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Match Report Round 18 & Season Wrap

Metaphorically a dark cloud casted over Ted Ajani at 1.45pm. Jarrod Prior helping out the reserves, in his last ten playing minutes in his beloved Blue and Gold found himself in what seemed a innocuous position with a contested ground ball, over 20 years of adult football he would have played out a similar scenario thousands of times. But on this particular occasion there was a freak awkwardness to it and he broke his leg. With 2 ambulances on the TAJ the vibe was sickening, not only for the excruciating pain Rusty was in but the ramifications that came with it. You think, you worry about his livelihood, his business, his family’s livelihood, this was not in the script, this was a cruel blow to a great human helping out the club he loves.
His been working his butt off the last few years, 80-100 hours a week, built his dream house and started his own business , him and Kate had set themselves and their 2 gorgeous boys up for a great life, it’s not all doom and gloom, the Prior’s and their close knit will rally and will find a way through but it just totally sucks.

The start of the game was delayed and we touched on honouring Rusty, we touched on honouring our efforts for the year, we touched on what was at stake with a loss meaning potential relegation, we touched on getting caught up in the overall picture would be walking into a trap and we committed to focus on the now, to be aware of the future but not let it distract us from the present, to play each minute as it came and just to play ball, we play our best when we just play ball.

There were lots of emotions bouncing about the walls of our inner sanctum and to the lads credit they embraced them with a coolness and calmness.

We welcomed in Cherbakof, Tribuzio, Aguis and King and the boys walked out with a steely resolve to take on 7th placed Eltham. Kicking with a 3 goal wind towards the Bone Hill end the turtles had certainly came to play and dominated the first few centre clearances and had the better of us for the first 5 minutes. We weren’t rattled and we worked ourselves into the game with Cherbakof kicking our first with a opportunistic soccer kick off the ground, a bit of dejavu from our last game against the turtles. Considine then kicked a classy running goal and Tribuzio a great long range set shot. Their gun forward was up and about with a couple of early ones but I really liked what I saw when we had the ball, there was a surety, we had a strong sense of confidence and belief in our talent and ability, mixed in with run , composure and instinctiveness, mixed in with passion and pride for our blue and gold jumper. It was good mix.
We moved Nick ‘the Hammer’ Palumbo onto their gun forward and he did a superb job on him for the rest of the game. Robo read it beautifully from the sidelines and we brought in our specialist sweeper Sir Robert Edsall into the stoppages to immediate effect and Scotty De Keizer also came in and did some ruck work which was hugely important in us establishing ourselves for the day. We went into quarter time 6.3 to Eltham’s 3.2 and with the strong wind the game was delicately poised.
The second quarter saw our gun midfield trio of J.Cowell, McLaughlin and Wilson imposed themselves onto the game with Lucisano super busy on the ground and in the air. Spiz was lively and smart at half forward too. Our defence was brilliant and cohesive with the likes of Tourogianis, M.Cowell, Wallis and Galapi repelling many attacks and Eltham didn’t kick a goal for the quarter and we kicked 2 and we went into the sheds at half time five goals up. It was one of our stand out quarters of the year.
Having a ponder now, our second quarter against Eltham last time was one of our worst, they kicked 7 straight and we went into the sheds at half time 40 points down. But in saying that it was a key moment in us discovering our new mindset of accountable football, a new heighten awareness and focus and commitment on putting pressure on the ball carrier and urgently getting back on our opponents  on rebound transitions. That second quarter they had time, space and room to steady and kick truly but on Saturday they had anything but.

Dakin capped off a great season and carved it up in the 3rd and was super all day playing and adapting in a variety of roles, Rob Brancatisano kept working and imposing himself at ground ball contests, Agius and Rogers kept putting on the tackling pressure. Eltham kept coming and we had a couple of things not go our way but we held our nerve. Burridge had a great quarter and gained allot of metres with his long boot.
We kicked 2 goals to Eltham’s 1 and it was a 6 goal game at 3 quarter time.
I guess it did have the makings of the last quarter against St Leos a few weeks earlier, similar score line, similar conditions, but we finished strong, we unleashed Kingy onto the ball and Big Tez was throwing his weight around in the ruck. They kicked a couple, we kicked a couple, we kept them at arms length, we knew the club was going to be safe and all the lads savoured the feeling of being out there, they savoured the feeling of playing, they savoured the feeling of being draped in blue and gold and chasing a red oval ball around a patch of grass we call our home with 21 mates and a community watching on and riding each and every bump.
I was so proud of the boys , it really was a clutch performance, you could see and feel how much it meant and we all sung our song from the place in our hearts that beats Bulleen Temp. The feeling in the rooms was of magic and appreciation for each and every one, it was a warm and fuzzy cocoon of Bull Ant love.

There were lots of hugs and high fives and it was great to see the Considine family Mum included in the rooms after selling  their family home earlier that day and then watching Micheal put on a Rolls Royce performance with 4 classy goals. How Brodie finished the season was rather remarkable, being out on his feet and copping a head knock late in the last with the game won yet wanting more and to go again. Billy Wilson was simple brilliant all day and lead from the front and showed some real leadership qualities. Jack Cowell  put in another special performance and Cherbs was all Bull Ant heart playing in pain and playing on one leg to get us across the line. Lucisano, Edsall, De Keizer , Tribuzio, Wallis, Tourogianis and Palumbo were all outstanding on the day and the rest was a very even team performance with everyone contributing.

