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The Great Chonofski

The Great Chonofski; a man of few words, a man of action. A man who can run through packs like lightening through a wet dog; nay, a man’s whose football ability leaves the very gods themselves trembling with envy! When the story of the Great Chonofski and his singularly epic display of football prowess on that fateful day is passed from father to son; some will claim to have been there – in the vainglorious hope that their own football skills will improve by mere association alone. Women will swoon and children will drift to sleep, dreaming if one day, just maybe, they too can dance the dance of their hero. And if we are to be truly blessed, there is one amongst us who, like Homer capturing the myth of Odysseus and his epic journey home, may one day put pen to paper to capture Chonofski’s own journey to greatness. It’s just a pity he couldn’t make the trek up to the Gabba where the Blues could have used him against the Lions yesterday – a bottle of red would have to do.

Yet, to quote, Donne, the great English metaphysical poet; ‘no man is an island’ - and ne’r a truer word was spoken about the Cockies’ performance at the 2017 Sydney Mini-Carnival. Up back; Harps, Benny H., Dave G., the evergreen Lethal (who knew he carried the surf board for David Lee Roth back in the day?) combined all day with courage to form the bedrock upon which the Cockies built their two wins and a draw against the Hunter Hornets, Northwest Sydney Redbacks (draw) and Balmain Tigers. Across the Centre, Stainers, like the perpetual motion engine - never stopped – and the other half of the ‘Ben & Ben’ show (this time Benny C.) took grabs all over the ground. As for flash Tommy Wragg – best game all year - full stop. Up front, Squirters, supported by Blue and big Robbie E, looks to be getting younger and more agile with each match – Benjamin Button perhaps? In the centre, Groucho Jocko, much to his disgust, made the ruck position his own, even as he lamented the lack of ‘fresh’ blood coming through to take over the position. Still, if the benevolent dictator comes to power, a program which compels all able-bodied men of 35 years + and over 6’2” in height to learn to ruck – or be sent to the Gulag for failing! In many ways, it was the group in the centre that proved the difference for the Cockies. Adam who, up until the point at which he likely tore his bicep from the bone, put on another display of bust-through football, topped with terrifically accurate passing and high overhead marks. Speaking of injuries, Locho the Coach unfortunately became another statistic during our second match against the Redback, after a fair whack in the ribs. Still, ever tough (perhaps Port needed him more on Saturday against the Demons?), the great man still put himself on late in the third match – stuff of lore. Let’s hope both men recover as quickly as possible in time for the National Carnival!

The first match, against the Hunter Hornets, was really a game of two halves as the Cockies took until the second period to build an unassailable lead with three unanswered goals. With additional support from the Balmain Tigers to make up the numbers, the Cockies were a little slow to begin with; but as the muscles warmed so too did the accuracy (thanks forward line!) and linking play. Again, the playing group across the centre were too strong, with accurate taps from Jock and much clearing play from Adam, the Great Chonofski, Strainers & co.. Yet we all know that it was the hard men of the back line who, in their resistance against the continued pressure from the Redbacks, set up a narrow win.

Our second match (the Northwest Sydney Redbacks) was another of two halves. The difference this time, however, was that our best football was in the first half and we slowed down and were caught in the second! Thankfully, however, the Redbacks’ two unconventional goals (read; all the back-line misread the bounce) right before the ring of the bell, only allowed the Redbacks to draw the game – phew! Again, our commitment for each other and for marking our direct opponent appeared to be the difference in the teams. Standouts for match two were Macca, Jock (who had a very tough opponent in the ruck but never stood back), Tommy, Bowie and Benny C.

If one were to observe the pre-match warm-up routine of the Balmain Tigers and the ACT Cockies, one might be forgiven to think that the Cockies were in for a toweling! For our third match, the Tigers were out on the ground 15 minutes before the bounce, running through warm-up routines and completing ball drills. The Cockies… does a quick smoke count? However, looks can be deceiving as the team from the South piled on three goals to zip within the first 10 minutes. A miracle or, the more likely scenario, the direct result of the Great Chonofski leading the team through his daughter’s dance routine during warm-up? Dear readers, I’ll let you decide. Still, the game was close, with the skill of the Cockies more than balanced by the 10 man bench the Tigers maintained. This was demonstrated in the last 5 minutes of the day where the Tiges’ put two late goals on the board as we slowly but surely, got slower and slower with each passing minute. Thankfully though, the Cockies did enough early in the match to win by 8 points – a terrific showing. Bowie proved yet again to be the winning link through the centre as the backline repelled many attacks and most importantly, had a target to look to. What was most telling about the backlines’ performance was their sheer bloody mindedness and a determination not to let any of the Tigers’ forwards free run at the ball. Yet another great showing from Dave G (who always plays a foot taller), Harps and Benny made sure that the turned-over ball was delivered with panache through the centre to give our forwards every opportunity. Dave in particularly was another great target with his occasional move into the centre. Andy and Harps were both very influential off the half back line, particularly in this last match where they cut off one of the Tigers’ main attacking strategy with a couple of terrific grabs each, plenty of run and selfless team work. And thanks must go to Bowie who took a well-earned break in the last few minutes of the game; thanks to a yellow card. At least he took his opposite number with him.

So, in all, while the Cockies didn’t come away with the trophy (won by the Wombats with three straight wins) we can certainly hold our heads high with the brand of footy we’re finally playing. Thoroughly enjoyable stuff. And thanks again must go to the Coach – I cannot begin to imagine the frustration he experiences when no one reads his emails! 😊 Thanks for managing to get 18 players onto the field to play some very good footy.

Finally, don’t forget to look out for our next interstate trip, the Illawarra Mini-Carnival on Saturday 9th September. This is probably the biggest social event of the year so get in early and reserve a seat on the bus. As an appetizer, there’ll be a trivia competition on the way up with big team prizes for the taking. No doubt the backs will prove that brains as well as brawn will win the day, every day.

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