Story & photo John Campbell
My dad was a man of few words, but he had an expression: ‘what you need is a good kick up the arse’.
It aptly described the feelings of all who witnessed Byron Bay’s insipid first-half performance at Red Devil Park on Sunday.
Hosting the Kyogle Turkeys, who had taken a mortgage on last place of the NRRRL’s ladder, the home side were flogged to the tune of 42–6 – heaven knows how bad it might have ended if the game were not abandoned twenty minutes early due to a terrible injury to Kyogle’s powerful centre, Paoa Faamita.
The sudden cold snap kept the attendance to an estimated 2,001, all of whom were spaced out by the Devils’ ineptitude and lack of application.
Kyogle came with the sole intention of not being burdened with the season’s wooden spoon and, like perfect hosts, the Devils obliged by volunteering to take it off their hands.
Joseph ‘the General’ Gordon ran a great line onto an inside pass to put Byron in front 6–0, but Faamita then bullied his way through a host of would-be tacklers to put Kyogle on the board.
The Turkeys’ five-eighth, Sam Nicholson, who sliced us up like a knife through warm butter all day, put them ahead before Chris ‘Jawbone’ Coleman delivered a beautiful ball to send Cameron ‘Jack’ Gibson racing for the line – only to have the pass ruled forward. And from that moment the Devils more or less turned it up.
The kids on the scoreboard couldn’t keep up as Kyogle ran in try after try. The mob on the hill, loyal to the core, was shocked not so much by the turn of events – that’s footy, and sometimes the opposition is just too good – as by their Devils’ insipid response. Instead of arcing up, they went to water.
Kyogle held on to the ball, ran onto it with gusto and managed to complete most of their sets. The Bay fumbled and fuddled, stood and watched as the Turkeys off-loaded at will and, when awarded a penalty, didn’t find touch – and in the next set they conceded yet another try.
Not to put too fine a point on it – it was astonishingly awful.
By smoko, the Turkeys were ahead 32–6 and the level of communication between the men in red was as loud as a morgue. To his credit, Joey ‘the Senator’ McCarthy, from the left wing, roared encouragement to the boys when play resumed, but to no avail.
The Bay nearly fluked a try from the kick-off, but Kyogle regathered themselves and ploughed further ahead. When Faamita was hurt crossing for a try that made it 42–6, the game ended, and not a minute too soon.
On a brighter note, when the Devils host Marist Brothers on Saturday 9 July, there will be a Men of League function held concurrently at Red Devil Park.
Organised to help those who have been involved, at any level, in ‘the greatest game of all’, but have now fallen on tough times, Men of League is a fantastic outfit of old-fashioned philanthropic goals.
Be there – it’ll be a great day.