Match Reports Rounds 5 & 6

Hello fellow Bull Ants,

Round 5

Ladies day prompted me to look back at the support I’d received from women in my life. I remember as a young bull ant going home after a bad loss, bruised and battered and having played a bad game, I’d be on the couch feeling sorry for myself and Mum would come over and give me a hug and say something like ‘it’s ok’ , I remember as a dreaming kid kicking the footy in our back paddock with my sisters until after dark and only stopping because Mum would call out diner is ready , I remember my good friend Laura coming to watch games when I was captain. And I think it’s beautiful that they get it, they understand and appreciate that this gladiator sport we play and love is a emotional roller coaster with highs and allot of lows and they see and feel that first hand , they get what it means to us , they feel our losses and are happy for us when we win, and things like a little hug or seeing a mate, a mum , a sister, a wife or a girlfriend cheer you on from the boundary line is massive.
So it was great to see our rooms dressed up in pink looking a million bucks and the women behind the men enjoying themselves. Huge efforts from Andrew Verga, Kristian Mattizzo and co to make it happen and with the Lady Bull Ants enjoying their first win the atmosphere was magic.
With last years D3 premiers Glen Eira also on 2 wins and 2 losses the stakes were high. Interestingly I bumped into our 2008 premiership coach Dave Mathews before the game wearing a Glen Eira jacket assistant coaching, we enjoy a mutual respect and we had a little chuckle over the complexities of coaching.
We came out playing solid ball, we were having a crack, Billy Wilson and Jack Cowell were in and amongst everything , Tribuzio was at his rebounding Jason Johanison best on the half back flank and Cherbakof was as lively as ever up front. The Gryphons delivery into their forward 50 was primo and they had a trio of marking forwards with dukes to match. Our defence has been magnificent all season, the standout group but they uncharacteristically let 3 marks on the goal line happen. I was super impressed how they on their own accord got together on the quarter time siren to address it.
We threw things around a little at quarter time with Tribuzio sacrificing his own game to blanket the red hot Erwin-Ross. We unleashed the Nimbus 2000 McLaughin into the action to instant effect, Burridge started to get into the game and Wilson, DeKeizer and Bruce were super busy and awesome. General play was generally even in the second, we were doing a lot right but as a collective we were caught up in what we were doing wrong. We went into the sheds at half time 7 points downs with the ghosts of our past hovering over us and haunting us. They followed us into the sheds too. I wish it was as easy as Harry Potter waving his wand and calling out ‘Expecto Patronum!’ to ward off a dementor but alas we are mere muggles and we ain’t playing quidditch. That said it took Harry quite a while to master that spell and it was originally his godfather Sirius Black that saved his tush from a dementor. But we address it and touched on the negativity that was weighing us down.
We came out and the intent, passion and heart was there, it’s been there all season, I watched on with Rocket, I’ve moved Rocket from running duties to standing next to me, this great Bull Ant is so in tuned with where we’re at, where we’ve been and the general vibe. We watched on and once again we were matching the general play and peppering the goals. But there were moments, where we were working out a scenario beautifully and then it’d become unstuck and they’d get it and score which left me thinking ‘how did that happen?’. This happened half a dozen times throughout the day and had me and Rocket bamboozled, thinking about it now , maybe those ghosts from by gone years had something to do with it.
27 points down at 3/4 time the lads fought on and never gave up, I felt a belief we can still win this right up until the siren went, we just needed something to click, and although nothing clicked it was very encouraging. Special mention to Lachy Bruce who put in a Goliath effort rucking all day.

