On Wednesday the 16th of September a group of 24 Under 17 players from 13 different clubs representing the South Metro Stars took on Yarra JFL’s “Team of the Year”, and fought hard and fairly for the inaugural Colts Challenge Shield.
The SMJFL team was truly representative, as we asked every club with an Under 17 side to nominate players for the squad. The only clubs to miss representation had players who were in the squad, but pulled out due to inability to play on the night.
The final score-line didn’t accurately reflect the match from SMJFL’s point of view. In actual fact, the margin at quarter time was the same at the end of the match, so for the last three quarters our team took it right up and matched everything Yarra could throw at them.
The weather had been predicted to be cold, wet and windy, but Melbourne turned on a perfect night for footy. Cool, clear and not much wind. For the SMJFL crowd it was a long haul out to Bulleen Park, home of the Yarra Juniors, but we were made to feel extremely welcome by the home side. The carnival atmosphere and novelty of a night match was heightened by having a Yarra Intra-league Under 12s match beforehand, which drew quite a crowd, most of whom largely stayed on for the main event as well.
Everyone managed to get to the ground on time, and the team photos were duly taken. Then final instructions over, the team revved themselves up much to the delight of the coaches who were impressed to see the way the entire group had “bought in” to the concept of the match, and gelled as a team.
The actual match itself was very impressive. There were some skills on show, and the endeavour of both teams was fantastic. After the first quarter our South Metro Stars supporters were looking a bit nervous, fearing the margin could blow out into a nasty defeat, but the boys regrouped, and quickly began matching the Yarra team. The coaching group was actually of the opinion that by the end of the match our team was ready to overrun the opposition who were starting to slow up, while the South Metro Stars was still going strong.
The match was played in wonderful spirit. Field umpires were the AFL Victoria Golden Whistle Award winners for each league – Doug Haworth from the SMJFL Umpiring group and Alex Christie from Yarra JFL Umpires. The umpires later commented that it was a terrific match to officiate as the play was hard but fair, free flowing and there was no back chat or niggle. Presentations after the game saw the Yarra team awarded the 2015 Colts Challenge Shied, but we’ll be wanting to bring it to Linton Street next year, so they’d better watch out! Each team awarded a medal to their own Best Player, with Tom Moloney of South Melbourne Districts winning the medal for the Stars.
I’m sure the players and parents would want us to acknowledge the fantastic effort of our support team. Coaches Matt McLennan and Nick Graham have done a brilliant job in a short period of time, turning a group of individuals from 13 different teams into a unified team. David Sheridan, who has recently come on-board as our Interleague Director of Coaching immediately involved himself in the concept as well, and our Interleague Coordinator Steve Zayler did a huge amount of work, ensuring all the boys were correctly uniformed, and got the team on the park – we all know how vital a good team manager is to any side!
Thank you also to all the parents who not only drove the boys to and from training for the last 4 weeks, but also chipped in on the night and helped. Particular thanks to Darin Edwards as runner, Lucio Naccarella for timekeeping, and Arthur Leontaritis who was Umpire Escort. Other families brought oranges, snakes and jelly beans, which is always appreciated.
Finally we would like to thank Yarra JFL for hosting this year’s event. The supper afterwards for the two teams was well patronized – and appreciated by a bunch of hungry 17 year olds. The whole evening was enjoyed by everyone, and the night was a fitting finale to many of these boy’s junior careers.
Final Scores: Yarra JFL 13.6.84 defeated SMJFL 8.6.54