Look a little harder however, and you will see past the Sunday-stroll facade. This game was significant for the Goannas on a very different level.
If Tokyo does eventually take out the premiership this year, it will look back at this game where it finally felt comfortable in its own rubbery scaly skin.
For it suddenly dawned on the playing group they aren’t a bad bunch. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Although personnel-wise not too much has changed, the ‘feel’ is vastly superior.
Silky playmaker Luke Eyes said as much after the game. “We’ve only had a few new players come in but it seems like a completely different team this year.
“We’re just playing so much better”.
So much better that, for the majority of the first quarter, the Hawks could not find a way out of their back
line. Wave after wave of forward pressure from the Goannas kept the scoreboard ticking and, despite some wayward kicking for goal, they went into the first change with a comfortable 25 point lead.
The second and third quarters saw play open up a little with the lead gradually expanding. By midway through the third term the game was never in doubt.
The Goannas play hard and fast footy this year. They have never been led going into any quarter thus far — an incredible turnaround from 2011. This time, they took an 11 goal buffer going into the final stanza.
The last quarter produced only the 1 goal — to the Hawks — as two tired outfits tried to stumble across the line, focusing on limiting the amount of turnovers occurring.
Perhaps the only concern for the Goannas is their ongoing lack of aerobic capacity. Can Scarlett’s men go the long haul with the Magpies and Senshu, teams who set the standard for fitness?
Or will their tank perpetually run out before the final siren?
Hitting empty at a crucial moment could be the difference in a grand final. A big heart may not be enough to stop a rampaging opposition with just as much to lose or gain.
Those are all presumptions of course, and it would be daft to dwell on negatives on what was essentially a positive day for a team on the up. A day when each player seemed to produce a moment or two of mild
madness and magic.
Let’s start with debutant James Dennier. His team mates call him Bash Brother, or Bash for short.
Although he gave away as many free kicks as he had possessions, it was the Karmicheal Hunt type mayhem he managed to cause that livened up the capacity crowd.
“I’m just really looking forward to taking somebody out”, were his ominous words before the game. There were some close encounters too. Bash almost decapitated a Hawk with a Canadian-style coat hanger. Although missing the target by skin folds Bash wasn’t complaining. “Smashed the opposition by 60 points…didn’t even have to use my AK, got to say it was a good day”.
Then there was player-coach Rob Scarlett. Boy did he turn it on. Copping a hard tag all day, No. 38 from the Hawks just couldn’t go with him.
One piece of play, Robbie flew for a contested mark, couldn’t complete the grab, swore politely at himself, and then won the hard ball on the ground. With the ball in tow he ran to a phone booth and ripped off his guernsey, re-emerging with a cape. Putting on the afterburners, he swerved through heavy traffic saying ‘g’day’ to a few Hawks before casually thumping a long goal from the paint. Heroic.
Travis ‘Arms’ Wilson too had a day out. A few of his passes caught on fire as it passed through some quantum trajectory. Applied footy physics is obviously a Trav forte but, without trying to nit-pick, the game did throw up a worrying query on his game.
Trav just couldn’t quite come to terms with the acute angle of his biceps on one occasion as those heavy artillery guns got in the way of a standard mark. The coach let him know about it too. The only blemish.
Speaking of muscles, the Behemoth Alex Wyatt played his role perfectly rarely rumbling outside the goal square on the day. He pulled down some gigantic marks in his homely confines.
Contesting one long bomb, he had a player hanging grimly off his deltoid. Swatting away the nuisance, he tried to reach for the mark when he noticed another desperate Hawk clinging onto his brachialis. With a shrug and a heave he lifted the extra weight and plucked the ball from the air. It was almost unfair.
Casually stomping back and slotting the goal, the Behemoth is a beacon not only for the team but also for Dan ‘Abs’ McGrath.
With such an enormous specimen placed in the goal square, it allowed Abs McGrath to play a more mobile lead up role at half forward.
Fresh from a 9 goal rout of the Redbacks, Abs came on half way through the first quarter and simply dominated with both his marking prowess and propensity to put frontal pressure on the opposing defenders.
What you have to like about the man is that not only does he abide by the mantra ‘ your abdominal muscles is a temple’, but he shows the same affection for family. His day prematurely ending due to paternal duties.
No problems running out the game however is Daniel ‘Firsty’ Last — a goer. The first year player is certainly making an impression with his tackling and endeavor. In fact, one keen observer swore that he saw
‘Firsty’ prepare before the game by tackling a cactus face-first. The pre-game routine helping him to record double digit tackles for the game whilst wearing boots two sizes too small.
Richard ‘Braveheart’ Binnie provided one of the moments of the match in his second game of Aussie Rules.
Building a full head of steam, Brave put on the torque just as he hit a congested pack and collected the ball at full tilt. Spectators almost lost sight of him as he neared mach 3. Bursting clear, he lay boot on ball and sent it into the stratosphere. When the ball reluctantly reappeared it was near the forward line and roused a
mighty roar from the crowd. Sensational.
I’m sure I’ve used the adjective ‘effervescent’ to describe young Nich Fab before but is there a better word? He attacks the game head on, jumps from contest to contest, and provides verve and voice on the field. You can tell his comrades love having him out there.
Manfully accepting the burden of being the sole Fab playing after Johnny Fab succumbed to a disturbed arm, Nich gave the team a superb helping hand with ruck duties after Tex Alex missed due to buckled ribs.
David Oge’s continues to be inspired by his impending marriage. After contesting one marking duel, the ball hit the deck and was quickly pounced on by the opposition. Oge’s didn’t waste any time parodying a hammer and pummeled the Hawk with his whole body causing the ball to pop back out in dispute. Before the opposition skirting around the outside could gather the loose ball Oge’s dived full length with a sign that read ‘Not today fellas’, and punched the ball out of bounds.
Another Goanna utilized both in the forward half and down in defense is club prez Danno Atkins. Currently under siege for running amok on Luke Eyes’ birthday (that’s another magical story), the Prez is showing his versatility this season becoming the teams Mr Fix-It.
For a man under a bit of a cloud after taking his beer glass fetish a little far, he sure put in an assured game. Is Atkins the new ice man?
The person that continues to excite the crowd however, must be Lukey Eyes. His composure and neat skills caused John Fab to proclaim Lukey as “(having) more time than any other player with the ball” An excited Eyes also celebrated taking his first ever bounce on a footy field. “I couldn’t believe it”, he exclaimed after the game. “I was thinking ‘whoa’… did I just take a bounce?”
Jimmy put in another fine and dogged performance. He collided with a brick wall during the match and came off holding his ribs. However, he sucked it up, refused pain killers, and trotted back on moments later and resumed repelling attacks. He has been a tremendous succe
Another hard nut Michael Milts was back to his fiery best, throwing his frame around akin to a Japanese salaryman in a peak hour train. He unsettled the Hawks with his trademark stare downs and nasty WWE
snarls. The selfless midfielder is undoubtedly leading the team in average assists this year proving very adept at bringing his teammates into the picture.
The Goanna enforcer is an upgraded version of a younger Campbell Brown, without the gold mankini — or so we think anyway.
Amongst it all, the largest contingent yet came out in vocal support. The loyal men, women, and children resplendent in their red and white. Mel Fab snapping away some great shots, Loz making sure celebratory
beers were at hand, and Fab Senior running the interchange with one arm.
Rob Scarlett made mention of it during the match. “With 6 and a half people here watching us we’ve got a 650% increase in crowd numbers compared to last round.
Make no mistake, so is the Goanna confidence. The tongue flickering mojo is back.