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An Interested Observer V Stuttgart
I had packed the night before and arranged what I would wear during the almost seven-hour train journey down to Stuttgart alongside my bed. I thought momentarily about sleeping in said arrangement to save time upon waking, as I often did between the ages of seven and nine. But at the risk of igniting a primal flame within the reader, I rarely sleep with any clothing on at all and as desperate I was to milk every minute out of my alarm clock, it wasn’t enough to justify jumping under the covers in a matching polyester beanie and t-shirt.
And so I woke at 5am last Saturday morning (6.5.23) as naked as the day I entered this existence; I dressed, gathered my bag and descended the four flights of stairs (I actually turned back after three flights as I’d left my mouth guard on top of the washing machine) and arrived at Hamburg’s central station with enough time to escort Freak to the small group of Dockers players waiting at platform 14.
It was too early. The clock hands hand only just straightened themselves completely and yet to greet one’s teammates at such an hour suggested the deep fatigue that awaited us would prove worthwhile. It was, after all, the side’s first significant away trip of the season, with round one’s eastward wander to Berlin hardly comparable to the expedition south looming before us.
Spirits, though, were high and the much-anticipated banter improved quickly after JIH clumsily referred to my sleeveless Nike tactical jacket as a life vest (shortly thereafter I made a rather witty safari reference to Big Pisty’s khaki skin-tight shorts ((I forget the exact wording of the joke, but it included the phrase “big game hunting” and B Seymour laughed, which validated the observation))).
FAST FORWARD 6.5 HOURS
How did Manny know where we were? All of a sudden there he was. I mean I guess it’s easy enough to check the status of trains arriving and departing, but still, the Mad Dog’s monolithic figure rose before us as we approached and like offerings from the gods themselves his fists descended down through the clouds to greet us, bumping each and every Docker as they stepped foot on Stuttgartian soil. It was great form by the Night Manager and a sign of things to come.
As the two sides warmed up it was quickly apparent that this Stuttgart outfit was vastly superior to our imaginings. Perhaps it was the early start, or the train ride – but we were flat. The energy within the group (Gil excluded, who was demonic in his pre-game intensity) was well below where it needed to be in order to start strongly. Subsequently, we didn’t start strongly.
We managed to snag the opening few goals, but they felt more like rare opportunities made the most of rather than the capitalisation of dominance. Stuttgart were working hard to get numbers to contests and far too often Dockers players found themselves lonely in defence – their opponents easily slipping under the radar to reemerge in damaging positions.
At this point I realise I’ve overcapitalised early and the length of this piece is beginning to pose genuine questions as to the resilience of your concentration, dear reader. I’ll try to wrap it up quickly but as I do, please forgive the abruptness and (honestly) the imbalanced flow of this report.
With the Dockers’ lead a measly few goals at half-time, coach H Wyatt was forced to shuffle the magnets in order to try and find some structure around the ground. It worked. The Night Manager AKA Mad Dog Gauding was competing in the ruck and coach Wyatt roamed between defence and offence to turn defence into, well, offence.
Charles was giving it his all up forward, bringing the ball to ground if he didn’t clunk it and even snapping a beauty from deep in the forward pocket (really deep, from memory he was pressed hard up against the boundary line). 2 votes.
We kept the Giants to a solitary goal after the main break, which was a terrific response to a woefully impotent first half. But a win’s a win…isn’t it.
What else… Mad Dog drank a beer out of his own shoe… B Seymour and D Snedden were escorted from a Rockn’ Roll club by bouncers for starting a mosh pit (why is it called Pogoing here??)… and Sneddo talked, barely without drawing breath for the entire seven hours home to Hamburg.
Final score: Dockers Men 17.11.113 vs Stuttgart 5.7.37 🔗; Milestone: Coach H Wyatt with his 50th goal
On The Chopping Block V Cologne and Munich
- We’re not far off the League’s benchmark. Despite heading to Cologne with a somewhat depleted line-up (we were only able to take seven girls to the Rheinland), we took it right up to the reigning premiers and came close to knocking them off on their home deck. We’ve got a lot to work on, but such a performance is proof we’re only a few kicks off the best in Germany.
- In order to make up that ground, though, we really need to improve our fundamental skills like kicking and leading. When we’re at our best we’re pretty hard to stop witha potent mix of speed and muscle, but too often we let ourselves down with a poor kick or ill-timing while leading for the ball.
- BUT, what we sometimes lack in foot skills we’re able to make up for in fight. There were several instances of tough physicality shown in Cologne. Nothing illegal, but the Dockers girls are hard at the ball and love to push that to the edge. It proved too much for one Lions opponent who even tried calling for a timeout (which don’t exist in Australian football) and it turns out that was only because she was tired.
- One would have thought it was already clear, but the morning of our game proved yet again you can’t play with departure times of Deutsche Bahn trains. Perhaps our most senior duo (captain included) missed the team train (at 8am it wasn’t even that early) and were forced… well not forced, but to their extreme credit they insisted on buying new tickets, costing the pair a rumoured 160+ euros.
- Say what you want about Cologne and the Rheinland in general, but that Cathedral is something else. It’s Germany’s most-visited tourist landmark and when you consider its facade is the largest of any church in the world, it’s easy to see why! Construction began in 1248, but not actually finished until 1880. A construction project lasting half a millennium… incredible. By modern standards at least. There’s a site in northern Australia of which evidence supports consistent or regular habitation from 44,000 years ago until around the 1950s, but for people of that neolithic epoch time seems to have existed differently to how we perceive it today – conceptually I mean (obviously). It’s Gothic too, I should add. The Cathedral. It’s Gothic.