2012 – NAGOYA TRIP
2 IN A ROW– BUT NO ROW FOR THE BOAT
Ok first things first. The Boat Race.
An age old tradition going back before words like ‘swag’ and ‘yolo’ became popular.
A challenge of strength, manhood, and gullet ability.
A test so profound in its importance some say it rivals the actual football game that precedes it.
As you read this you most likely already know the Goannas took out the Redbacks by 25 points in the actual game. Needless to say, Boat Race brigade was high on confidence despite the Redback boys foaming at the mouth for a chance of redemption. The Nagoyans wanted it bad.
So, after a pep talk from Boat Race commandeer Dan McGrath who recited the traditions of this ancient race and waxed eloquence about doing the club proud, the team of 5 started preparations.
They de-foamed their drinks. Swirled it with chopsticks to take the fizz out. Cheekily spilled a little beer on the floor. Some took it too far and had to re-fill their glasses and do it all over again.
After some hurrying-up from the home team, Tokyo took their places across from their opposition amidst the rabid jeering and spittle-filled chanting of the partisan crowd. For Tokyo, Coach Rob Scarlett was to start proceedings with Mitch Ainsworth anchoring. Tex Alex, Oceans, and Rich Braveheart would fill the middle legs. The tension was fever pitch. ‘Saturday night’ style ‘ fever. Then it was on.
Scarlett quick to react downed his pint in synchrony with his counterpart. The close start leaving the next legs vital. Any jitters could cost the team dearly.
Big Tex took the reigns next and opened his gullet. His first few swigs promising. Then disaster struck. The whiskey specialist had underestimated beer. It led him to commit the hanging offense of coming up for air. Texy trying desperately to recover went back in again. However, confidence shot to pieces, came up for air a second time. Disastrous effort.
The Nagoya crowd was baying for blood. They sensed a kill.
Panicking, commandeer Dan McGrath desperately instructed Oceans and Rich Braveheart to spill as much beer as they can.
Both their shirts drenched, they tried in vain to close the deficit. Nagoya was not going to choke it seems.
In the end, too much was left to Mitch Ainsworth. By the time he picked up his beer the game was over. In frustration Mitch finished his leg anyway. In 3 seconds flat. Billy Brownless would have been proud.
With head in hands, mental agony wrenching their livers, Boat Race Goannas could only watch on as
the Redback contingent jump with joy piling on top of one another. The crowd went delirious.
Sensing the despondency, Dan McGrath upped his chin and told his men, ‘Eh. Let ’em have it. We won the real thing anyway. Who cares about the Boat Race’.
What happened after that will need some piecing together — but rewind the time back to 6 hours earlier and the memory is clear as day. Dan McGrath was right.
The Goanna boys, all 11 of them, were huddled in a tight circle as coach Rob Scarlett addressed his troops. It was stirring stuff. He spoke about 11 men together, heads down, going in hard, hardening up. He knew how to rev the boys up. Only sexual innuendo would do.
And so the game started against a much improved Nagoya unit.
Oceans won the toss and opted to kick against the wind. Either he forgot to check which way the wind was blowing or it was a radical strategy to come home with a gale.
Either way, after a shaky start, the Goannas clawed their way back into the game and held on to a small lead all game despite having less legs than then opposition. It was that which prompted coach Scarlett into describing the victory as “Fantastic”.
“We really showed the 4 C’s”, he went on to say. “Commitment, courage, consistency and… ah, I forget. But anyway for the second time this season an undermanned Goanna’s outfit really turned it on”.
That indeed they did. Going into the game without Maddog Milts, the Fabrici clan, Disco Lidell and a back-up ruckman, things could have gone very awry.
Take for example if Tex Alex succumbed to the big stage. The big Texan battled 3 opponents alone all day copping a pounding to his ribs.
