Peripeteia Under the Palm Trees
Saturday 05 September 2015 was to be a pivotal day in the decades long rivalry between Jakarta and Bali. Scores were to be settled and points made.
A dirty baker’s dozen of Bintangs assembled under the shadow of the water slides at the picturesque Canggu Polo Ground to join battle against a phalanx of arch rival Bali Geckoes who were keen to expunge the pain suffered at the hands and feet of the Jakarta Bintangs in recent years.
Jakarta had some stars missing: Prowler, Harvey, the enduring baba ghanoush scented loss of Sam El Maghraby, David MH370 Edwards apparently recently washed up on the shores of Reunion in the Indian Ocean and not available match day, David O’Shea attending an unmissable Christian Louboutin Spring Collection sale (as a mannequin) and some others. But excuses are not appropriate nor given for Jakarta. Every travelling team has players missing including the teams that we beat at Cib and you are only to be judged on the performance of who you bring not who you coulda, woulda, shoulda brung. The Bintangs had a century plus of football experience (though some spectators viewing Halliday and Smith muttered “not in a good way”). Like all matches you can win if you are good enough.
Full forward Brenton Harris was pumped match day having just inked his first and foreseeably not last big media contract, after suffering disappointment early in his career when his pitch to Channel 7 for a 13 episode reality TV series “How I tackled Peter Matera” narrowly missed syndication.
Tom Harvey, son of Footscray’s Ian Harvey, had been originally approached by the AFL to broadcast AFL 2015 highlights punctuated by ads for luxury products onto his capacious forehead during game time at the 2015 Asian Champs to ensure a continuing revenue stream for the AFL in what will be their off season. Hearing about this, Harris proffered his own case for suitability to the AFL and Gillon McLachlan went all in for the Harris Option, with its superior provision of minimal movement during a game and maximum forehead width also allowing free of charge the ability to screen a person doing sign language commentary in the corner. Win Win.
But the Bintangs do not exist to provide off field media triumphs. Our touchstone is ever to be on the Field of Fire and Hell be to he who first cries “enough”.
Ball it up.
First tap out to the Bintangs and the last tap out and pretty much all of them in between from the redoubtable Ross “Too Big to Fail” Currie and Stretch Archer in an all-day aerial domination exhibition.
Lower down though, Houston we’ve got a problem. The Geckoes had a better ground level system and this negated the benefits of tap dominance by the Bintangs talls. They had big mobile marking machine in front of the sticks who started with a one hander to bring up the first Gecko goal. Josh Young, he was, son of David Young, Collingwood and South Melbourne firecracker from the 70s and 80s who was to plague and vex the Bintangs all day.
Performance artist Marina Abramovic is famous for a 2010 show at the New York Museum of Modern Art where she spent 3 months, 7 hours a day, staring directly into the eyes of visitors. This approach is clearly modelled on that of full back Kris van der Meer who spends not only the entire match staring directly into the eyes of his opponent but up to three hours before and after the match. It is remarkably effective. The Bali 9’s was a rare occurrence of Vanders intensity being refracted for a bagful to Young before Vanders graciously passed the gauntlet to his brother in law Brenton Harris. But more on that later.
Bali had come to play, or strictly speaking had stayed home to play, but play they did and notched up a handy 4 goal lead by quarter time in a match that was to count in the arcane mutable rules of the EAFL. The allochtohns from Jakarta were still giving stick to the locals, Harris a prominent target up forward marking like Tarzan but unfortunately kicking like Jane and being told so by 16 year olds. Jolly was everywhere booting his 172nd career goal while Pope John Paul Kenyon booted two to take his place as leading goalkicker for Season 2015. At his best, Kenyon gives Bintangs’ supporters more “Holy Crap!” moments than the real Pope’s toilet.
Second quarter and the Bintangs had to pull something out of their hat, metaphorically speaking. Never you worry, here comes Ross Currie. In one of the plays of the day, he contests in the forward pocket, chases the Sherrin to the boundary, taps it back in, swings around then dobs an absolute beauty from an acute angle.
But at the other end, Gecko Josh Young is weaving his alchemy, converting leather to gold, ably assisted by the Gecko mids, on the way to 9 goals at half time.
Kenyon booms through a goal from a Harris point perfect pass and then another soccer style. Halliday and Smith in the forward pocket didn’t break the kilometre per hour record but they certainly gave a decent crack at the hour per kilometre record (not in a good way).
It was left to the likes of Jolly and Vincent “No Nickname Yet” Halim to provide the link between the midfield and the all-important 35 metre arc. Vinnie was a gem all day and he regularly both gave to and received from Commodore Chris Perez who played his best ever game for the Bintangs and is a player to watch. Stretch was presenting when needed in the ruck and also up forward when designated full forward Harris was inexplicably in the underground ablutions block during the ball up.
Vincent is no respecter of age, and what youth with Vincent’s skills should be? He literally took the ball off senior Gecko Greg Hinchcliffe behind his back and passed it like a Faberge Egg to Matthew Jolly who goaled up.
Harry has very strong memories of football when Vincent’s age, he needs to as it was before photography had truly flourished as a science. Harry had a supernova last 5 minutes booting 2 goals and passing one off to the Wizard for another. With JP’s 6 pointer on the siren, 3 goals down at half time. What’s the worst that could happen?
At half time Coach for the Day Matthew Jolly planted the seeds of humankind’s greatest possession, Hope, in his troops but the long established dominance of Jakarta over Bali was standing in the anteroom of Peripeteia.
Changes. Turn and face the strange. Vanders to full forward, Harris onto the laconic and dangerous Josh Young. Blond, bearded and corpulent, Young looked like a Roly Povey and he was ready to roll. He was to be the single biggest influence on the game.
But who will win the match? I could reveal the winner now but ignorance is kind to the heart and mind, there’s no comfort in the truth pain is all you’ll find.
The third quarter had its good bits. Bodacious Beau Temby, ex Borneo Bear debutant for the Bintangs continued his day’s massive performance, running, covering, marking and smothering like some kind of a Henderson. He got votes. Jolly’s constant valour and ball gathering was prominent, Halim a lion in spring as ever.
Commodore Perez continued his massive upswing playing in sun glasses to avoid facial recognition software. Tower of Power Ross Currie chose to exercise his personal liberty to take a JP pass and boot it straight through the hi diddle didde for another goal.
New guy Chris Tomlinson ran all day and did well against relentless Gecko pressure. But the pressure was a tap that was not to be turned off and this was not to be the Bintangs’ day. Credit to the Geckoes, they were overwhelmingly on top all day and they had the foresight to line up Josh Young for his first game in 4 years and with 14 goals he broke the back of a spirited Bintangs charge. All in all, it has made us only more focussed on what is needed to do damage in the Asian Champs a few weeks away.
It will be interesting when the Bintangs and Geckoes line up each other again. Very interesting.
To the Geckoes, I quote the Chinese benediction: “May you not live in interesting times”
Jakarta Bintangs 15.07.97
Bali Geckoes 27.12.174
Kenyon 7, Jolly 2, Currie 2, Harris, 2 Wizard, van der Meer
Kenyon, Jolly, Halim, Currie, Harris, Temby