Season review

By jingoes! What a thrilling relegation race it turned out to be, it had the lot! 8 point do or dies, upsets and it ultimately came down to percentage. As it turned out if we had of lost against Eltham we’d be heading down to Division 3 with 9th placed Glen Eira having a convincing 6 goal win over Old Parade. Parade went on to beat Melbourne High in the first semi by a couple of points, and then lead by 2 goals at 3 quarter time in the preliminary against West Brunswick to go down by 4 goals on the day. Glen Eira also beat finalist Melbourne High by 4 goals in round 17. It proved to be a remarkable, unusual and even season with 7th 8th and 9th all finishing on 7 wins. We over took Eltham on percentage and finished 7th on 97%, Eltham in 8th on 95% and Glen Eira in 9th on 90%. As it turned out each and every goal we kicked and saved over the season counted, and aside from the Prahran losses we only let the end score line get away from us on one occasion, which was by 37 points to Parade at home. The average losing margin for the 8 other losses was by only 15 points. And credit to the lads for never giving up and playing to the siren, combining that with our 69 point win over Glen Eira in round 15 and that is the difference between relegation and us
staying in D2. To be fair Glen Eira can consider themselves very unlucky to be relegated. Going over each and every division of the ammos for the last 7 years they are the only team to have been relegated on 7 wins. And on only 3 occasions there has been sides relegated on 6 wins, with the average 4. Although we didn’t make finals the last month was finals like and the lads were up to the challenge with 3 great clutch wins against Glen Eira, St Leos and Eltham. They stood up and played some great ball under allot of pressure which I think are now some fantastic foundations going into next season.
There is a small part of me that thinks what could have been, injuries to key personnel in Pace, Bettiol, Voglis and Springett early in the season was super unlucky. We only had our Bull Ant bus driver and skipper for 2 and half quarters, and when your thinking on this tangent if Pace was in the side you can’t help but entertain winning scenarios for our close losses in round 3, 4 and 5. Having seen and felt how the group responds to Micheal, how he inspires them and how he pokes them when they need a jolt to get in the moment and in touch with what we’re about, it’s contagious and healthy habits would have been created and been galvanised with the winning feeling. Instead the losses took us on a different path in addressing our bad habits which were costing us 3 to 5 goals a game which were a major contributor to those early losses. We came up with GOWI (get on with it), and played a inspiring, super positive, team oriented brand of football in round 6 for a great win away against Melbourne High. We got in touch with the good stuff of playing united selfless Bull Ant footy and I still vividly remember watching on that day with goosebumps. And then we lost our way at home against parade, I went too big picture before the game and didn’t address the blustery wind conditions which contributed to us going into our shells and playing a brand of football that wasn’t consistent with what we’re about.
The week that followed was a real challenging one, I was consumed with getting my head around a personal derogatory comment towards a player written on our change room wall, our inner sanctum from a anonymous person or persons. It really affected me, it was really mean and went against the Bull Ant ethos of supporting and believing in each other.  All the other stuff that was by play of things I’d try, often unorthodox things I found very interesting. And I did notice a trend from the feedback that would filter through. The trend was people jumping on the negatives and what was wrong with it without considering the potential positives it could bring. I felt a underlining negative vibe in pockets around the place that has understandably crept in over the last few years. Around this time numbers started to drop on the track and outside the core senior players I probably lost the enthusiasm of allot of the playing group with the combined factor of a growing injury list, the colder weather creeping in and some disgruntled players, it’s happened for forever and a day, it’s been in all the clubs and teams I’ve been involved with , players thinking they are better than they actually are and then they naturally get found out on the footy field because there is no place to hide and then they shift their deficiencies to making excuses from the environment instead of hitting the track and working their arses off. But the last thing I wanted was to pressure the group to get to training because that can easily flip players from being committed and invested to feeling obligated which can lead to footy and the club becoming a chore in their lives. This has happen in recent years and we’ve lost great young men and talented footballers from the club. Obviously wins in the bank would have been a natural motivator, and the importance of getting to training after these mid season losses was spoken about by the players. But the proof was in the pudding on Tuesday and Thursday’s and throughout the course of the season there was probably a dozen times when it was 6 o’clock and only a handful of Bull Ants were in the rooms, I remember feeling absolutely devastated, but I’d go and have a moment with myself, re group and re load and with help from the core and Jumma we turned every training into a ripper session. You remember these nights , you remember the Bull Ants that were there.
Another trend I noticed was we had allot of good trainers when it was convenient for them, we had allot of great club people when it was convenient for them, we only had a handful of players that fronted up and got involved when it wasn’t convenient for them, that still wanted to be there when they didn’t feel like being there. And there in lies the character of a great club man. I’m not having a go at anyone I’m just saying that is how it was, and the prospect of 10-15 more Bull Ants discovering this distinction excites me incredible because that will lead to a successful era and prosperity for the club.
Round 7 against Parade , round 8 against Prahran and the first half against Eltham in round 9 was our lowest ebb of the year. They were searching times and as i mentioned earlier we discovered a new way to go about it with a strong defensive mindset. Training continued to be low numbers but credit to the lads because as a collective they brought it each week and came to play on game day. Round 10 was a fantastic high standard game of suburban football against second placed West Brunswick. I get along with their coach and he said he was very impressed with how we moved the ball. The result was on a pendulum and came down to a couple of plays late in the last and we were a bit unlucky that the Sherrin didn’t bounce our way. We really set ourselves for that one and I see that game as 1 of the four that could have gone our way. Another 2 were the Yarra Valley games, I just thought and felt we had their measure but credit to them they did what needed to be done. The other was the parade away game, 23 shots on goal to 5 at half time with only a 14 point lead and then they took their chances in the second half and that one was definitely one that got away. If a few things had of gone our way, if we had been more disciplined and taken our chances I think it’s reasonable to say we could have won 11 games and played finals. And i take full responsibility for that. In a few aspects I had a gut feeling on some things and wasn’t pro active enough. Getting 7 wins was important though , not just on staying in the grade but for the lads to get a taste of the winning feeling. It has a similar feeling to 2005 when we had a competitive year with 7 wins and consolidated. That was only the 3rd season this decade the club has had 7 or more wins in a season and the first time in the last 4 seasons. I remember many passages of play in the first half of the season where we were doing everything we could , we were in the right spots but somehow it would unravel with the opposition getting the ball and scoring which left me looking over to Rocket scratching my head thinking how did that just happen. In the second half of the year though, as we collectively gained more belief and confidence in our talent and ability these passages of play faded from our game and we even starting turning 40 / 60 ground/air contested ball chances our way. Going over the list each and every player has improved in some way shape or form and we really started to get a sense of and play to each other’s strengths. So all of that is really encouraging moving forward.

We had 46 Bull Ants play senior football in 2017. We had some fantastic new and returned additions to the club with Scott DeKeizer, Rob Brancatisano, Aaron Tribuzio, Micheal Considine and Tyler Aguis all making significant contributions to the senior side. It was great to see Jimmy Dedes come back from a long term injury and play some solid footy. We saw great development from our young ruckmen Terry Harrisou and Lachy Bruce. Our Co Captains Luca, Sir Rob and Leathal lead the way and gave me fantastic support the whole way through, all 3 are very special Bull Ants, Bull ants through and through and we are very lucky to have them. Our vice captains in Jack, Chance and Trojan were all fantastic too with all having a great feel and read on the game. Trojan was a breath of fresh air for the club and we all feed off and lifted to his high standards. Our ex Captains in Billy T and Cherbs were a great support and resource for the playing group and myself. And Brodie, Billy W and Daks showed great leadership qualities and i can see all of them leading the Bull Ants onto the TAJ at some stage in the years to come. Chris Galapi showed some exciting signs but with ongoing niggles struggled to find continuity in his footy but look out for a big 2018 from CG. It was great to see Nick Palumbo thrive in the pressure cooker of deep defence and Kristian Matuzzio further develop his game down back and in midfield roles. Oran Aziz was incredibly unlucky with injuries and never really got out of 2nd gear, I would have loved to have seen the X factor in 5th gear but it wasn’t to be and credit to him for getting to training and the games and supporting the lads when he couldn’t be out there running around. It was great to see Spiz play his 200th and then come back from a stint in the reserves and be a crucial cog for us in the last month. Matty Cowell was also a crucial cog for us in defence over the last month and played consistent footy over the season. Joseph Paolucci and Mathew Palexas had interrupted seasons but showed some great form when they played. Joey Moio fought his way into the senior side and showed some great signs. Micheal Rogers brought tackling tenacity week to week and found some really good form mid year. We exposed Leon Dimopoulos to a good stint of senior ball and he’ll be allot stronger for the run going into next season. We enjoyed having Oakleigh Charger and Bull Ant Luke Stacker come and play a couple of games with us, a huge talent and we wish him well and support him in which ever way he wants to take his football. Andrew Verga was very important in our Melbourne High away win and was building into some good form before unfortunately doing his knee. And it was great to see Ashwyn Mohandas return to the club and was building nicely towards becoming a senior regular before he too suffered a knee injury. And as I mentioned earlier Skipper Pace, Luke Bettiol, Pete Voglis and John Springett where all huge losses for us and we’re all carving it up before the footy gods dealt a cruel hand. And we only briefly saw the footy skills and smarts of Olli Schmidt and Alan Hodges. We exposed Joe Caridi, Anthony Poci, Anthony King and Luke Sheil to some senior football and we had some helping hand cameos from Ben O’Conner, Rusty, Odi and Benda.
And we celebrated some special milestones with Billy’s 250th, Spiz’s 200, Luca’s 150th, Jack’s 100th and Palumbo’s Joey’s and Galapi’s 50th senior games.

Top Tens

Best and fairest
1 BM 187
2 JC 105
3 BW 76
4 LW 74
5 RE 55
6 KC 54
7 SD 48
8 CB 31
9 PV 23
10 NP 21

Disposals                    Total.    Avg
1.Jack Cowell               492      28.9
2.Brodie McLaughlin   477      28
3.Billy Wilson               372       23.3
4.David Dakin.             312.      18.5
5.Rob Edsall.                278.      18.5
6.Leith Wallis.               262.     16.4
7.Kristian Cherbakof.   257.      17.1
8.Chance Burridge.     233.      16.6
E9.Aaron Tribuzio.       214.      19.5
E9.Ant Lucisano.          214.      16.5

*no stats recorded round 1

Tackles
1.Brodie McLaughlin   112
2.Billy Wilson               107
3.Rob Edsall                 98
4.David Dakin.              97
5.Jack Cowell               70
6.Leith Wallis.               68
7.Anthony Lucisano.    67
8.Scott DeKeizer          59
9.Micheal Rogers.        58
10.Billy Tourogianis      57

Games
18 JCw, BM ,DD
17 BT, BW, LW
16 RE, KC, NP
15 CB, MR
14 MCw, AL
13 MCs, RB
12 SD, AT
11 CG, KM, LD
9 LBr ,SL, TH
8 TA
7 JPa,JD,MPx,AV
6 OA, JM
5 PV
3 LBt
2 LSt , AK, AM, JS, JCa
1 MP, OS, AH, AP, BO, JPr, JO,JB, LSh

Goals
1.Kristian Cherbakof.          49
2.Anthony Lucisano.           20
3.Peter Voglis                      19
4.Micheal Considine.          15
5.Brodie McLaughlin.          14
6.Scott DeKeizer                 13
6.Jack Cowell                      13
8.Billy Wilson                         7
8.Rob Brancatisano.             7
8.Spiro Lambropolous          7

Congratulations to Brodie on winning the best and fairest with a amazing season of high level consistent footy that was great to watch. Stacked with talent and ability , a great attitude and hunger and was our best trainer and always the last one off the track. A pure football player, a most deserving winner , it was a very special season.