“It was a massive effort from a bloke who was only playing his second game of footy”, Scarlett said. ” To be able to ruck all around the ground for the full game against three opponents was exceptional. Clearly he put all his effort into his onfield performance as his sculling effort in the post-match boat race was a disgrace. “
Or, for example, if Dan McGrath’s shoulder popped out in the third quarter. He was on fire when he went down clutching his shoulder. The whole team had their heart in their mouths– “I thought it was game over when I saw him go down”, said a Tokyoite. But, like an African Honey Badger, the spearhead shook himself off after a sting and proceeded to kick 9 goals steering the team home.
Asked if this years re-inclusion of both McGrath and defensive general Huddo straitened up the team considerably, Sarlett didn’t hesitate to agree.
“Definitely. Both Dan (bung shoulder) and Huddo (duck arse) overcame their physical incapacities and showed us what it takes to travel to Nagoya and come away with a win.”
However, the coach is trying to stay grounded. Amidst his players celebrating all through the night and some already thinking of tattooing a premiership goanna onto their skins, the coach warned, “We are a football side that has won two games. Nothing more”.
Oceans must have been breathing a sigh of relief after his run into an open goal a meter out early in the last was somehow both smothered and hit the post (his explanation was that the effect of one resulted in the other). Unfortunately, it culminated into Nagoya having a run on kicking the next couple of goals.
In the end, the Redbacks couldn’t hold onto any momentum they built– including that one.
Scarlett and Travis kept getting it out of the middle. Speaking of ‘Arms’ Travis, he sealed the game by barging through two players, flexed his biceps, collected a fumbling ball, broke another tackle with a snarl, flexed his biceps again, then snapping a beaut from a tight angle on the boundary. Goal of the year’s going to take some beating.
Mitch Ainsworth kept putting his body on the line and presenting through the middle and up forward despite his knee blowing up with liquid and pretty much his whole leg a disfigured mess of varying colors.
Dan Atkins ran around the forward half all day providing some great pressure around the ball. The players all feared for him pregame as on the last trip to Nagoya he famously pulled an arse muscle bending down to pick up his train fare.
Oges was Oges. Reliable down back trying to keep the gorillas at bay. He, Jimmy and Huddo were a great team there, with admirable back-up from first gamer Richard Braveheart. The backline group must be commended for providing the rebound and delivery which oftentimes served McGrath on a platter.
Huddo, first game back, showed his importance straight away. As soon as he went off with an ominous hamstring, the opposition found scoring much easier, hitting the lead on a rare occasion.
When asked about other notable efforts on the weekend, Scarlett found it difficult to keep it efficient– and game-related.
“First gamers Richard ‘Braveheart’ Binnie and Jimmy Morvell played their roles perfectly, 9 goals from the One Armed Wonder, Big Tex in the ruck, Dan throwing his parma through the pub, Mitch getting the bar-girl’s phone number, Shots, Shots, Shots, the Sunday morning assault on Maccas… too many to mention”.
And so it was that night after the game that the Goannas went on a bit of a rampage. Club Pres Dan Atkins was chief amongst it deciding it was a good idea to use his full plated chicken parma as a projectile and aim it at Oges bag. It ended very messily and resulted in another parma being ordered. Not content with that Danno A played a bit of a lark on the boys by ordering them one of those new-aged befangled shots that came with a spoonful of espresso powder.
The other Dan, McGrath, tried to spend the last portion of the night showing off his abdominal and chest muscles to a fellow Nagoya citizen trying to enjoy his bowl at a ramen shop. His shirt stayed unbuttoned henceforth as he no
longer had the cognitive ability to button up.
Apparently we all thought Huddo would be on the lookout for us as he had work early in the morning. Instead — so this author was told — he played the devils advocate egging us on at every opportunity. He made a quick exit the next morning escaping any charges held against him. Robbie went up to his room to wake him up. Unable to get an answer after knocking, he had the cleaning lady open the door to find an empty room. Sneaky fellow that Huddo.
In fact piecing these events together have been a challenge in of itself.
The authors luggage inexplicably included the team hotels towel and blankets upon opening. How they got there– the question is almost too scary to ask.
Next round doesn’t get any easier. A war of attrition against the Hawks who have a decent record against the Goannas. A big crowd is expected for the first game at YCAC this year.
Presently though, it’s a happy, happy place down at Hobgoblins.