Welcome to the wrap of what has been an epic week. Oh my, do we love our football or what? It keeps us going through the week and come the weekend it’s just fantastic, win lose or draw.
Aside from my last trip to St James’ Park to watch the Toon on a particularly freezing December night, this could well have been the coldest I have ever been watching a game. The promised Antarctic blast coupled with a fierce wind made it a rude shock walking out of the house at 7.20am to get to the game at View Street in good time. West Ryde Rovers Under 15 Division 1 team didn’t seem to care though and they launched into the warm-up with unusual verve ahead of a game against the Redbacks that they considered as an opportunity to bank three valuable points. The young referee was quite rightly not willing to take off his jacket. Not daft those refs.
It was, however, a very different game in the first half, the wind giving the hosts plenty of ball. The Rovers toiled with little reward, but the goal that broke the deadlock was a deft team goal, a ball up the left for danger man Bilal who beat his man and lifted a majestic ball in to the onrushing Zach who finished with a low shot. A super team move. There was a second goal to cheer just before the break too, some crafty midfield play to win the ball, a cracking ball up the right for Zach and his cross was met by Olivier who made no mistake from close range. There was only one team in it by now, but the home team definitely gave a good account of themselves in the first half.
The second half was more like it from the Rovers, the running of the wingers causing all sorts of issues, but it was a John Barnes v Brazil goal that brought the third, Zach cutting inside and passing up the opportunity to play in a team mate, running all the way through the middle to finish neatly. A proud Dad was watching on as he fought for his hat-trick, that grit and determination clear to see. Alas, despite having a few chances and despite the goalkeeper being very busy, there was no more scoring and the 3-0 was the final score. Reads like a forfeit on paper, the hollowest win possible! Fine performance though, and some players earning rave reviews from the sideline for some professional displays.
A quick turnaround saw Zach dropped at Meadowbank for his triple header of Assistant Referee appointments. A major life moment got in the way of my participation in the Over 35s game in the afternoon – the family home sold at auction early afternoon and I also had to inspect a rental property, so I wasn’t at the park until just before half time.
A major coup had seen us recruit a former PL player during the week and he was registered in time to play for us, Joey helping us to a half time lead. I was there to see Naz follow up a shot to stoop and head home the second, and half time was spent listening to the guys tell me how good they’d played and how my absence must be the X factor! There was room in the line-up for the second half though, playing a midfield role before dropping into defence and we reverted to the standard pattern of missing glorious chances and making it hard going for ourselves. Luckily the All Saints attackers were having a tough time in the wind and we managed to hold on for our first clean sheet and our first three points of the season. What a blessed relief!
The new Covid rules meant that Meadowbank Park cleared out almost immediately, no esky this week, so there was no celebrating the win. No photo opportunities either, so I’ll post a photo of our last win, over two years ago.
Yes, it has been just over two years since the Over 35s top division team won a game – that was the Grand Final in Division 2, before a season to forget in Division 1. Of that team only 5 were in the team this weekend, so much has changed, but hopefully this is a new dawn and our season starts here!
As I drove to the end of the street on the way to the game on Sunday morning, Aurelia informed me that we were playing away. I was therefore running a bit late already to make it in time for the warm up at Bella Vista school. Kicking myself, I should have known. The traffic was thin, so we rolled up only a minute or two late after first trying to open a locked gate and then finding the Covid-safe entrance on the other side of the school. It’s a great facility here. Aurelia played here last year, and they put on actual referees, which is a great touch.
The Ravens started well against a team they have met already twice this season. There was belief coursing through the team, and they were good value for a goalless first half. Aurelia was involved in the best chance of the half, Hills breaking quickly when she was caught out of position trying to join the attack (looking for more goals). She realised she was out of position and raced back, eventually catching the striker who was hesitant to pull the trigger and in the end a professional nudge put her off. The ball was parried by Nikita and somehow the ensuing scramble ended with the ball flashing past the post. Hills came out firing in the second half, but a breakaway goal saw Ravens take the lead, a determined run from Anna seeing her force the ball past the the last defender and the keeper make the save. Ava was quickest to the rebound and steered the ball home for a dramatic goal. Ravens could see the win in their sights, and they continued to play great football until the last kick of the game. A ball was looped over into the penalty area to the striker, who had found themselves unmarked. Time for a touch and a low drive, and the cheers of utter relief went up for the home team as the final whistle blew.
As you can see from the photo, Aurelia was not impressed. But it was a great performance. They get the opportunity to do it all again next week too. The scheduled trip to Nowra for a double header has been canned for Covid reasons. Coach Eddie was already locked in to a weekend away in Nowra with the wife, so the girls will be missing their trusted leader this time. What a perfect opportunity to get a win though – it happened two years ago when the coach missed one game and they won for the first time!
Sunday afternoon saw a refereeing appointment for the Women’s Over 35 Div 3 clash between Putney Rangers and Putney Rangers. It was a drama filled encounter, a handball gifting the ‘Blue’ team a penalty in the first half to make it 1-0 at the break. The second half saw controversy as a ‘Blue’ player hit the ground claiming to have been kicked, but I saw nothing and waved play on. The player eventually had to go off. Worse was to come as the ‘Red’ team won their own penalty, a player just about to shoot was barged off the ball, the defender unfortunately hitting the ground without the aid of her arms and scraping her face through the dirt. After a five minute stoppage while she was tended to, blood seeping from various wounds on her face, I don’t think she was too happy about conceding a penalty. That made it 1-1, but there was more, a shot from the edge of the area was helped past the post by a hand. Again, the bodies in the way made it hard to see if it was a hand or not, but the ever-alert AR was well placed and confirmed the penalty. The ‘Blue’ player stepped up and drilled it low, but an outstretched foot deflected the ball past the post for an amazing save. The keeper was roaring at this stage and the game was reaching a crescendo. No more goals though, and 1-1 a fair score. Great game to be involved in.
Training all went ahead this week. Tuesday at Beautiful Bedlam for Aurelia, Wednesday at Meadowbank Park for Dad, a clash with the Sydney FC semi-final, but there was still a turn out. I didn’t even watch the game when I got in, as I’ve dropped Kayo and Foxtel and free-to-air only had the other semi-final on. So I watched a bit of that one instead over a very late dinner.
Thursday was Bedlam for Aurelia and Meadowbank for Zach while I whizzed between the two doing the drops and pick-ups, before Friday came and the final Coerver session for the season. It has been quite a tumultuous time for Coerver this year, a big break during lockdown, but they managed to get back quite quickly and it has been as good as ever since. Big changes we understand mean that the partnership between the Ravens and Coerver is over, and we expect a different offering next season (if Aurelia makes it that is!)
The week ended on a high, receiving some photos from the snow where a reader who lives there had pictured the Jarrod Black trio of Unashamed Football Novels amongst the ski lifts. The word is getting out. Jarrod Black is definitely getting people talking. People are reading them and telling others. This is how we get a following going. It’s also how an author gets the impetus to keep on writing. I can’t wait to get stuck back in to book four in the Jarrod Black series. There’s some twists and turns coming!
Catch you next week. More football from the suburbs coming soon, including Zach’s first centre referee appointment ever. After seeing Kearney Robinson, a young referee from the NWSFRA ranks, get a call up as AR in the A League Grand Final, this could be the start of a path to refereeing. Let’s take it one step at a time though!