brunswick’s VL1 Men’s team.  They don’t have a resident blogger but they seriously should invest in some sort of team promotion, because they are absolutely nailing their season. From the get-go, on Tuesdays whilst we lazily prepare for training (read, loosely jogging about, swatting balls around, doing the odd stretch) they are already warming up with intent and purpose even though they officially start on the turf a good 30 minutes after us.

Not Brunswick’s Men, but my Dad. European Champion at Super-Grandad Hockey. Winning.

No longer do I hang around the club after our matches just to do the club thing (support) or be a simple hockey tragic – I actually stay because watching their hockey is brilliant.  Being the men’s game it’s obviously faster, but some of their play is truly impressive and their goals often breathtakingly outstanding.  Twelve rounds in, they are unbeaten.

Watching the other week, we saw a player, let’s call him Max, jink his way round a number of opposition players moving from right to left and towards the top of the D, finding some space on his reverse, toma’d in a goal.  A few days later, it having been recorded, I saw it on Hockey Victoria’s facebook feed and twitter, being nominated for Goal of the Season.  Naturally, Max’s aunt, Claire Meredith Bridget (aka Granny Annie), tweeted a response; “Always gets a vote from me!” Being totally unbiased.

I then did a rare thing, and actually did a tweet myself.  I challenged her to replicating the move at Masters on Wednesday.

Wednesday night came, and the squad was buoyant, and keen for a win to lift the slightly dampened spirits from the previous week’s draw against Essendon.  Coach Tony had instilled a new selection policy; with our numbers growing it has been hard to manage a full bench of players, so he has had to trim the squad each week to a manageable number, selection being on first come first served basis.  That does mean, however, that others unable to type fast enough on the old e-mail can still turn up and cheer.  So we had a number cheering on the sideline as we went up against Altona, and we even had Keira umpiring for us.

“Look out,” I warned her.  “This will likely be an experience for you.”

Our away game against Altona had been a ripper; a mighty 10-nil win, but I had the sense that on home turf we didn’t have ten goals in our legs.  Altona also were playing better as a team, which likely let them down previously, and if we had thought the goals were going to come easily we were mistaken.

We had some close efforts from penalty corners early on but probably tried too hard and not go the easy options.  I have a feeling (writing this nearly a month late it feels like) we did get an early goal and then pressing again, the ball was plopping about our attacking 25, in and out of the D like a game of table tennis, before Brenda passed the ball across me, as I had my back to the goal at the top of the D.

As it fell onto my reverse, I thought “I’m just going to give this a good old lazy toma….”

Off it went, as clean as you like, but amazingly the goal got her stick to it as it was edging its way inside the left post.  Ceitlin pounced on to it and popped it over the goal line!

The Almost Max Goal!

I was delighted!  And no one else realised.  But I could have retired at that point.

The rest of the first half we continued with ambition but not execution and we probably felt a bit below par at half time with the score 2-0.  We were getting possession but not being clean with passes and being a little sloppy.  Looked a bit like a Brunswick VL1/R training warm up, to be honest. (Not that I’m ever there to be honest, I’m always so late to training…. So what can I possibly say about what it looks like.)

Second half I knew I should probably lift my effort from a ‘calling’ perspective, so I gave the old lungs a bit of a work out to try and position the girls into better spots to intercept and receive the ball.  Everyone else lifted their games too, and we got home 3 more goals.  I had another “I’m an Olympian, watch me play” wannabe moment, when I cruised into the D untackled and had a shot on goal (happens twice a year that I find an attacking vibe inside me).  Off the ball sailed at chest-height but this time the wrong side of the right post.

Ah well.  I think I have peaked my goals for the season.  But if I can help assist and help prevent, that’s my job done at CH.  Again, our PCs are probably not as on-pointe as they have been, but at least we are creating opportunities.  I think our next match we might find the going a little more tough, and we’ll have to re-focus back to clinical execution and not relying on “if we make 100 chances we are bound to get 1 goal in” odds.  I followed up with Keira after the game.  “How did you find that?”

“Unlike anything I have ever umpired before.”

Coach Tony then announced that we had two weeks off for school holidays which  I had completely forgotten about. I had just been injured for the previous Granny game, and VL1 game, and now had two weeks off Granny hockey and a bye for VL1.

Claire Meredith Bridget’s Amazing Segway Hockey Bag

What was I to do?

For one, head back down to the hockey pitch to watch the Men’s VL1 game, and Women’s Pennant games and avail myself of the bar facilities.  It just wasn’t possible to stay away, even for a weekend.  For two, continue with the ongoing physio exercises I had been set for my knee.  I am now down to 10 minute hard Sudokus whilst virtually standing on the cross-trainer so progress is good.

Hard Sudoku. Winning.

Regularly turning up at the gym at work, the reception people must wonder why I turn up for 40 minutes every day Monday to Friday and leave without so much as a red face or bead of sweat.  Unless the owners, who know about my special knees, are there, they must think I’m the laziest person about.  My physio has now recorded my running on a treadmill and whilst I have a very good style, he is looking to moderate it slightly to reduce the pressure on my knees and pick up the work-rate elsewhere.

These are his actual words: “You need to try bobbing up and down less.  Imagine you’re running under barbed wire.”

Me thinking “If this was happening, I’d have put on a helmet.”

“Then, imagine you are pushing the road out behind you more, and increase your cadence to somewhere between 160-180 rather than 140.  Do this but only change your running style by 5%, and only for 20% for any run that you do.”

The result?  Extreme face-pulling and running in teeny tiny steps and looking like a total IDIOT at the gym.  But at least I am leaving red faced and somewhat sweaty, if only from blowing my brain out from the intense thinking this “change your gait by 5% for 20% of your running” requires.  No knee pain.  Just a headache.

After the bye bye baby, we stopped singing the Bay City Rollers and started quoting Coldplay and decided to take things back to the start, to take on Powerhouse at the State Hockey Centre, one cold Sunday afternoon.  It really has been traumatic having this whole bye situation, firstly, combined with secondly having Sunday games.  Beyonce turned up a full 24 hours earlier to play, whilst I had spent my Saturday back at the hockey club again, not so much supporting but attempting to first-aid Meg (another one!) back to some sort of health following an horrific asthma attack.

Broadly, Coach Nic indicated that if we didn’t lose by as much as the first game against Powerhouse then that was a better day out at the hockey office. We lost 6-0 in our first game of the season, so what an inspiring positive outlook to the game.  I didn’t dare point out that we would achieve that if we forfeited and just sat in the bar watching other teams play.

Surprisingly, we took the game to them (and also surprisingly I was back at centre half).  Fiona was finding her speed on the left wing and we got the ball down into our attacking end with some half chances.  Then we sat back a bit and left space for them to attack through us, with our press being a bit off.  Two goals then came in relatively quick succession for the P’House, and as I was being run ragged around in the middle I was interchanged with about 24 minutes gone.  A third goal went in.

Sad face.

A couple of minutes later, I was back on the field at right half… but not for long as one of P’House’s little players, turned into me as I went in to tackle someone else, and in copping her shoulder to my head I fell to the ground like a sack of spuds (which Maz will tell you, you could not carry around in WA unless you were a member of a particular potato society, as if you carry around >50kgs of spuds and you’re not a member of a potato society you can cop a $2000 fine.  First offender.  $5000 fine for a repeat offender).

Maria must have known this or something like this and wanted to help the situation whilst not actually admitting to being involved.  As team manager, she came on and announced “I’m the team manager.  I know nothing about first aid.”

I looked up.  So many faces bending over me.  Janelle the umpire asked “How many fingers?” and I took a punt.  Jessi said “How many of me do you see?”

“Not enough Jessi, there is never enough of you.”

The umpire fell about laughing, I got up and that was pretty much my contribution to the day’s events.  But I was happy that the free hit went our way.  And Jessi missed me so much that she even played right half in my stead.  Thank you.  A fourth goal for P’House somehow went in.

