Off the back of two crushing victories in the preceding weeks of 6-nil and 7-1 respectively, ANU State League 7 was due to play Woden. Was this set to be another cruise towards victory for ANU? No! Coach Stockwell had struck the fear into the hearts of his team about facing an undefeated team this week. No sense of security. No sense of superiority. No sense of sense.
But Woden also feared playing ANUFC - the biggest and poorest club in Canberra. A club so poor it cannot afford bibs and has to suffer indignity of playing skins vs. shirts during warm-up. A club so poor that away teams provide their match balls to use despite ANU’s best efforts to slip in our own when one of theirs finds its way into the creek. A club so poor that the lights will be turned off 15 minutes before the end of training to save on electricity costs. I’ve made my point.
On arrival to the ground, a strange feeling began to descend on ANU’s fresh-faced and eager squad. A converted AFL oval next to the Royal Australian Mint that is eerily quiet despite being against the busiest thoroughfare in Canberra. Unbeknownst to us, a cabal of Woden players, having heard of ANU’s high tempo and energetic style of play, had gathered in the basement of the Royal Australian Mint where Australia’s official clock is kept (classified information – do not distribute) to perform an ancient and dark ritual calling on Father Time to curse the game that was to come.
As ANU’s shirtless players warmed up, Woden’s players filtered towards the ground. They trudged in slowly suffering the side effects of the dark ritual and one too many beers the night before (and every other night presumably). In a stroke of luck for ANU, an official referee arrived with 5 minutes to spare.