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They play like the men down under

They play like the men down under 0

This article is originally from TimeOut magazine by Tim McCormick.  See the original article here.

GOING POSTAL Rest assured that even though there’s no Foster’s in the frame, this is Australian rules football.
Photo: Hayley Mccormick

Although it’s brilliantly sunny on the day we visit the home pitch (Waveland Field) of Chicago United, the city’s lone Australian rules football club since the Chicago Sharks and Chicago Swans joined forces a few years back, it’s difficult to tell just what the crikey is going on. That’s partly because of the pair of softball games underway on adjoining fields and the precocious puppies rolling around on the sidelines. It’s the first practice of the season, and the relaxed vibe continues with wives enjoying 312 brews and kids chasing around their remote-controlled cars.

Relaxed, that is, until you cast your eye to the field and see 36 burly men scrambling after a football that’s slightly larger than NFL size. “Footy,” as the game is sometimes lovingly referred to, was developed in the 1800s by English colonizers as a way to keep cricket players in shape during the off-season. But the game’s similarities with cricket end with the fact that both are played on an oval field about 450 to 500 feet in diameter.

Here’s the gist. Each team of 18 tries to advance the ball to the opposition’s goal posts. At the ends of the field, four posts are set up, with the two inner ones referred to as the goal posts. Every time the ball is kicked (and it must be kicked for a point to register) through the inner goal posts, six points are racked up. If the ball soars through the outer posts (known as the behind posts), one point goes on the board. The team leading after four quarters of play (Chicago United plays 15-minute quarters; some leagues play up to 25-minute quarters) will be hoisting Foster’s in a fit of victory.

But since the game is a mash-up of rugby, basketball and soccer, scoring isn’t as easy as it sounds. As Chicago United vet Dave Worniak puts it, the game consists of “pretty light rules on what you can [or can’t] do.” After the initial tip-off (similar to what you see in basketball), teams will move the ball down the field through a series of dribbles, punch passes (the ball is hit with a closed fist) and kicks (the best-case scenario, as any kicked pass caught allows you a free kick). All the while, you’ve got the opposition hoping to tackle you to force you to cough up the ball. Any time the ball goes airborne (though throwing the ball is forbidden), the game turns into a free-for-all with every man jumping, leaping and lunging for the ball.

Locally, the team has enjoyed more than its share of success, beating up on squads from cities like St. Louis and Milwaukee to go undefeated during last year’s Mid American Australian Football League (the oldest in the States). At nationals, they ran into a bit of a buzz saw against teams from the coasts where the Australian emigrant populations are a tad larger.

In an effort to ensure the club is always stocked with fresh blood, Friday evenings are set aside for “Friday Night Footy.” “It’s a chance for everyone in the club to get out and play a game, since not everyone plays on the travel team, and also to encourage new players to come out and give it a go,” Worniak says. Post-game revelry at the Globe Pub in North Center certainly doesn’t hurt the cause (neither do the frugal $50 dues for first-year players).

Of course, the team is well represented by lads from Down Under. Many of them found out about the league through the grapevine of the Australian Consulate, which sponsors Aussie pride events such as the celebration of Australia Day—the day in 1788, January 26 to be exact, when Captain Arthur Phillip arrived at Sydney Cove.

Other players ended up on the field through a friend of a friend, or out of curiosity after having passed the action at Waveland.

According to native Aussie Rohan Ward, “It’s definitely a social thing, but once game time comes, it’s pretty intense and pretty physical.”

See if you’ve got the stones to join up for Friday Night Footy.

United Taken Down by Nashville 0

Coming off the 2007 championship the United face a dissapointing start in their 2008 efforts with a loss on the road to their rival Nashville Kangaroos. The Roos came off the 1st bounce firing, kicking 7 goals to 1 United in the 1st term. The rest of the game was an attempt to catch up by the Chicago boys but were continuously beaten by a relentless Roo lineup that pretty much won everything off the ground and in the air.

The United will take the road loss in stride and not to heart as they prepare for the 1st home effort v. St. Louis on 31, May.

Results

Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Nashville 7.0.42 0.0.0 0.0.0 7.4.46 14.4.88
United 1.0.6 0.0.0 0.0.0 5.5.35 6.5.41
Goals Nashville: None
United: Burgmann (3), De Jong, Drake, Malcolm
Best Nashville: None
United: Burgmann, De Jong, Malcolm, Kastilan, Uhlmann

United Shoot Down Bombers, Clinch MAAFL Crown 0

Chicago was finally able to snap its 6 year drought and return the MAAFL cup home after an emphatic 46 point win over the Milwaukee Bombers. Bolstered by the return of Warrick Burgmann (6 goals) and inspired by fellow United legend Al MacGlashan (3 goals), the boys from Chicago were to strong for a determined yet undermanned Milwaukee squad.