Round 6

I had a real tough week, my mantra was fight the urge and get on with it. I never used to be a smoker, I become a social smoker in my mid to late twenties, and then it went up a cog with touring life in my mid thirties, and then over the last few years helping set up a couple of business’s, one in Sri Lanka, my brothers decline and passing and now coaching it’d become my go to, to go and have a cigarette and a ponder. It’s a bad habit that’d become a part of my life.
And then it was a funny moment, in the rooms after the Glen Eira game, Billy Wilsons mum Robyn came up to me with half a packet of cigarettes, she’d pick pocketed them from my back pocket a couple minutes early , I had not noticed, she went something like ‘naughty naughty’ , and we had a laugh over it. And then the next day I was thinking, let’s just roll with that , it’s a bad habit, let’s just run with it and get off the smokes. So it was a tough week fighting the urge and getting on with it.
I needed to do this, for myself obviously , but for the lads as well, to show them it can be done, over the last four seasons and 70 games we’ve won 19, drawn one and lost 50. Those losses have naturally done damage to our self belief, we have baggage, we had similar baggage and on field bad habits in 2004 after a bleak period but we manage to win those early in the season close games which ultimately created healthy on field habits and was the start of a 5 year successful period. So after 3 close losses , which were all fighting and proud we needed to trouble shoot. We had a really positive team meeting on the Thursday night and we all pledged to fight the urge of disputing umpires call, to getting caught up in argy bargy’s to dwelling and marinating in something that didn’t work , we decided to give it a go , to just roll with it , be positive and get on with it.
I was already seeing the benefits from not smoking, allot less junk food, less soft drink, having cereal in the morning, my appetite is back, so I’m cooking at home,
I’ve gain some extra vitality and some creativity, riding my bike to work I’m seeing jumps I could do up gutters and I’m appreciating buildings I hadn’t notice before, my eyes have broaden.
When your consumed by something it closes you down from being open to the possibilities around you.
And I didn’t even realise the smokes had consumed me, I thought I was on top of it but by getting off them I’ve realised I was consumed and it was dragging me down.
So Melbourne high at the unicorn stable was a danger game, they were 1-4 but could have easily been 4-1 with 3 close losses as well. We welcomed in Kristian Matiuzzo in red hot form for his first game for the season, and was great to get Ashwyn Mohandas back into the fray. And there it was, I had goosebumps, the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up , there’d be a shift from self doubt to self believe, the boys were getting on with it and playing inspiring high pressure footy. Billy Wilson rode a set shot home from down town, Andrew Verga’s passion was radiating, Considine was super lively , Tribuzio was thriving in his new role , Palumbo and Dakin were up and about and Burridge and Brodie where everywhere and everyone was hitting the Bacon and Eggs buffet (tackles). It was by far our best quarter of the year.
Melbourne High responded and came at us in the second, it was a great dwell with our defence holding up strongly. We were getting lots of cleverness and run from Jack Cowell and Oran Aziz, Sir Robert Edsall was at his marking best and Cherby was doing what Cherby does, when the ball goes near Cherby i take a break from coaching and become a fan, it’s thrilling to watch, the guy is a artist.
Really positive and relaxed vibe in the sheds at half time with no ghosts from our past hovering above.
Another impressive quarter in the 3rd with Pete Voglis pinch hitting beautifully and Scotty De Kiezer being huge and super smart around the contests. Palumbo was a workhorse doing ruck duties on his own and was great to see David Dakin bring flare and polish to his hard as nails game.
8 goals up at 3 quarter time I bungled up the tactics for the last, I’m not afraid to stuff up and that’s how i want the lads to play their footy, the boys embraced it and gave it a crack but we went too defensive and I’ll learn and grow from that.
All in all a really encouraging day.
I’d like to throw out a mention and thankyou to Rusty and  Robo that are both doing a super superb job in their roles and the group is really taking on and learning their insights on the game.
See you at the game


Round 5

The ladies went into the game against brunswick with confidence levels through the roof.
having come within 4 goals of hawthorn the week before with only 16 players, we knew that finally getting a chance to play with a full bench we would be able to have a real chance at our first win.

for the entire day the ball rarely left our forward half. the girls put never ending pressure on the brunswick players when they had the ball, and when we had it we ran, attacked and took on the game.
half time provided a chance for us to throw some things around, the score being 3 goals, 7 behinds to nothing, we knew a few girls would have a chance to kick their first goal.
this was the case for Ash Herman, Sarah Chong and Sophie Freeman. all three scored by getting their head over the ball and pushing hard against brunswicks quick defense.

A fantastic effort by all the girls. we set a standard of footy that we can definitely use for the rest of the season and i couldn’t be prouder of the girls.