The team stepped it up a notch in the second half (sad face for me, head injury = not allowed to play).  We got two goals back, both from excellent PCs, well they’re all excellent when they go in, and P’House only got 1 so really, we won the second  half 2-1, if we overall lost 5-2, and I personally only lost 2-0.  Thanks to the crowd for their support, and not shouting “Dinosaur down” when I was felled by the opposition.

Next up the following week, back onto Saturday hockey (hooray), it was Geelong at home.  Being top of the ladder this should have been a fearsome event, but given we only lost 3-2 – and were in fact ahead at one point before we lost our marbles, and missing both Maz and Megsy – I thought we were in with a chance.

The team thought so too.  Much like the P’House game, we were off on the attack from the whistle, and I was up again at Centre Half (WHAT is going on there?!  Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy it but I have to think so much more than centre half at granny hockey.  And think a lot, lot faster. No laurel-sitting for me here.)  I managed to get an early touch, which helps settle me, I did some jabby thing in a contest and won back the ball for Brunswick.  A couple of minutes later, Keira toma-looped the ball over the defenders, onto Bridge who let the ball fall across her and she slammed the hit home and into the goal!!

One up!! Hooray and the crowd went mad!  We were barely two minutes into the game!

As the match got into its groove we did find our game lose its way a bit.  We were creating great space up front but not always leading into it, and we were probably passing the ball unnecessarily to the opposition when safer passes were on.  Geelong were pressing more and had it not been for Maz, they could have netted a few.  They equalised on 13 minutes, and then when I was back on the field, got a couple more from PCs.  One to the left, with defence having left a hole in the middle of the D, and once from a failed right clearance (from memory, I stopped it beautifully, then became unsighted to the ball and Maz and I flipped flopped about trying to find where it had gone… slotted in… big sad face.)

Then, taking a leaf out of either the men’s game, OR her first goal of the season also against Geelong, a move down the right hand side of the field – which I’d like to take some credit for as it came from the push-back from Geelong’s third goal (ok, some assist to an assist to an assist to an assist…. Free hit, pass, pass, pass….. I’m the first of these passes) – Jessi found some space from nowhere and squeezed the ball between the goalie and post and netted it!!

Three-two down at half time.  The coach might have sworn at us a bit, but only because she was apparently quoting others, and we were well fired up for the second half.  I’m pottering about between full back and then right half, and enjoying the game, lots to do both in defence, and then oddly in attack which I’m not used to / not designed to do it having been ironed out of me from years of full-backing (actual verb).

We had lots of attacking play, and won lots of penalty corners, but sadly the slickness experienced the previous week was missing and it all sort of we5nt a bit sloppy.                                                                                                                Vcl4r55mj,8u1i75 [cat edit]

Four minutes from time, from yet another PC (angry sad face) Geelong made it four-two.  As if to sum up the half, we went straight back on the attack, I even manage to intercept a ball and ran off to the base-line round the right hand side.  Such is the influence of the Coach I even told myself “let the ball sit far to the right of you so defenders can’t reach it, go into the D, and now… slow down…” as I dazzled the world with my skills and wove my way neatly around the Geelong defence.  Ok, dribbled plainly and simply.  A voice called out “Work-it, work-it” and I promptly passed the ball to the spot and found a defender there instead of Brunswick.  Forgot about the scanning bit.  I worked it but no diggity.

Another close game, but not that our league position reflects that.  I would insert another sad face, but we can only blame ourselves.  Time to turn it up at training a bit (maybe just turn up actually) – but I can’t talk.  I’ve just realised that I have a work thing Tuesday of this week, and I choose to announce this in the match report.

I shall find a way to work around it, because I am DETERMINED that this team will get the ladder position it deserves IF we put our minds to it and be a tad more disciplined with our approach to the season.  We should take a leaf out of the men’s book I think… and maybe just ignore the on-field lack of discipline and leave out the green and yellow cards.

Time to get this season back on track.

Post-script.  Happy birthday to Claire Meredith Bridget, known to most as Ann Lennie, enjoy the long lunch!

Winter sunset. Winning.
So why can’t we?

 

Special Kneads

Brunswick Hockey Club… where broken basketball nets go to retire… will this be me soon?

I called it in October 2015.  Walking out of Pinnacle Healthcare, I said to Josh, “Next time I come here, it will be for my knee.”  So actually, the fact that it’s been a full 18 months of knee-injury management (aka physio avoidance) is kudos to me.

Isn’t it?

Or you could say, the fact that I knew I was going to have a knee injury problem blow up and promptly did stuff all about it until it got so bad that following the show-down in Mo-town and Masters’ trials Sunday morning I spent 2-3 days unable to walk, was likely a little stupid.

I mean, I’ve been on a special lunge programme for my right leg for a number of weeks during Pump classes, I’ve taped my knee for a couple of matches, both mid-week and weekend, but thanks to long socks, it’s barely been noticed.  And at PT when I realised I couldn’t even sit down on my knees like everyone else, like wee babes at kinder – our instructor is a teacher and we have occasional subservient moments (“I can do it on my left knee, does that count?”) even then I just went about my everyday life thinking I would, some time, get back to those exercises that involve engaging all the muscles around my knee that were likely not doing their job properly.

And yet I did nothing.

My car is a good gauge of injury.  I have a wannabe sports car because I’m a wannabe sports star, but it sits quite low, and getting out of the vehicle after the Sunday trials was near impossible.  Falling splat on the ground in the car park I did have a small thought “Maybe I need to see someone?”

Monday morning my local physio, which sits in the same building as work, had a spot for me and so I limped off to meet a new physio.  Josh is so popular (likely because I’ve recommended him to all 6,000 employees in the building) that I was off to see someone new.  This was a young Irish chap, let’s call him Donal, who seemed a little fearful that I was still fully clothed in work gear to actually want to apply any treatment.

I was in a dress and only needed to take off my stockings for any knee-treatment to take place, but I think the thought of this terrified him.  But anyway, I gave him my summarised life history: “I’ve been told I’m knock-kneed, pigeon-toed and flat-footed.  My right side is always worse than my left.  I play hockey and all the exercise I do is pretty much geared towards that.  I first saw Josh back in October 2011 so you have my history on file right there.”wseeee9834,kgr [cat edit]u’]d6ju5 [more cat edit, she’s very keen to get involved today].

He stared at the screen.  “Yeeeeees, I can see all that, I quickly read your file before I met you.”

“So, given I have bad biomechanics, it was only a matter of time before I got a knee injury.  No, I don’t do Pilates.  And I’ve had to dial back the intensity of exercise over the last two years because of work.  So no, I don’t have time to START doing Pilates.  I’ve stopped doing all those exercises that engage hips, etc, my ITBs, calves, quads, are likely very tight, so I probably start need to start doing all that.”

The advice that I gave myself cost me $50.  Aside from my mobility things and “Does it hurt if you do this?” the only other thing that I was told was “You need to work on your ties.”

Ties?  Or did he mean Thais?

I was very confused.  I later realised that the thickness of the Irish accent meant I was to work on my thighs.  OH. Got it.

With the instruction of doing some very light mobility stuff to alleviate the stiffness and swelling I was experiencing, I was back to the gym at 6am the next day working on the lowest setting of all time on the cross-trainer.  Now this is how far the world has come in the last 18 months since I was at the physios, because this has happened.  The physio place now makes me use a Physio App that tells me I need to do exercises and comes with videos of things I am to do.  And the gym has new machines that have a whole pile of scenarios on the screen that I could “Cross-train” through, or I can hook up to various TV shows… OR…

I could do Sudoku!

Yes, really, the cross-trainer has Sudoku option, and so by the end of the week I was getting pretty close to finishing the Hard option within the allotted time I was spending on the machine.  I have never been so keen to get to the gym to beat a record – that actually had no relation to physical effort.  I am a true nerd.  Thursday, the physio had actually done some treatment on my quad, (had to get fully changed into activewear with shorts so my knee was exposed without any awkward request of clothes removal) and he was highly surprised that I had no questions for him.

