To be honest I can’t remember a huge amount of what happened at the game last Saturday. It was a brutal, physical slog typified by us holding the ball for minutes on end, but making limited headway against a committed Waverley defence. Instead of my usual ramble, I think it’s probably best to break the Grand Final down into a series of short obervations and occurances. Starting with:
- The game may well be the last time I play with Dave Smith, and I think the memory of him I will take away is not the incredible runs off the back of the scrum or lineout, but the way he attracted almost every kick-off that our team has ever received. He has such a force of presence that the ball is drawn to him like a magnet. And it’s the same thing every time- the ball thuds into his chest and he sets off upfield, shrugging off the shooter and smashing into (and often through) the opposition. And so it was again on Saturday. Except for the time the kick-off went straight to Benny but he stepped back and elected not to catch it, where on the bounce it was swept up by… Dave. Think Benny was just shocked a kick-off didn’t go straight to Dave.
- Deano’s kicking won us the game. In all finals regardless of level, the ability to put the ball between the posts is paramount. The two penalty goals in the second half were struck as sweetly as you will ever see. Pretty good for a bloke who is only the third best kicker in the team (behind myself and Derek).
- Though I didn’t realise it at the time, one of their best backs had to leave the field after injuring himself by slipping on Pagey’s phone. True story. Best thing Pagey’s done on the field all season.
- It’s fitting that we scored our only try off the back of a dominant scrum. It’s been a pleasure locking down behind the Boulos brothers this season, they are unstoppable forces of nature at the set piece… though I have a rash on my locking arm that has been there since round 2 and won’t go away…
- When the full time whistle blew, it wasn’t the euphoric moment that I had pictured it as being in my head. We were all straight up exhausted, it was such a brutal game. Benny fell to the ground… or maybe he was already on the ground… either way he was pretty overcome by the whole thing. He is approaching 60 so you have to cut him some slack I suppose.
- Another big moment in the game was a crucial ruck steal by Jimmy Mathers with 10 minutes to go. Sure, we totally fucked up the ensuing lineout, but it was still a nice play.
- In a tribute to Gloss (the patron saint of 4th grade) Deano threw a pinpoint triple cut-out in our 22 to Wotton, who was in acres of space. But Wotto dropped it cold – was the simplest of 90m runs to score. Deano hasn’t spoken to him since.
- It was great to have such a big crowd out there supporting us. Through the whole season everyone has helped us out, and the victory belongs to the whole club. It might have been a lean season in the higher grades, but we honestly couldn’t have done it without the help we have received.
Seriously, I can’t remember that much of the game. The video is coming soon, which will help. We just kept it tight, tight, tight and made headway but never enough. There was no breakthrough moment, no dazzling tries or magical plays. They were in our 22 for about 2 minutes, in which they scored their only try out in the centres. But we held on, grafted through the second half and that was all she wrote. Game over, Kings win. 11-7.
In the end the reward was more than the medal, more than the trophy, more than the result. The celebrations on Saturday and Sunday weren’t great because of the medals around our necks, but because of the work we had put in through the past year (or years), and the bonds that have been formed in doing that work.
My favourite memories of the season weren’t in the Grand Final, but in the little interactions around training and on Saturday. That’s where the best stuff happens, those are the stories I will be telling in years to come. When it all boils down, that’s why we do it.
But the medal is pretty nice.