The conditions for football were perfect. On Chicago’s magnificent lakeshore, with nary a cloud in sight, these two old foes met once again in battle with 14 a side. Chicago struck first through Big Al but the Bombers bit back almost straight away. Chicago found it hard to move the ball with the quick heeled Bombers dominating scrimmages. The play seemed to be all Milwaukee as they ran the ball with ease and put tremendous pressure on the Chicago defense which looked fractured. Seemingly against the play, Gambas was able to goal for Chicago and after a lovely mark, Burgmann put the United boys further ahead as the tall timber up front in MacGlashan, Burgmann and Ternes started to give the Bombers headaches. After two quick goals by Milwaukee, Ehlers goaled followed by a freak goal from MacGlashan that sent the 200 strong crowd into hysterics. Patty Hoyt slipped through a classic crumbers goal on the siren to send United into the first break 6.0: 36 to a very disappointed Milwaukee 3.0: 18 who had done enough to be a lot closer.

The Chicago defense was given a lovely dressing down by their injured coach and they were able to respond in kind with a marvelous second quarter led by club President Drew Ehlers and last gamer ‘Biggun’ Jackson by shutting down Milwaukee. At the other end, Burgmann was able to add another while a free kick to Billy Uhlmann set up Chicago’s second. Chicago still struggled with movement through the middle but the move of Palmer (wing) and Deri Morgan into the center late in the quarter had an instant effect as the two were able to set up several forward thrusts. At the long break, United led 8.3: 51 to the Bombers 3.2: 20

The premiership quarter belonged to Chicago as they could taste their first MAAFL flag in United colors and their first in six years since the barnstorming Swans of 01. Three players, MacGlashan, Frank Bradley and Dan Kastilahn remain from that famous team and each was putting in their best as Chicago slammed on 6 big ones for the quarter. After a quiet first half, big, bustling Roofy was moved into the ruck where he was able to take the game over. He kicked truly to start the Chicago onslaught. Ambrosino kicked truly followed by MacGlashan for his third. Ternes went to the bench and Burgmann to full forward where the boy from Katandra became an irresistable force. He banged on three, all from huge grabs which sent at least 4 girls in the crowd into hysterics. But for some bad kicking, the big fella may have had another three. At the long break, Chicago seemed to have the game in the bag as they led by 68 points 14.5: 89 to a shell shocked Milwaukee 3.3: 21.

Milwaukee went into the final quarter knowing they had only kicked 3 points in the previous 2 quarters of football. 10 minutes after the bounce, they had added 6 straight goals and were on fire as the Chicago midfield collapsed, along with their much vaunted defense. A flurry of activity on the Chicago bench saw Jackson, De Jong, Roofy and an injured Funky Miller thrown back into the game to stem the bleeding out of the middle and down back. The game to and fro-ed as Chicago tried to wrestle the ascendancy from the upbeat reigning premier who sniffed an improbable come back. A goal to Roofy stopped the rot for Chicago and when Burgmann hauled in another big one handed grab before kicking his sixth, the game was over and wild celebrations started across Chicago. Best On Ground Warrick Burgmann, interviewed after the game praised ‘his’ supporters and his teammates stating “yeeeeess mate, nice one. Happy to be back in the United colors showing both big Al and Ternesy how to mark and kick”. For Milwaukee, the game showed what could have been. They were able to play sustained, attacking football in short bursts but were completely outgunned in their backline as they gave away several inches to Burgmann, Ternes and MacGlashan. The Bomber forward line was starved of quality balls as the suffocating Chicago backline took its toll but their midfield was able to run all day and they always bought numbers to the ball as evidenced in their sensational final term.

Chicago were well below their best but had enough to win the game. Burgmann and MacGlashan were unstoppable up front and after a poor start, Miller, Ehlers, Poncho and Jackson headed an impenetrable defense. The move of Deri Morgan, Roofy and Betty Palmer into the middle was the impetus that created the run that finally got the United team going. All up though, this was a fantastic season for United as they take an undefeated MAAFL season into the Nationals in Louisville, full of confidence.

Results

Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
United 6.0.36 2.3.15 6.2.38 2.2.14 16.7.103
Milwaukee 3.0.18 0.2.2 0.1.1 6.0.36 9.3.57
Goals United: Burgmann (6), MacGlashan (3), Ward (2), Uhlmann, Gambas, Hoyt P, Ambrosino, Ehlers
Milwaukee: None
Best United: Burgmann, MacGlashan, Ehlers, Palmer, Bradley, Jackson, Miller
Milwaukee: None

Rhinos Roar into Metro Grand Final 0

Burgmann Fields, Chicago IL- In a classic tussle between the Rhinos of Wrigleyville and the Piranhas of Lincoln Square, the Rhinos managed to triumph to ensure the privilage of defending their premiership against the Tigers of Lincoln Square.

In a game dominated by the wind, the Rhinos won the toss and kicked with the breeze in the first. Drake threw his big guns up forward in ‘Biggun’ Jackson and a refreshed Scotty McCoombe just off the plane from Oz. The two big men dominated as Panek in the ruck played an outstanding game against Tiny and was able to win several taps giving the dynamic Wolfe first use of the ball. McCoombe’s mark and goal was the games first before a big goal from Jacko set the crowd alight. The Piranhas, fearing a blow out strengthened their backline and double teamed the two big fellas which gave first Funky Miller and then MacGlashan Medal leading Gordo all the ball and space they needed. Through three brilliant snaps, they led the Rhinos into the quarter time break 5. 2: 32 to 0.1: 1 up but the Piranhas were licking their lips as they looked at the wind which had refused to die down and knew their chance was coming.

