Pirates Go Back-To-Back In D1 League!
“Well, this is the sweetest victory of all – this is the sweetest. This is a victory for the true believers…” a sentiment echoed by legendary Prime Minister Paul Keating following his 1993 Federal Election victory over John Hewson. Never has a quote been so applicable to a weekend of football but the one that just went.
From the C Gulls through to the Dingoes through to the Pirates it was a special weekend for the club, going 3 from 3 and making Richard Guelfi Reserve a second home if only for Saturday.
University 8.6 (54) defeated CBC 6.6 (42)
To the Pirates, it was a week of getting the guys ready for 80 minutes of the toughest football they will ever play. Our CBC counterpart had beaten us twice on the trot, but the boys had a lot of confidence. More scoring shots, playing better patches of footy and a backline that conceded 6 goals after the first 10 minutes, the signs were there we could top them.
To the day itself, it was set up by hearing the excellent results for the 2 Colts sides with what followed being the equivalent to the Miracle on Grass with the Dingoes knocking off a Wesley-Curtin side consisting of A graders. I make mention of this because this gave the Pirates a massive gee-up and any doubts about our own game were erased – Grand Finals are a different beast.
The anthems blared, with Timmy O holding the boys in line until CBC moved, clearly proving more successful than any Collective Mind program. This ‘psychological edge’ carried over into the first quarter with the Uni boys coming out as the hunters – the tackling pressure, work around the midfield led by Dykes, Dymo (who also kicked the first goal of the game) and Steveo helped Uni jump out to a couple goal lead. Of note from the first, Joe’s nose was broken early in the first and looked more like a sight from a WWE ring than a football field. He unfortunately missed the rest of the game but found a way back to the celebrations that night. Nightmare and Hoppo were also injured, Nightmare with a bad bruise and Hoppo with a broken foot.
In the second quarter, the game turned into a slugfest. One goal for the pirates, a couple for CBC. It was not as noteworthy as the first quarter, but so tight around the ground. The backline led extremely well by Bando, who was just blanketing his former WAFL opponent, and the experienced head of Stu ensured CBC never had easy chances.
Going into half time we were two men down on the bench and Hoppo was playing with a possible broken foot, Coach Day insisted the boys continue to push and maintain the high intensity football we had been playing – we knew we would outrun them. The Pirates came out with quality beginning to take the game away from CBC. Our VC and spiritual leader Jibba went back and kicked a really important goal, and this got the boys up and about. Him and Hoppo celebrated, after he halved a really important contest.
This was then followed up by one of the most farcical situations I have ever witnessed on a football field. Ricey was tackled, clear as daylight, holding the ball. All 36 players on the ground had stopped assuming the umpire would pay the most obvious free kick. However, no whistle ever came. The player that laid the tackle presuming the free kick had been given threw the ball back to another CBC defender, leaving the umpire no choice but to award a free kick. Ricey, with ice in his veins, then went back and slotted a crucial goal in front of the Gulls to give the Pirates at 26 point lead. A late goal to CBC got it back to 20 points going into the final stanza.
At three quarter time, we knew CBC would throw the kitchen sink but it was just a matter of withstanding the pressure and making sure we play out the game on our own terms. CBC came out strong, 2 goals in 2 minutes sent some nerves through the Pirate camp. However, the Pirates steadied, holding up CBC at crucial junctions with the backline resisting the pressure with the mids doing their utmost to keep CBC at bay. The margin was brought under a goal with CBC missing chances with the margin being brought back to 4 points. However, 2 amazing moments in the last quarter followed: Rawlo’s tackle and the Franchise’s goal. Rawlo chased down a CBC player when they were out in space and epitomised the desperation of this Pirate side. This chase down brought the momentum CBC were gaining to a grinding halt.
The second moment, was Steve ‘the Franchise’s goal. In D1 WAAFL history there may have not been a more important goal kicked. Less than a goal in it, 60 metres out, the ruckman who is the most athletically gifted player in the side sold candy to not 1 but 2 blokes. He steadied and from 35 jailed the goal causing ‘the Western Suburbs to erupt’ around Richard Guelfi Reserve. The Pirates knew they were close and resisted the urge to get complacent.
With the final seconds rolling down, the bench began to prepare themselves and what followed was an outpouring of emotion. Pride, happiness and relief are the words that spring to mind. The boys in the aftermath got right around Bando, tear flowing, 11 years in the making, winning his first flag for the club. The boys got around the lockdown defender who was adjudged best on field by the coaches considering the magnitude of the challenge he faced. The umpires meanwhile determined Rawlo was the Norm – his tackling pressure and effort was elite all day, and added a completely different dimension to the Pirate forward line.
What followed was a celebration for the ages, that night at the AJ was special with 3 flags coming home. It will be remembered fondly by those in attendance and the players themselves. Congratulations again to the Gulls and Dingoes, you guys have had amazing seasons in your own right and deserve the success you guys have had. To the A-Colts great response on the weekend and I am sure you blokes will bounce back and teach the beach this upcoming weekend.
To the Pirates, supporters (in particular Paulie D) and Coach Day this has been a special year for the group. To go back to back is incredibly difficult at any level and to do it with these blokes makes it special. It is fairly reflective that in the wee hours of Sunday morning the entire team was still at Summers, demonstrating the tight bond of this group.
In the words of Dennis Cometti it was “a grand final from the top shelf” and you will just not get a better Grand Final win than that. Has anyone woken Neesham yet, because these Pirates have just gone back to back.