Woogie’s Last Dance

I know I have banged on for over a decade about Rugby, having gone from someone who knew nothing to now knowing that there is no such position as a tight-ass prop.

Woogie, as my son is known as, has hung up his boots for Lindfield Junior Rugby club having spent 8 fantastic seasons there. As a family, we have enjoyed it, have met wonderful friends, ate many sausages wrapped in carbs, smothered in sauce and have watched this little group of kids turn into fully fledged men/children.

It was seven years ago when I wrote this post below, and I thought it would be nice to revisit those feelings.

But a quick note before we meander down memory lane, a word.

Never be complacent. All of those years, I never copped a ball to the head. Known as a “falcon” you know when one is incoming because everyone yells HEADS! and cover their noggin.

We had had a small and covid friendly get together on Sunday night, a few speeches and awards. As I took my leave and made my way to the car I heard a faint yell of HEADS before I got falconed the FUCK out of my head. FULL CONTACT.

My glasses went flying as I fell to the ground. It was fairly public so a lot of people ran to my assistance.

And that was how I ended my membership to the club.

It was fairly accurate to say I had never really watched a match of rugby when a clipboard was thrust into my hands, months ago.“Can you please manage the Under 10 G-Grade?” A desperate looking woman asked me.

Under normal circumstances I would have referred to the pile of excuses I bank in my brain to get out of stuff, but alas the cable must have come loose, and I found myself saying…. “Ok…” She then went onto inform me that this particular team did not have a coach and that if I was willing to go and complete a course, I could also have that role. The answer to that came out very quickly. Absolutely not.

The team was a rag-tag group of little boys, but we lacked the numbers to qualify for the competition. This was a problem. A group of under 9 enthusiastic players held their hand-ups to play with us, and then 2 of the Dad’s stepped forward to co-coach, and that is how the Ducks came to be.

Early on, during training, I walked past a group of very accomplished players and overhead their coach saying….“You are not the Ducks. You are the A’s. Play like the best team in the age group.”And with that, I re-christened our team THE MIGHTY DUCKS, and much like the 1992 film of the same name, I just knew we were at the start of an amazing journey.

A journey that started with an impressive streak of losses. 

And while the backs did cartwheels on the field while the forwards picked their noses, Mr Walsh and Mr Hutton never gave up on our little Ducks.

Training continued to be punishing, with many an online fight between the three of us whether it was too cold and miserable to get out on the field.

Week after week saw slight improvements, and then we recruited young Rosie into the team, fondly referring her to as The Ferrari on the Wing, as a reflection of her speed and quiet brilliance. The losing streak ended and a short “drawing streak” began, and then, out of nowhere, The Mighty Ducks started to win.

Roaring up the table like the latest Lady Gaga single, we found ourselves, after much investigation and questioning, in the top 4 at the end of the season! We sent Mosman packing in the third last round and faced the competition favourites in the preliminary final. 

Last time we faced them, it was complete Armageddon. About 40 points. It tuned out to be our last match. But we played it like it was the final.

As the final horn went, we had one last chance to score our season-ending try. That is when the Mighty Ducks lifted with everything they had been taught over the last few months. And watching Rosie race through, and put that ball over our try line, the dozens and dozens of collected Mighty Ducks Fans cheers and jumped and (may have wet their pants slightly) like we had taken out the World Cup.

We lost that match. But to us we won.

Thank you to all of the Duck Believers, the parents and fans, the volunteers who washed jerseys and cut oranges. The linesmen and marshals and those who bought wine, cheese and mini-quiches. It was more than often the highlight of my weekend. And to our Ducks, our little ducking’s who fought so hard. You have been a complete treasure to be a part of.

One of the coaches emailed me after this morning’s game and well, I could not have said it better….“I think the best thing is when the unexpected turns out to be something magic, and that’s what this team and season was.”

Quack indeed.