“Jaysis, tat’s the foist time anyone’s had no questions for me!”

Truth be told, I’m so used to having my calves, achilles or glute treated, I’m usually lying with my head squished in that physio table space and I can pull all sorts of faces and no one knows.  To be face up, whilst he was kneading my special knees, I was doing all I could to not look completely ridiculous in my facial expression area.

(Good grief, it’s just gone 8pm and my phone Physio App is reminding me to do my exercises.  LEAVE ME ALONE I KNOW I NEED TO DO THEM.  Seriously.  Technology.)

First real struggle of the week was being advised by Coach Tony that I wasn’t going to be playing Wednesday night for granny hockey.  Given I couldn’t really walk and all.  That was hard.  The girls played well but the hockey gods, the luck gods, the fair-game gods were all against them.  I won’t comment further – to be honest, I was too busy chatting with Fitzy on the side-line – and I’m being pro-umpire so I won’t renege on my comments of last week, and only say that it was an up and down game, Brunswick were down, then up, and despite heroic defending from Kerith, who had a stonking game putting pressure on the attack, literally put her special knees on the line for the team, a stroke brought Essendon back into the game and it finished 2-2.

Into the Vic League game, we were up against CV Blazers (aka Bendigo).  Just behind, them in terms of ranking on in the ladder, this was a good opportunity to mop up some more points, but it was not going to be easy points.  CV are always a tough team to play, and the Reserves had been on the wrong end of a 5-1 scoreline just before us.

Coach Nic, being a Bo-Selector for the Masters, was keenly placed to determine where my hockey loyalties should lie this weekend, and she had given me some bench time, and pretty much advised me to not get ready for the game.  I’ve never felt so relieved.  I had a note from the physio saying “She can do one thing, but one thing only this weekend” and I had expected the VL game to be priority for her.  But we have a decent number of girls in the squad, and I’m not exactly star player (despite wannabe star car) to swing the result in our favour.  I did warm up, and was given a ten minute opportunity to play in the second half, but I was now feeling some leg stiffness and feeling… well let’s just say, a little scared about even being able to run in a straight line, let alone be anything remotely dynamic.

Pre-game I spoke with resident wordsmith-media-artist Jessie (she also of GOAT fame) about the new Vic League Hockey Show that has popped up on Facebook and Twitter.  She was unaware of it.  “Look though, they will be doing podcasts and everything!” I said as I showed her their Facebook page.

The thought of me doing a podcast, rather than blog, has crossed my mind ONCE and ONCE only, for the 117 likes I have on Facebook, but really, ‘sigh’, I cannot be bothered…. Maz said “If you did a podcast, it would save me having to read it.”

Really?  Is this how lazy we have become?  Reading a match report is too time consuming, you’d rather a podcast?  Erm no.  As much as people appreciate my Queen’s English on the hockey field, I will not podcast my match reports.  Read, people.

By the time the pre-game chat had finished, our fantasy podcast had become somewhat X-rated and therefore unsuitable for a family game, which is ultimately what we are all about promoting – whilst having some fun in the interim.  (I mean – we are about promoting hockey, and family hockey, and not promoting X-rated hockey podcasts.)  There were some other inspired pre-game words of wisdom though: Coach Nic came out with “Someone should get a hockey goal here” responded to by L’il Megsy “Rather than a soccer one?”  Followed up with the final words of “There is no tomorrow” which I thought was rather James Bond-y, and I left the change-rooms waiting for helicopters, skiers, explosions, Russian spies with fluffy cats, stunt men and girls painted in gold… but no cigar.  Just sunshine and Bendigo.

CV were a well-oiled hockey machine and moved the ball around well.  We looked equally dangerous on the break, however, but somehow ran out of the fizz as soon as the D beckoned.  At half time, CV had us by one goal, from a slick PC move, but despite this we were shaken but not stirred.  Second half started and Brunswick were looking better, a little slicker, but again, as soon as we got into our attacking 25 it was like the magic beans had run out of puff and we were off form in terms of touches, ball control, shots on goal.  CV got a second goal, and with the game creeping away from us it looked like we were staring a loss in the face.

Then, from an excellent move in involving some people (OK, I’ve forgotten exactly what happened) L’il Megsy did what the Coach requested and got one of those hockey goals as required.  Suddenly, with the score at 2-1, the intensity lifted, the urgency returned… but it was too little too late.  CV walked away with the 3 points and a 2-1 win.

I said to the Coach “I’ll play if I can wear one of those Soccer Bubbles that are arriving!”

Coach remained supremely positive afterwards, throwing out compliments to all players, who gave everything and were far more out of breath than I was, even though I had done my best to chat to all supporters on the sideline whilst carefully carding the Tech Bench’s clearly marked “Team Bench Space”.  Apparently the team missed my calling from the back, Coach said, but as I mentioned before, it’s not like I’m an impact player, so my absence was not the difference.  Confidence, mongrel and magic beans were probably the difference.

Call of the day game from the Megsy the Wiser, who, during the Reserves game, saw Brunswick’s most experienced player take a tumble.  “Dinosaur down!” she yelled, and I actually hid behind someone else, hoping that the Brunswick player didn’t think it was me that had made the comment.  The token Dinosaur took it in good humour, but did try to get me involved in further Dinosaur comments whilst I was on the bench.  “For as long as I’m listed on the team sheet,” I said, “I will not heckle my team, or the other team, I will leave that for the supporters.”

I’m so moralistic.

Anyway, the Dinosaur has a birthday this week, actually on a training day, so we’ll see how the old T-Rex pulls up and see if she graces us with her presence, if only for some Dinosaur revenge.

In the meantime, I was able to skip about at trials on Sunday morning like I never had an injury ever.  Turns out the special ties and kneading is working its magic.

I look forward to more Sudoku action next week, and cannot wait to officially return to the turf.  I might be in for injury-management for a the long-haul but despite that, I will be at Brunswick on Tuesday for a hit-about – Jurassic-Park-style.

Show-down in Mo-ton

Sydney one day, Frankston the next. Living the dream

Celebrating the Queen’s birthday weekend with a hockey team dinner, backed up a couple of days later with birthday drinks for Jessi (Maz also had a birthday, seriously what is in the Brunswick water with these birthdays), we got back to training this last week with the knowledge that we were facing a crunch game down in Frankston, against Mornington Peninsula, on the weekend.

Happily making it to one training before an urgent trip interstate meant I was away for a couple of days, I drove down the coast on Saturday filling my co-passenger with excited details of how I was quoted in Parliament on Friday. (Ok so this is not quite true, my name wasn’t mentioned directly; but my being late to Granny hockey on Wednesday did have some direct relevance to conversations held in front of the Senate on Friday, so I was happy that hockey-delaying-homework actually was being played out in the public sphere.  Because everyone follows Senate inquiries online right, it’s not just me?)

Co-passenger listened to the details with patience.  Good grief, what a saddo I have become.

Coach Nicole has been on some strange pills of late; not only had she moved me to CH to start the game, but she also said in the pre-game chat that I was good at working frees (I don’t think I am but I’ll take the compliment.)  Young Alex made a joke about my promotion that she found so funny she actually snorted at her own humour whilst putting on her shin-pads.

“You don’t know that I write a hockey blog, do you?” I asked.

“No, I don’t” she replied.

“And that if people say or do silly things, they quickly follow it up with ‘DON’T PUT THAT IN THE BLOG!’”

“OH! Don’t put my snort into the blog!”

Oh dear.  Too late.

It was a day of supporting Beyond Blue, and I love it when teams embrace initiatives and promote health, wellbeing and inclusivity at the same time.  Mo-ton P teams had wonderful blue socks on, which looked very becoming with their green singlets – it was very coastal and somewhat in-keeping with their location on the shore-front (almost…).  Further, the Mo-ton girls had glittered and painted their faces very tastefully, I felt nothing but admiration for their efforts and envious of their glamour.

