Well, the dog days of summer have passed and the red hot Pies were coming off two wins at home in July and two more away in Boston in early August. This had the lads keen on keeping up the momentum.
Nashville away presented a tantalizing opportunity. The trip was talked about all season and had plenty of hype and excitement leading up. The lads were so excited they almost wet the bed, which may have been taken too literally. The schedule was a beaut for the boys: 5 p.m. start on the Saturday arvo had allowed the gents to get about town and get a bit naughty, with some extracurricular activity happening in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
The night prior hit the boys hard and we were all feeling a bit ginger, but a team bonding trip to the armory was sure to get us back on track. Shane “pud-light” Lowry was in his element calling back on his copper days, nailing targets down the range with ease; now if only he could translate that to the pitch! With all that out of the way the lads pulled up to a lush, gorgeous pitch on a hot Nashville evening, easily one of the best in the country, feeling spry and ready to go.
The first quarter started with a veteran midfield with senior members Isaac “stop-yelling-at-us” Martin; the now Sean “indifference” Holmesby, due to his inability to fill his own quota of ten goals; and our fearless leader Shano. Despite Nashville having a human brick wall (former NFL training squad tight end) as ruckman, the underage and undersized Ash ‘The Joker’ Cleary helped give silver service to the crew as the Hot Pies started off with a bang: with out-of-retirement Jake Spiteri showing off his skills from back in Oz hitting the scoreboard early and finishing the day with a handy bag of 3. With both captains out, Karl ‘Buzz Cut’ Schoenmaekers still managed to give spark by offering up a cool $100 if Bobby “behind-the-bushes” McDowell snagged his first in the black and white. And snag he did; Bobby was relentless at the contest and was justly rewarded as the pies jumped out to a 3-5, 23 to 0-4 for Nashville after the first term.
The Nashville Kangaroos bounced back hard in the 2nd term, not allowing the Pies to bully them on home turf. Troy “the human ragdoll” Danilo lived up to his nickname getting poleaxed into next week by the aforementioned “human brick wall” on Nashville. Shano preaches toughness, and after checking in on him Troy bounced back into the fray ready for another crack. Ryan ‘Rhino’ Willsmore also took a big knock, needing seven stitches to sew up a gnarly gash on his head. Ben “Leaky Tap” Naylor then marked truly in the forward 50, sinking a nerve-settling goal to keep the Pies ahead at the main break.
The 3rd quarter was an arm wrestle, but with veteran Aussies Gordo and JD in defense, spoiling, marking, and rebounding everything and anything that came at them, the Pies were able to keep control and hold the Roos at bay. Ash Cleary began to blossom placed at half forward, playing a tremendous game and offering plenty of attack. He struck an unlucky shot at goal swinging back late to hit the post, but the footy gods gave him one back later with what was surely offline, given a goal. His replacement in the ruck, Sam ‘Flowing Locks’ Davey at one point squealed and ran from the Kangaroo big man and, mate, we can’t blame ya. Sam worked tirelessly against the much larger man in workman-like performance. Shano lead from the front as usual snagging a few sausage rolls – although he could have had 3 – as he stole a free kick from Spiteri, but the footy gods would have the last laugh as it strayed off for a behind.
Nick Bowman and Juice were their usual busy selves, always in the thick of it; hired guns Nick Tyson and JJ pitching in nicely. Jack, Ishy, and Josh helped contribute to the cause across the 4 quarters.
With five minutes to go the physicality tightened as it became a tackle fest; the Pies were trying to hold off a relentless Nashville. Ragdoll channeled his inner Mickey Hiebl (who in Boston came off second best in a marking contest) and went straight for the footy, but was rag-dolled again by the Nashville ruckman; this time taking him out with his third unfortunate rib injury. Timmy “I bring my missus on a boys only footy trip” Arakelian decided to dish his own punishment out, tackling and bumping any opponent that came at him in the defensive 50; it was an inspiring few minutes of non-stop action, ensuring Nashville got no cheeky late goals.
Gordo tried to finish off the day with Tony Modra-esque jump to the heavens, which would have surely been mark of year, if not mark of decade, but fell just short wrangling it in; a good effort nonetheless.
A shout-out to a guy named Travis (got here 2 hours ago), a late-night downtown Nashville recruitment pick-up by the team manger Sean Holmesby. Not the late-night pick-up he was after, but still a pick-up of sorts. And another shout-out to our very own Adam ‘A-squared’ Alvarez, who does one of the toughest jobs in footy: being an umpire. Adam continues to improve week to week and put that on display being the voice reason, keeping both sides in check in what became an emotion-filled, grueling second half with plenty of yips and yells from the players on the field. Well done, Adam. You’re a legend!
In the end it was a 9-13-67 to 4-16-40 win for the boys in hot, hard-fought effort.
Best. Cleary, Lowry, Beggy, Daniels, Spiteri, Bowman, Martin.