Saturday November 14th saw the 19th annual Chicago Swans awards - Red and White Night - recognizing the on and off-field contributions that make the club run.
Our 2016 award winners included:
- Rich Noty (Best Clubman): Stu Nicol
- Oxford Landing Coaches Award: Jeremy Stark (also received the Runaway Train Award)
- Rookie of the Year: Steve Stavropoulos
- MacGlashan Medal (Leading Goalkicker): Trent Smith
- Warwick Burgmann Medal (Metro MVP): Jeff Kraemer
- Four Corner's Group Medal (Club MVP): Corey Barker
Shoutout to Four Corners Group's Sidebar Grille for hosting the evening, and to all the folks who keep the club running, including referees Daniel Estes, Lisa Albergo and Paul Enzinger, and Executive Committee and coaches Bryan Hoyt, Stu Nicol, Andrew Woodman, Alastair Martin and Anthony Hendrie.
Just 15 minutes before the scheduled bounce down of the first metro match of the 2016 Chicago season thigs were not looking too promising. Only a handful of players had roughed the 38 degree rainstorm and made it to Waveland Field. Although that might have been because umpire Brian Hoyt linked to the wrong field on the Facebook post about the game which led to him winning the first Golden Goose of the year. An award he fully accepted and wore all night even while he played guitar at Irish Eyes later that evening. But just as all hope was almost lost the Rhinos and Piranhas showed up in full force and before you could say "Outback Kid retirement tour" the game was underway.
From the beginning it was an epic clash in the middle as Graeme Radford battled Jason "Pony Boy" Wilhelm in the ruck. Off the initial tap Pedro Jimenez scooped up the ball and went bang through the big sticks for an early 6 points. After that the Piranhas settled in and were getting solid clearances out of the middle from Jayson Schmelzer and first Chicago gamer Shae Tulley. Those clearances led to some early marks and goals by the Piranha front line being led by Coach Woody and Brad Clifton who slotted an early goal. An early highlight was a goal attempt that rocketed off the foot of Rhino forward Trent Smith and landed square in the guts of Swans VP Stu Nicol. The sound of the ball slamming into Nicol's ribs could be heard from clear across the field...as well as the resulting laughter as Stuey crumpled in pain. At the end of the first quarter the Piranhas held an 8 point lead.
The rain continued to drop as the second quarter started. But an electric energy overtook the field as Franklin "The Outback Kid" Plummer donned the Rhino jumper and entered the game. Along with Plummer there was a look of shock on everyones face as Ryan "Hayzie" Hayes and Graham "Crackers" Brennan entered the game as well. It had been a few seasons since these two legends had been on the pitch together at the same time.
The presence of these three Chicago footy legends seemed to energize both clubs and the action was moving back and forth with both teams making the most of their efforts. Tyler "Minutes" Dorsett slotted two goals while Jeff Kraemer and Stu Nicol each got their second goals of the day. Schmelzer rewarded his hard work with a goal of his own and Joe Sweirupski who an anonymous source said "looked 10 years younger out there" slotted his first of two goals on the day. But the real action was by the back lines of both teams. The Rhinos backline was buoyed by first gamer and future prospect Ben as well as the always hard charging and hard hitting Tom Shearman. The Piranhas backline was holding their own as well with strong performances by Greg Miller who was getting a ton of the ball and Cliff Holmes who seemed to be everywhere. At halftime the Piranhas were up 6.3.39 to 5.5.35.
The rained continued to make things difficult for both teams as the premiership quarter got underway. After a stop off at Home Depot the one man who wasn't having any trouble was Paul "Garden Gloves" Enzinger. With his trademark gardening gloves Enzinger was able to take a few strong marks as well as reward himself with a goal in the 3rd. Sweirupski kicked another for the Piranhas while Kraemer was getting hot and collected his third goal for his eventual bag of five on the day. The slippery conditions were turning the game into a real street fight with skills going out the window as each team looked to slug it out with each other. At the end of three the Rhinos held a slight 3 point lead at 7.7.49 to 7.4.46.
With the 4th quarter underway this game was tighter than a camels arse in a sandstorm. From the initial bounce down though Radford started to get the best of Wilhelm and the forward clearances were being gobbled up by Smith who was getting a ton of the ball and put through 2 goals to get the Rhinos going. Kramer then followed up with a beautiful goal off the left from about 30 out all while the relentless run of Alistair Martin was starting to become too much for the exhausted Piranhas. As the quarter rolled on the Rhinos simply ran over the top of the Piranhas and kept pouring it on like a heavy handed bartender. The Piranhas got one last goal from Wilhelm but it was way too little and way too late. As the final siren went off the Rhinos celebrated a 11.12.78 to 8.4.52 victory.
