Wow. What a difference a win makes!
I won't lie. After not managing to score a victory in the first nine rounds of the season, there was a lot of tension around the club. Under 11s can only take so much despair before we have to return to our Playstations and Wiis, so the coach, Johnny O, was getting worried as the losses mounted up.
I have to say, in the moment of victory, as we all started celebrating, it was Johnny O that I was most happy for. He'd had a very tough week. Forgetting his car keys and having to sprint, leap in his car and drive off to go and get them midway through training, after Kerouac's father turned up unexpectedly at the side of the oval during circle work. Kerouac had been captain for the day the weekend before, and I guess the dad wanted to say thanks, given how loudly he was demanding Johnny O head over to talk to him while Kerouac's mum kind of hid in their SUV. But Johnny had to leave, fast, like I said, so the dad must have been disappointed he couldn't say thanks properly.
All that was forgotten on Saturday as we ran onto the oval in light rain, ready to try for the 10th time to bring home the points. Johnny O has been very patient and never varied in telling parents who complain that a new game plan takes a while to bed itself in. He says he's trying to institute a new, hard-bodies-over-the-ball style of play that will hold up in finals, although personally I don't know what he means by hard bodies and secondly we're not likely to play finals if we lose every game.
But he's the coach and so we've all tried to do what's asking, instituting structures and plus ones, stoppage pressure, corridor running, zones, clusters, and interchange rotations, as well as high half-forwards and sixth men. We do our best, as long as it doesn't get in the way of all 18 of our players chasing the Sherrin wherever it goes on the field, and mostly hanging back, hoping for a cheap kick if the ball spills out of the masses.
On Saturday, it finally all came together and we were like a well drilled unit, with desperation and a genuine team spirit that was never going to let the opposition get over the top of us.
Well, we would have been, if our opponents, the Ivanhoe Under 11s, had actually shown up. As it was, they got the venue wrong and forfeited, so we won by default. But you can only play the opposition you find yourself up against and on this occasion, that was nobody.
In the absence of the "Skankies" as Ivanhoe's team is called, we played kick-to-kick for an hour and a half, mostly under the guidance of Johnny O's friend, Big Tony, who stuck close to the coach's side all day, and when the clock officially ticked over to end the game, we all went wild, hugging and high fiving and going ape. Well, except Alex, who tried to kiss Chelsea, as well as the boys on the team, which ended up in an impromptu game of tag where Alex was 'it' and couldn't catch us.
Even so, it was a great day for our club and Johnny O says we can really build from here.