This year I was chosen to captain the reserve grade Penrith Rams football team. Last year we were runners up and we were again able to make it back into the Grand Final after losing our first final and then having to win the next two matches to get back to the final. I spent the qualifying final on the sidelines with the coaching staff as I had been pretty sick all week and it was thought best for the team that I dropped out and gave someone else my spot. Before the game leading up to the team being picked, I kept getting text messages asking what I thought about this person or that person and got a couple of phone calls about myself and how I was to see if I would play, it's interesting having a say on who should get a spot in a team over someone else. Can't say I enjoyed the experience of watching the team running around and me standing there and not being able to do anything to help get us into the final.
On the Monday night before the final, the best and fairest count for Sydney AFL was on and this year I was asked if I wanted to go along to it with a few other people from the club, coaches and players who were a chance for awards from the rounds during the year. It was a formal occasion and the girls from the club who were in their first year in the competition were the ones with the awards for our mob who were there with one of them being in the team of the year and another of them getting the rising star award. It was a good night out with a good meal and all you could drink.
I was very nervous during the week as there were another 2-3 guys as well as I, wanting to get back into the team and there wasn't really anyone who had played bad the last final or game before that. I put in at training and every mistake I made I thought "that's not good" wonder what everyone is thinking. I usually don't doubt myself playing footy, but I went through a stage for a couple of games, where I made mistakes and kept getting reminded of it, so it plays on your mind a bit.
I found out Thursday night that I would get to play and Friday I had off work, so it was nice to relax and not have to worry till lunchtime when the official team would be posted, to see if I would get the chance to play the final. I was still hanging out all morning while at LunaPark, checking my phone to see who was in the team and whose position I had taken.
Saturday morning, the day of the game, I was awake early and excited to be playing, Lisa and the boys had spent the week up here and were staying with me and Lisa had gone to the temple to do an early session, so I took Harri and Kobe and went for a walk to the supermarket to get some powerade and other things to help me during the day. I had spent most of the week taking all kinds of pills and liquids to get me well again and ready to play. One of my friends Woody had been picking me up and dropping me home from training all week as Lisa had the car to get around, so he dropped by a couple of hrs before kickoff and picked me up and we went down to the giants first home ground at Rooty Hill, where four finals were to be held that day, with ours being the second one kicking off.
After getting to the ground which is only 10 minutes away, we had a bit of a kick around inside the changing room and got rid of some pregame nerves, then we all got changed into our game gear, so we could get a team photo done by the Sydney AFL photographer. After the photo we went into our usual game day preperations, preparing just like we normally would do for a normal game, as when the first ball goes up, it's just us and the ball and everything is just another game. We actually warmed up pretty well for once, usually people just dawdle in and do their own thing, but this day we were pretty together and the skills were pretty decent.
I started off the bench instead of my usual position in the backline and after the first 5 mins we were under the pump. we soon got on top and kicked the first three goals. I got my chance to get on the field, starting on the wing and forward line and coming on and off when I was needed, escaping the backline except for about 5 mins, when two of our players collided and one came off concussed and the other came off for a few minutes groggy. I ended up playing most of the second half.
We were well on top for the first two quarters and the halftime break came up. This year we broke games open in like 10 minute bursts, but we seemed to always be on top, but then would fadeout for a quarter or so and this game proved to be no different, with our third quarter being the fadeout this game, with our opponents Gosford hitting back and getting within a few points of us. The last quarter we ended up kicking the only goal and winning by three goals, which was closer than Gosford should have got with us kicking 9 goals and 16 behinds for the game and having 11 more scoring shots.
As captain I had to give a speech, thanking our opponents and also the crowd who we could hear all day as they were loud in support of us and also giving it to the other team. I should have thought more about the speech as I left out thanking and mentioning people, who were with the team all year.There were a few of the boys in the team who had lost a grandfinal with me or had lost two grandfinals in a row, so it was nice to celebrate the win with them after all the preseason we had done and all the trainings, even some sessions with the cold and rain. It was also nice to have Lisa, Jay, Harri and Kobe there for the final, as they hadn't seen me play competition footy before and also to have a photographer for the day. Thanks for the pics Marge!! :) And thanks to Ed also, for the pic I stole from him :)
It was nice to play with a great bunch of guys and make history as the Rams reserve grade had never won the GrandFinal before, having been in a couple of more grandfinals.
If you want to, you can still watch the match or medal presentations, just click on the link below.