Story & photo John Campbell
All good things come to an end – just ask Michael Clarke.
For our two local footy teams, the 2015 NRRRL season drew to its sad close on a gorgeous Sunday arvo at the always immaculately presented Les Donnelly Field. Needing to win by about a hundred and have other results go their way to enter the play-offs, Byron Bay defeated Mullumbimby, themselves hoping to avoid an undeserved Wooden Spoon, to the tune of 32–22. What the game lacked in genuine significance, however, it made up for in wholehearted effort. It was a derby, after all – meaning that levity would not dominate proceedings.
The MOB (Mullum Old Boys) saw to it that the bar staff were kept busy beforehand and a celebratory atmosphere infected the 3,265 estimated punters who turned up (figure courtesy of Stewart’s Menswear).
Good cheer was further built on when the Giants’ prop, Josh ‘the Godfather’ Castallano, barged over in the third minute. But Mullum’s lead was short lived.
A spate of tries to Jayden ‘Skin’ Garft and the Labradoodle, Fraser Jones, put the visitors ahead 16–4. With the men in red wearing a track down Mullum’s right-side defence, a cricket score might have been on the cards (60 is not many, is it).
The Giants didn’t see it that way and, as a team not shy of true grit, they came back hard at the Devils. Jack ‘Jethro’ Govett, one of the young Turks who will carry on Mullum’s tough, in-your-face ethic, crossed and his mate Sean ‘Connery’ Watkins was unlucky not to score soon after following a brilliant run from Louie ‘the Duke of’ Earl.
We knew we had a game on our hands at the break, with Byron ahead 16–8, but the Devils still looked good enough to get the bickies. Primarily, they were better at converting their opportunities into points – which is what they did early in the second forty when Reece ‘Bernie’ Purcell, Byron’s creative pivot, engineered a try for winger Joseph ‘Senator’ McCarthy. Joey ‘Flash’ Gordon, monstered by the ‘chewie on your boot!’ sledging from the blokes in the Shed, missed the conversion by a mile, but the game’s pattern was set – Byron, albeit stretched, would do enough.
To nobody’s surprise, the Giants returned serve again, thanks to a try to nuggety half-back Wayde ‘Grace’ Kelly, and might have drawn even but for the ref too hurriedly blowing a penalty in their favour just as they were diving over for another try – a classic case of premature ejaculation.
For a moment it was anybody’s game, but the Devils’ Hayden ‘Rupert’ Rosenbaum capped what has been a stellar season for the unheralded full-back/winger by running the length of the field to reassert Byron’s superiority.
Govett scored again through sheer determination – he is a potential leader of the pack – Rupert got another and Mullum’s bustling second-rower, Todd ‘Buttercup’ Arthur, was rewarded for his unstinting contribution with a four-pointer at the death.
The season may not have produced the outcomes hoped for by those involved on either side, but for those who came along to watch, I can only offer thanks to Ryan ‘the Crab’ O’Connell and Simon ‘the Big Pommie’ Moore and all their boys for a winter of terrific footy.
See you next time…