I gave myself 3 minutes at CH, and to my credit it was somewhere between 5 and 10.  So Altiusrt says it was 10 minutes.  Whilst on the sideline, Mo-ton did exactly what Coach Nic had warned us of in the pre-match chat – they won a PC, and scored.

I was moved to RH after this, but was totally blinded by either the sun OR the glittering cheeks (faces) of the opposition (or likely a combo of both), and regrettably gave the ball away twice to the opposition because I couldn’t see a thing, or in another instance, saw a vague stripe on a shirt and thought it was Brunswick.  Turns out Mo-ton have a stripe down their sides.  Woe is me.  Pretty average.

Over-dazzled I was dumped back to FB.  We were moving the ball up the wings well, and had chances on the break, but again our on-front-of-goal mongrel was missing a touch.  In defence, we were kept busy – and I do love a game where I am forced to have to play the best that I can at all times.  But it does mean that under so much pressure mistakes also happen, it is inevitable.  We gave away another PC, it plopped left, and as right post with Maz stepping out I took the line behind her as she went down to make the saves.  Sadly, as much as Maz was flopping about trying to pad the ball away, they scooped it over and any hope I had at making a save and being a team hero was quickly diminished.

Interchanged just before half-time I had the heart-break of watching us fall foul of a field goal against us.  I then had the sadness of realising that my magnet for the team line-up, after 5 and a half seasons on Nicole’s board, has been lost and I am replaced to a tiny button magnet with an “R” on it.  Total devastation.

Because being 3-0 up is the new 2-0 up I took to the field confident we could bounce back.  We had, after all, made some chances.  Could we shore things up at the back to give our strikers something within range to aim at?

Erm.  No.  Their fourth came as I was on the sideline once again, and Nic’s words were none-too-flattering.  Back on the ground, their 5th came in and by this time when we took the push-back afterwards, it was as if no one wanted to get involved.  Heads were down indeed.  Amanda came close to a goal but to sum our day up, the timing was off and the shot missed.

It was a tough day at the hockey office, but there was plenty of hockey to be had in defence which I always enjoy more than being bored watching us win 10 nil.  Plenty to work on though, and to mull over.  I did some skipping impressions for a while as Maz kicked the ball to Mo-ton and I desperately got my feet out of the way on a repeated basis for about, ooh, maybe 5 minutes it seemed.  So my skipping’s good.  Lots of other things to improve on though.  It would have been nice to have been on the other side of our result, and I need to dismiss all thoughts of “we should have just offered a walkover and lost 5-0 and saved the cost of petrol (and environment) in the process.”

It was a day of goals galore – in total our men won 4-0 (Reserves) and 8-0 (VL1) and our women went down 5-0 and 5-0 in Reserves also, after our game.  All up, that’s 12-10 win to Brunswick, by my maths.

A fair show-down and a very good day for hockey spectators.  So they were happy.  Glad to have played some part in that.  I think…

Karma Police

Juggling work and hockey, thanks to #banklevy

Facebook keeps telling me “118 people who like hockeychick27.com haven’t heard from you for a while.”  Gee, sorry folks!  Actually, I’ve been busy not being busy.  It does happen a few times a year, but in true Rachel style, if I have 100 things on I’ll probably finish 99 of them.   If I have 5 things to do, I’ll do about half of one thing.

Hence no reports.  Now I’m busy again I best get to the writing.

So, catch up time for the Grannies.  We were last seen I think being unbeaten out at Greensie with Coach Tony still being overseas with Granny Annie.  Next up was Werribee at home.  Werribee are most definitely in the bucket of tough matches, and we were aware that as we approached the back end of the first half of the season we were up against stronger sides.

Similar to our previous home game, the umpires set the scene at the start of the match in terms of acknowledging what was going to be called, what was going to be frowned upon and what was most definitely NOT going to be tolerated.  Despite our Full Back Marissa even stressing this to the opposition, it was (regrettably for them) largely ignored.  Werribee found one too many calls, in their eyes, going against them, and started to be fairly vocal.  I use the word “fairly” loosely, it was pretty apparent to Brunswick they weren’t happy, but we kept our mouths shut and carried on with our game.  Which is the best thing to do in my mind if the opposition starts to get a bit riled.  We cannot control the umpires’ calls, and actually it’s the best thing for anyone to do is just get on with the game.  It was a Wednesday night, it was late, respect the fact we actually have officials who turn up every week to do a job that most of us wouldn’t do once a year.

Werribee to their credit had some very skilful players and we were struggling to contain them.  In the first half they notched up a goal and I had a sinking feeling that it was going to be the first of many.  Sadly for the opposition, they let themselves down a bit.  A few stray calls continued that were largely, let’s say anti-establishment, and a player was sent off.  Which they truly enjoyed, naturally.

Second half, with only the goal down, we felt that if we just created some opportunities we were in with a chance.  We started to pile on a bit more pressure and found ourselves getting some short corners.  Time ticked on however… one more PC worked our way, a stick check against Brunswick was deemed to be deliberate and it being a shot on goal that was stopped, a penalty stroke was awarded our way.

Well.  You can imagine the cries of joy from the oppo.  If only they knew what was going in my head.  I ran a poll, but Brunswick had already retreated to the 25 yard line leaving lonesome me with the ball and keeper to beat.  Note 1.  I had missed my last stroke.  Note 2.  I am a shocking confidence player.

I went to the spot and noticed the ‘keeper had overstated their position on the goal line.  Knowing that my aiming was likely to be way-off-whack I made a change to my “usual” stroke.  I stepped up and slotted it somewhere vaguely towards the other post and whilst I think the GK got a touch to it, it feebly dropped into the goal.

Cheers from the Wickers Grannies!  Sheer relief from me.

The next five minutes were frantic as their skilled players ran and ran at us and we were putting in draw-saving tackles in our defensive quarter.  Final whistle, and we had managed to eek out the draw!!  If there was ever a winning draw in hockey this was it.  Comments of “That decision cost us the game” may have been heard as we walked off the field whilst shaking hands, combined with “Cheats”.  Which was incredibly sad.  I’ve already called that they had a strong team; the umpires set the scene at the start and repeatedly so during the game.  I was called for a bad tackle, I knew it was a bad tackle and I have absolutely no doubt if I had done anything remotely similar again in the game I would have been carded.  I kept my elbows down and tackles clean.  Or at least, not intentionally illegal.  The messaging was clear.

Ironically team manager-wannabe Lynnie noted later-on that they was an extraordinarily large number of under-age permits being thrown around the opposition’s team when she lodged the score.  I am saying nothing.  I can do what I can do for Brunswick, and that’s all I should endeavour to control.

Moving on to the next week.  Foot-a-scray.  Away.  And it was everybody’s birthday.

It really was (well, Tony’s and Eloise’s).  That wasn’t just a fortuitous rhyme.

So yes Tony had returned from Canada and boy, we were keen to show him how awesome we had been whilst he had been away.  We started really well.  Got two goals early on, and I felt that the ‘Scray were possibly fielding a weaker side to what I had been used to (which turns out to be true, as they had lost players I think to parenting duties as there were some mid-week weekend matches being held at the same time, if that makes sense).

Bizarrely though, we just couldn’t seem to get our groove really groovy.  We had plenty of opportunities, certainly in the second half, with about 5001 short corners, but no chocolates.  It came down to the fact that we got two early goals, and that gave us the 3 points.

A weird thing happened in the final minute; I was marking the CF, she hit the ball forward and I was just standing next to her (not doing some back-stick tackle which many may assume, as that’s usually when I get hit).  Her follow-through meant her stick continued above shoulder height and the hook of her stick lodged itself nicely into the fleshy bit of my collar bone.

I went down like a sack of spuds, because that’s what Coach Nicole has taught me.  Oddly, no one called for time.  I was a little surprised because I wasn’t sure that hurling the stick about, physically into players in the neck-area was particularly legal, but then when I tried to get up, turns out, whoa man, my head was heavy.

