The BARF play-offs 1

The BARF Play-offs

Added 10 Feb 2014

Dear Psycho Anna Liszt,

I, William Wordsmith, write this letter to inform you of the recent developments for the team.

The BARF (Barometer of Australian Rules Football) play-offs have begun at last.  To refresh you, there are seven other teams just like us touring around all Australia – introducing children to the joys of Aussie Rules Footy.  But only one team will be chosen to go overseas.  The winner of the play-offs will go all over the world to introduce the best game in the world to the whole world.

Anyway, the team got back together for post Christmas training in Melbourne.

Some had eaten more Christmas pudd than others.  Ann Aerobic gave everybody skin fold tests and seemed to have a special delight in telling Mal Prop that he had to lose some weight.

It was agreed that he go on a low sodium diet. Much to my surprise, he agreed meekly.  That was, until it came to the first meal time.  He was given different (and less appealing) food to all the others.

After letting off some steam by yelling out, “Low sodium diet! I’ve never been so unsalted in all my life!” he seemed to settle.

Mal also asked me why the Swan Hill people spoke English. I had previously told Mal that the townsfolk there spoke Swanhili.

Soon, we had to head north and west.  The BARF play-offs were being played in a central location – IE in the outback somewhere.  In fact, the town was called Somewhere.

It was Defensive Dan’s turn to drive, but Eee Madgin’s special GPS didn’t seem to list Somewhere. So Dan just used the map supplied by BARF.   He began by going north from Melbourne on the Hume.  We stopped for fuel and a bloke at the petrol station told Mal he was looking for Clonbinane.  Mal immediately grabbed Sister Fibrosis by the arm and asked her if she had any Clonbinane in her medicine kit.  Sister reached in and grabbed a map.  The inquirer was soon on his way to the town Clonbinane.

Dan went north and west a long way – hoping to find this outback town called Somewhere.  Eventually, Dan stopped at a crossroad and looked confused. He checked the signs and the map, then told everyone we were lost.

“We’re miles from nowhere!” exclaimed Penny Dredfell.

Dan just drove off and stopped again at another crossroad, scratching his head.

“We’re STILL miles from nowhere!” exclaimed Penny Dredfell.

“No”, replied Dan, “now we are miles from Somewhere”.

Anyway, somehow we got to Somewhere.  When we arrived, a BARF official gave each team a name, inspired by the names given to Li Na’s racquets.  Our team is called BARF 2, playing against BARF 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8.  I hope they didn’t spend too much money on coming up with those names!

After watching the various teams play, it didn’t take long to work out the BARF 1 was the highest ranked team right down to BARF 8 being the absolute pushovers.

A local journalist interviewed the BARF 8 team coach Toofah Downe about his team’s form coming into the playoffs.

Toofah’s response:  The team has eaten well over the Christmas break. In fact, I have never seen them fatter.  Every single player recorded his worst time in the 2km time trial.  Except for my Asian special recruit So Lay Zee.  He didn’t even manage to finish the 2km distance at all.  But, as for the team itself, we have recruited a whole heap of midfielders.  We saw what happened to Melbourne Football Club when they lacked in that area in 2013. It’s a pity we don’t have anyone over 180cm and we’ll get slaughtered in the air.  I hope this competition happens every year.  We have a five year plan to finish 7th.

We were to play each team once and then the top 2 ranked sides would play off for the right to represent BARF overseas.

I should let you know at this point that each team were “given” a few players from the huge lot of BARF officials and administrative staff assembled at Somewhere.  We were allocated three fellows from the procurement & purchasing team – Justin Time, Justin Nuff and Justin Case.

Wrong Ron ran the training.  This meant that he stood in the middle of the oval with a whistle and scarcely moved a few feet for the whole session.  Ann Aerobic checked the physical conditioning of the players, while Sister Fibrosis took care of the medical side of things; she even had with her the two vital ingredients – a can of magic spray and a wet towel.

Eee Madgin was allegedly inventing new ways for us to play, while Penny Dredfell took care of technical analysis (to be explained later in the next epistle).

