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After a long season, which saw us traveling to Saitama, Ibaraki,Chiba and Nagano to play the regular season games the JapanAustralian Football Association playing year, concluded with theGrand Final played at the NTT ground in Chiba last Sunday 25thNovember. The concept of the league changed a little this year with a round robin system implemented to decide which 2 teams would play off for the Big One. The regular season saw some memorable matches playedwith the Goannas once again taking out the Sugidaira Cup quite comfortably from the combined Japanese team. This was to be Ryanifs sayonara game and he left some big boots to be filled. A great clubman and he and Yukeswere sadly missed. We also lost Pretty Boy Jeff who was one of our regular stars on the field and in Roppongi. Our playing stocks were looking depleted, however, we managed to getnumbers at every game. A game played at Urawa showed us the determination of the Samurais when they came back from a 5 goal deficit at three quarter time to kick 7 goals in a desperate last quarter to overhaul the stunnedGoannas. We played games in the searing heat and we sloshed around in poisoned waterholes all for the love of our great game. The J.A.F.A sent a representative team to play in the Arafura Cup and the boys were a huge hit with the media. Although unsuccessful on the field, the young kids were learning more about our game. Another trip to Australia in August (with Tour Guide Beard showing them all the gwondersh of Our Home Land) really had the Samurais grasping the finer points of our game and they lifted their performance to another level in the latter half of the season. After their trip to Australia, the Samurais went undefeated in all their games, handing outthumpings to the Goannas and Gokons to the tune of 105 and 80 points respectively. Luckily enough for the Aussieteam we defeated the Gokons to book a Grand Final berth in November. It was from this point on that the build up for the grand final began. The Samurais training 4 days a week and believe it or not the Goannas had 4 full training sessions on the Sundays preceding the game (not including the regular Thursday night sessions at the Club House). The Goannas had a team get together at an Izakaya on the Friday prior to the GF and announced the team, although, I donthink we will be doing that again. The build up and enthusiasm shown by everyone around the club was phenomenal. It was decided to make this years Grand Final a big event and the JAFA president MrIida pulled out all stops to make it a big day.

November 25 Grand Final Day.
All the preparations were done, the medals to be presented to each player, the entertainment, the banners to run through, the video cameras set up all around the ground and the beer donated by The Club House was in place and the good lord shone rays of sunshine on the ground for the day. The tension was certainly building with everybody at the ground stretching up and looking determined. By 11:30 the Samurais were going through their paces as the Goannas wondered around less boisterous than would normally be expected having a quiet kick to kick. Happy Steve went back to the station to beg for some grub and was given a couple of pieces on left over onigiri by some generous Obachan. Big Dave White called in sick and Cameron pulled an anklethey were replaced in the side byCallum and Denny. Donovan was at the Tokyo Race course trying to come to grips with the Japanese form guide for the Japan Cup.
Brian Clarke, the President of the IAFC and Ralph Mchenry (both professional umpires) gave up their time to help out this year. Ralph also donated two prizes for the best on ground from the VAFA and
Brian donated his mobile phone number to any number of young girls that were at the ground. A mini game between the Gokons and Goannas B side was played before the main game and Rachel and Jenny donned the red and white for the first time and proved that (regardless of what Ryan says) they were
capable of putting in stellar performances, with Rach bagging a goal in the first half and creating havoc with her handballing skill in the second. Happy Steves mate Trev and Jarrod dominated the center
before big Jarrod went down with a twisted ankle and the Gokons out manned them in the second half. Young Dillon aquitted himself well again for his final appearance for the Goannas, we wish him well back
The final scores were:
Gokons 1.2 6.6 (42) defeated Goannas B 2.1 5.5 (35)

The main game was half an hour away but both teams were changed andgoing through their warm ups. The Samurais using the vast expanse of the Ground and the Goannas sitting in a huddle behind the goals as Coach Jones went through his theories, Pythagorus has nothing on our coach.Both teams tore through their respective banners as Mick Millet playing his final game for the Goannas led the side onto the ground. The bagpipes came out with Waltzing Matilda and then both National Anthems were played.
Yasu won the toss for the Samurais and elected to kick with the sunone minute later and the game was on. From the first bounce the Goannas showed they were not here just for a kick and had the ball down to smoking Pete at full forward in a matter of seconds. A quick chip to Mick Millet and the first goal was on the board. From then it was a procession. Goal after goal as the Goannas showing a desperation never seen before at this club completely shut out the disbelieving Samurais with fierce tackling and team play. Happy Steve and Tim were dominating in the ruck and Paul was a brick wall in defenceJames precise kicking out had any attack by the Samurais shoved straight back at them as he found Chuck lurking around the center line time after time. The scores at quarter time Goannas 9.1 to Samurais 0.6. A more determined Samurai team came out after a blast by captain coach Yasu and they managed to kick 3 goals in the second quarterhowever, the Goannas were still running on adrenalin with little Jimmy running rings around their so called quicks combining with a tireless Tim in the ruck relentlessly sent the ball forward where Chuck, Mick and Happy were finishing off brilliantly. Mick Millet flew so high to take a mark in the forward pocket that he could have piloted a drone recon plane. Our club stalwart Kim, Travers andCallum came off the bench to supply some fresh legs and their desperation halted a number of Sams moves into their forward line. The scores at half time Goannas 14.7 to Samurais 3.10. The Goannas were well aware at half time that the Samurais always put in a big second half against the tiring old expats, but coach Jones gave a rousing speech and made a few positional changes to keep the
Sams at bay. The boys were keen to get back out onto the ground before they started seizing up and the Prez even refused the offer of a half time ciggy, the application on this day was unprecedented.
The third quarter saw the continuing dominance of our center line again and Callum and Bags came on to the back line to rip off some ears and provide some run respectively. I think the call from Shiba was gnani kangaeteruomae?oh (what the f#$%k are you thinking) when Cal nearly took his head off as he went for a mark. MillitaryMatt was giving us some good run through the center and Denny was as solid as always keeping the Sams down to only 3 goals. Chuck was getting stuck into the umpires and gave away the only 15 meter penalties of the game (3 in fact) and appropriately drew laughter during his three quarter time speech when he told us to forget about the umpires, just concentrate on the gameThree quarter time scores Goannas 20.12 to Samurais 6.14. Jones again made a positional change putting the body Ando up
forward and the prez (on his last legs and no smokes since 1pm) into the guts. Well the last quarter could have been called the Happy 20 minutes as Steves best friend (the Sams full back) kept finding him on every kick out.Steves reply was to send the ball soaring back over his head for a goal. Amazingly the Goannas just refused to let up and I believe there was even a shepherd put on in the final term. The final siren rang and finally put the Samurais out of their misery. The champagne flowed and the boys headed down to have some photos taken. The final scores Goannas 27.19 (181) def Samurais 8.18

Best players for Samurais Hoshi, Fukun
Best players for Goannas Whole Team Effort.

The Grand Final Cup was presented to Mick Millet and then each player was presented a GF medal by Brian Clarke. The Best on Ground went to Happy Steve with runner up Paul Quirk and Hoshi received the 3rd best award voted by the umpires. Apsy, the first President of the Goannas was on hand to witness the
spectacle and was totally blown away by the commitment of this years team. An excellent turn up for the after match dinner at the Ginza Lion (about 50) capped off a magnificent day. Well done to everybody who participated this year and thank you to everyone that helped out with the preparations that made this years grand final a memorable event. Also a special thank you to Iida san and the Gokons who supported this event and to Garner and the Club House for sponsoring the Club.

GO THE GOANNAS!!!!!!!!!!!

Peter Hosking
Goannas Football Club 2001.