Congratulations to Jack on the runners up and a fantastic consistent season of high level footy. Jack had just 2 less votes than Brodie in my count. Going over the games each week I really got to go over and marvel at what Jack does out on the pitch. And he consistently did clutch things at clutch times. A pure footballer and also a very special season.

Congratulations to Billy on his 3rd place and a fantastic season. Brought it each week and totally dominated patches of matches. Played with his Bull Ant heart on his sleeve, one of our best tacklers ,one of our most inspiring players, took the game on and become a more rounded player and accumulator of the ball. A absolute beauty !

Congratulations to Leathal on 4th place and a fantastic season. Lead from the front and adapted beautifully to any given role and match up on the day which saw him go toe to toe with the giants of the comp in the goal square or shutting down a clever running player on the wing. A absolute beauty!

Congratulations to Kristian Cherbakof for winning the divisions goal kicking. Cherbs is all Bull Ant heart and cares deeply for the club. He was leading my vote count after round 5 and then was hampered with a ongoing injury and played restricted and in pain for the rest of the season, he shouldn’t have been playing the last month but willed himself too and was a major contributor to us staying in the grade

Thankyous

H, Russ, Andrew
The players biggest fans in President H Secretary Russ and Treasurer Andrew all gave me fantastic support over the year and we’re all titanium in the week to week running of the club. They ooze love for the club , what we represent and provide a great environment for young men and women to enjoy.
So a big huge thanks to H, Russ and Andrew for supporting me, for believing in me and for taking a chance and giving me a chance. Looking back over the year i have many fond memories of these great guys, one of Harry’s is his comedy form on the preseason camp, it was a ripper camp and H’s quick wit had Jumma and me in stitches all weekend, he was hilarious. And on a serious note how H handles and critiques the big and important things like the Dave Floz accident is pure first class. With Russ the fondest memory was when he got a little emotional talking on the Thursday before our grand final relegation game against Glen Eira, it was a beautiful pure moment that inspired the group. And with Andrew it was our weekly chats, touching base and talking Bull Ants.

To Jumma
It was a absolute delight to rekindle our friendship and take it to new levels. You were my week to week rock, and we rode
the bumps together , a great sounding board and a inspiration, I really admire how you tackle and breakdown situations, i learnt a great deal
from you and your enthusiasm was infectious.
We had allot of laughs, we had a lot of fun , thankyou for your unwavering support, love ya big fella

To Rocket
Was a amazing resource for me that has a fantastic read and feel on the playing group. Was able to accurately draw comparisons on where we were and where we had been which really helped gauge that we were on the right track. Really took on, understood and embraced where i was trying to go with things and saw the potential positives in them. This was massive for me, and I greatly appreciated that mate ,  your a gem and one of Bulleen Temps finest, thankyou

To Robo
We’ve always loved talking Bull Ants hours on end,  it’s both of ours favourite subject in the world so this year was just brilliant sharing the experience with you. You had a great articulate read on the game, your passion for the club shone through and your support for me unwavered. I enjoyed us having a laugh leaving the ground on match day feeling buggered as if we had played Thankyou Sir Paul

To Rusty
Brought fantastic footy smarts and ethos to the track and game day and was pivotal in installing how we moved the ball by coming up with ripper instructive drills. Was instrumental in finding the rotation groove that best suited the team. Thanks Rust for your efforts this year , to make time amongst huge business commitments and family and to come down and help me out I’ll always be so grateful for. It was really great to get the 3 musketeers in Robo, you and me back together.

To Murph
Thankyou for your support and your words of wisdom. You created a great vibe in the rooms on game day for the lads and have the operation down to tee and I didn’t have to worry about anything but coaching because you had it all sorted. And you chimed in and stood up beautifully when needed and you rallying everyone together for a pizza night after our 20 goal Prahran loss was one of those times. Thanks mate

To Bobby
Those cold winter Tuesday nights after a loss where only a few showed i could always count
on Bobby to be there and we’d sit down and go over the game and start planning for that weeks games before training was massive. Thankyou mate

Adam Taylor
Set us up really well with a super preseason, brought a real edge, energy, intensity and esprit de corp to the group. Embraced the club and just loved it and we all learnt allot from you through your great story telling. Thanks Tails and thankyou to Kingy and Healthy Vibes.

Simo
A big huge thanks to Simo our stats man, Simo was a great addition to the team and amidst the frenetic pace of game day he had a real calming influence on me and gave a articulate fresh perspective and read on the game. The stats were a fantastic resource and gave us a gauge on what was happening on match day. I also love that they show the body of work the players have done over the season. Thanks Simo

Pete Satori
Just a massive effort, this selfless great Bull Ant was everywhere and was always happy to help in whatever capacity, in all my time at the club I’ve never seen a Bull Ant wear as many hats as Pete did this year. Thankyou Pete for your support and all the chop outs you gave me.

Thanks to Kenyan, Tullsy and Vergs for helping me out on the sidelines and on the training track at various times throughout the season and for all of the great advice.

Congratulations to Vergs, Pete, Chris Galapi and their colts teams on winning a double premiership, an amazing effort supported and assisted beautifully by the Junior Prez Matthew Agrotis, a great Bull Ant.

Pacey
We were flying brother and i was loving every minute, the drives to and from training , the banter , we were nutting it out, we were on top of the world, sharing the dream and going for it. I missed you mate.
And it is absolutely fantastic news for the club that your going to give football another crack, this warms my heart and come on football gods give Skip a good run at it!

To Luca who backed me to the hilt, you remember moments and early on I had a few shadows of doubt and Luca would roll in and in his subtle way be this big ball of positive energy   that believed in me and that gave me so much confidence. Thankyou brother

To Sir Rob
A massive support to me and a great sounding board that gave me great feedback. Always there bringing the good vibes, bringing the ptraining treats, bringing a elite training and playing attitude. Thankyou Sir Rob

To Leathal
Missed one session for the year, was relentless on rallying the troops, getting the group organised, I have so much respect for this. Backed me and really took on board and tried to understand whatever tangent I was trying to explain. Thankyou Leathal

A big huge thanks to the Canteen crew, gee they do it well, Santino, Pep, Boydy, Daks,Pino Nick P and co run a well refined smooth operation and they treated us all year. It’s not only the good food but it’s the good vibes they bring. And I loved my Tuesday chats with Santino each week, thanks mate

Harry Urwin
Was a absolute delight to work with and I can’t imagine anyone else doing a better job. He absolutely nailed it embracing the club and introducing our new sisters into our football community family.

Chris Costa and Co
I can’t thank enough the guys that got behind camera and filmed our games, it really was a sacrificial role and proved to be a amazing tool for us to learn and develop from. A massive thanks to Chris Costas who did the bulk of the filming and thanks to Lachy Bruce, Matty Nicolas, Oran Aziz, Toota, Pep, George, Moza, Sir Rob ,Micky Rogers and Pete Sartori who pitched in brilliantly.