As part of their integration into modern life, General Sawness and Private Leigh Seething were able to watch the matches.  Sister Fibrosis explained the new rules and they both jotted down notes on paper.

When it came down to training drills, Ron paired people up for tackling, fighting for the ball and the like.  Ann Aeronic was paired up with Penny Dredfell – a brainwave concocted by Ron.

A bruised and battered Ann came to me after the first training session with a dilemma.

“Penny tackles like Buddy Franklin overdosed on caffeine!” she lamented.  “If I continue with the tackling practice, I’ll be REALLY generally sore and won’t be able to play a game.  But she really needs to improve the subtlety of her tackling, or else she will give away dozens of frees!”

So we worked on a win-win solution.

Penny and Ann were sharing the one room.  One evening during free time, Penny was in her room and the door opened.  She let out an ear-piercing scream.

AA: Penny, it’s me – Ann

PD: You look like a Michelin baby; what are you doing in all that stuff

AA: I’ve found all the protective padding I could find. Let’s go out for tackling practice.

They proceeded to the empty oval.  I watched on from afar and soon saw what Ann had been complaining about.  The first few tackles Penny laid smashed into Ann’s gridiron style helmet.

AA: Penny, you’ve just got to tackle lower!

PD: Ann, do you remember the song from Oklahoma – I’m just a girl who can’t say no?

AA: Yes, but..

PD (singing): Well, I’m just a girl who can’t stay low

AA:  You can do it, Penny; let’s try the tackling drill again.  But remember, I have about 40kg of protective gear on my light frame, so I cannot move too quickly.

This time, the tackle was not high.  Penny got down as low as she could and got Ann around the ankles.  After a comical half hour or so, Penny’s tackling was getting close to being acceptable.

Ann trudged off the field, took off her gear and collapsed.  Three days later, she was almost back to normal.  No hobbling, no headaches and able to run properly again.  I hoped her dedication to improving Penny’s skills would pay off.

Meanwhile, Mal Prop and Wong Sing Lish were paired up.  Lish was having awful trouble tackling Mal; After all, it is hard to tackle a wombat-like creature.

Finally, Mal hit on a notion that worked.  He had Lish picture Mal as a juicy prawn dumpling which he was going to lose if he didn’t nail the tackle.  From that moment on, Lish was an absolute tackling machine.

Our draw went like this: game 1 vs BARF 3, then BARF 4, 6, 8, 7, 1 and 5.  The team had a meeting to plan the route to the BARF grand final.  Our spies had already checked out the other teams.  We reckon we had 5, 6, 7 & 8 fairly well covered. We also thought we could beat 3 & 4, but had to be on our game.  But BARF 1 looked a tough nut to crack and we aimed to be at our absolute best for that game.

Ron’s best idea was to give various players a go at being coach and giving the match day addresses.  I will cover these before going through the results.

My memorable address was quoting Shakespeare to the team.  The pre-match address was: Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.  We, my team mates, can become all three today.

Mal just gave me a blank stare.  Maybe something simpler was appropriate at the last break.  I went with: To be representing BARF overseas, or not to be, that is the question; now go out and show me the answer!

That seemed to work better for Mal.

Then Ann Aerobic has a go. She re-jigged the Alan Jeans 1989 grand final speech about paying the price: You go into a shoe shop and have a choice between a cheap pair of shoes and some quality shoes. If you buy the cheap pair, you’ll end up regretting it. It’s better to pay the price.  That’s what I am asking you to do – PAY THE PRICE.  However, of course, if you find a good value pair on a substantial discount, let me know, because I really love a bargain.  Now, where was I….

She looked around and the team had already left the rooms and were out on the field.

A favourite of mine was Dreamy Dave’s pre-match speech when we played out game at the foothills of Mt Nothing. His opening four words were enough to win me over: I have a dream!  I have a dream that we will find that something extra to beat BARF 1. I have a dream that we will take this great game to the four corners of the earth.  I have a dream that, one day, kiddies from every tribe, colour, race and tongue can play this game side by side.  I have a dream that every child on earth has an equal right to learn about this game. During this game today, I’ve been to the mountain top!  But I couldn’t see the play well enough from way up there, so I came back down again.  I have a dream; and this dream will begin to become reality today!