Round 6

After a thrilling win last week, the girls were all raring to go to get another taste of victory.
We saw ourselves against a strong fitzroy side, who had been playing good footy all year but for little reward. Unfortunately our girls rocked up not ready to play and fitzroy got the jump on us straight away and we werent able to catch up.
Whilst all the girls put in a solid effort, it is the perfect example of you play how you train, or in our case, how you warm up.
The girls left the field going down by 44 points. whilst this is a disappointing result the girls have all responded well and are keen to bounce back, knowing what is now expected to get another win on the board.

Match Reports: Rounds 3 & 4

Dear Fellow Bull Ants

Round 3

It was going to be awesome, he’s a ripper , I knew that the first time he rolled up to preseason , his demeanour, a footballers footballer , no fuss , tough and wirey and when he handled the Sherrin he had a sureness about himself and what he was doing. He had a great debut at half back and was building into the season, round 3 there was excitement in the rooms before the game about the battle ahead, I noticed a unfamiliar face with familiar facial features, I knew who he was and went up and said ‘Gday you must be John’s Dad’ ,we chatted for a minute about his son and what he brings to the Bull Ant party and I left thinking this is going to be awesome. Football and a common cause bringing people together, and there we were in the thick of it late in the 3rd playing West Brunswick at home in a enthralling in close stoppage battle royal with the occasional scintillating transition, John Springett was having a ripper game , 15 possessions and a heap of 1 per centers, he was thriving in the contest and loving his new club, loving being a Bull Ant. And then as I watched the players pick themselves up from another hard fought contest you realise something ain’t right, and you think ‘oh no’, You think ‘that’s not good’ you think , ‘what does he do again, he’s a tradie’ and you think ‘oh no’ again , you think about their livelihoods, and you think thats just cruel , this guy’s doing something he loves and now there is serious repercussions. It’s a real empty, hollow and flat feeling. John the poor bugger broke his arm, this wasn’t in the script , he’d just proposed to his girlfriend the week before, he was loving his football, he was running his family business, he was loving life and that was not supposed to happen.

John came to the game on Saturday and is in good spirits and is on light duties at work, life goes on and you find a way but it stills stings. He’ll be missed, missed when I look at the magnet board and think John would have been there , at worst it would have been a break even and I reckon he would have bobbed up with 3 or 4 best ons. But the flatness in me that stays is about the friendships, bonds and comraderie that won’t be able to grow and flourish. It’s just not the same, that’s the facts and that makes me flat.

West Brunswick, a fellow district club, respect to them, tough, hard at it and tactical football. Between the seniors and reserves they’ve lost 9 home and away games over the last 3 seasons for 3 flags. I admire how they go about it and the environment they’ve created. I see them being competitive in C grade in the next 3 to 4 years. And bi jingoes we had a massive crack and were always in the game, we were gallant, we had a resolve, we fought hard and I was proud of the lads. Leith Wallis aka Dustin Fletcher played his best game for the club in a inspiring performance of composed stylish football under high pressure in deep defence. Superbly supported once again by his partner in crime Mathew Palexus. They are our Batman and Robin. We also had a young Bull Ant moving like a young Kenyan before he got pick up by St Kilda in the early 90s. Brodie McLaughlin took the game on playing pure footy and gave us allot of run off half back.

Cowell and Wilson were prominent in the midfield and Cherbakof was magically magnificent again kicking four goals and then moving onto the ball in the last and almost dragging us across the line. We welcomed in Scott De Keizer for his first game for the club and he kicked a couple of clutch goals. Impressive signs from Bruce, Agius, Brancatisano, Dakin and Galapi which are all going to get better and better with all being hard working and keen students of the game.