So it was the end of the game anyway, and it took me about 5 minutes to get to my feet, feeling really odd and groggy, despite not having any bruise or pain in my shoulder.  Of course it only takes “maybe you have a compressed carotid artery, and you had blood flow restricted to your head?” comment from a team-mate, and a quick trip to Dr Google later on, to have me convinced I was either suffering from a Phil Hughes-esque injury or was likely to have a stroke in the next 24 hours.

I was fine.  But I was very scared for 12 hours.

Roll on to the final game of the first half of the season; Geelong back at home.  This was going to be a toughie.  I was buried under a pile of bank levy joy but the team got the game off to a flyer showing true Brunswick granny grit.  Similar to Werribee, G’long had some key players, and keeping them ‘at bay’ to the best of our ability was possibly going to be the differentiator.  Plus we obviously needed to play well, as well, it’s not always just about stopping the opposition.

Getting on to the ground, I’m delighted to say that my first touch of the game resulted in a turnover to us, and the ball was worked up the field beautifully with plenty of touches from the team, with Lynnie finding Ceitlin in the D who took on her reverse side – and slotted the ball into the goal!  It was amazing!! We went wild.  In our subdued little Brunswick way.

Not to be outdone in the great-goals-stakes Geelong fired back with a low, hard hit across our defensive goal, for their CF to deflect the ball into the net.  There was no way we could ever have defended that, it was pretty cool.  Just sucked it happened to the opposition.

Geelong continued in their attacking vein in the second half.  Our defence pulled off the most amazing save after save – Dayle was aggressive as ‘keeper, and charged down their efforts, kicking the balls wide.  Eloise saved a ball on the back line.  We were defending and deflecting balls wide like our little lives depended on it.

With another defensive turnover coming our way, the ball again made it up the field on the left side.  I can’t recall the exact players involved, only I think Sally, Kylie – who dragged the ball from left back inside, then on to Jo who worked the ball down the right and into the D along the base-line to a screaming Lynnie on the spot who slotted the ball through the GK’s legs.  2-1!!  And undoubtedly the best goal of the season, given the effort and team-play involved.

Like the Werribee game when we had to defend away the draw, we knew we had few minutes to hold on.  I went straight to their key player (who, I do have to point out was inner, not my natural marking opponent, but we had two CFs who couldn’t decide who was CF) so anyway whilst Sally and Lynnie, whoops I mentioned their names, stood on the halfway line working out who was doing what, I ran after the Geelong inner.

She skilfully worked a PC – and at the same instance the final whistle went.  It was so, so similar to the semi-final in 2016 when we gave away a silly PC in the last minute of the game, and they scored to level the game at 2-2.  Was the same thing going to happen again?

Nope.  Because bring on Bronny and her stick.  Running bravely (no mean feat) at the ball when it was about to be absolutely sherlacked into the goal, she lowered her stick and left it on the ground for a tackle extraordinaire.  Geelong swung hard, missed the ball, hit her stick… stick-check!

Game over, Brunswick win, and we are, somewhat amazingly but YET, believe it because it is true – half way through the season and unbeaten!  I don’t think we expected this, but we do deserve it.  I think we played our best hockey out at Greensie, and it was a shame Coach Tony and Grannie Annie missed it, and I don’t think we have quite got the same momentum since they returned (our bad, not theirs) but surely this means we simply have room for improvement back to our glory nights.

Oh – and I never explained the title of this blog.  I got sent off at Werribee last year.  Ironic, huh.

As a post-script and in the spirit of the game, I am going to promote this which I read thanks to an HV posting on Facebook – the author is a Victorian umpire (umpired me in a GF way back when) and I think it’s absolutely worth a read for all players and supporters alike:

What I’ve learnt from umpiring, beyond the rules of Hockey!

Knox Knox

Imagine my excitement at the theatre Saturday night when my friend swapped seats so I could sit in #27… So excited, I had to take a photo

Knox, Knox
Who’s there?
Not their hockey pitch from next year.

A couple of weeks ago when a few of the hockey girls and I put the hockey world to rights after training, one of the topics of discussion was the Knox Hockey Club pitch situation.  Knox play at a school, like Brunswick, and the school has decided it is going to dig up the pitch to do something else with the space, leaving the club homeless from next year.  A sad state of affairs indeed.  Not that I’m condemning what the school is doing, but finding pitches is hard enough, building pitches even harder.  Requires a lot of moolah.

So anyway, I then took this opportunity to make up what I consider to be Hockey Joke of 2017, refer above in case you missed it, which actually is totally plagiarised from a DC joke from about 3 years ago when we were playing out Knox-way, which went something like:

Knox, Knox
Who’s there?
Not Hannah and Erin.  They are lost.

Thankfully this week, whilst we were playing Knox, we were doing so at home and could therefore be reasonably certain of the presence of a pitch and hopeful that no one would get lost.  And in case you were wondering, I did deliberately store up and save my DC-copy-Knox-Knox joke for the day we were playing Knox.

Round 7 and another glorious, bright, sunny afternoon; our first game of winter was truly a “jacket on jacket off” day.  Wonderfully warm in the sun, but cunningly cold in the shade.  Before our game we watched our Men’s 1s continue their unbeaten streak 8996*0————–u79 [cat edit] against Frankston, casually strolling out with a 10-0 win.  Jessi, sadly unable to play as apparently her back is quite bad (read, fractured), thought that they were also playing Knox-Knox until I said that the opposition’s shirt had “STINGRAYS” written on them, and that I didn’t think many Stingrays were found down Burwood Highway.

Running onto the field for the cheers and toss section of the game, the umpires told Megsy she was to play rock, paper, scissors to determine the winner of the coin toss. (See, this is what is happening in cash-less society.  There are no coins in existence to do the coin toss.  We’ll have to start throwing credit cards in the air and say “Card Number or Signature?” to replace “heads or tails”.  The youth of today won’t even know what heads or tails is, they’ll likely grow up assuming we chucked cats or dogs around to determine first push-back).  Megsy was having none of this nonsense, and threw her stick in the air.  It came down flat, and one umpire, let’s call her Annie, said “Rock!”

“No,” I said, “rock is the pitch.”

Putting that forward as second funniest hockey joke of the season.

The game started, and off we went.  Quite literally – piling the pressure up front but somehow looking like as soon as we got into the D we ran out of steam.  Or became a little bit British.  It was all very “Erm, no, after you, no you have a shot, no I couldn’t possibly.” Lacking mongrel really.

Defensively we were also busy. Knox-Knox were playing what I called “Column, or Pole” the other day because I forgot it’s real name (in our team anyway), which is “Tower”.  I like to think that Column and Pole also conveys the same thing.  What this involves is having a high striker run high (because that’s why their high striker, right) along a wing line, and this is what Knox-Knox did, but still leaving their wing on that wing.  So effectively, if you’re doing what I do – RATS (run-around-after-striker) rather than staying more typically central with the CF, you are getting pulled right behind your wing-half.  Feels weird to have the defence set up so massively over-the-top ball-side heavy.

Anyway, we could kind of see what they were doing, but we were slow to find the guts to go with it.  Knox-Knox start with a cluster of strikers, roving round each other like spinning toys, in the centre of the field, then as the play comes up the line, one becomes the wing, the other goes high up the same wing line and the other becomes a CF.  It requires a lot of heavy cover from the help-side wing half, who typically would not come over so far across the width of the field when covering back.

Have I given away Knox-Knox’s game plan?  Possibly.  To anyone that cares.

With our flip-floppiness in the D and One-Knee-Maz clearing firmly in goals, we got to half time with the scoreline 0-0.  Coach Nic gave us a deserved spray.  We knew that Knox-Knox were very much in the game, and with hockey goals coming easily in any moment, there was no laurel-sitting for us.  We were given the rocket-booster up the backside and returned to the field with a job to do.

