As the cold Winter months descend upon us and ageing, warrior bodies begin to ache, the regular small turnout of vets at Wednesday night footy training has intermittently dropped to a handful of hardy souls.  But their ever-positive leader – Coach Cocker – shrugging off a soft tissue injury remains upbeat and innovative.  Why exert ourselves in the cold on a Wednesday night if instead we can just have a counter meal at the pub?, he says.  And it’s this kind of leadership and buoyant attitude from Cocker that has kept the numbers high on match day and ensured a great camaraderie amongst an ever-changing squad.

Evenly poised on the ladder (with one win a piece from four rounds, including a forfeit by Eltham on the Queen’s Birthday weekend), Croydon North ventured to Panther Place on a Friday night.  Both teams approach the game in great spirit and the ball was soon pinging around the ground at turtle speed.  Possessions were hard-earned by both sides.

Lorra played onball, backline and forward throughout the game, tormenting his ritual tagger by testing his opponent’s ability to play in different parts of the ground. Lorra finished with 4 goals, 160 fantasy points, 1,000 metres gained and weary shoulders.  Enough said.

Gia and Matt Carbone continued their impressive seasons onball, repeatedly providing drive out of the middle and covering all parts of the ground.  Unfortunately, “the Godfather” Carbone ended his night prematurely when an opponent forgot about playing the game in good spirit and out of pure poor-loser mentality took an unexpected cheap shot from behind, before immediately patting him on the back and helping him to his feet.  A stranger wearing a long overcoat in the crowd made a discreet phone call to Sicily.

With Big Burnsy unavailable and Yankee Ryan still nursing sore ribs, Simon Devine took solo ruck duties for the night and did a great job.  The big fella rarely ventured far out of the centre square and took the shortest route possible to every ball-up, using his smarts and wiles to provide great service to his midfield.

The biggest surprise packet of the evening was the form of Jason ‘Jay’ Corbett.  The previous game he made his debut and ran around the half-forward line like a headless chook without a clue (but a gleefully happy chook, it has to be said) – which was fair enough considering he was Irish and completely unfamiliar with the sport.  But this game he suddenly worked out how to read the play and we all realised, hang-on, this bloke has skill.  Showing plenty of toe and all the dexterity of a Gaelic footballer, he repeatedly found himself crumbing the ball across the half-forward line and making searing runs up and down the ground like an emboldened Matthew Richardson.

In the end Eltham won by a whopping 14 goals in what turned-out to be a great team effort with everyone getting involved.  John Cusamano provided clean hands and intelligent running throughout the 4 quarters, finishing with a couple of nice goals.  Jason Plant busted his guts on the wing, earning plenty of contested footy in his best game of the season. Justin Witcher made a welcome return, showing all the poise and class he is renown for across the half-back line (what a luxury!).  And Coathy shimmied and sold candy at the pace of a glacier and the street-smarts of Olliver Twist in the forward pocket.  Well done lads, great win.