Of course, Wrong Ron also had to have his turn to give an address and this is why I am writing to you today.  He gave some sort of old-fashioned emotionally charged pre-game speech after watching the highlights of Richmond games 1983-2012.

The local reporter told us that the opposition coach had told his team to “take no prisoners”.  I have never understood what that meant.  As we went out for the second half, the same scribe said the other coach told his team to “now take prisoners”. I was soon to discover what this meant.

At the last change, we waited in our huddle for Wrong Ron to address us; but no show.  Sister Fibrosis appeared and ushered us into the change rooms.  There was Ron bound and gagged.  He had been taken prisoner, apparently.

We took off his gag and he, with ropes firmly restricting his arms and legs, began to speak a la John Kennedy senior:

“UnDO SOMETHING”, he bellowed.

“Undo something! Don’t think! Undo.

Midway through his inspiring speech, his mobile rings.  Ann Aerobic grabs it and tells the caller the Ron is tied up right now.  Ron continued:

Undo something!  At least, you can say: I tried to undo the bowline knot; I had a go at the reef knot.

Undo something”.

And now I will summarise the game results themselves.  Our first two matches were critical.  If we could record back to back wins, then we were half way to the grand final.

The first game was, perhaps, our best.  Pastor Mark Buck was a good tagger and managed to keep BARF 3’s brilliant midfielder to an average game.  Meanwhile, Mal got in and under the packs and fed out the ball to Ann Aerobic in the open spaces.  Ann is an asset because she looks so petite and inoffensive.  But her speed, her ability to change directions quickly and her pinpoint passes helped us record a winning score.  BARF 3 had heard that we had an outstanding female player and made the mistake of tagging Penny Dredfell. By the time they realised they had tagged the wrong woman, we were four goals up and never looked back.

Down back, Justin Time, Justin Nuff and Justin Case were solid across the half back line.  Matt E Matical was terrific in the ruck, while I gave him a chop out and also kicked a couple resting down forward.

After basking in the glory of being 1 and zip, we were able to go across and watch BARF 4 play to pick up some clues.  They struggled to barely get over BARF 7, so we went to bed that night happy.

Soon we played BARF 4 and were caught on the hop.  When they played BARF 7, they had played players out of their normal positions.  So out match-ups didn’t work and it was out turn to be scrambling from four goals down.  While we made up ground and hit the lead with a minute to go, a Penny Dredfell head high tackle led to a goal and we lost it by a point.

That night, Ann, in full protective gear, and Penny went out again for tackling drills.

As expected, we breezed through the games against BARF 6, 8 and 7.  Next up we faced the undefeated, and raging hot favourites, BARF 1.

They had the “Gazza” of the comp – Willy B. Goode.  His nickname was Iymsoh.  He was a star midfielder who was BOG in every match to date.  Much to Pastor Buck’s surprise, he wasn’t given the tagging role.

BARF 1 had begun the comp with some big wins, but had slackened off in the past 2 games and virtually fell across the line vs BARF 5 in the previous game.

Our whole team was really psyched up for this one, Psycho Anna, and we were in the game all day.  Half way through the last term, Iymsoh Goode broke away a few times from his tagger Defensive Dan. His passes led to a couple of goals.  But we lifted!  Justin Time, Justin Nuff and Justin Case were suddenly impassable at half back.  Dreamy Dave racked up possessions across half forward and even Wong Sing Lish bobbed up in the forward pocket for two late goals.  We drew away to win by ten points.

While we were all celebrating the fact that this win had already qualified us for the final, and that we now laid claim to being the best team in the comp, Penny Dredfell, Wrong Ron and Eee Madgin had their heads in a tight huddle in the corner of the room.

“Are you sure?” asked Ron of Penny.

“Without a doubt”, replied Penny.

“Then we need to enact the Eee Madgin special plays for the grand final”, concluded Ron.

The Penny, with a wad of statistical data in her hand that only Matt would be able to understand, addressed the whole team.

PD: I hate to spoil the party, but I have some bad news……

Hey, Psycho Anna, I will finish the story in the future; must go now!