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:
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.
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.
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:
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.