The cold weather subsided finally to allow for a beautiful spring day in the Second City to get Round 4 of the Metro Competition under way. The Chicago Swans were graced with some Tassie Footy Legends who were travelling through Chicago and stopped by to have a gander. William Leitch medallist and Hall of Fame member Darryn “Hollywood” Perry even laced up in full Swans attire to join the rest during the warm up and showed the way. While Perry put in a hard shift during the warm up, the rest of the lads rested to put in a harder shift later at the bar. It was an honour to have Perry and the rest of the Tassie lads down as they criss-crossed their way throughout the country.
But back to the game at hand! We had another special fly-in player in Frankin “OBK” “Da Plumchise” “The Handsum One” “Yours Truly” Plummer who made is way up from the great city of Marcellus, Michigan to strap on the boots one last time before walking down the aisle next weekend.
With the teams picked, the game got underway. Coach/Umpire/Bad Guy Hendrie modified the field slightly as the goal posts have been lost under a shroud of mystery, dispair and unsportsmanlike conduct. New posts have been bought and will be back in action at the next home game. Not having point posts and resulted in out of bound calls being called definitely separated the men from boys when it came to goal kicking ability. However it was the female on the team that led from the front with Amy “Sharpshooter” McGuinness slotting a couple majors in the first term. It didn’t take long for Andrew “Coach Carter” Woodman to show his experience and shutting out McGuinness during a number of following contests.
Once again, the usual suspects in the midfield had consistent runs with Jeffrey “Mike Pence” Kraemer leading the charge and linking up well with Tim “Hamstring” Herrman to move the ball quickly out of the middle. John “This is not Rugby” Reynolds rucked against Tyrone “Backstreet’s Back” Lavery with both players getting the better of eachother only a handful of times. This led to a scrappy clearance effort with Stu “They did what to the posts?” Nicol, Jayson “Not Nolan” Schmelzer and Pedro “Let’s talk politics” Jimenez tussling to get the ball out and down to OBK and McGuiness respectively.
Newcomer Matt “Hockey Hit” Hacker had a resounding effort in his first game ever with some bone crunching tackles and unrivalled endeavour throughout the backline. Opposition should be wary of Hacker as he when he connects, he means it. Exciting stuff from a future star of the Swannies. Another hard hitter Greg “It’s Miller Time” Miller got the best of a few players in what was turning to be a physical game, even for Metro standards. Luckily there were no injuries, however just after 1st quarter time, Hamstring Herrman went down with a hamstring injury. Hopefully a quick recovery will mean he will be right for Minnesota in few weeks time. Latecomers Jeremy “Winter is Coming” Stark and Clement “Daddy Duties” Chiesa brought about a change of pace to the game. Chiesa and Lavery linked up well to crunch Nicol a few times, making him second guess any more side steps. Multiple majors for Kraemer, Nicol, Schmelzer and Reynolds added to the OBK and McGuinnesses tally as the teams saw out the half.
Trent “I can score from here” Smith moved from the backline into the middle and was on fire from there on out. Already racking up a number of Fairest and Best Award points, he’s been killing it in recent weeks. The confidence level is high and he can slot the ball home in the forward line from almost any angle. As the game wore on, legs grew tired and the lads who have been working on their fitness notched it up a gear. Kraemer and Schmelzer ran ragged through the middle while Nicol tracked back well and was rewarded with a few held balls for his tackling efforts. As the game neared the end, Stark, Jimenez and Reynolds regained control of the midfield as they soaked up pressure from the comeback of the Rhinos. It wasn’t enough though as fittingly, OBK slotted a few more majors to pip the Rhino’s horns over the line first.
Rhinos : 13.0.78
(We didn’t have point posts)
Best: Kraemer, Lavery, Schmelzer, McGuinnes, Smith
Metro round 3 last Friday didn’t see any improvement on what we’ve seen weatherwise here in Chicago in the opening 2 weeks and was not for the faint hearted. Another mid 40’s type of evening greeted us which meant for a ‘stinging’ opening quarter, but the lads warmed to the task at hand pretty quickly, with a ding dong affair.
