By Gary Stocks
If North Beach is looking for motivation as it attempts to get its 2011 campaign back on track, it should look no further than the last line of defence.
There, working effusively out of the goal-square, will be a man who personifies all the traits of the North Beach Football Club.
Anthony “Chooka” Ingham has been a stalwart of the defensive unit for the past decade, has played in six premierships since arriving via Wembley, and has become the best full-back in the league. Tomorrow against Wesley Curtin, “Chooka” will play his 200th match.
The Beach has made a tardy start in quest of its eighth successive premiership. It began with a one-point loss to Collegians in the opening round, was corrected to some extent with a convincing victory against Trinity Aquinas, but then collapsed under the youthful exuberance of University on Gary Tait day last Saturday.
As the Scholars imposed themselves on the game, North Beach uncharacteristically wilted. They hobbled to the final siren as if waiting for the guillotine to fall, rather than show the traditional grit which has seen the club establish a record unparalleled in amateur ranks around the country in the last 12 years.
There was no energy, no enthusiasm and no fight as University took charge all over the ground.
With the exception of a handful of players there was no resistance. Not surprisingly, Ingham, in the last line, was one of those who stood up. You would expect nothing less from a man who, in his 199 matches for the club to date, has made spearing passes out of the danger zone his forte.
With other veterans in the defensive half he has formed an impenetrable wall that has allowed few enemy assaults in last decade to penetrate. With the likes of Luke Smith, Aaron Jarvis, Reece Cunningham, Dean Brennan and Jimmy Nunan they have consistently paralysed the opposition and then rebounded the ball will clinical efficiency to set up the North Beach offensive.
In previous years Scott Ward was an integral part of the unit as well, but the deft skills of the experienced half-back are missing this season as he embarks on an overseas excursion.
For this game, coach Bill Duckworth and his trusted lieutenants have made a few changes, some forced, some not and he will be calling on that North Beach spirit and the respect for a champion of the club on his milestone day to be honoured appropriately.
It will be a tough challenge at South Oval on the Curtin campus, but the Beach will do all it can to atone.
The day will start with a tough encounter for the Phil Scott Colts, who clash with the undefeated hosts. Last week they played strongly to eclipse University, winning their first premiership points of the season, and good news came with captain Kris Hackett and midfielder Kade Golisano being selected in the final 26-man State colts squad.