The Woodsmen traveled up the Bruce Highway on Saturday for a rare Saturday outing, scheduled for 2pm - however after some typically horrendous traffic that summed up the week for the Woodies, the game actually got underway at 2:15pm after many players left McCarthy Homes Oval at 11am only to arrive at Maroochydoore at 1:45pm!
It was a tough match well before the ball was bounced as the Woodies had only 14 available players as at Thursday midday, and despite a Western Magpies bye, some inflexible rules meant many willing players weren't able to assist. Thousands of calls, emails and Facebook pleas later and the Woodies had gathered the requisite 22 to take on the high flying Roos on their home deck.
Before we get to the match review, special mentions to Nick Reed coming in for his first Woodies game having not played any footy for 3+ years, Laurie Bere again answering the call as he so often does, Tim McEvoy dusting off the boots and Jordan Bonney suiting up after just one game back at Colts level after long term injury. Not to mention Kale Reed, Tom Ielasi and Ant Estwick who attended the match to support and assist, as well as familiar faces in Bob Mathews and Chris Fozard who provided plenty of voice from the stands! Last but not least Scotty Chisolm who did close to a 10 hour day driving from Toowoomba to be the trainer for the day, and Louie Batson who suffered through the traffic to come from the southside of Brisbane to be the volunteer goal umpire. Support and dedication like this is what makes Sherwood Football Club the best place in QLD!
Most importantly, it was the Assistant Coach for the day - young Mason McEvoy who took control of the board at 3/4 time, and made some shrewd moves with the magnets to put the structure in place for the Woodies to prevail! Well done to Mason!
In stunning coastal conditions, the cobbled together Woodies side did look strong on paper despite the difficulties in securing numbers, but in dry weather footy - there was concerns that the 22 only contained one player over 185cm against a tall Maroochydoore outfit.
The Woodies however started well to put early goals on the board for an early lead, with Jordan Bonney banging one home from outside 50 and Braydon Thomas hitting the scoreboard early. However the Roos hit back with 3 straight to take a 5 point lead, despite the Woodies generally controlling possession and field position, but unable to find targets deep in attack.
The Roos then came out firing on all cylinders to kick 3 early goals in the 2nd quarter to take a 4 goal lead, getting on top at the centre bounce in particular and also taking full advantage of their chances having 6 straight on the board, including some quality set shots from tight angles. However, the Woodies midfield stood tall with Judson, Ness and Curtis tackling hard and outworking their opponents, while Thomson relished the red football to take several contested marks. Curtis in particular was getting off the chain and pushed forward for 2 of the Woodies 3 late goals to keep them in it at half time trailing 6.1 - 37 to 5.3 - 33.
Enter David Jackson....the evergreen 39 year old. Formerly known as the 'Minister of Defence' in the early 2000s when he was a dominant player off half back for the Western Magpies senior side, Jackson turned back the clock with an incredible quarter of footy, regularly turning attack into defence with courageous spoils, marks, tackles, daring runs and pin point disposal as he single handedly turned the game in a blistering burst of football!
Jacko collected his tired looking teammates, put them on his back and carried them to a 7 point 3/4 time lead in a vintage display, but despite his heroic efforts - he couldn't do it all and it would require a 22 man effort in the final quarter to bring the Woodies home.
Kicking into a stiff afternoon breeze, the Woodies started positively in the final quarter but again couldn't find targets deep in attack, while the Roos played quick, long and direct football, taking advantage of the breeze to put the Woodsmen under plenty of pressure. Scott Mathews, Chris La Burniy (playing as an undersized fullback), Tim McEvoy and Matt Prior in particular were tireless as they repelled the Roos regular attacks, while Thomson had stationed himself across half back to impact the contest and not allow the Roos talls a free hit at it against smaller opponents.
However, despite all their best efforts - the damn wall looked like bursting as the Roos put on two quick goals to take what appeared like an unassailable lead with a strong breeze behind them. The Woodsmen midfield lifted however, getting on top in the hitouts and stoppage clearances for some rare deep forward entries. The Woodies half back line then pushed up to lock the ball in as panicked clearance kicks from the Roos were regularly mopped up and pumped back in by the Woodies, before a repeat entry resulted in a scrimmage in the pocket when Mitch Merritt gathered, beat one and kicked a quality checkside that curled beautifully inside the goalpost to level the scores with 5 minutes on the clock!
With scores level, the Woodies again won a crucial clearance after 2 repeat stoppages thanks to some ferocious tackling to get the ball forward., however a quick rebound had the Woodies in trouble with wingman Alec Parsons caught in a 3 on 1 situation on the wing. Simple formula, Roos win that contest and they go into a vacant forwardline and score to get back in front - Parsons had to neutralise! However, forget that! Parsons attacked the footy in traditional Woodies fashion, bumped off two opponents, ripped the ball from a 3rd and broke from the contest to push the ball forward for the Woodies, spotting up a target across half forward in a crucial play.
The ball again bounced in and out, before a typically brave Tim McEvoy mark going back with the flight steadied the ship and another forward 50 entry resulted in Braydon Thomas finding space in the pocket to kick truly to put the Woodsmen a goal up. (despite calls from teammates to 'just kick a point!!! - no doubt aware that any score would put the Woodies in front)
The Woodsmen then pushed Mihalopoulous back and played smart defensive footy with ferocious tackling and tight footy in close to force stoppage after stoppage and wind the clock down. With just seconds remaining, the Roos had another deep inside 50 entry that somehow got out the back, and no doubt hearts were in mouths, but who else but David Jackson was able to apply a tackle to the Roos player as he took his shot at tying up the game only to miss everything. Seconds later, the siren sounded and the Woodies enjoyed a fantastic backs against the wall win 10.4 - 64 to 9.4 - 58 to retain top spot on the ladder, a win all the more meritorious given a forfeit was a realistic possibility only days earlier!
Best: Jackson, Mathews, Baldwin, Curtis, Thomson, Ness
Goals: Curtis 3, Thomas 2, Baldwin 2, Mihalopoulos, Bonney, Merrit 1