The light blues ably led in the middle by newcomer Tom Crameri and Corey Barker, racked up possessions and ran rings around the opposition. This was enable by the big man on the scene, Jeremy Stark giving the on ballers for the light blue first use with his excellent tapwork, and energy around the ground. Jason ‘purple patch’ Schmelzer continues to burn up the track following solid hit out in the first game. His forward thrusts will be vital to the Swans success this year.
Congrats to recently announced Revo, Jeff Kraemer. He was busy all evening, we’ll no doubt look forward to seeing some dominance by him in the up coming interstate games against Des Moines Roosters and Minnesota Freeze as he warms up for the International Cup in Australia in August.
It was a flukey type of evening, however it was good to see Stu begin to get his hands on the ball and also find the goals on a number of occasions, if not for a goal square indiscretion with the umpire he might well have kicked 5 for the game. Stu also will be important over the season with his goal kicking ability, a potential that has always threatened.
Tim Hermann and Dion Lowry battled it out in a marathon effort whilst Vivek Ramjee has shown that he can shake off the rust and really make a menace through the midfield.
The season is really begun well with some excellent team work and link up play that we no doubt will need when we come up against the likes of Minnesota, Boston and BWE later in the year.
Our next game is this coming Friday (Metro), with the Swans the following week heading over to Des Moines for a Tournament. If you haven’t already let Jeff Kraemer know of your availability.
Congratulations to Coach Woody and his wife Kate, welcoming in their Daughter Hazel. Next Saturday is also a special day for one of the players with Franklin OBK Plummer tying the knot with his fiancée Darcie. A few of the boys are going to be in attendance and we wish them good luck on the day and their future life together.
Best: Stu, Corey, Jeremy, Jeff, Tom
The brisk weather didn't hamper Friday's efforts as we saw many new faces amongst the old guard for the first game of the season. If there was rust from the offseason, it wasn't showing as the Rhinos got off to a flying start with Bobby and Jeff linking up well in the middle. The Piranhas were shell shocked as Levi and Tom C. used their speed to slot away the second major of the afternoon.
It took Pedro and Tim to reignite the Piranhas and get them into second gear with slick handpasses through the middle with another newcomer, Dion opening up the Rhinos defense to put their first notch on the board. By this point Hendrie had taken over umpiring efforts from Stu and the Rhinos had an extra player to their advantage.
The Rhinos steadied themselves with the ever consistent Russ cleaning up the backline and Brad C. throwing another solid performance charging everywhere around the ground making an impact like a bull in a china shop. That being said, every time the Rhinos pushed forward, Charlie and Gordon proved immovable objects as they seemed to thwart every attack.
A few changes at half-time allowed for coach/umpire Hendrie to see what different link ups looked like. Bobby swapped out for Russ and immediately Bobby and his fellow Revo hopeful Jeff looked to take each other to the next level as they prepare for the Revo camp next week. It was Levi who proved to be the turning point in the battle of the midfield as he took on Bobby head on in what turned into a David and Goliath conflict. All of it made for great footy.
Jeff's consistency in getting the ball out to Ty, who regularly slotted them home, proved to be the deciding factor in the third quarter. Stu changed sides again and Jeff's quick knock to him out on the boundary allowed him to put on his dancing shoes and get an improvised kick over to Tom in the goal square allowing for the Piranhas to pull further away from the Rhinos. John, by the way, had his first footy training on Tuesday and followed up with an incredible effort against Stu. He's going to be one to watch this season. As the game wore on, Amy and Matt dropped in deeper from the forward line in search for possessions and became an instant nuisance to Russ and Gordon.
Tom C, Tim, Pedro and Dion all valiantly battled through to the end with incredibly efforts in the midfield. The fourth quarter definitely belonged to the Rhinos as the unsung hero of the day, Jayson, signaled his intention for the year by taking the game by the scruff of the neck and dictated every play until the end of the game. Some great footy being played straight out of the starting blocks with a number of the old guard missing in action. Exciting times for Chicago footy as we kick off the season with so many new faces.
Best: Jayson, Gordon, Charlie, Jeff, Pedro, Bobby
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