Why yes, that is a reference to West Side Story and/or the character Ben from Sleeping with the Enemy. (Clearly Sassy is responsible for that bit). Thanks for noticing.
So the week we spent in Orange for Country vs City wasn’t just about rep footy. By lucky coincidence, it was also the week leading up to the local first grade league derby over at Wade Park.
In Orange there is a fierce rivalry between the Hawks and the CYMs and we were a tad worried about who we would support when they played on the Sunday. We’d met so many awesome locals on the golf day from both sides, and they were all up in our bizness about why their team is the Only Team to Support.
We were also confused and/or or intrigued once we found out CYMs stands for Catholic Young Men. Would they glare suspiciously at Sassy for being only part Irish and part Jewish? Would there be whiskey?
Turned out to be the easiest decision we’ve ever made. During the week our new bestie Gary set up an afternoon for us to get all rugged up and head over to meet the Hawks at training. For those of you who don’t wanna keep reading: we fell in love. So charming, so hilarious, so GREAT.
Um, did we mention HOT? Holy mother of god they breed them cute out in the country. Ladies of capital cities everywhere, get thyself to the country. Ask for Todd Barrow. Also maybe ask him for a photo and see if he does this pose again … it seemed very natural for him. We suspect he does it often.
You always know a night’s gonna be good when the first grade and reserve grade senior teams both have captain-coaches. How can you coach boys to run into giant forwards if you’re not out there running into them, right? But as delightful as that is, those teams have nothin on the exreme awesomeness that is the under 16 Hawks/Bloomfield. HI BOYS! Seeeee told you we would write about you.
We have to shove in some background here: we had asked to interview some of them, thinking we would get you know … one or two at a time. But instead Hilly, the manager/speech-giver/head honcho of the Hawks, mustered the entire team over to us and into a vague line.
Picture us surrounded by a huge semi circle of 15-16 yr old boys fiddling with their shorts and wondering what the hell two old birds like us were doing at their training. SHIT WAS KINDA AWKWARD.
So we retreated to what we know best. Taking the piss.
[At this juncture I would like to apologise to ‘Canvas’ for making fun of your (admittedly shocking) haircut in front of the whole team. Yes it was shit for you, but didn’t it break the ice well? Thanks champ. – K]
At least having all the guys in one spot to begin with made it easy to get a team pic. At Sassy’s urging the pretty boy in the jersey down the front even dropped to the ground for a few pre-photo push-ups.
But not after they mocked us in return. Seems that teenagers really didn’t get the Polaroid thing, and to quote directly: ‘why have youse got that old camera? Can’t you afford a new one?’ Apparently 15 year olds aren’t big into nostalgia. Good to know.
They are all over a nickname though, in the grandest Aussie tradition. Canvas got his name from being the unfortunate recipient of a punch on the footy field, when the guy who it was intended for ducked unexpectedly. He spent, as you would expect, the rest of the game on the canvas.
Hilly, as you would expect, has the last name Hill. Doc, as you would expect, is their strapper. He won us over when a reserve grader left the field with a possibly-pulled ligament, and Doc coolly finished telling us a yarn before he moseyed off to look after the lad. I guess when you were trained by a strapper who used to bash out corks in the muscle with a mallet, you get hardened to suffering.
If you believe Doc, the man who trained him – ‘Old Soldier’ – was the town eccentric, famous for serving snails at dinner, and having a completely featherless bird called cunthead (excuse our language). A Brazilian bird! We love a story that ends with the phrase ‘poor old cunthead’.
We talked in our other posts about how eye-opening it is to head out to the country for a footy game. You come face to face with exactly how much a sport does for community spirit, but we didn’t realise exactly how much history can be kept in a footy team.
Coach Johnny King, Geoff Lousick, Nelson Smith and Terry Fahey with the 1974 Amco Cup.
The late ‘TV’ Ted Ellery is a beloved son out West, and between all the ex-Hawks in Orange, we ended up seeing a full recreation of the famous day in 1974 when the Western Division team pulled off a magic upset over Penrith to win the first ever Amco Cup at Leichhardt Oval. It was the ultimate underdog victory: “little old Western Division” downing glamour clubs Manly and Penrith to win the trophy.
Footy in the country is also overwhelmingly about family: the Barrow boys are all Hawks, the Hurfords (including Canvas) are all Hawks, and two of the Big Boss Hilly’s sons popped up at training, too. One coaching the Under 18s team, and one, Tige, playing for the under 16s.
Even Hilly’s grandson Jacko was running around at training, rocking his knitted beanie and his super-special newly-AUTOGRAPHED Wests Tigers’ shirt. Sassy asked him a few days later if he wanted to be a fullback (Jacko is tres reliable under the high ball) but he has his heart set on playing halfback. He even demonstrated his kick-ass Benji Marshall sidestep.
We should also confess something about Tige. He’s without a doubt the most self assured, relaxed and hilaaaarious teenager we have ever met. He was in charge of looking after us and he may be our favourite new Orange BFF. He’s super sarcastic and cracks our shit up. Tige, thanks for talking to us for literally hours and not fervently looking around for someone to save you. WE LOVES YOU CHICKEN!
To the whole U16 team, we are tres sorry for not coming to watch you on Saturday but we were too hungover tired. We did however make it to the big local first grade derby on Sunday. Oh my, it was brilliant. It was like watching the Jets at Henson Park but BETTER. Yes, there is something better than Henson Park. We can’t believe it either.
There was everything you need at the footy: a thriller of a game with only TWO POINTS in the scoreline; adorable kids playing footy; super-cute dogs; beer; snags; and people beeping the tries from the warmth of their cars.
Not to mention when the awesomely biased announcer (*cough*Gary*cough*) demanded a group of kids stop playing on the sideline … who coincidentally happened to be CYMs supporters. I GO FOR THE HAWKS. YOU CYMS CHILDREN STOP HAVING FUN PLS.
And guys, there was biff. Like actual knock down drag out biff. None of this pussy you shove me, I shove you, lets grab each others jerseys NRL bullshit. No no. At this game people were being punched while on the ground!
Just when we think the day couldn’t get better, Gary Norton, our Orange bestie and big man around town, ANNOUNCED US OVER THE LOUDSPEAKER. Like, telling everyone how great we are and how funny Errol is and how everyone should read it. Amen Gary, we are great.
Sadly, the two points difference in the match were for our Hawks boys, defeated 28-26.
Thanks so much to all the Hawks for inviting us to The Royal to drown our sorrows and watch the after-match presentation over chips and gravy. Our highlight was when the Player’s Player was feeling a little too shy to come up and accept his accolades, so Hilly yelled COME ON YA SOFT SOCK! Brilliant.
… when you’re a Hawk, and all that. We miss you boys!