Perth Footy Live Scully’s Recap: A Grade GF
On its last journey of the season, the Perth Footy Live tent sailed inland on a lost sea breeze to Steel Blue Oval for the A Grade Grand Final between North Beach and Scarborough – otherwise known as the Battle of Beaches. Ironically, the iconic battle didn’t bring with it perfect beach weather; instead we had dark clouds, heavy rain and nippy winds more akin to an arctic rave than a game of football. That’s 2020 for you, hey. Regardless, swarms of footy fans headed to the game or tuned in via the live stream. Doing anything other than watching a footy grand final on the September long-weekend would have been simply un-Australian.
Much was said about the rivalry between North Beach and Scarborough leading up to the game. Listening to the old boys I was led to believe the teams’ medical staff and emergency paramedics would have their jobs cut out for them. Fortunately, it wasn’t actually as bad as that, but both teams’ relentless, dogged pursuit of the ball and refusal to give up ground was testament to the deep hostility simmering under the surface.
Once the game began North Beach took possession of the Burley immediately but Scarborough’s more efficient ball movement resulted in the first goal of the match through Curtis Reddell. North Beach’s first goal came not long after from Gill Mitchell’s pressure on the ball carrier to turn it over to Ryan Ekert. Ekert then delivered with confidence to the strong hands of James Garcia who hit the big sticks like a John Bonham drum solo. Despite the wet conditions, the players did well to keep their feet. The same could not be said of the boundary umpire who slipped dead-set on his howdy-dowdy just as Garcia lined up for his shot. The commentary boys missed this candid camera moment so I just thought it was worth drawing everyone’s attention to it now (approximately 16:55 on the live stream).
Umpire hijinks aside, North Beach pushed on with another foray into their 50 after Scarborough’s Joel Ashman was caught holding the ball. I actually thought Ashman was caught high, and with a nickname like Tyrion Lannister, it’s not inconceivable. Nevertheless, the Tigers hit a series of short kicks to move the ball to Stephen Mansfield but Mansfield’s teammate wasn’t able to take the mark from his delivery into the right pocket and it ended up rushed behind. The Sea Eagles capitalised on this missed opportunity and ran it back into their 50, where a boundary throw-in found its way to Adam Vellelonga who nonchalantly pinged at goals. Vellelonga had another crack when Zaac Morgan tapped the ball to his advantage, allowing his long kick to goals to bounce through unhindered.
Solid defensive work from North Beach’s Luke Symonds and Scarborough’s Thomas Willett, and an unpaid mark to the Tigers’ captain, Mitchell Dwyer, meant the remainder of the first quarter was pretty quiet, and it ended with Scarborough in front by 11 points.
While the teams regrouped during the quarter break, we presented Tammy from North Fremantle Football Club with the winner’s trophy for the club canteen ‘Free Feed’ competition. The Magpies won with their seven-course degustation menu and Carlton Draught pairings, and their overall fine dining hospitality. We may need to set some boundaries for the competition next year so we don’t end up with Heston Blumenthal serving us egg and bacon ice-cream presented in the form of a Burley football with a flavour profile of forward pressure and sodden turf. Anyway, Tammy left the tent happy while we remained deflated that she didn’t think to bring us take-home packs. Slow-cooked steak lasagne would have gone down perfectly in the weather conditions.
North Beach hit the Skill Hire scoreboard early in the second quarter to make up some lost ground. Daniel Leishman’s attack on the ball was rewarded with a free kick; he played on quickly and bombed long to James Garcia. From there, Garcia managed a little upsy daisy lob kick to Mitchell Dwyer who gunned and goaled. Scarborough were having none of this comeback and Aidan Parker, also known as Shuffles because he’s ‘got back’, marked and delivered to Scott Worthington who put it out in front of Ryan Sheehan to run and goal. A good five minutes of the second quarter passed with both sides notching up the one-percenters to keep the scoreboard unchanged. James Garcia had his chance for the Tigers but rushed his kick for a point. A series of clearing kicks followed by a panicked defence saw the ball end up in Christopher Baker’s hands, and he somehow managed to kick it through a swathe of players.
With eight minutes in the quarter remaining, the Perth Footy Live tent was joined by Tim Gossage. Tim offered some actual expert insights into the game, so I’ll ‘paraphrase’ his words to describe the remainder of the second quarter. Basically, Scarborough continued to use the ball better forward of centre and maintained their structures while North Beach lost their shape when under pressure. That is, until a centring kicked landed in Daniel Leishman’s hands. A little fracas broke out as a result of the pummelling Leishman took from a flying Sea Eagle, so he kicked easily and truly at goals thanks to a 50 metre penalty. Despite this late goal, at half time Scarborough were still in front by 13 points.
Signs of the long-standing animosity between the two clubs began to show in the third quarter with a few wayward fists and misplaced elbows. The ground was heavier under foot and all the players could do for the first 12 minutes was grind out beef mince for hamburger patties, so their frustration had to go somewhere. Joel Ashman worked hard to break out of the congestion for Scarborough, along with Stephen Mansfield for North Beach. Joseph Deegan brought the hammer down on a huge mark in front of goals but his kick fell short and another chance for the Tigers went begging. James Garcia almost took the mark of the day falling backwards while juggling the Burley but he was left doing a fire breathing routine when it wasn’t paid by the umpire.
North Beach did their best to harness their fighting spirit during this period of the quarter, but they just weren’t able to pull it off. All of their efforts felt for nought when Mitchell McPhee’s seemingly mongrel long bomb actually set up a stunning mark by Scott Worthington over the shoulders of his opponent. Buoyed by his marking prowess, Worthington tried to be a bit too fancy with the ball and turned it over, but it ended up with Joel Ashman anyway and he converted for Scarborough, increasing their lead. Before the end of the quarter, the Sea Eagles added two more through
Christopher Baker and Liam Robilliard, leaving North Beach with an insurmountable task ahead of them.
With Scarborough six goals up going into the last quarter, North Beach needed to pull more than just a rabbit out of their hats. Certainly, Adam Cockie tried to saw a few of the Scarborough players in half, but that magic trick didn’t prove to be all that helpful. Sam Lamont pegged one back for the Tigers but unfortunately it was over long before that goal. Scarborough went on to claim the A Grade Grand Final by 27 points, and their supporters packed into the Can Bar streamed onto the oval in celebration.
While one team pranced away victoriously and the other trudged away despondently, when all is said and done, the winner on the day was footy.
Next week you’ll find us anywhere other than at the footy, but we’ll certainly still be thinking about footy and already looking forward to next year’s season of footy. The Perth Footy Live team would like to thank all the clubs who graciously hosted us along with the many vibrant personalities, and wonderful supporters and volunteers, who chatted with us and showed us the best of footykind.
To wrap up the season, if there’s local footy to be covered you’ll find it at Perth Footy Live, and if there’s nonsense to be said you’ll hear it from Craig, Cam or Macca, and occasionally from Ward, but only very rarely from me in the recaps. See you next year, Perth Football League people.