And there’s so many more thankyous and things I enjoyed throughout the season which all add up to making the Bull Ants a great place to be. I enjoyed seeing Johnny Matthews bringing in a box of freshly pressed VAFA records each Thursday night, I enjoyed seeing Jack Millar on the step platform on the side of the scoreboard having a dart each game day. Daks senior was always around to lend a helping hand. Santino’s white lines on the ground were exquisite. Andrew and Pete Sartori and co were always all welcoming smiles behind the bar. Our Vice President Andrew ‘Soy’ Sholakis was great support for Harry and had us decked out in top notch attire. And the rest of the committee in Dakati, Pete S, Pete V, Paul L, Santino, Anthony D, Toota, Luca, Spiz and co kept the Bull Ant wheels turning with after hours meetings, and the same with JP with our website and Moose recording games played. Thankyou to everyone for your efforts.
The Ladies day and Mr Bull Ant night was a highlight with Vergs, Toota, Nick and co doing a truckload of work bringing it all together. And Toota and co again for the cocktail night.  Robo, Nipper and co did a awesome job with the past players day and Keasty, Murph and co had another great club 100 luncheon. It was great to see Colt players in Jack Galapi, the Voglis twins and co run water for us and doing the boundary.  Tony Cowell was a precise technician behind the goals and I always enjoyed looking over and seeing Mr Stott, Micky T and co waving the flags.  And there would always be a great Bull Ant in Stevie P, Daniel Tonelli and co with a whistle in their hand in the reserves game and the same with the interchange stewards. And how good is Georgie, always around loving the vibe and he helped me out many times, thanks George.
The trainers in Cam, Jake, Lauren, Alexi, Rou and co were absolutely fantastic and all embraced the club and jumped on the roller coaster with us. Seeing Cam injured in a moon boot not able to train but still at games to cheer us on was awesome! And how about those Bones in Pete, Nick and Damo with Robo fixing our lights, that was massively important with 4 teams training on the TAJ at the one time and using every inch of it, thankyou to you legends, Bull Ants through and through. How everyone rallied and got behind Dave Floz and the Florence family was very special and seeing him back on the track was my highlight for the year, it really was a real life miracle. Marc Iacuone paying full subs when he was only planning to play a few games was pretty special. And Sabba’s, Rexy’s, Pete V’s, Leath’s, Soy’s , Pacey’s, Edsall’s and Toota’s efforts selling club memberships was special too. Trish Matthews’s stall of hand knitted apparel amongst the reptiles in the club rooms as Dave Floz whirled some fairy floss for the kiddies out the front on family fun day was awesome. Rob Edsall’s old man’s war jeep at the front on Anzac say was really cool. Toota on the commentary during the Hawthorn game was one of the more funnier moments for the season, it was classic Toota. And best parent supporter has to go to Suzanne who was there religiously every week cheering on her boy Brodie and the Bull Ants. Poci and Sabba’s quiz for the pre season camp was a beauty and Rexy’s hosting the queens birthday bbq at his work was awesome. And spin the wheel one week raised the roof and was the biggest group laugh we’ve enjoyed in many a year, what a classic. Jumma’s blindfolded trust exercise pre season was also a classic.
And there’s many many more little efforts and big efforts which all made the Bull Ants nest a great place to be.

But there is definitely a unhealthy balance there in regard to workloads and the week to week running of the club. Too few did too much, and I reckon it’s burnt out a few great Bull Ants, as a club we need to get better at this , I’d love to see more parents come down and get involved and help share the load, and when you are helping behind the scenes you feel more engaged in the game because your apart of it. And that is a great thrill.

On a personal level it was a great honour to coach our proud club, on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, it was very stimulating and I enjoyed and valued being engaged in many Bull Ant lives. We had a crack and I really feel we have found our mojo and have set some fantastic foundations and healthy habits moving into the future.
The club is advertising for the 2018 coaching position and has invited me to apply for the job.
This time last year I felt in my heart of hearts that I was the right man for the job, but at this very moment I’m not sure,  it is a all consuming lifestyle so I’m going to let the dust settle for a few more weeks and see how I feel, see how hungry I am and see if I feel that I am the right man for the job. At this moment I might not be, there might be a ex AFL player out there keen for the challenge or there might a Bull Ant super keen and super hungry for the challenge. Robo, Vergs and Rusty would all be fantastic coaches. Every year is precious, it really is,  and I feel we are a sleeping giant that’s about to wake up.
Once again thankyou to every single Bull Ant out there, we really are a special club and are a great community.
There’s nothing better than being a Bull Ant.
Love Chivs

Match Report Round 17

Round 17

We ventured out to Toorak park to take on top of the table Prahran. We welcomed in Luke Shiel for his senior debut and O’Donnell and Bendoricchio playing their first games for the year.

Wow! Fair play Prahran , fair play! What a force ! What a fit, strong , skilful, footy smart team playing as a tight unit, they would be competitive in C grade, they just played ball, they were relentless , they had a thirst for more and more and more and enough was never enough. They are where we want to be be this time next year. They had 12 to 13 blokes as fit as our fittest 3. Their spread was spectacular and they had precision skills to match. We kept up for a quarter and a half with some great ball and it was a exciting game to watch with good tough footy on the inside and skilful ball use and running on the outside.
Our game plan was to choke their spread and put pressure on the ball carrier. Dakin and Wilson had jobs on a couple of their key playmakers and both started very well with Dakin getting a free kick from a forward line stoppage and going back and slotting a set shot from 40 out. Chris Galapi also started very well with plenty of dash off the half back flank. Leigh Wallis had a huge assignment playing on Ariel Steinberg in his 5th outing for the 2 blues. Steinberg was picked 31st by Essendon in the 2010 national draft. He played 10 games for them and was one of the 33 banned bombers. 24 years of age and at 191 cm he covered the ground like a AFL player. Although Steinberg was dominate with a knack of turning half chances into goals Leith more than held his own and out played/marked/maneuvered him consistently throughout the day. Odi was most impressed how Leith went about it.
Our second goal was from a great intercept mark and set shot by De Kiezer, Micky Rogers then slotted a beauty from long range and our 4th goal for the term came from some Jackie Cowell stoppage magic with De Keizer finishing the work.
General play was even for the quarter, we let ourselves down with a few forward 50 entries that were off the mark. Prahran kicked 5 for the quarter, 3 from 3 getable shots and snapped 2 goals from 3 half chances.
We started the second well, Palumbo continued his good form in deep defence with Matty Cowell and Tourogianis in support. Our 5th goal came from skilful transition from the back line starting with Jack Cowell to Wilson who found Spiz who put it out nicely to De Keizer who turned and hit up a leading McLaughlin. I was impressed how the forwards were leading, working in and out of space together, there’s some real understanding and cohesion happening.

It was 5 goals a piece. And then I’d say Prahran’s fitness started to come to the fore backed up by their precision ball use. We started to lag a touch and errors in execution started to creep in with missed handballs, clangers and dropped marks. Truth be told the playing core are worn out, the work load over the season has taken a toll, we continued to fight but we couldn’t keep up with Prahran’s break neck transition and they well and truly got on top and went into half time 6 goals up.

The 3rd and 4th continued in the same vain with Prahran’s relentless running and they put out us to the sword, to our credit we went down with honour. We fought on gallantly and consistently showed glimpses of good ball. McLaughlin was a stand out in the 3rd caning himself on the ball and Wilson was lively on the wing. Everyone played out the game, but Prahran was just too good, by far the best team in the grade and one of if not the best D2 side I’ve ever seen.

With Glen Eira having a upset win against Melbourne High we find ourselves only out of relegation zone by percentage. Glen Eira have a winnable game against Parade and we play Eltham this week and our destiny is our hands, this is our Grand final!

We’re at home this week and we would love your support, we’d love to see you around the huddles, Robo’s been rallying the troops like Flaps and Skip and we’d love you to jump on board.

See you at the game
Chivs

Match Reports Rounds 13-16

Round 13 vs Parade

We went into round 13 treating it like a elimination final, only 2 games out of the four and playing a contender for 4th spot in Old Parade. Intensity and focus at training was heighten and we had club legend, life member, ex Captain, ex Coach,  senior games record holder, best and fairest, all time leading goal kicker and Bull Ant through and through and St Kilda player Dean Mathews say a few words to the lads after the teams were read out on the Thursday night. I asked him to talk about the Bullant journey of 1999, and in particular the time when after a shaky start of four wins and four loses we got on a winning rolling that took us to the big dance. Kenyan was captain and at the peak of powers and he delved into a epiphany he had. It was in the rooms before the Old Carey game and Pat Benatar’s ‘All fire up’ was playing in the background. For some reason or another on this particular day some of the lyrics rang true and had a profound effect on him , ‘for everyone there comes a time’ , and for him it was to fully give himself to the team, to be selfless for the team in whatever role was needed. And there in lies the distinction, the epiphany, he was a great club man, he was captain, he was a gun, he loved the club, he was passionate about the club, but in this moment he took ownership that there was a individual element to his game. The Geelong premiership era comes to mind, they were a team of superstars but the glue to their success was each and every player gave themselves to the team. And that’s what Kenyan did and the ripple effect was a Bull Ant juggernaut for the second half of the 1999 season. As a young Bull Ant playing my second season of senior footy in the back pocket I remember the feeling before the game and on the track, you could taste it in the air, it was magic, it was like being on a ground swell gaining momentum. I felt the that feeling again in 2004, 2008 and 2012 and to a lesser extent 2006 and 2007. This year we’ve flirted with that feeling, we’ve captured it at times but haven’t been able to hang onto it. I get goosebumps when we do, I get so excited for the lads when they do because the feeling I had when I was a player and apart of a Bull Ant groundswell are some of the best of my life.