Rhinos: 2.4 5.5 7.7 11.12(78)
Piranhas: 3.2 6.3 7.4 8.4 (52)
Rhinos: Kraemer(5), Dorsett(2), Smith(2), Jimenez, Enginer
Piranhas: Nicol(2), Wilhelm(2), Sweirupski(2), Schmelzer, Clifton
Rhinos: Kreamer, Radford, Shearman, Jimenez, Smith
Piranhas: Miller, Schmelzer, Tulley, Nicol, Wilhelm
After another long Chicago winter, the 2015 Metro League season finally kicks off tomorrow at Waveland Park. And in addition to some fresh faces, the 2015 season will see three totally new teams, with team captains Hoyt, Al ‘ankles’ Martin and Stu redrafting the teams from scratch.
Tomorrow’s game will see Stu’s Piranhas take on Hoyt’s Tigers. The game kicks off at 6, with drinks at the Brownstone afterwards.
On Saturday the Chicago Swans opened up their 2015 campaign in the best possible way by posting a big W over arch rivals and nemeses, Minnesota Freeze. We were hard pressed to remember when the last away win had been posted against MN; some agreed it might have been about 5 years ago, when the infamous elevator got stuck!
What seems like a common thing moving forward both teams meeting half way to play each other on a neutral ground as one of two games the clubs will play against each other. MN went into the game without a few of their big names; regardless The Swans weren’t going to take this one lightly; MN already had some actual game time under their belts playing in a Tournament in Des Moines a few weeks ago.
Chicago was an unknown quantity with 6 first gamers coming into the side, all had big boots to fill with Frank Bradley, Alistair Martin, Al MacGlashan, Andrew Woodman, Drew Wolfe, Joe Swierupski, Danny Kastilan, Andy St John, Nolan Schmelzer, & Keith Campion to name a few, all unavailable for selection, adding to this scenario Dan Saarbacker & Matty Webb both sidelined because of injury. Full credit goes to the first gamers, Brett Barrett, Corey Barker, Jeff Kraemer, Graeme Radford, Nathan Bird & Brenton (Milwaukee Bombers) who all made valuable contributions to the win.
The Chicago traffic stifled our early exit, and because of that our preparation was shortened, and this showed in the first quarter. It took the Swans a half a quarter to warm up, and by that time the Freeze had banged on 3 goals, against what was a 3 goal breeze! The Swans were finally able to get their hands on the ball through the mid field, with Jayson Schmelzer, Pedro & Pony Boy starting to put their stamp on the game. The Swans added 2 goals late in the term through Tommy ‘Tank’ Shearman, and Sammy Svoboda. Paul Ensinger got himself a brand spanking new pair of ‘garden gloves’ and this did appear to aid his performance in the quarter with some sharp tackling and if wasn’t for errant kicking could have bagged a couple himself.
The second quarter saw the back line tighten up, Tiger was being well held by Nathan Bird, and the two Brads, along with Hoyt continually dented any forward thrusts by the Freeze. Tommy Edelstone found his position in the back line and arguably played his best game in a Red & White jersey. A solid team effort around the ground restricting the Freeze to just 4 behinds for the quarter. Graeme Radford bobbed up and added one to the Swans tally. The game was evenly poised at half time with the Swans taking the honors by the slimest of margins.
Game on in the third quarter with the contest being hard fought across the centreline, with the Freeze adding the only goal for the quarter. Some of the things we spoke about at halftime were hallmarks of our game in the third; our tackling, blocking, shepherding and getting to the bottom of every contest set us up for a ding dong battle in the last.
Trialling by 7 points going into the last quarter, the Swans threw caution to the wind and moved Graeme Radford into the ruck, Stu Nicoll found it difficult to get into the game for the first three terms got himself a few telling touches, and Corey Barker lit the forward line up and managed to slot a nice one from about 35 meters out on the run to help seal the deal. A great finish to the game that saw important goals to Sammy Svoboda, Nathan Bird, & Jeff Kraemer. Keep your eye on Jeff Kraemer, a very exciting taken that will be a huge asset for the Swans 2015 campaign. While it was tense in the last couple minutes the defense was dour and the midfield willing to chase down the opposition and make any possession they got ineffective.
