The second of our gala days for U10s was held at Frank Gray Oval Curl Curl. It was a full day of U10s with all the North Beaches and North City teams meeting in three pools. Unfortunately for Team Hawkins, we’d drawn Pool A and a centre-bounce of 8am. The field setup was on three very large ovals, with no marked zones, and we knew the boys would be extra tired after five, albeit shortened, games. Team Hawkins, as team #3 in the pool, also drew the short straw in changing fields, and found ourselves moving for all but one change, while other teams remained stationary. Grumble.
The team (and Assistant Coach Mic) were happy to see Coach Roger take a break from coaching the AFLW Giants to coach the Cats. Tom Bredenhann had caught the family flu or something, and despite not being fit enough to take the field insisted on attending the day to cheer his teammates on, and assist his Dad with goal umpiring. With twelve players ready and raring to go, the team and staff hurriedly ran through a warm-up before Coaches address. The game focus was on pressuring your opponent, working together, and kicking the ball downfield, this last point emphasised due to the size of the fields.
First game was against Pittwater Tigers Rioli, who we’d never faced before. Noah won the toss and captained a solid start. Jacob delighted his teammates by gathering a ball that fell out the back of a contest and confidently kicking it through the big ones. The Cats dominated play in the first half, though there were a few nervous moments in the second in defence. Angus went down injured after a contest, but he dusted himself off and got back into it. The Tigers could only manage a solitary behind. A quick post-game debrief about bunching up too close to the kicker, and it was onto the second game. One game, one win.
The next was against, wait, didn’t we just play these guys? No, it was Pittwater Tigers Dusty, who had beaten us in the first game of the season. Coach rotated players to give some respite and change the mix. Harvey won the toss and captained strongly. Angus showed no adverse signs from his injury the previous game and kicked two goals, the last, the sealer, in the final minutes to break a deadlocked score. Two games, two wins.
The third game was against our dreaded bogey side, the Manly Mustangs, who’d humiliated us twice during the season. “But not on my watch,” said Captain Shane, and that was the set up for a hard-fought contest in which both sides scored one goal apiece. Team Hawkins’ goal was a final minute, tough, angled set shot from Noah after a free kick, and his team celebrated accordingly. There was a lot of rough-and-tumble about this game, thankfully no white-line fever, and Team Hawkins were happy with the result. A little bit of humour too, when Felix forgot he’d been rotated forward and kicked in the wrong direction, but the midfield recovered and Felix genuinely relished the tougher game and played well. Three games, two wins, one draw.
Coach Roger gave an urgent address about not sniping within the team, reminding the players that they were playing for each other, and not to let tiredness and frustration get the better of ourselves. A quick jelly baby injection was given before heading onto game four. This was against Willoughby Wildcats Gold, who had thumped us the previous week. The boys’ blood was up though, and it was an emphatic response from the Cats, captained by Ryan. Last week, the Cats did not bother the scorer, this week, the position was reversed. Ryan led from the front in this one, insisting on staying on after a nasty head clash that saw the other player leave the field. This inspired his team on. Recent international recruit Lewis missed a golden opportunity in an open goal kicking it into the post, but redeemed himself in the second half, kicking his first career goal. The score would’ve been far higher had we kicked straight. Four games, three wins, one draw.
The last was against Mosman Swans Red, who we’d not faced before. Captained by Zak, the Cats kicked ahead through Harvey and were never led, Lewis kicking his second of the day and a handful of behinds from the other forwards. Team Hawkins never looked like losing this one. Five games, four wins, one draw.
The results said it all, the boys performed superbly and were clear winners on the day. Most importantly, they were able to take instruction on the fly and respond. Just as important was the quality of instruction they were receiving from Coach Roger, whose keen insight was able to zero in on exactly the aspect of play that needed correction and then concisely get that point across to the boys. He also gave a cracking post-game/-season address to players and parents — he certainly has picked up some oratory skills from his son. He reiterated that it was working together and remaining a strong solid team that won us the day. He thanked Mic Lumley for his coaching and training assistance, Chris Brendenhann for brilliant Team Management, Michiel Tops for standing in for Chris when needed, and parents for transporting the boys and encouraging them in their sport. All players, parents, and siblings joined in for a final rousing, and might I say tuneful, rendition of the team song.
The final event left on Team Hawkins calendar is the Presentation Day on 8 September at the Diddy. All are looking forward to this.