The Friday before the came I immersed myself in the song and more of its lyrics rang and sang true to where we are at.
‘Where everything falls in line’ rang true, this season has been a continual process of working and improving on the fundamentals, and it felt like it was all going to come together and fall in line.
‘We live and learn from our mistakes’ also rang true and we have learnt from our mistakes , we have learnt from our loses.
‘The deepest cuts are healed by faith’ also rang and sang true, the narrow loses have hurt us, they’ve cut deep, so many people have put in so much work, invested a big chunk of their lives , invested hard yakka, invested passion and emotions , and when you fall short , tantalising short it hurts. As true as that is is the fact that the belief and faith lives, we are a sleeping giant and it is dawn but we haven’t quite woken up yet. And the alarm is buzzing and the question was as we ventured out to Bundoora, were we going to fully wake up or press the snooze button on one or two of the fundamentals.

We welcomed back Luke ‘the Tornado’ Stacker, Joseph ‘the bouncer’ Paolucci and giving us the chop out, our assistant coach, life member, 1997 best and fairest, 1999 grand finalist, 2008 premiership player, the evergreen Jarrod ‘the Smooch’ Prior.
We fired up ‘all fired up’ and the lads went out all fired up to give ourselves to the team and play selfless team footy.

In arctic conditions and kicking with the swirly wind Parade came out strong and dominated the first couple of minutes, they’ve got some very dangerous on ballers and a couple of gun forwards but we settled and got the game on our terms. Going against the wind the wind was in our sails with some fantastic run and carry and handball chains and we peppered the posts and kicked 1.6 to their 3.2. In the autopsy of the loss we had 13 shots on goal to their 5. Out of bounds, marked on the line and 1 smothered make up those 13 shots. To be fair the wind was like a washing machine, it was tough, we missed 3 tough ones, kicked 1 of 4 getable ones , had 2 bad misses, had 2 half chances we didn’t take and were unlucky twice.
We had the momentum and we had the wind in the second and kicked 3.4 and kept them scoreless without a shot on. The autopsy read 23 shots on to 5 for the first half for a 14 point lead.
We were great, we were selfless, everyone gave themselves to the team, we just didn’t cash in, as a collective we didn’t finish our work and although we didn’t know it at the time on a subconscious level all that work for little reward deflated us, it took the wind out of our sails and we lost our edge, the winning edge , the ‘take the game on’ edge, the run and carry and handball chain edge and in the 3rd we couldn’t break through their press and then we got exposed on a couple of transitions and they were up and about and we weren’t. We fought on and tried, we persisted, we looked for a spark, we never gave up but momentum can be a powerful thing, they over ran us and we went down by 4 goals.
Standouts for the day were Billy Wilson, Leigh Wallis, Jack Cowell, Brodie McLaughlin , Anthony Lucisano, Billy Tourogianis, Luke Stacker and Terry Harrisou.
The loss hurt , the dream of finals is gone , but I’m still so excited about the rest season and getting the most out of it, we’ve been good , just not quite good enough, yet.

A shout out to Nick Nassios who injured his shoulder, thankfully no surgery is needed but is out for the rest of the year, Nick’s still young and is building into his football and Jumma and I were impressed how he was coming along this year and was showing some great signs. Nick loves the club and I reckon he’s going to be a 200 game player and I look forward to watching him play for many years to come.

And a shout out to Steven ‘Rexy’ Janev.  He suffered a knee injury, thankfully no surgery but he will be out for the rest of the season. Rexy is a beauty and has become a cult figure of the club. He came down for pre season with the Sugar Art cafe crew to get fit and to check it out. A very good high level soccer player in his own right , Rexy had never played AFL and had barely kicked a Sherrin. To his credit , Rexy that is a big ball of energy was like a big sponge and keen to learn and develop the intricacies of AFL. And it was great to see many Bull Ant’s offering tips on how to kick the footy and his skills have come on leaps and bounds. He was loving the challenge of the game and took a liking to our club and decided to play. Through soccer he displayed great game sense and became one of reserves better players. Rexy tells a great joke at training and has a cheeky smile to match, he’s really gotten behind what we’re all about and is a passionate Bull Ant.

Round 14 vs Melbourne High SOB


Going into the Melbourne game training was predominately goal kicking. Set shots, running shots, snaps, with pressure, without pressure, getting more familiar with the little pockets you find yourself when taking a shot in congestion or running on a angle or both. And getting excited about kicking a goal, getting the taste, our mission is to find our goal kicking mojo.
We welcomed back Burridge and Tribuzio. We were back on the TAJ and for the second week in a row we were playing in swirly windy conditions. We came out firing with McLaughlin wreaking havoc at half forward kicking all 3 of our goals for the 1st, we were up and about, 3 goals to  2, but we lapsed in accountability, and Melbourne kicked 3 unanswered goals to see out the term.
The second was a arm wrestle with the unicorns managing to grind out 2 goals and they went into the sheds at half time 4 goals up. Billy Wilson had a huge first half and helped keep us in the game with 19 possessions, 6 tackles and 3 signature side steps.
We re grouped and re set at half time. Our Co Captain Anthony Lucisano’s start to the 3rd term was special, it was top shelf, he went clunk, bang , clunk , bang , and in 2 minutes it was a 2 goal game and game on. We were all over them with some scintillating passages of play ignited from the likes of Edsall, J.Cowell and Dakin with McLaughlin and Lucisano continuing to mark everything. We kicked 4.5 to 1 goal for the quarter and at 3 quarter time it was a 2 point game. I bumped into Rob ‘Waxy’ Williams my old half forward partner in crime at Greensborough plaza a few days after, he was at the game but left at 3/4 time, he said I thought you guys were going to win. It’s a interesting comment, Waxy knows his football and has a astute feel for the game, but somewhere along the line from 3 quarter time we lost something, Melbourne kicked the first and we lost that same something some more , and so on with the 2nd and third. We fought on like we have in 9 of 10 of our losses, we kicked a couple and we never gave up but we fell short, we were good, just not quite good enough on the day. It’s a interesting feeling when you loose but feel like the side has done enough to win but don’t. And I’m really encouraged by that feeling, we’re almost there. We had 30 shots on goal to Melbourne’s 25. We kicked 2 of 9 tough ones, 1 of 2 easy ones,  didn’t take any of the 2 half chances and kicked 6 of 17 getable ones. When we get those getables ones up to 60-70% conversion rate instead of 30% we’re going to be in business.
Other standouts for the day were Wallis, Burridge, Tribuzio, Harrisou and Tourogianis.
And another mention to Wilson who is becoming a real accumulator of the ball and McLaughlin who first up in the position played one of the better games I’ve ever seen at half forward.

Sadly Jimmy Dedes did his shoulder in the second quarter and will be out for the rest of the season. It totally sucks because he’d just found his groove coming back from a broken leg and was starting to really enjoy playing again. I believe it’s nothing too serious and he should be right for the start of next year.

Was great to see Ricky DeMarte at the game and in the sheds at half time.

The Bull Ant cocktail shindig was a ripper night at the Carlton brewery. To the lads credit they were upbeat, and although we are in relegation zone after the loss it was far from doom and gloom, we’re doing so much right but were just not getting the results. We had a great turn out from the ladies team. For a club function there
was a whole new dynamic with the ladies team there, it feels more rounded, it’s better, it’s awesome, they’re our Bull Ant sisters. Appreciation and thanks to Kristian Mattizzo for organising the night.