A real satisfying win with everyone playing their part to win their position and help get us to our first win of the season. If this is a taste of things to come, with the addition of the absentees, the selection committee is going to have some headaches this year.
Our next challenge looms large with the Wayne Schwass Cup up for grabs in a couple weeks with the Swans traveling to Nashville to take on the inform Kangaroos, who will be hopping mad after their win on Saturday against Columbus in Columbus.
For any lads that have not responded to Hoyt about your availability, do it now. Nashville is always a cracking weekend, even better if we get to keep the Cup!
Chicago Swans Q1 2.3.15 – Q2 3.5.23 – Q3 3.7.25 – Final 7.8.50
Minnesota Freeze Q1 3.0.18 – Q2 3.4.22 – Q3 4.7.31 – Final 5.9.39
Goals: Sammy Svoboda 2, Tom Shearman, Graeme Radford, Nathan Bird, Corey Barker & Jeff Kraemer
Best: Corey Barker, Jason Wilhelm, Jayson Schmelzer, Brad Clifton, Brad Ross, Tommy Edelstone, Sammy Svoboda, Pedro Jimenez, Paul Enzinger
On Saturday June 13, a depleted Swans squad of 16 blokes descended into Nashville to defend the Wayne Schwass Cup at Elmington Park. Stu has either 20/120 vision or a nose that a TSA sniffer dog would be proud of, but lucky for us he recruited an Aussie on the flight down to Nashville. Zane was handy for us as we needed all the men we could at that point.
The ground was a treat, a fast track, a lot of sunshine and more heat than us Chicagoans had seen in 10 months. Thankfully we had Hendrie running water in between shuffling the side around as best he could.
Pony Boy won the toss and kick with the aid of a two goal breeze. The Swans made the most of their opportunities, with Nathan Bird, Woody, and Stu slotting majors for the term. The quarter was marred by an incident that occurred at the 5 minute mark more likely to be seen in a cage fighting bout. Corey Barker wore two clinched fists to the forehead, which kept him off the field until the second half. The incident really did spur the boys on and finished the quarter strongly, Swans in front by 13 points.
The second quarter tightened up considerably with the Swans adding a solitary goal through through Nathan Bird. Webby in his first game back from a pre-season hamstring injury was serviceable at center half back, the two Brads, Clifton & Ross were working overtime in the back line. The junkyard dog was a welcome addition back into the Swan outfit, big things to come once the dog finds his form later in the year. New bloke, Jonno lurking on the last line of attack calmly took a number of telling grabs and thwarted a good number of their forward thrusts. With Corey off the ground, the mid fielders, Pony Boy, Pedro, Tommy Shearman, Al Martin were wearing the load. Nashville had a couple nippy mid-fielders that were causing head aches for the under manned Swans. The Swans battled gallantly in the quarter and went into half time with a slender 7 point lead.
The premiership quarter saw the Swans play like rock stars ignoring the heat, Corey defied the pain barrier and touched it out and appeared to inspire the boys. The Swans banged on four goals to three; Stu benefited from a couple down the field free kicks making The Roos pay for each. Brad Clifton and Pony Boy each nailed goals. Nashville were beginning to carve out goals of their own in the quarter adding three goals and six behinds. Swans went into the final term, 8 points ahead.
In all honesty, as coach, it was hard to watch the boys do their stuff against tough conditions, but they continued to battle on but in the end were over run by Nashville, who were obviously more attuned to the oppressive conditions. I might add, that had we travelled with 3 or 4 more players the result may well have been in our favor. That said, it was a tough hit out, aside from the first term incident which is not part of our game, the game itself was played hard and tough and we new Nashville would be keen to atone for their loss in Chicago last year.
The Swans now set their sights on the Central Region Tournament in Racine on July 11th. At present they are expecting an excellent turnout with 12 men’s teams competing (Austin, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Des Moines, Houston, Milwaukee/Indy, Minnesota, New York, Ohio Valley and Tulsa). Now is the time to keep the ball rolling lads, let me or Hoyty know if you are going to make the day trip on the 11th.
Onwards to Victory!
Chicago Swans: 3.3.21 4.5.29 8.6.54 8.7.55
Nashville Kangaroos: 1.2.8 3.4.22 6.9.45 10.13.73
Goals: Stu 3, Nathan Bird 2, Woody, Clifton, Pony Boy
Best: Jonno, Corey, Clifton, Ross, Pony Boy