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Scrambleball...hard fought ground game between the Canadian Midnight Suns and the USA Liberty

  • Thursday, August 21 2014 @ 10:15 pm ACST
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International Cup 2014
In 2014, the standard of play at its best has reached a new level, higher than in the four previous ICs. At the same time, mirroring the AFL game (that is footy at the top level) at its worst it has degenerated into scrambleball as a flood of players converges on the ball, and plays the game in 40% of the ground.
As in the AFL, blame the coaches, the poachers who have created the contemporary stoppage game, even if as in the best IC games and for periods in the best AFL games, it is still a running, skilful spectacular game.
Why blame the coaches? As Paul Roos and Ross Lyon created the forward press (after Rodney Eade’s flood and Collingwood’s boundary line game), many IC teams have Australian coaches who teach them the current negative approach to play.
Like the AFL teams, they play what I call ‘Zoneball’, with often most players in about 40% of the ground – even though the Coach as Poacher, Paul Roos, declared that a zone restriction rule would lead to ‘Zoneball’. Except he forgot that he had already created it.
It was indeed the game played in those early years after 1858 when there were unlimited players, and, indeed it had its modern beginnings in those Hawthorn sides from the 1960s and 1970s which focused on ‘numbers at the ball’, ‘hunting in packs’ and ‘pressure, pressure, pressure’.
Although the contest between the Midnight Suns and the Liberty had some excitement in the feisty goal square contests between the big and strong American fullback, Elizabeth Even, and several Canadian forwards, too often it was numbers around the ball.
And that is a criticism of how the game has gone in recent years, far more than of these two teams which both contain some players still fairly new to the game.
While the Canadians exercised early dominance, leading by 3 3 21 to a solitary point at half time, the Americans came back, and the Canadian camp was clearly worried at three quarter time, despite leading 4 3 27 to 2 3 15. However, after a continuing battle of the defences and at times as many smothers as kicks, a single Canadian goal took the Midnight Suns to a 20 point victory.
During the game, we saw the good, the bad and ugly, off field. The last was in the form of the tinpot official who didn’t appreciate the co-operative and festive spirit of the IC and thought he would like to clear the area inside the boundary fence (which would need clearing about fifty or so people). In a Cup with its elements of festival, the American runner had luminous yellow tracky daks and hat, although some said Captain America the day before was even more colourful. Differently, the improvised American interchange was marked by two rolled orange T-shirts, while the American player wearing glasses evoked memories of Essendon full forward Geoff Blethyn. Finally, those important people, the timekeepers and scorers were running on limited resources - they had a siren but no table.
I also spoke, by chance, to Chantal Spindler, one of the key cogs in the Canadian women’s footy machine, who said that there were now clubs in 9 Canadian cities even though the women’s game is only around a decade old, and that some women’s clubs were formed before the men’s teams. It is not surprising that the Canadian first team, the Northern Lights, was particularly strong, with over 100 players at the last nationals. Also strong were their traditional rivals, the Americans, against whom they played in the 49th Parallel Cup in non-IC years. For geographically challenged Aussies, the parallel is the border latitude line between the two North American countries. The similar burgeoning women’s footy story in the US, as in its growth in Australia, is detailed on the USAFL website: http://usafl.com/women
Canada Midnight Suns: 1.2 3.3 4.3 5.5 (35)
USA Liberty: 0.1 0.1 2.3 2.3 (15)
Canada Midnight Suns: Della Rosa 2, Lowden, Fenton , Fernandez
USA Liberty: Regets, Poff
Canada Midnight Suns: Fernandez, Della Rosa, Kinch, Tong, McCabe, Shannon
USA Liberty: Georgiadis, Kwoka, Regets, Theisen

Gathering the ball.

Shouted advice from the boundary

American Diversity including Rec Specs

Ruck contest

Goalsquare tussle

Footy planning Chantelle Singer (R)