Chicago United took a giant leap towards recapturing the MAAFL crown and returning it to its rightful place atop Burgmann Towers. Lead by a dominating backline and ruthless midfield, Chicago were able to turn the screws on an undermanned Blues outfit that battled hard all day against huge odds.
In 95 degree heat and 100% humidity, the two teams, playing 14 a side, locked horns once more in battle. St Louis were looking to continue their good form after beating Nashville and wanted a little revenge for the licking they received from Chicago in the windy city last year. Chicago, after a good recruiting off season came down with 18 players fit and ready but without their spiritual leaders in big Wazza Burgmann and the Outback Kid himself, both MIA.
St Louis were able to draw first blood when a Chicago turnover found an unmanned Blue forward in between 3 United players who duly slotted one through to get the game rolling. This was the spark the United boys needed and they dominated much of the first quarter but were unable to capitalise where it mattered most. A top heavy forward line wasn’t getting the delivery they craved and repeated forays forward were turned back by a stubborn Blue defence which was being helped by a classic midwestern downpour that made the ball harder to handle than a heated coat hanger bent into a gamma sign and brutally applied to the upper arm. Pat Hoyt was taken from the backline and asked to give the forward line some spark and within seconds he had slotted through a classic crumbers goal to get the scoreboard clicking.
Chicago was getting some great run from the backline with Jacko, Funky Miller and in particular Betty Palmer all having a case of minor leather poisoning. Pat’s brother Brian was popping up in unusual spots and was getting his share of the footy and he was able to make the most of his chances to kick his sides second. On the other flank, Ehlers and his opponent were having a great dual. The big fella was able to get a step on his opponent and before the siren bring up Chicago’s 3rd sending the United boys into the huddle a couple up on the Blues, 3.4: 22 v 1.2: 8.
The rain continued and turned the game into a tough slog. Betty Palmer was revelling in the conditions and between him and Funky Miller, were tormenting the Blue forwards. Big Roofy started to fire for the United forwards as Jagger and the St Louis boys continued to do a wonderful job of harassing Big Al who was unable to break the shackles at full forward. In a quarter of football that will be remembered by very few people, big Roofy was able to snag his first of the game and St. Louis added another to bring the score at half time to 4.8: 32 to 2.4: 16.
Chicago decided to go smaller at half time by sitting Big Aaron and taking a dominant Mustard out of the backline and putting him in the ruck. The move was initially a stinker as St Louis came out all guns blazing and enjoyed several center clearances that put the United backline under constant and sustained pressure. Betty Palmer, now joined by Deri Morgan repelled many but a mark and goal bought the game closer. After a poor goal line clearance from United, StLouis marked and banged on their second in as many minutes and all of a sudden the game took on a whole new demeanour as Chicago clung to a 4 point lead.
Mustard, Wolfe, Oscar and a fresh legged Billy started to lift in the middle and eventually Chicago was able to rest control of the game away from the Blues and back into their own Oscar Meyer, although not having one of his best games, at least by his lofty standards, managed to find himself with the ball in the forward pocket from where he went back and slotted through goal of the day to lift Chicago spirits. Ensuing goals to Roofy and ‘el presidente’ broke the St Louis shackles and in the presidents case, lost the game ball also as she was drilled into the jungle behind the goals. With the game still on the line, Chicago went into the orange break 22 points up, 7.10: 52 to a tiring StLouis 4.6: 30.
In an effort to spark the forward line, Coach Drake moved himself to full forward and dropped Drewbie back to full back. Tiny came into a pocket as the weather improved to do a bit of physical damage and Big Al went to center half forward for a run. The move proved effective as the coach bagged one of his rare goals and sent Chicago further in front. Chicago started to dominate as the heavy track took a toll on the StLouis boys who didn’t have the luxury of a fresh bench with fresh legs. They did manage to kick their fifth of the game to get Chicago fans looking at their watches but when Roofy goaled, the game was Chicagos and they eventually ran out 30 point victors over a very valiant StLouis outfit.
For Chicago, it was a win they deserved although they felt it could have been by more, particularly before the rain came. The most pleasing thing for the United coaching staff was that it was the American boys that led from the front in this one with Palmer, Miller, the brothers Hoyt, Wolfe, Ehlers and many others having wonderful games. The fact that Gordo got through the game was received with a huge sigh of relief from Burgmann Towers as they look confidently to the next all important game against their old foes in Nashville. With a few issues simmering from the last game these two teams played, look for a bruising affair on the shores of Lake Michigan in early August. For St Louis, they take away a great deal of heart from this game. With Jagger back in the line up their backline was a lot stronger but with no interchange and up against a much more experienced team, it was always going to be a struggle for the boys from Bud town. They played a hard, physical game and will walk away from this with heads up.
|Goals||St Louis: None
United: Ward (3), Ehlers (2), Hoyt B, Meyer, Drake, Hoyt P
|Best||St Louis: None
United: Ward, Ehlers, Hoyt B, Hoyt P, Miller, Palmer, De Jong
Next Round: V’s Nashville in Chicago. Playing host to the Great Aussie BBQ and a huge crowd expected.
Best On Ground: Betty Palmer
Best Off Ground: Betty Palmer
Beast On Ground: Brian Hoyt
Beast On Grog: Betty Palmer/ Biggsy/ Roofy
Presidents highlight: Jezza getting a free room but paying $80 to get to the pub in a cab.