The Black Ale
The day had arrived, the smell was in the air. Round One ammos footy. With The Crawf looking in particularly good nick, new coach Sam Lane and new captain HR Robinson (Phoenix heart and soul veterans) looked to kick off the season in style.
Who better to face off against then the enemies from the North West – St Bernards. Bernards were responsible for pushing the Phoenix out of finals contention in 2016 when they stacked their Thirds squad with Senior players as their Senior and Reserve teams could not make finals. The Phoenix relished the chance to inflict revenge so early in the season. With an impressive amount of returning players & new recruits (a record 54 players were available for Round 1) the Phoenix slapped on the sun cream and headed into the crisp morning air.
It was a rusty first quarter as expected, but the Phoenix lead Bernard's 3.2 to 2.2 at the first change. The leadership of the Phoenix showed why they were selected with Sam Douglas, Michael ‘Lavazza’ Coffey & Captain HR impacting the scoreboard. Linc Smith and Liam Flanagan were dangerous under ‘Tiny’ Tim Howie’s tap dominance early.
The second quarter continued same as the first, a typical scrappy Crawford tackle fest. The Blacks held against the wind to lead 5.4 to 4.8 at the main break. The defence stood up under fire apart from a couple of cheap Bernards goals over the back with Josh Bowden, Alex Hayward and Jacob O'rain lookalike (and left foot) Jeremy Hill holding the fort.
Highlight of the quarter was a Jack Muller special burning down the wing to drill a goal, with Jedd Dow relishing his return to the Phoenix with some moist in and under grunt work.
Bernard’s must have copped a spray in the half time break as they came out with intent, quickly slotting the first two goals of the third quarter with aggression. It’s times like these where true Phoenix step up, and none better then Captain HR. ‘Robbo’ kicked the next two goals of the game to give the Phoenix back the lead before the rattlesnake arrived.
David ‘Tex’ Restrepo banged through a monster in his debut game to extend the lead and with seconds to spare, Tiny went one better and kicked truly from the Crawf centre square giving the Phoenix strong momentum heading into the last quarter.
The game opened up in the final quarter. Bernards tried rattling the Phoenix with some biff, but in typical fashion while other players slowed in the heat, Jack Heeley's pets Flanno and Linc Smith decided to nail Bernards fragile spirit and put on a clinic while ‘Action Man’ Heeley himself sealed it with the last goal of the game. The Phoenix victory over St Bernards will be savoured nicely as we head in the Easter Long weekend. With Old Xavs up next, another big challenge awaits and the boys are thirsty for more revenge and really give the competition a scare in 2017.
Goals: Robinson 3, Flanagan 2, Coffey, Douglas, Muller, Mackey, Restrepo, Howie, Heeley
Best: Robinson, Howie, Flanagan, Pilbrow, Hayward, Spinks, Murphy, Ukich