Saturday saw the start of the Southern Football League finals here in Tassie. Robbie and I tossed up whether to go to Lindisfarne 2 Blues v Claremont Magpies in the northern suburbs, or East Coast Bombers v Dodges Ferry Sharks over at lovely beachside Lauderdale. We opted for the latter, as on form I thought Claremont would have their final in the bag by half time [I was wrong]. The ground is built on a narrow neck of land between Ralphs Bay and Frederick Henry Bay. The surrounds are very flat and swampy, and on occasions the carpark around the ground goes back to nature. Its probably an excellent spot for bird watching when the footy isn’t on.
Lauderdale play in the top tier Tasmanian State League, and were away pummelling Devonport in the final roster round. They finished fourth and should have earned a home final, but TSL Head Office decided their ground was not well-appointed enough to host such a prestigious occasion, so they will play Glenorchy at North Hobart. Its true that at Lauderdale Oval you sometimes see tired and sweaty reserves players standing around in the carpark with ice packs etc because there is not enough space in the rooms. Lauderdale as a community (pop. 2500) are punching above their weight in the TSL, playing against teams representing metropolitan Hobart, Launceston, Burnie and Devonport as well as traditional powerhouses North Launceston, Glenorchy and Clarence.
Lauderdale Oval was considered adequate for an SFL final, so there we were. I was on dual assignment for TTBB and Scoreboard Pressure, so my first point of interest was the scoreboard. It is fairly new, lacking in character but tidy and does the job. I personally love to see a 3 made out of a cut-in-half 8 and that sort of thing, but the TSL is probably not so keen. The big problem though was that as both teams were visitors, there really needed to be some improvised labels put up. East Coast are the Bombers, like the home side, so it was probably thought adequate to put their score beside LAUDERDALE and leave people to work out that VISITORS referred to the Sharks. The scoreboard probably dates from 2009, when Lauderdale were included in the newly constituted TSL. While lacking in flexibility of nomenclature, it did feature a couple of classic old timekeepers, one in a fedora.
The Bombers presented in a Western Sydney Warriors-inspired hooped guernsey, while the Sharks wore an abomination with a cartoon shark and Adelaide Crows socks. When these sides met only six weeks ago the Bombers had prevailed by nine goals. But this was East Coast’s first ever final, and the drum was that the coach was having trouble keeping a lid on the excitement. The start was nervous all round, and at quarter time it was the Sharks by 5 behinds to 2. I did some stretches (bit of calf trouble still) and we went out for a kick. Again no-one spotted my hidden talent and asked me to consider having a run next season. The canteen was doing strong trade. We gave the capuccinos 6.5 out of ten. Somehow in the delightful sunshine I didn’t feel the need for a pie.
Robbie and I were sitting on the bonnet in the left forward pocket, swamp end. Flat tray utes were backed up to the fence around us with yoof who had played in the reserves, getting a slightly elevated view. The Bombers owned the second quarter, and had a 2 goal lead at the long break. Again I set out my stall, demonstrating that I could miss Robbie by the same margin with left or right boot, and selling the dummy to some disinterested teens.
We went over to the can bar on the northern wing and watched the 3rd quarter from the wet area. There were free bar snacks – cold by the time we got there but very generous all the same. Dim sims, twisties, nuts and huge tray of formerly hot chips that I suppose you were supposed to just reach into and grab a handful of. Very friendly and unassuming although a bit unhygienic. The Sharks came out in the third with fresh intent, and put on a burst of unanswered goals to wrench back the lead and put themselves in a great position at 3Q time. While I took a few more photos Robbie eavesdropped on the huddles. Bombers: quiet desperation. Sharks: buzzwords that seemed to go over players heads.
After an arm wrestle for the first five minutes, the Bombers kicked the first goal of the final term. A rally looked possible, but it was snuffed out quite quickly. Meanwhile in town Lindisfarne had upset Claremont, who will now face the Sharks in a knockout next week. Lindisfarne’s prize is a meeting with unbackable flag favourites New Norfolk.
EAST COAST BOMBERS 9.9.63 d DODGES FERRY 7.11.53