And the day before, the Friday I popped my head into the TAJ for the annual Club 100 luncheon. They had Fev guest speak and the place was going off, I didn’t recognise 80% of the crowd , there were a few legendary Bull Ants like Pete Bone, Smythey, Moose, Boydy, Tosca, Johnny Mathews, Gordy Stott floating about but it was mainly business associates. Keasty, Murph, Nippa and co do a amazing job and the money they raise takes the edge off and gives flexibility in for example buying equipment or putting on a pizza night or subsidising the pre season camp costs.

Round 15 vs Glen Eira


We all took responsibility for the Melbourne loss, we shared the loss, me included and we all individually went over our games in our heads and were our harshest critics. I let the lads know where I thought I went wrong, where I thought I did a clanger and where I thought I was not good enough on the day, equally I let them know where I thought I did well as well, that’s just as important, when your straight out honest with yourself , when you truly look at yourself in the mirror it leaves a space for you to learn and grow, and if we all learn and grow a little that’s going to add up to be allot. Leith Wallis and Rob Edsall gave their own critiques on their games to the group on the Tuesday training, which was fantastic and the group got to hear from a elite player and triple best and fairest be honest on his performance. And I feel it helped the collective engage in the thought process of ‘ perhaps I could have done that better, I was a bit slack there, that clanger costed us a goal, that high tackle costed us a goal’ and taking ownership of where you went wrong holds you in good stead for the next time that scenario comes around. And as I said with that its equally as important to acknowledge to yourself
what you did well.

It’s been a interesting few weeks for myself. Ultimately it’s my responsibility and duty as coach for each and every player to enjoy their football and enjoy the club. And although throughout the course I’ve always done the best I possibly could with pure intentions I really had to face up to the facts that I could have handle a few scenarios better and I had to acknowledge that , apologise for them and to get them back on track.

There was allot on the line for the Glen Eira game, a loss would have them go 2 games clear on 3rd bottom with 3 games to go. We’d be staring down the barrel to Division 3, a division we have not been in for 39 years. I was mentally preparing for that scenario. To help our cause it was the coldest training week of many a year, there were many injuries and the reserves where barely hanging by a thread in getting a team together with talks of a possible forfeit on the Tuesday night. The excuses we’re lining up nicely for doom and gloom but although we had low number a on the track it was anything but, training was upbeat and we continued as a collective to work on our goal kicking.

We ventured out to Glen Eira and for the 3rd week in a row we had windy and swirly conditions. We welcomed in M.Cowell, Agius, Lambropolous, Caridi, DeKeizer and making his senior debut Anthony King.

My pre game touched on Nick Reiwolts retirement speech, how he said words to the effect of how by playing football you get to show on a week to week basis what your made of, you get to show your ticker, you get to show your mates how much you care and the lads had that opportunity against Glen Eira when the club we all love needed it most. This was our grand final, this was the club’s biggest , most crucial game in 5 years.

Michael Pace after a successful shoulder surgery was on running duties and said some last minute words to the lads on the ground which I’m sure would have helped.

Kicking into a blustery 3 goal wind we came out playing tight accountable football. We unleashed the Spanish Bull Kristian ‘Toota’ Mattizzo into the midfield who threw his weight around and did a fantastic smoother early in the piece which forced one of many stoppages until a handball chain opened up for Considine to swoop onto a ground ball and bang it forward to DeKeizer with Billy Wilson gathering a front and centre and he kicked truly.  Our second goal came from a contested rebounding mark at half back from Edsall who dished to a running Wallis who dished to a running Wilson who drove the ball long and hit up a leading Considine who went back and slotted a tough goal from long range into the wind. Great start! Glen Eira got their game going but we stood strong with some fantastic last line defending from M.Cowell and Palumbo playing at full back on their giant and barometer Waras Carstensen.  They missed a tough one from long range then a couple of getable set shots before jagging a tough snap from the pocket. Our 3rd shot on and 3rd goal came from a stoppage, a quick kick from J Cowell ,a contest and tackle from McLaughlin with Brancatisano to get to the ground ball and innovate some space in congestion to give a clever little dish to a running Agius that thoughtfully kicked it into space for Lambropoulos to mark. Spiz went back and kicked it like the seasoned professional he is. Our next shot on started from M Cowell winning a tough contested ground ball in the middle , he dished to Dakin who dished to a running J Cowell who continued to run and carry and then hit up De Keizer who turned and hit up McLaughlin who went back and finished the fantastic passage of play with our 4th goal. Our 5th goal came from Mattizzo following up some ruck work with a quick kick onto the boot and McLaughlin marking strongly and kicking truly. The scoreboard read at the 22.20 minute mark GE 1.4 10 BT 5.0 30. Rocket and I looked at each other and thought ‘how good is this.’ I won’t lie , it was a bloody good feeling, I would have been happy with 3.2. It was a even quarter of general play but the lads had taken their chances, they’d honoured and finished the great work from up field with great finishing, they’d laid foundations and set themselves up for the day.
Glen Eira came out strong in the second and kicked the first two with some good passages of running football. Considine countered with a great shot at goal from a contested stoppage. Glen Eira kicked the next and it was a 1 point game. We then got our game going with McLaughlin, Rogers, JCowell, Brancatisano and Moio all prominent and we had the next 6 shots on goal for a 4 goal return and gained the ascendency. Tourogianis was doing a great job on one of their gun forwards in Erwin Ross who carved us up last time. For general play it was a even half with each side having 15 shots on. They kicked 1 of 5 tough ones and 4 of 10 getables. We had a great return of 2 from 4 tough, 7 of 8 getables , 1 from 1 easy and we didn’t take 2 half chances. Although even in general play the scoreboard read GE 5.8 38 to  BT 10.5 65.
The 3rd was a arm wrestle with Glen Eira using the wind and holding sway and it was probably a combination of our relentless focus on accountable football and putting pressure on the ball carrier  with the foundations of scoreboard pressure that saw them miss 5 getable shots and a easy one. They had nine shots on and we had 4 shots on for a goal a piece for the quarter. Wallis, Rogers and Brancatisano were prominent with tough running football.
We came out strong in the 4th with Cherbakof taking a strong clunk and going back and kicking truly, Tourogianis followed with a great snap. Lambropoulos was rewarded with a free kick from some great forward line pressure and he went back and kicked gun barrel. Burridge kicked a superb running goal from down town. Wallis got in the action and skilfully kicked one from a congested stoppage. Our next was all class from Brancatisano who unloaded a running long left boot between the big sticks and Spiz kicked our 7th and final goal for the quarter with a explosive running goal from 30 out and we were 69 point winners.

With our backs against the wall and so much on the line it was one of the better Bull Ant wins I’ve ever seen. Each and every player played with true Bull Ant spirit , grit and determination, and did themselves proud and when the chips were down they went went all in and backed themselves. The autopsy read a more even team contribution which is really exciting, 95 tackles which is outstanding , other than that we played how we have been playing with the key difference being kicking 13 of 17 getables compared to 6 of 17 the week before. And that says volumes of the lads ticker collectively, our goal kicking was clutch, and that to me shows tremendous strength of mind and character to turn it around.

Big Terry Harrisou had a another really solid game in the ruck, McLaughlin had another special game, and as a Bull Ant fan it was great see Spiz so dynamic in the front half with 4 goals.

Unfortunately Joe Caridi did his wrist in the second quarter and will be out for the rest of the season, I love how Joe has a crack with no nonsense footy and has ability to back it up and I look forward to him getting better and better in the years to come.

