It has been such a flat off season for Oz football, that I (and many others) have had a real problem working up a head of steam for the new season. I only bought my season vouchers (couldn't really call a sheet of perforated individual match tickets it a "season ticket") this week and had felt decidedly uninterested until match day morning when that old, albeit suppressed, stirring of the loins could be felt yet again. What a relief!.
We have had a bad dry spell and for the last few days a dip into near Winter temperatures again, but the afternoon was quite humid and Fox weather predicted a 70% chance of rain. The rain didn't come and, arriving fairly early, it was difficult to guess whether the crowd may be of decent size or not. It was not, and was announced at a pathetic 2,103 eventually. There were mitigating circumstances of the ARL, rugby league and state league varieties, but just over 2000?
Things were not so good on the park and off it too.The BSSA area was lightly populated, but got off to a reasonable start with a few player and team chants, until every attempt to get a song going was bludgeoned into oblivion by the drum. The drummer is utterly oblivious to the harm done to the corporate spirit of our group and was totally unresponsive to several reasonable requests to modify the noise. Eventually we were reduced to relative silence as chant after chant was throttled at birth and the usually responsive and supportive Banana Army were well peeled and mashed into silence. What a pity!
On the park the team appeared in there new hoopless strip and the big change was Fernando as an out and out forward. It did not work as there was a defender on his back all night and I don't think he is that sort of player. To me he always seems at his best gathering the ball and running at defenders from mid field. As per usual we did not seem keen on turning the Spirit defence by getting to the goal line despite particularly Steffo making himself available to do so throughout most of the second half. It did happen once and did cause some consternation at the back.
We started quite well until conceding a free kick well outside the box after about 20 minutes. It was deflected in and Kearton had no chance. To their credit, the lads pressed forwards and, just before half time a nice move ended with Super Pete driving the ball low and past Henderson's left into the corner. 1-1 at half time and we felt fairly confident of a result.
A quarter of an hour or so into the second half saw Spirit make a great fast break involving very few passes and ending with a cracker of a shot into the top left corner. 1-2 and from then on we really didn't do well. We had several corners which followed the same old well worn path of a hopeful ball somewhere near the penalty spot which was duely headed out by a defender. I still wonder why we never try any kind of variation since the standard approach has had a very low yield. Towards the end Spirit riled the crowd with a series of transparent time wasting pseudo-injuries, but I don't blame them for that - they were ahead away from home. The amazing recovery of all their injured made me wonder if we might not consider erecting a healing shrine for miracle cures at Ballymore.
The game petered out somewhat and the drum certainly got me down and perhaps others too as we were a pretty subdued bunch towards the end. After all I don't think we deserved a win - perhaps a draw would have been fairer as Spirit were not much chop either - as we were not so good at some fundamentals. Ball control and accuracy of passing were less than perfect. I'm not sure the Fernando experiment is worth repeating, but that's not up to me.
Overall I came home feeling down and felt the STRIKERS were like a body builder on honeymoon - all build up, but no performance.