Guards and greats

The boys combine football and basketball in this week's episode. 320081

JONTY: Alright boys, it was a quieter time for sport but hopefully we’ve all enjoyed the long weekend. As always we’ll start with best action, Dave, you had some West Gippy action.

DAVE: Sure did Jonty, we had a real close one down at Tooradin on Saturday, with Nar Nar Goon getting up by a point. Drizzling rain hit around quarter time and made it a real arm-wrestle, but there was one passage of play that stood out. Harry Brain gathered the ball at left half-back and squared it to Max McGreal, who handballed to JJ Peni, who drove it long into an open Nar Nar Goon forward line. Matt Gentile picked it up and rammed one home from 45 to cap off a brilliant piece of play. That’s my best action from the weekend.

JONTY: Very nice, Dave. Good to hear about some talent in the West Gippy League. For me it was a tie between Abby Hobson, a girl you’re familiar with Dave, imposing herself up forward in the Vic Country Girls trial match on Saturday and Harvey Langford for Vic Country. Hobson finished with only one goal, but took some big marks, while Langford’s second quarter for Vic Country was eye-catching.


JONTY: Basketball conversation has risen significantly on the sports desk recently with Marcus’ following of the Denver Nuggets and my coverage of the Big V growing. Let’s make a basketball starting five made up of local footballers. I’ll start with you, Dave; give me your starting-five local-football basketball team.

DAVE: I must admit before answering this question that I don’t have the basketball knowledge of Marcus, but I’ve given it a red-hot crack. I’m going with Trent Armour as my point guard; he sets up play for Nar Nar Goon. He gets the ball in the middle and dominates possession and is one of the best midfielders in the competition, he’s panther-like. My shooting guard is Paul Pattison from Inverloch-Kongwak. He’s probably kicked more goals from 45-50 than any other player this year so I’m treating the arc as my three-point line. My small forward is Billy Taylor from Phillip Island, he just keeps bobbing up and kicking goals. He runs up the ground and catches blokes on the way back and I like players like that. The centre, interestingly, from Cora Lynn, is Billy Thomas. He’s about 6’5 and is a former basketballer. He’s a big strong ruck. And how could I go past Nathan Gardner as the power forward? He has 50 goals in eight games. There’s my starting five.

MARCUS: Okay, point guard. Dave, you were on the money with your pick. I’ve gone a leader, experienced head, a general operator and I’m following a similar mould by taking Chris Johnson from Berwick Springs, He’s a playing coach and is highly regarded so he will drive the play, dribble the ball up the floor and get teams into their sets. Shooting guard I’m taking Pakenham’s Jai Rout – he knows where the goals are so he’ll add that scoring threat and he’s a beautiful kick for goal, so I think the set shot for goal is similar to a jump shot. At small forward I’m going for Gembrook-Cockatoo ruck Patrick Snoxell. He’s definitely got height on his side. He’s a thin, rangy player which means he’ll be able to switch on defence and defend multiple positions, be a strong rebounder and get his hands into passing lanes. He’ll be a valuable commodity. At power forward, I’ll be taking David Johnston. A favourite of mine, he’s so eye-catching in the Emerald forward line. He’s got one of the best leaps in the competition I feel, so he’ll be really strong as a rebounder, lob threat, and protect the rim. At centre, we’re going back to Pakenham and I’m taking its ruckman, Cooper Reilly. I feel like there are not too many blokes in the comp that will be taller than him, but he’s also super mobile, he takes on the role as a physical presence so he’s my centre.

JONTY: Dave.

DAVE: Yes mate?

JONTY: I’m really nervous going after that, an outstanding overview and justification of selections from Marcus.

DAVE LAUGHS: Let’s hear what you’ve got.

JONTY: I’ll start with my centre and I’ve gone left of centre here, pardon the pun. I went Tyler Studd from Endeavour Hills. The way he competes for someone of his size is impressive. You’d back him off the glass and he positions himself really well. Power forward, Riley Simmons, a really easy decision. He was a former state level basketballer as a junior before recently returning to footy. He’s Devon Meadows’ ruck and he’d be a nuisance at the defensive end with his blocks and steals and he’s also very good off the glass. At point guard, I’d go for Tristan Fernandez, someone you know Dave, formerly from Cora Lynn. I’ve thought about it differently, but he’s skilful, moves well and crucially sets up lots of attacking thrusts. Small forward I’d go for Nick Darbyshire. He has a defensive presence and has the skill to shoot. He’s also played as a makeshift key forward this year which gives him a little bit of versatility. As my shooting guard…Joel Hillis was always going to make this team Dave. (Boys laugh).

DAVE: I was wondering when he’d make an appearance.

JONTY: Yeah. If you’re two points down with a second to go, you’d want him in the corner. He can score from anywhere; he’s powerful, skilful and sets up plays for teammates. And a sixth man who is versatile, I’d go for Jarryd Barker.