 

Round 16 vs St Leos
We welcomed in Lucisano and Galapi and for the 4th week in the row we had windy and swirly conditions. We welcomed a in form St Leos coming off 3 wins onto our beloved TAJ. Going over the game and our win against them in round 1 and how we played then to how we play now, in some areas the contrast is stark, there’s been Bull Ant evolution. That win was on the back of a spirited team effort and some individual brilliance. But how we set up that day looked more like a picnic. And now how we set up is anything but, the lads have not only bought into a defensive mindset but before the game on Saturday they took a mortgage out on it. We up’d the ante and the focus was to lay the foundations from the first minute and each minute after and not let the day get away from us. Kicking with a 3 goal wind towards the Bone Hill end the lads started well, Harrisou took a nice clunk with those huge mitts of his and went back for a set shot, just out of his range he dished to a running Wilson and for the second week in a row snagged our first. A good omen. McLaughlin was busy from the outset with Robo standing next to me joyous, marvelling at the young jets feats. How he flys for a mark, the timing of front and centres, extracting contested ground balls, the come from nowhere punches, the smothers, as I said he was busy. Palumbo set the tone for good day with a couple of golden fists defending from the square. Aguis and Brancatisano showed their intent with 3 tackles a piece for the first term. Was great to see Lucisano finally flying freely after a couple of injuries from early in the season he had been carrying which had clipped his wings. He took 11 clunks on the day with one of them on the goal line for our 3rd and final goal for the 1st term. We had 9 shots on goal for a 3.4 return, St Leos against the wind had 3 shots on for 2 goals straight. It was game on!
We threw caution to the wind and Jack Cowell onto the ball managing a hamstring strain. What a quarter !! Simo our stats man had him on 14 disposals for the term, he was everywhere willing himself to the contest, doing the hard stuff and doing his signature quick kicks from packs and linking up on handball chains and treating the likes of De Keizer on the lead. Chatting to Scotty at training on Tuesday about the great combo bond/relationship/awareness they’re developing, he’s like he puts them out and up nicely into space that you can run on to. I used to love that as a forward, Mark Pietryk used to treat me, Rusty is another that springs to mind.
Terry Harrisou had a fantastic start to the quarter and really imposed his strength around the ground and brought others into the play with some great handballs to running Bull Ants. We were up and about and full of run into the wind, from 5 shots on we’d kicked 3 of 4 getables and Spiz took a half a chance and snapped truly from a contested ground ball. It was a 7 goal to 2 game. It was shaping up to be our best quarter for the year but we let ourselves down and St Leos back into the game with a couple of clumsy free kicks and undisciplined 25s that followed and they kicked a couple of difficult goals late in the quarter for it to be a 7 goal to 4 goal game at half time. This little period would prove to be a key moment in the game. It gave the animals a sniff, we showed vulnerability, we showed cracks. I have no doubt if we had of kept them goalless kicking into a 3 goal wind there would have been more doubt than hope swishing around in the back of their minds at half time.
As a player I never bought into or engage in the mumbo jumbo of disputing a umpires call. I was thinking ‘where’s the ball? where’s it going? Where do I need to be? We have addressed this ongoingly  since the Melbourne away game in round 6 and we have improved in leaps and bounds, hopefully this was just a hiccup, we definitely can’t afford any of this against top placed Prahran this week. And that hiccup didn’t represent what we’re about, each and every player cares about this club, they want to win, they put their bodies on the line. To use Cherbs as a example, playing on one leg, playing in pain, playing because he knows a loss on the day would still have us in relegation zone with no buffer but percentage or worst case a game behind.  The hiccup wasn’t consistent and didn’t represent what we are about.

We reset and refocused at half time and came out playing some good ball. Leith Wallis was doing a great job on their gun and one of the premier players of the comp in Beluszar whilst getting plenty of his own ball and using it superbly, a trademark of his. Mattizzo the Spanish Bull tagged their playmaker Baranello and made him earn every kick, it was a good tussle. Our first goal of the term came from a great mark on the defensive goal line from Dakin, and then we went coast to coast through Palumbo, J Cowell, Considine, Wilson and Cherbakof who snagged a difficult one from the boundary line. Our second saw Edsall punch a St Leos kick in into open space and Bull Ants swooped in. Our 3rd from a Palumbo punch at half back followed by a handball chain and Lusianco running into a open goal.
We had 7 shots on and kicked 3 goals for the quarter, 0/2 half a chance, 1/2 tough, 1/2 getable and 1/1 easy. St Leos had 5 shots on for no goals, 0/2 getable and 0/3 tough. One of the tough ones initially was a getable one with a St Leos player running into a open goal but a determined Chris Galapi pushed over and put late pressure on him and he kicked it out on the full. Fantastic !!
At 3 quarter time it was a 39 point game but we felt we still had plenty of work to do with St Leos last quarter form line of 4,4,4 and 5 goals over the last month suggesting that with the fact they have a knack of winning the close ones.  To help them and their cause the wind really picked up and they came out up and about and kicked the first 2 from difficult long range set shots. We steadied the ship  with some Bull Ant class coming to the fore in McLaughlin, J.Cowell, Wilson, Lucisano combining to find Cherbokof 20 out. Cherbs went back and kicked truly for our only shot on for the quarter. St Leos would have the next 11 shots on goal. Momentum is one word for it , avalanche is another, we were gallantly hanging on for dear life and there were some inspiring acts of play from many. Palumbo, M.Cowell and Tourogianis were the standouts thriving in the pressure cooker of deep defence and we repelled many attacks into the vacuum but it kept coming back, every little bit of resistance added up to us hanging on by 10 points and it was a ripper win! For the day we had 22 shots on, 6/8 getable, 3/6 tough, 1/1 easy and 1/7 half a chance. St Leos had 5 more with 27. 4/11 getable, 3/13 tough, 2/2 easy and 0/1 half a chance. Perhaps we were lucky but the way I see it is that we set ourselves with 3 really solid quarters to have enough the runs on the board to withstand a fast finishing St Leos. Super well done to the lads!
A big thanks to Chance who has had no continuity in his game as he has been selflessly thrown in many roles throughout each game week to week.

Was great to see Rocket and Mal Prior put on a G grade reunion with lots of familiar faces rolling up and reminiscing the golden G grade days of the 90s and enjoying the win with us.

The Ladies team wrapped up their season playing a touring USA B side at Bulleen park last Tuesday night. It was a fantastic spectacle, a close game and a great turn out. The USA A side was there and cheered on loudly in great spirits. It was awesome , it was great, it was unique and fantastic. I heard the TAJ rooms were full with lots of laughs and great banter after the game.

And was great to see Vergs and Pete’s colts side play in their second semis on Sunday. Both games had a solid senior player turn out and both teams played with lots of Bull Ant spirit!
It’s been a big week of Bull Ant footy!

See you at the game
Chivs

C Grade Reunion

On Saturday the 12th August the club is holding a G Grade Reunion including H Grade and Clubbies. The function kicks off at 12.00pm and the cost is only $20 (including lunch) with drinks at bar prices.
I’ve attached a flyer with further details so if you wish to confirm your attendance or have any queries please contact Rod “Rocket” Lambert on 0425 724 093 or RLambert@imcd.com.au

Click Here to see Event Flyer

Match Reports Rounds 11 & 12

Round 11

A win would have been met with euphoric election, it would have binded and highlighted all the things we’re are doing right, and we’re doing allot right. Instead it was the polar opposite, that one really hurt , and the feeling in the rooms after the game was the seams that keep us together had loosened because the few things we aren’t doing quite right were put in the spot light and amplified.
And those thoughts you take home and naturally marinate in the loss and the things that went wrong, and before you know it a vicious cycle of a negative thought has permeated to a whole you opinion of the club, coach, player/s, attitude , or whatever it may be. And whatever it is it’s not healthy, yes there’s relevance to the particular thing, and yes it needs addressing, and with addressing those things and improving on those things like training attendance our challenge is to keep in mind the things we are doing very well and to keep doing them.

We were back on our beloved TAJ taking on 3rd place Yarra Valley. We had Murph’s mate and 80s A grade captain Shane ‘Digga’ Gilmore down from Townsville for the week to support his son in the TAC carnival. He came to our game and spoke to the lads before it and you could see that the place and the memories it brought up meant allot to him. He spoke from the heart about his playing days at the Bull Ants and emphasised the importance of doing the little things and walking off the ground after the game with no regrets. What he said was fantastic and it all rang true , and thats a beauty of our game that the ethos and principals of yesteryear are still the fundamentals of our game today. Thanks to Murph and Digga.

We welcomed in Chris ‘the Stampede’ Galapi, Scott ‘the Avalanche’ De Keizer and Terry ‘the Inferno’ Harisiou. Our mission for the day was to bring what we brought against West Brunswick the week before, and we knew if we did it will hold us in good stead and give us every chance to grab the chocolates.