There was definitely a renewed sense of strength in the team – our ‘stick-on-ball’ drive meant we were riding the tackles more, and the team found the desire that looked like it had been missing in the first half.  Ten minutes in, a fast-paced run around the back and base-line from Keira set a cross in front of the goal which Amanda slotted home with so much ease it’s like she has been practicing in her sleep.

A few minutes after that, with Beyonce controlling the ball well at right half, while facing a wall of attack, found Keira who slammed the ball up the field to Bridget who was loitering with massive intent, and she put our second goal.

Now – pause for a minute.  Bridget has been trying to rebrand herself as striker for several weeks (in fact, since she’s been at the club) and to her credit, she is always practicing shots on goal, from both front and reverse sides.  Her excitement levels reached fever pitch two rounds ago when Coach Nic said she was playing striker… only to find by striker she actually meant midfield.

“Inner is still the forward line” Coach Nic retorted as utter sadness descended onto Bridget’s face.

This week Coach Nic had said “if you get two goals you get to play striker.”  I don’t think Coach Nic expected she would get two goals – but she had for that section of the game got Bridge on as striker.

Another thing Coach Nic had said as part of her half-time spray “Amanda, you need to get a goal, I’ve told you this every week for the last 5 weeks.”  Amanda fresh back from a relaxing holiday simply smiled.

Back to the game – Amanda has got her goal! She has done what the coach had asked – and was playing strong hockey too, even picking up sloppy balls in midfield and driving forward.  Bridget is on one goal… could Coach Nic’s words be prophetic?  Resulting in Bridget playing high striker for ever more?

Brunswick got themselves penalty corners but for a while it seemed that our Rock pitch was going to get the better of us with balls bobbling about all over the place (for Amanda to run back and fetch).  Then finally one injection was trapped cleanly, and Tash stepped up and slammed it home!  Only for BRIDGET to be the one who snuck it over the line!

Well.  What are the chances.  I’m just waiting for Coach Nic to say “Rachel get a hattrick next week” and I AM THERE.

Although we have no game next week. Oh.

Defensively, we had sorted ourselves out.  Huge credit for our wing-halves who found themselves running laterally across the field as much as they had to run up and down it.  B, Ceitlin and Adele slotted into these diverse roles, and whilst there wasn’t much ‘round-the-back’ action going on, for striker/middie Adele to come on and swing the ball from right to left with consummate ease from right half, I’m going to nominate her to run RTB training next week.  So very adaptable is she, and always with a smile.

No PCs given away this week, One-Knee-Maz and her little pile of facemasks were quite lonely in the second half.  Us full-backs, Megsy the Wiser and myself, with our arrangement of diverse halves, had plenty to do, and I seemed to do some random but effective tackling and ball clearances at times, but I think we felt broadly confident and calm.  Tash was lobbing overheads like there was no tomorrow, and strong work from Mush, and even L’il Megsy picking up loose balls in defence meant that we often looked dangerous on the break, from even a being on the back-foot situation. L’il Megsy, Lucinda, Adele’s running in attack meant that in the closing minutes of the game we were still focused on getting more goals if we could – Bridget sniffed her third goal and I could see it in slow motion…. Trying to lob the keeper…. Just almost too slow in the end and it, and follow up efforts, were saved.

End of the game, and 3 nil winners, yeehah to the Brunswick Mudlarks.  And hooray for half-time Coach sprays.

And so we reach the Queen’s Birthday weekend with a bit more confidence, a bit more of a spring in out step and flying just a tad higher than last week.  Our next outing will be a toughie, but we are now finding our groove.  Those mighty black and white Mudlarks will be looking to frighten a Falcon or two; but in the mean-time happy birthday Your Majesty.

PS – what is going on with Aliusrt?  Firstly it has my age as being 47 – which I am not, and neither is Ceitlin – and now it has Old Xavs in 9th position out of 10 in the league, despite having dropped out of the league before the season started, and this 9th position is due to the fact that they are apparently going to draw 0-0 against Mornington some time in August?  Any bets on the phantom Old Xavs making finals?

Goals, Goals, Goals, Soup and Surprises

Check us out

We pick up the granny hockey season a long, long time ago, on a pitch far, far away, following a win against Essendon (of the Red variety) in round one.  In fact, it was so long ago and I am so old, memory is fading to the detail, which would be too much for one report anyway, so I will stick with the highlights, lowlights and any other lights that pop into my brain.

Round 2: Altona away – 10 nil win

You read that correctly.  It was a later start, and I remember leaving my team busy at work in the office just after 7, saying “I’m off to Altona for an 8.30 hockey match.”

“Rather you than me” was the chuckled response.  So I trudged off to the hockey pitch, far, far away (not as far as Geelong or Greensie it should be added) and upon arrival met the newest team member, Eloise, returning to the game after a few years’ absence and obviously having excellent homing skills had picked to resurrect her hockey career with the Brunswick Grannies.

The game was famous for:

  • Brunswick dominating from the get-go. We put the pressure on early, and were rewarded with goals.  Ceitlin picked up an entire 40% of the total goals, Happy Lynnie Gilmour with 30%, me with 20% and Kylie 10%
  • Goal of the game I think came from a shot from Lynnie in the attacking left side of the play – I think I had passed to her there from a free-hit – she hit the ball into the D to Ceitlin who was sitting on the goalie and deflected it in. Truly of “we practiced this at training” epic proportions.  My two goals both came from PCs, both from one-two’s.  First one went in cleanly; the second one was saved, ball bounced up, and I batted it in over the keeper.  I’d like to score a field goal.  But not today.  I think Kylie’s goal was from a hit at the top of the D, after she had earlier carved up the field in her right inner position.  Struggle to remember the rest – maybe some more from PCs, more from hits.
  • Key other roles – I remember Brenda finding heaps of space on the right hand side and going on some amazing runs; Marissa scared me off the ball – so keen were we all to have a run and a hit the poor full backs were feeling a little left out.  So when I ran back to get involved in defence and pick up the free ball, I realised that Marissa was actually looking to get involved in some hockey action… so I ran away again.
  • Annie having a good old chat with the English umpire, I couldn’t tell if it was advice, commendation, but I got the sense if he wasn’t careful she was going to adopt him and take him home
  • Me having some spare slices of lemon in my handbag. I tend to drink black tea with lemon now at work, and I had some unused and so, when the coronas were bought at the end of the game I duly dived into my handbag and said “slice of lemon, anyone?”  Eloise stated she had definitely picked the best hockey club to join.

Round 3 PEGS home – 3-1 win

Returning to the home-land, next up was PEGS.  Game was famous for:

  • Letting in our first goal #sadface
  • We went ahead in the first half, but after I gave away a free hit in the middle of the field, PEGS took off quickly and we were on the back-foot, and the ball was worked down the field, round the defence and into our goal. Some serious soul-searching needed to be done – could we bounce back in the second half?
  • We absolutely could. If I recall correctly, I’d spoken to the team about the quick free hits “If they can do it, we should look to do it too.”  Totally out of position, I took a quick free from the side line in the attacking 25, the ball made its way to Ceitlin, who turned into the D and slotted home.
  • We made sure we of the chocolates with a cunningly taken PC. I say “cunning” – PEGS were used to our style of PC.  Which is, ball comes to me at the top of the D, and I just wait for an overcommitted first runner, then pass to someone else and go from there.  PEGS were covering the “someone else” options.  So, just as I was thinking “I should probably just have a shot myself” Happy LG injected out shouting “JUST HAVE A SHOT YOURSELF” thus giving the game away not just to PEGS but also to every man, dog, woman and cat in the Brunswick suburb.
  • I did have a shot. It went in.  Looked quite nice if I do say so myself.  Only because I am famous for not being able to hit the ball, this being stressed so much that it is now a huge psychological problem.  Shame the WLV1 coach wasn’t there to admire it…

Game 4: Essendon away – 7-0 win

Yes, them goals just keep on rollin’ in.  Game famous for:

