By Gary Stocks
Light, misty rains fall on Percy Doyle Oval. It threatens to get heavier.
The thick, black clouds brewing in the west support the prima facie atmospheric evidence. Standing on the oval, looking back over the clubroom roof, that dark menacing colossus is rolling inexorably towards a bunch of 40-odd blokes loosening up before training.
September? You should be able to smell footy finals. Freshly mown grass, the chill in the air taken off by the kiss of a slowly setting sun.
But the seasons are awry. They no longer fall to the calendar of man, but are determined by Mother Nature. She’s running the show and wants winter to continue a while longer. As if to put her exclamation mark on her authority, just as coach David Hynes calls in the troops, she dumps buckets on those assembled.
As determined as Mother N is to extend a miserable run of unseasonal weather, Hynes is just as adamant in reminding the senior squad that while it might not look and smell like September, North Beach footy club is on the cusp of a big weekend.
The O’Rourke Realty A-Grade and Credent Financial Services A-Reserves are within reach of goals which were set back in November. Collectively, we have worked towards this opportunity for nine months and now we are on the cusp.
Both teams will be engaged in preliminary finals tomorrow. The A-Grade team will confront University while preceding that battle will be the A-Reserves against Fremantle CBC. Both games are at McGillivray Oval.
For a few minutes, Hynes with the absolute attention of the squad, speaks of the excitement that awaits. You can see the passion in those piercing eyes, prying inside each of his charges, exploring them as he scans from player to player ensuring they are engaged in his message.
As a player he suffered a bit from white line fever and you sense he’d love to wind back the clock 15 or 20 years and shows these blokes what it takes. But you can’t defy time and he’ll rely on sculpting a victory from the bench.
If his eyes have not raised the arousel levels of the players, then surely his voice has? He speaks of the opportunity that lies ahead, of the points of difference between the Beach and its challengers. Of the moment.
The players, with his words and his encouragement still resonating, set off for their warm-up and so begins a training session of significance. A session that belies the conditions. It is purposeful, but at times careful, players keen to ensure there are no mishaps that could keep them away from this occasion.
They all get through the 90-minute hit-out and then it is selection time.
As a coach it’s the least enjoyable part of the job. Someone will be disappointed.
Adrian Clarke, one of the most consistent defenders in the team, is ready to resume after missing the convincing victory against Swan Athletic with an ankle injury. Josh Stott, Michael Italiano and James Lee are in the frame, too.
Having won by around 11 goals in the first semi-final, it’s tough to leave anyone out. Certainly no one will be culled because of form.
At least for those who do make way, there is the opportunity to play in the Reserves game.
The A-Grade finished third at the end of the qualifying round, behind University and Wesley Curtin. It goes to McGillivray knowing it won the previous match at the same venue.
The A-Reserves finished on top of the ladder, suffered a tough loss to Trinity Aquinas by just five points last week, but looks to have selected a well-balanced team which is poised to accept the challenge against Fremantle CBC.
It’s time to capitalise on the foundations laid all those months ago.