DAVE: Will you move on to the rest of the topics or just talk for 1200 words about Joel Hillis?

JONTY: No, we’ll move on to the next topic. It was a week off for me and Marcus, so we could re-calibrate a little bit, but when we get out to footy, we follow clubs really closely. We get an idea of what they do on the field, but also what they do off the field and there’s some clubs that do certain things better than others. Now Marcus, give me a couple of clubs that do things really well.

MARCUS: The first thing I want to recognise is Narre Warren. I think they do a sensational job of celebrating their people and families. They have a club-specific hall of fame and will do a celebratory dinner later in the season. I know every club has life members and that sort of thing but I think a hall of fame adds another level of recognition and celebration. They’re also very good at maintaining family connections. When you think of Narre, you think of names like Dwyer, Toner and Tonna. They had five cousins play together in the same side the other day – those are memories that will live on forever for the families. That’s one, and then I’m going to Gembrook Cockatoo as my second one. They have a unique song rather than lifting an AFL song and putting their own names and colours in it. I think it gives them a good sense of identity, strength and independence, and it individualises them. I think they also do a good job of creating a home ground atmosphere. It’s different that the netball courts are lower down. They have a nice facility, the Rec Reserve is pretty isolated, there is always a bonfire going in front of the canteen and everyone is kitted up in green and black. They do well in creating the home ground atmosphere.

JONTY: Very good Let’s Talk Sport so far from Marcus. Using your encyclopaedia of knowledge, Dave, what can you tell us?

DAVE: My first one is Cora Lynn. I know every footy club has culture but they have a real ‘us against them’ mentality. The facilities are well maintained but are rough and rugged and I hope it doesn’t change when they get new club rooms next season. After the games you go in there and there is a little alcove; they’ve built a wooden platform and I’ve never seen it at any other ground. It’s the smallest room, shoulder to shoulder sitting there listening to the coach, who sits on two milk crates and gives his weekly rundown. I interviewed their captain Tim Payne a couple of years ago. He said all the major relationships in his life, in a roundabout way, have come through this football club and you see a strong bond when you go there. They’ve had strong leaders for the time I’ve known them so they get one. And along similar lines to what Marcus said with Narre Warren, Inverloch-Kongwak celebrates the football-netball side of it better than anyone. Last year, Inverloch won the senior premiership and A Grade netball and the footballers wouldn’t leave the ground until the netballers came over and got a photo with them on the podium. And then the whole club got in a circle and sung the song in the changerooms, it wasn’t just the footballers, so they did that well together. Tooradin also do the football/netball thing well.

JONTY: Well summed up. Hampton Park is another which does a couple of things well including with their netball. They have risen from one netball team in 2021 to eight this year. They have joined a new league because the netballers didn’t enjoy the segregation from the footballers by being at a different venue. The footballers buy into that on game day as well. The netballers recognise that at Hampton Park. So I want to give a shout out to them as I do to Cranbourne and Devon Meadows. In different ways, the ways they look after their supporters. Cranbourne, you always think about them as being tough to play against. Dave, you’ve talked about it with the reunions and part of the reputation of being tough to beat at home is due to their strong supporter base. And Devon Meadows has an elevated area that’s closed off on game days and only their members are allowed in there and food is served. I don’t know any other club that does that but every time I walk past and see some antipasto handed out at the footy, I think it is quite unique.


JONTY: Last topic, very quickly – thoughts on the format of the T20 world cup; there’s 20 teams, it’s a deviation from what we’re used to. There’s some exciting storylines with USA beating Pakistan the highlight so far.

MARCUS: I don’t think there’s harm with giving these associate nations a platform. I think some of the more memorable world cup moments have been when lower ranked nations have upset powerhouses, like the Pakistan v USA contest. A team like Afghanistan keep showing up and get more and more competitive every year, on the back of having a platform like this over the years to learn and develop. The only devil’s advocate is that it threatens to dilute the tournament, but I think T20 is the way to grow the sport, which it needs.

JONTY: I’d echo the sentiment. Dave, your thoughts?

DAVE: When I was growing up, there were only six test-playing nations. Now there are 20 at a world cup. Imagine if there’s only Test Cricket – the blowouts would be extraordinary, so T20 is the perfect way to introduce these teams. Out of 20, there’s three who have never played in a world cup before – imagine the eyes on Canada, USA and Uganda. They mightn’t win another game but could have a new cult hero which grows the sport.

JONTY: I agree. The big thing I thought about is Uganda and Oman-type teams, you’ll never get Australia send a team over there and they don’t have the resources to send a team here, so outside of these world cups, they don’t have the opportunity to play against strong nations, so this is a great platform where teams are brought together and we can capitalise on that. The more teams playing cricket, the better, so hopefully some of these wins lead to more resources in the associate nations as cricket interest inclines.

Thanks boys, we’ll talk next week.