  • Scott Morrison. This game was the day after the Budget announcement, I was exhausted from work generally, and my head was all over the place.
  • I got the first goal from another hit from a PC. Yes, another hit.  I think I’ve used them all up.
  • Goals came from everywhere and everyone it seemed. Fitzy, now re-branded as Foxy, spinning, picked up a pass from me and flung the ball beyond the keeper.  Grace, Claudia and JWK all doing excellent post-work and slotting those crossed balls in and over the line.  All as well working incredibly hard running and up and down the wings and across the base-line.  Typically, if I am given the ball in midfield, most people run away into the darkness, but I can always see Grace going on amazing leads.
  • My head space. Not good.  I missed a one-two from a PC in the first half, pushing it past the right-hand post.  In the second half, I went off to retrieve a ball for a PC.  Then I realised everyone had run off so I assumed it was a 16 yard hit to Essendon (of the black variety).  “It’s a stroke!” Brunswick yelled.  “Oh. Anyone want to take it?”  Everyone shuffled off.  Guess where I put it?  Straight past the right-hand post.  That was my lasting take-away from the game.
  • I got interchanged. This never happens.  Apparently I looked tired.  This was me phasing myself out of the game unintentionally.  I was not tired.  Just needed to clarify that point.  I blame ScoMo.
  • Essendon had pre-ordered Take Away Noodles to arrive after the game. We were muchly jealous.
  • Tony’s last game in charged before he and Annie were to disappear off on vacation. A deeply serious discussion took place between him and HLG and Ceitlin on “handover”.  Happy L thought it a little overdramatic and a bit unnecessary.  Just park that thought.

Game 5: Yarra Valley home – 1-0 win

Where did all the goals go?  Game famous for:

  • The First Game Without Tony. Happy Lynnie begins to realise how tough it is trying to run a bench – particularly when she’s involved in the on and off the field process itself.
  • Lynnie’s pink socks. The socks were simply grand.  Her game was, well, I’m not sure how I can put this politely, a little less colourful, in fact, just off-colour.  BUT she came good at the end, and nailed a trap (previously these were lacking).  And we all stood about and applauded.
  • One of our fastest goals of all time! I think it came from our intitial push-back.  I passed right to Kylie, she moved the ball up the field, Ceitlin worked through the space, Grace took the ball up the end of the field, worked it round, Janet WK on the post puts it in the back of the net!  Watch out for JWK – she is sneaking up the goal scoring ladder with these goal sneaks… softly, softly…
  • We also missed some post-work; I remember one ball coming across the face of the goal and we had not one, but two lined up, not quite with sticks down enough in time to slot it home.
  • Defence holding strong. We had to keep our lead for most of the game.  We created chances ourselves but couldn’t do anything more.
  • TWO-TOUCH HOCKEY. I had been advised the previous night at training, that I held on to the ball for too long at Granny hockey.  I wasn’t sure if that was sarcastic or not, I typically only run with the ball in the attacking 25.  And so to prove that I was a passer, and not a hogger of the ball, I declared I would play two-touch hockey against Yarra.  For the uninitiated this means only touching the ball twice before I have had to have passed it on i.e. receive (one touch), pass on (second touch).  It’s almost  like applying restrictive netball rules to hockey.   I then later clarified that I would ensure the team’s best intentions were at front of mind, so if I had to change my angle and hold on for a bit longer I would do that.  As I have mentioned previously, sometimes it feels like the entire team runs away from me when I have the ball, and I was a little concerned this would put my two-touch plan literally into touch.
  • I NAILED IT. I had to run on once, to create space, and when in a tackling contest I’m not in complete control of the ball, so I’m not going to stop tackling saying “Sorry, I’ve already touched the ball twice, I’m out.”  I did acknowledge it wasn’t training and I did have to take the game somewhat seriously.  I gave just one pass to the opposition, and I gave away one free hit, but apart from that, everything else I did went to a Brunswick stick.
  • We had soup after the game!! Ceitlin, winning best on ground for the most impact on the game, knicked off to warm up her soup, and she fed us all! Best on ground all round. El reconfirmed she had definitely picked the best team to play for.
  • I then threw the soup up. It was all me.  Not the soup.

Round 6: Greensborough aka Yesterday’s Heros [sic] away

I’ll put the score to one side for now, but the context is: 1) they beat us 5-0 in the grand final last year 2) they have a key player who plays Premier League and has just returned from captaining the Australia over 35s team 3) getting to Greensborough is half the battle.

Roll back to the Essendon game and how Replacement Tony Lynnie thought the handover a bit dramatic?  The same person, pre-game out at The Burra, was quite different: “I don’t know how he manages it all.”

Somehow email confusion had resulted in one team member, Claudia, being left behind.  Others were unable to make it for various and valid reasons.  Meaning we were left with just 11 players and so therefore, no bench.  Not to worry as it actually makes it easier to manage the interchanges.  Cos there are none.

It being “quite mild for Greensborough” according to Janet W, and that being true, we were lucky with the conditions.  I got my water bottle filled with country water, having run out of the amazing H20 from La Trobe the previous Saturday.  In classic Greensie style, the further away from the club house you go, the colder it gets, but it was actually a pleasantly cool Autumn night, rather than a hail-filled Winter-chiller.

If ever there was a team that ran out firing from the blocks it was Brunswick Grannies on that pleasantly cool Autumn night.  I’m not sure if we drew inspiration from Yesterday’s Heros’ themselves; many of them fresh from the World Masters in NZ they were sporting a brand-new uniform, which looked fancy but as I commented to Lynnie “It looks like a rowing outfit.” In particular, it reminded me of New College, Oxford University but I kept that largely irrelevant thought to myself.

So there we were, flying out of the blocks.  A couple of one-on-one chances with the keeper fell our way, but they were saved.  I made a mental note that the Heros’ keeper was playing well, and we would have to resort to cunning to get the ball around her and into the net.  No sooner than I had that thought, and operating on stealth and quietness again, JWK appears, runs in, takes her on and slots it home!! The crowd went mad!

Ok, there was no crowd.  We didn’t even have a bench.  But we looked around at ourselves and thought “Wow, that was unexpected – but I’ll tell you what, we’ll take it!”

By half time, this had happened.  JWK latches onto a ball fired in from the left from Lynnie, from a ball from myself, and pushes it under the keepers’ feet.  Down in our defensive 25 I dig the ball out from some random tackle, pop it forward to Ceitlin….

Who literally (no exaggeration) runs the entire length of the field, rounds every Hero many times, and….. SCORES!!!

Amazing scenes!

Rather stunned, at half time we just remind ourselves that we just need to keep doing what we’re doing.

And we do just that.  The balance did change in the second half of the game, but that was probably because we returned to the field with a score to defend.  With Key Player hanging back in defence, we just had to watch her through-balls, and whilst they had PCs, Brunswick cleared strong, and we even had some more break aways.  My favourite being one where I had the ball and knew I had to place the ball far enough away from Key Player and at a speed she wouldn’t get (she does have to save herself for Prem League duties after all) but not so fast that dynamic winger Brenda couldn’t get it…. All this thought (yes really…) and off I sent the ball…

Past Key Player…

Down the wing…

Off runs Brenda…. Running, running, running…

And she gets it! She then fires the ball into the D and JWK was inches away from nailing her hattrick – in fact it was all she could do not to do a premature celebration.

Foxy Fitzy worked back so hard at CF to channel players out wide, Lynnie made tackle of the game on Key Player, and our wing halves in El and Kylie were strong all night.  But for the defence, whilst they seem to have been sitting on another clean sheet, their focus, and determination was very much required because the result could easily have been turned over.  It was by far and away the best team effort the team has put together – Dayle talked from her GK posi constantly, keeping us all on our toes and in the game.  And special mention to Claudia who hopefully wasn’t still standing in a Brunswick carpark at this point waiting for someone to pick her up.

