The usual annual football game between the WRFL Umpires and the Hoppers Crossing Fireys was played at Avalon Airport Oval, Chirnside Park, Werribee on Sunday 14 September. The numbers were fantastic with about 21 players on each side. Quite a few families turned up to support both teams and the weather was fine and sunny.
Brett Carter assumed the role as coach of the umpires and was quite content to sit on the sidelines and direct traffic although at one stage he was spotted out in the middle of the action fighting tenaciously for the ball. Joe Tartaglia, making his debut, helped organise the Fireys team.
The Fireys made a great start to the game and stormed their goals repeatedly in the first quarter. Two goals to the umpires evened things up a little but the visitors appeared to be the better team by quite a margin and led by 16 points at the first break. Some players claimed that one field umpire was showing favour to the umpires’ team. In response Steve Sutton said, “Well, I have to keep them in the game.” The other field umpires were Terry O’Donnell and Graeme Hodgart. On the boundary were Lachlan and Cameron Pietzsch while the goal umpires were a weary Dave Voigt and Derek Polden.
The umpires played better football in the second quarter and got themselves back in the match. It may have been due to an extra player or two but Boothey for the Fireys was still kicking goals which meant that his team had a 12 point lead at half-time.
The third quarter was quite even. Scott May continued to be a stand-out player backed up by Garner and Melek although the latter missed two reasonably shots on goal. Heath Grundy was still playing well displaying both skill and dash although a few of his Fireys’ team-mates seemed to tire as the Umpires remained within striking distance.
The pace of the final quarter slowed down but both teams enthusiastically pursued the ball. Several turnovers from both teams allowed scoring opportunities to arise. The Umpires did the majority of the attacking and found the major opening. Soon after they hit the lead only to see a quick goal kicked in reply. The home team had several further chances but kicked several behinds. Eventually the Umpires kicked the winning goal in the last minute of the game and were then able to hold on for victory.
Scott May was deservedly named as best player on the ground. It had been a closely fought contest played in good spirits. Thankfully there were no major injuries although Darren Williams had a severe graze somehow inflicted by son Aiden. Heath Grundy was spotted throwing up over the fence during the third quarter and Mathew Frost was reported for breaking a water bottle. He was given a reprimand.
After the game, the barbecue was running hot and the cold drinks were very welcome. A great team were on hand to cook and hand out the refreshments. Hopefully, the Fireys were able to make a few dollars for their social club. Special thanks to Paul Dimartino for organising the event. Thanks to the Fireys for providing the footy jumpers.
WRFL Umpires 2 – 0 5 – 2 6 – 3 9 – 7 – 61
Hoppers Fireys 4 – 4 6 – 8 7 – 10 8 – 11 – 59
WRFL Umpires (goals) A.O’Donnell 2, I.Campbell 2, G.Williams 1, D.Melek 1, B.Cryer 1, V.Garner 1, J.Irwin 1
(best) S. May, V.Garner, D.Melek.
Hoppers Crossing Fireys (goals) Boothey 4, J.Tartaglia 2, S.Polden 1
(best) H.Grundy, Boothey, Number 26, Number 27, Number 3.
Steve Sutton, Terry O’Donnell & Graeme Hodgart (field)
Cameron Pietzsch & Lachlan Pietzsch (boundary)
Dave Voigt & Derek Polden (goal)
Last year it was Cameron Pietzsch who ran the boundary so well that he committed himself into joining the WRFL umpires as a boundary rider. This year it was a ‘young’ goal umpire named Derek Polden who impressed.
The whisper is that Derek will make a return to waving flags in the WRFL for Season 2015.