Kicking to the Marcus road end we started very well with high pressure , accountable footy , and when we won the contested ball we were off and running. Lucisano kicked the first 2 and the 3rd was a very special running goal from Jack Cowell playing in his 100th senior game for the club. As I said earlier we are doing so much right and this was on display in the first. Also mixed in with all this great play were 3 sloppy clangers that hurt us with Yarra Valley kicking their first 3 goals with them. Two of them we kicked out of bounds and they skillfully dobbed them both from boundary ,quite incredible. We also missed 2 very getable ones, we could have been 6 goals to 1 up at quarter time, but it was 4 goals a piece and game on. Coulda , woulda,  shoulda is not my style but as coach my job is to dissect the game and find the reasons why. And clangers have haunted us all year, you cop the odd one but the trend has been 2 or 3 in a short period in most games. Kicking and in particular short kicking has been a huge focus since day one of pre season, and our kicking has improved, our care for the kick has improved, our pride for hitting the target has improved and it will continue to improve and eventually we won’t be having these 2-3 collective clanger lapses.
And at the other end another trend has been missing getable goals, collectively we have belief and with that confidence in our ability and skill set to kick goals, our composure can improve and with that a contributing reason why we’re missing the getable ones is because we want it too much, we can taste it, it’s right there, and in that moment we are out of the moment and we’re not quite watching the ball onto the boot or moving into goal on the correct line. As Digga said ‘the little things’
Kristian ‘The Spanish Bull’ Mattiuzzo was one of the standouts in the first quarter putting on a brilliant display of last line dourness of strength, composure and evasion which he continued for the rest of the day.

We started the second quarter really well with the highlight being a coast to coaster starting with a scrumptious boot from Edsall that found Dakin who wheeled around and delivered a delicious ball to the leading Dimopoulos in front of the BBQ who dished off to the running Wilson who exploded down the clubhouse wing with a couple of bounces and a hot long boot to Cherbakof who was one on one and he turned his opponent inside out and slotted a super sausage roll.
There was good energy and it’s the old trap and this has also been a trend throughout the year. When things are starting to go well we get ahead of ourselves , literally ahead , we think we’re on a roll now and the balls going to be there and I’m going to be there when the ball is there and it is going to be great, and in the second half of the second quarter there were quite a few Bull Ants thinking and doing this and not thinking and doing , I need to be, the team needs me to be , the team relies on me being accountable to my direct opponent first and foremost. And the result was we got exposed on transition and they kicked 4 goals and it was a 2 goal game at half time. We’ve been addressing being exposed on transition for a few weeks and this was a lapse, some teething problems on how we as a collective go about our football.
The lads responded and brought out great pressure in the 3rd, we didn’t allow them any flow in their game , making them change their direction and forcing mistakes and creating smoother opportunities, smoothers are becoming a new weapon in our arsenal. There were quite a few throughout the day , Brodie ‘The Glove’ McLaughlin did the second best smother of the century after Heath Shaw’s 2010 Grand final one. Just in front of the scoreboard he dove and flew like superman, it was as spectacular!
As good as our pressure was Yarra Valley had some classy passages of play and we got lucky with their inaccuracy in front of goal. We kicked 3 straight and it was a 3 point game at 3 quarter time.
When playing I used to love these moments , battle Royale with the late after sun stretched and drenched over on our field of dreams. We came out in the 4th dominating with all of the momentum, I felt the Bull Ant spirit. Just like the previous week against West Brunswick it was on like donkey kong. Terry ‘the Inferno’ Harrisiou was putting together a great game in the ruck against one of the better and bigger ruckmen in the comp in Amos. For the second half and the 21 ruck contests he competed in he won 9, broke even 8 times and only lost 4 times. And with that got involved in plenty of chains with some fantastic handballs. Scott DeKeizer was as busy as normal with clunks and quick release handballs and some fantastic inside 50 deliveries, The usually suspects in Wilson , Edsall, McLaughlin and Jack Cowell all had great games , Jack Cowell had a game high 36 touches with one of them throwing himself into a pack in the dying minutes and somehow getting a boot onto the ball and going our way. I thought David Dakin was fantastic, he has been fantastic all year, week in week out he plays with great tenacity and spirit, his effort and courage is elite and it’s only a matter of time for the rest of his game to follow and we’re seeing exciting signs of that.
Unfortunately we didn’t capitalise on our opportunities in front of goal and the few times they got it up their end they did but we never gave up and it went down to the wire, we kept coming, we wanted it so bad , our  Co Captain Lucisano was on one leg but put himself into the middle and just willed the ball into his hands and got it onto his boot and going our way, it was inspirational! We gave it our all and once again it just wasn’t our day , some undisciplined play didn’t help our chances when we needed everything going our way.
It’s a bit of this , it’s a bit of that , it’s clangers, it’s missing goals, it’s being undisciplined , it’s not being accountable, all of these contributed to our loss on the day and Yarra Valley to their credit took advantage of it.
We’ve got the talent , we’ve got the passion , i watch the footage and I can’t help but be excited about the possibilities, our good is great but our not so good is bad , and this is our quest.

Was great to see a young 17 year old Angus Murphy running around the TAJ with his blonde locks like a whippet in the reserves.  It just looks natural, like seeing Joey Brenner on the track, their old men have been massive for our club and seeing their off spring run around just looks
natural and is awesome!

Congratulations to John Mathews and Harry Harrisou on being awarded the VAFA  125 year medallions for significantly contributing to our ongoing success over the last 25 years. The presentation Russell Wallis did after the game was fantastic and wonderful and the crowd got a feel and a appreciation for body of contribution both have done to our club.

 

Round 12

We needed that, was great to sing the song, was great to embrace as one and celebrate our efforts, not just for the day but for everyone’s ongoing commitment.

We ventured out to Rathmines Rd Hawthorn to take on the bottom placed and the winless Hawks. We welcomed in Joey ‘The French Revolution’ Moio for his first game for the season and 50th senior game. We also welcomed in Joey ‘ The Snarl’ Caridi for his first game for the year. We welcomed back Wallis, Bruce and Rogers.

We had a shaky start with Hawthorn getting first hands on the ball, we settled and found some groove, Wilson and Brancatisano were super busy and there were some some eye catching running passages of play from Jimmy Dedes. Cherbs was super dangerous up forward with 3 goals for the quarter and Lucisano was presenting and clunking beautifully at half forward.
Rathmines is a short ground with the arch and centre meeting around the 43 mark. Both teams didn’t need much room with ball in hand to do some damage, and both sides had 9 shots on for the quarter.
Hawthorn kept coming in the second with a unassuming gun wearing number 77 marking everything and kicking goals with both feet. He kicked 9 for the day, in his 3rd game for the club, I heard he’s a golf pro and was keen for a game, just a natural gun, but doesn’t look like one.
So the game was a shoot out, Jack Cowell for the 3rd week in a row kicked goal of the day, and this one takes the cake, it was pure magic, pure instinct, very similar to Luke Hodge’s grand final boundary one. It’s one of the better Bull ant goals I’ve ever seen, Matt Bain’s running goal at old Geelong in 2008 springs to mind and Rob Illingworth’s long bomb from a centre clearance in the dying minutes of the 2006 under 19 granny is another.

We went into the sheds at half time 10 points up. Micheal ‘The ‘Rolls Royce’ Considine really stepped up in the 3rd and played some great footy, we had a pretty even contribution throughout the course of the second half and we gradually pulled away for a 7 goal win. Some heart in your mouth courage from McLaughlin flying back into a pack, Joey ‘The French Revolution’ Moio slotted nicely back into the pace of senior footy and some encouraging signs with Galapi finding some touch. With Burridge, Mattizzo and Paolucci out De Keizer really sured us up down back, we had good drive from Tribuzio and Wallis was in good touch too. Was great to see Stewy Smith in the rooms after the game.
Was a great way to send off Santino too! Him and Connie are off to Europe for the next 5 weeks, this week will be the first Bull Ant football and cricket , junior or senior game he has missed in 15 years! Over the years he’s been invited to attend corporate boxes and luncheons at the ‘G’, he replies ‘no thankyou , there’s only one place I want to be.’

On a sadder and unfortunate note, Lachy Bruce injured his hand on Saturday , has had surgery and will be out for the rest of the season. A big thankyou for your efforts this year Big fella, some super efforts rucking games solo and pushing yourself to the limits. Respect to that and to your team first attitude, you were getting better and better each week and I think and hope you’ll be a integral part of the senior team for years to come.
And just a shout out to everyone giving us the chop out to field a reserves side over the last couple of weeks, our injury and unavailable list is at 27, amidst all that coach Jumma continues to be a big ball of positive energy rallying the troops with Bobby helping out as a source of wisdom right by his side.

See you at the game
Chivs