As a group of players, even those who couldn’t play that night (some too sick, and whilst as professional chefs making what the team could only be Lemon Mucous Cake with her school kids), it was an incredible effort and one that showed just how far we have all come.  I actually didn’t have a great deal to do, everyone equipped themselves so well and largely the ball didn’t come through the middle too much – such is our ability and confidence to pass the ball around the back and up the flanks.  We are all taking on board the comments and calling that everyone makes, there’s a strong sense of trust and most of all and most importantly, we are relaxed and just simply enjoying our hockey, and playing to our strengths.

Whilst missing our coach, Lynnie commented afterwards “On behalf of Tony, can I just say, I am very proud of you all.”

There’s a long, long way to go in the season, but this was a 3-0 win away at Greensborough.  We lost to this side 5-0 in September, so that’s an 8 goal turn around. Sitting pretty at the top of the table, we can be fairly chuffed I’d have thought with what we have done so far.  We’re not going in for any premature celebrations just yet, but we might just have our Lemon Cake (without the mucous) and eat it while we can.

I had so much hockey writing to catch up on, I made a pie whilst writing.
Presentation never a strength

The Bruised and the Beautiful

Megsies and their Bruises

Fresh from our win of the previous week, the Women’s Vic Leftovers team of Brunswick were feeling buoyant, chipper and flying high on top of our little Brunswick suburb.  With the match against West Vic, back on home turf, looming we were facing what we would have thought would have been a great opportunity to get some more points on the board.

Training Tuesday was focused and frantic, with plenty of game-day based drills getting us to run up a sweat and learn to trap and move the ball under pressure, in match conditions.  By the time Thursday came, it was a slightly different story.  The good news was that Jessi had returned to the fold, with a diagnosis that wasn’t exactly peaches and cream – more like peaches and creosote – however, with a proper diagnosis at least one can better manage the problem.

Megsy the Wiser turned up, but shuffling gingerly having had a foot-based procedures the previous day.  I had a knee-based thing going on, but kept it taped up again and wearing leggings NO ONE KNOWS.  Then I had the misfortune of taking a slip on a slippy bit of pitch and streeeeeeeeetching out my hamstring-glute attachment thing just a taaaaaaaaad too much for comfort.  And to top this off, the coach was absent with a sore throat.  Would we be ready for Saturday?

The day came, bright and sunny again – we have been so lucky with that but I do fear I am tempting fate with that one – but Megsy the Younger turned up with egg on her face.

Not literally.  She had, however, just returned from coaching her wee junior girl team, and in an effort to escape them and the sprinkler she somehow managed to run into a bin.  Quite how she managed that I don’t know and I have no idea how big the bin was, but I can definitely say that the bin won.  The egg on her forehead was appearing and growing, and before we had even stepped onto the pitch she was already having to ice her noggin.

Warming up, my knee and hammy-glute-attachment seemed to want to stay in place which was excellent news, but just as I was thinking my taping was keeping all my bits in place, the reserves were playing and defending a penalty corner.  First runner sprints out…. Bravely gets in the way of the ball…. Then bends over. And play stops.  I wasn’t sure if it was boob, stomach, hand or arm, but by the time we had moved over to the dug-out Happy Lynnie Gilmore was off the field and not so happy and sporting a split thumbnail.  Thankfully Megsy the Younger had the ice, and she duly took the bag off her noggin and passed it onto the next victim.

First half underway and I would say that Brunnie was the dominant team, but we struggled to get shots on goal.  I have most definitely moved into the Role of RATS – Runaround After The Striker.  And so I did for 35 minutes, occasionally calling “I’m out” when I run off to a more threatening player with the ball who is otherwise being unchallenged.  I don’t mind this as a job, the hardest part I guess is keeping up with youngsters, and I had a couple of kiddos to look after this week.  Technically, given this, I don’t like marking in front as if they lead off me and I’m half a step behind, I will never get back into the contest.  Marking to the side, I can keep them to the wings, and hopefully stop any balls into the D.

So that’s my game-plan which I have now shared with the world, but I hardly think that will change the course of hockey history…

I leave the tackling and loose balls to the other full-back, Megsy the Wiser with her Foot.  I couldn’t seem to get my tackles in the zone on Saturday, but I just channelled wide, made some touches to put the players off their game, and just otherwise ran about.  The pitch, I have to say, was way out of form (it’s never great), and everyone, probably aside from Megsy the Wiser, was struggling with first touches and traps.  Shame.  We’d practiced on Tuesday.  Given it is our home turf, in all the six seasons I have been here we have never been able to turn it into our advantage.  It’s not like we expect great and glorious things from it, even on a good day.  Even gun player Keira found her touch was missing and, in attempting a toma shot on goal (which she does as easily as walking) it went a fair way wide of the goal and high up the fence behind, which was otherwise there to protect the car park.

“Mind my car!” came the encouraging call from the Coach.

In defending stoically, Megsy the Wiser got hit on the knuckle, which the umpire took to mean a PC against – telling her that she “had plenty of time to get her feet around.”  Not true.

By half time, the score was nil-all but the bruise on Megsy the Wiser’s knuckle was coming up a real treat.  Thankfully, someone remembered that there was a bag of ice around, and it was duly fetched back from Lynnie’s thumb, for Megsy’s knuckle.  Ever sensible, Coach Nic told Megsy to return to the field with the bag of ice on her hand but I think her confidence in the Brunswick defence to be able to stand around and do nothing for an entire half except for holding bags on hands was a little overstated.

The team linked up better in the second half with the short passes from the halves, to mids to strikers making good for some decent linkages.  I was still RATS, and whilst one kiddo came close to a toma shot on goal, I had to laugh at her youngness: “Umpire!” she yelled out to the official, thinking that she was fully allowed to push against me and not have me move out of the way.

Push me, expect me not to move. Push harder and me standing my ground will therefore seem like I’m pushing harder back.  Leave me alone, and ditto back at ya.  Unsurprisingly the umpire gave the forward nothing.

Maz was picking up anything loose that was free, and I’m pretty confident now not to go into half-tackles in the D that will more likely than not result in a PC but leave a straight clean shot for her to mop up.

Back at the other end of the field, we were pressing more and getting close to getting the goal.  Mushy, having earlier been shown a green card for a stray elbow, took advantage of a free hit just outside the 25 meaning a quick release to the D, finding a free Bridget who slotted home!! Bridge, ever keen to rebrand as a striker, making her mark just when we needed to get something on the scoreboard.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one conscious that we needed to do something with this scoreline that didn’t involve the opposition getting equal.  They came close, but the defence was solid and being very focused on calling each other into position and honouring the calls that came from behind us. In the last ten minutes of the game we finally capitalised from a Penalty Corner – Jessi “back pain, what back pain” Dillon slamming the ball into the goal before the keeper had a chance to lie down; how it made it underneath her beats me, such is the strength and speed of Brunswick’s resident goat’s hit.

We then finally relaxed into the game; the last 8 minutes saw us with many penalty corners and even though West Vic took off their keeper to put another field player onto the pitch, they sadly didn’t see any benefit fall their way.  Having said that, I will absolutely praise their defence; without a keeper they must have kept out 4+ PCs?  And a couple of those were with one defender short, having broken from the sprint out.  Very admirable and brave – and they kept us out.

So final score 2-0 to the Wickers, and it was a relaxed and happy team that was able to stay and enjoy watching the men battle it out in their games afterwards.

The bruises of the Megsies grew and grew, with local ice supplies well in use.

Bruises are temporary; our beautiful selves will otherwise continue to soldier on, taped, strapped, and tiger-balmed to the eyeballs.  Flying high or flopping about just above the rooftops, we are there in the black and the white.  Let’s keep this roll going girls!

Post-script: this was written before I realised there was even more blood, breakages and stitches required across the Brunnie teams on Sunday.  I have it on record that Happy Lynnie G says “Megsy the Younger started it.”  Those darned bins gone rogue.

“Exterminate”