We went down by 7 points , we went down fighting

Round 4

Round 4 we headed over to Doncaster to play Yarra Valley who were also on 2 wins and 1 loss. With Spiro Lambropoulos playing his 200th senior game for the club the lads were switched on and pumped for a big day. We welcomed in Considine, Dimopoulos, Hodges, Aziz and Verga for their first games of the year. I like what I saw , running, instinctive, hard at it footy with Burridge, McLaughlin, Dakin, Edsall and the Cowell brothers on fire and then they started to physically put us off our game. Long gone are the days of what happens on the field stays on the field, footy has evolved and society has evolved, I have no doubt it was a tactical move by them and it changed the flow of the game. Early in the second Andrew Verga took a ripper of a slips catch in front of goal and was heading back to kick our 3 rd goal to their one. Just off the ball a Yarra player fished for the retaliation (the ump is now watching) free kick and we bit the bait, it’s the oldest trick in the book but the boys are still human. It’s still not good enough but I understand and we as in the whole club will learn and grow from this. The decision was reversed and the momentum had changed, they got it up the other end for a goal and were up and about. Subconsciously it effected us, some negativity hovered over the collective including our supporters, we felt hard done by, we battled on but we couldn’t let it go , we dropped our heads and we’d lost our edge and it effected our instinctive style of footy, we’d lost our dash and dare. Yarra had a dominant quarter kicking 5 goals. Cherbakof and Tribuzio showed enormous fighting qualities when we had our backs against the wall. I’m airing this dirty laundry because we as a club, players and supporters need to improve on how we feel as a collective when shit happens, the players can feel the angst from the boundary line, but ultimately its up to the players to let it go, to re set and re focus. This is our standard and this will be our culture.

We re grouped at half time and got back in touch of what we’re about and got back into the game. Jackie Cowell was dominant and De Keizer continued to be super busy, Wallis, Palexas, and McLaughlin were huge down back. Bettiol in the ruck was warming into the game and thriving in the contest and then that ‘oh no’ feeling again, the big fella was in trouble, the same feeling as Johny Sprigett, the same feeling as Michael Pace, your engaged in their lives and they’re loving their football, players often go down and have a moment but when it’s serious you just know , you feel the despair in the air, Luke did his knee and he’s a tradie too, I feel for the big fella, he’s a bloody ripper human that was loving playing with his cousin in Luca and footy has dealt a cruel hand again.

As Bull Ants do we fought on and were always in the game but fell short for the second week in a row. That one really stung, but the positives were we never rolled over and we fought to the end. I feel a real steely resolve creeping in which is going to keep us in good stead for the years to come. I enjoyed how the new lads to the team went about it and Oran Aziz’s natural talent was eye catching.

I thought Spiz refusing to be chair off the ground was all class and I felt the lads disappointment that they didn’t make his special day grand.

So I’m flat about Luke, John , Michael and Dave Floz. And I really miss Michael especially, it was him and me from the start, it was him who was the shining light of rallying the troops in the dark season that was last year, I miss him on the ground, I miss our chats on the phone, I miss our drives to and from footy training, I miss us talking and workshopping about our beloved Bull Ants with him leading them, he was devoted to the club, he was devoted to taking his game to new levels, he was loving it and we were loving it doing it together and I miss him.

The more flatter I am and the more I miss these ripper blokes the more motivated I am to keep the Bull Ant train that is up and  running Cho Cho Chooing! It’s all aboard and it’s full steam ahead! We’re throwing more coals on and having more of a crack.  We’re going to honour the imprint Michael has left on us ,the whole group needs to pick their game up by 5% otherwise we will creep back into some bad habits, and it’s the little things , the little moments where we need to be aware of and then diligent and focused.

That’s where it’s at for us, it’s looking like a  very even comp this season and we’re going to keep having a almighty crack!

See you at the game


Women’s Round 4

Round 4 saw a new begging for the women’s side, with all teams now being graded to an appropriate standard, we went into the game confident of gaining our first win.
Whilst we only had 16 players we were able to get three girls out on the ground for their footy debut. These girls may have been new but boy did they make an impact. Sophie freeman was thrown straight into the midfield and had an instant impact winning multiple clearances to put us into attack.
Sarah Chong started up forward and looked menacing in front of goals with good pace and pressure.
Danielle Polkinghorne has come home to the Bullants after a quick stint at another club. Playing at center half back she helped our backline keep hawthorn goalless in the first quarter.
The game was tight all the way to the end. Our ladies were within points of the lead five minutes into the last quarter, however hawthorn having a full bench meant they had the fresher legs and were able to run over our exhausted 16 players.
Charlotte “Ginge” Mckinnon was able to put a stop to the oppositions star mid, and Bridgette Henry did a brilliant job at keeping their key forward (a 6 foot 3 monster) quiet for almost the entire game.
Another valiant effort by the girls. 3 goals 4 behinds for the game is a great reward for all the hard work put in. Going down by under 4 goals with no bench against a side with a full 24 players shows we are well and truly heading in the right direction and are not far away from our first win.
Harry Urwin