The Rhinos brought Jackson and Hoyt (B) back to strengthen the backline but all to little avail. Despite time wasting tactics and playing the boundary as oft as possible, the Piranhas were able to surge back through a midfield that had come alive. Deri Morgan and Betty Palmer were marvellous as they ran hard and often through a weakening Rhino line and set up many scoring opportunities for their forwards. In a strange move designed to keep the forward line open, Kastilahn left big guns MacGlashan and Roofy up the ground preffering to rely on Ehlers and an unfit Burgmann who was having a lot of trouble holding onto anything, let alone a football. Brian Hoyt had the better of Ehlers and B.O.G Miller the better of Burgmann but the Rhino backs couldn’t contain holidaying mercenary Paul whose three goals for the quarter were sheer class. The surprisingly quiet Roofy piped up to mark and goal to make it 4 for the quarter as the Piranhas showed they were certainly not a spent force. At the long break, the Rhinos clung to a 5.2: 32 to 4.2: 26 lead.

As in the first, Drake sent ‘Biggun’ Jackson and McCoombe up forward along with Anderson, the brothers Hoyt, Ambrosino and OBK to see if they could break the game open but the Piranhas were to strong and shut the big Rhino game winners down. Goal of the day came off the boot of Biggun as he broke two tackles and snapped truly from 45 out to break the Piranha strangelhold and shake off the determined tag of Poncho for a brief second . OBK marked truly in the goal square but decided to kick it 90 degrees the wrong way to bring up a point before the Piranhas were able to attack and get a great goal off the boot of Ehlers. Minutes late Ehlers, after a diving mark, had the chance to put the Pirnahas up but his shot from 25 out went left and the ensuing kick in found biggun Jackson whose bomb from 50 put the Rhino faithful in a better mood as they went into the orange break 2 goals up, 7. 3: 45 to 5.3: 33.

The last quarter was one of the best quarters in Metro footy history as both teams threw themselves at the ball and gave everything they had. The Rhinos learnt from their mistakes in the second quarter and strengthened their on ball division to quell the Pirnaha danger men of Hayse, Morgan and Palmer. The brothers Hoyt were marvellous down back along with Funky Miller and Toddy McClamroch as the Rhinos repelled forward foray after forward foray. Beau Rogers marked and goaled 10 yards out to bring the game to within a kick and with 3 minutes left, it was still anyones game. The Rhinos attacked and Anderson kicked an important behind (not Al’s!) to make the difference 7 points. In the ensuing time, players from both teams left everything they had out on the field as the Piranhas looked for that elusive goal and the Rhinos tried to stand tall. In the end, Kogs blew time and a relieved Rhino team emerged with a gutsy win. The Piranhas, while bitterly dissapointed, were not left empty handed as they reflected on a marvellous second half of the season that signalled their coming of age. Coming out of nowhere mid season, the Piranhas accounted for the Rhinos twice and lost heartbreakers twice to the Tigers. Their new recruits in Ternes, Monico and Morrisey were wonderful and the play of elder statesmen Ehlers, Deri Morgan and MacGlashan was heartwarming for both DK and the United selectors ahead of the Milwaukee clash proving why Metro football is so important to the future of the game in Chicago.

Results

Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Rhinos 5.2.32 0.0.0 2.1.13 0.1.1 7.4.46
Piranhas 0.1.1 4.1.25 1.1.7 1.0.6 6.3.39
Goals Rhinos: Jackson (3), Ambrosino (2), Miller, McCoombe
Piranhas: Paul (Roofys mate) (3), Ward, Ehlers, Beau
Best Rhinos: Jackson, Ambrosino, Miller, Hoyt P, Wolfe, Panek
Piranhas: Paul (Roofys mate), Morgan D, Kastilan, Palmer
Didn't Smell Like Team Spirit on United's Trip to Seattle

Didn't Smell Like Team Spirit on United's Trip to Seattle 0

Chicago was finally able to snap its 6 year drought and return the MAAFL cup home after an emphatic 46 point win over the Milwaukee Bombers. Bolstered by the return of Warrick Burgmann (6 goals) and inspired by fellow United legend Al MacGlashan (3 goals), the boys from Chicago were to strong for a determined yet undermanned Milwaukee squad.

The conditions for football were perfect. On Chicago’s magnificent lakeshore, with nary a cloud in sight, these two old foes met once again in battle with 14 a side. Chicago struck first through Big Al but the Bombers bit back almost straight away. Chicago found it hard to move the ball with the quick heeled Bombers dominating scrimmages. The play seemed to be all Milwaukee as they ran the ball with ease and put tremendous pressure on the Chicago defense which looked fractured. Seemingly against the play, Gambas was able to goal for Chicago and after a lovely mark, Burgmann put the United boys further ahead as the tall timber up front in MacGlashan, Burgmann and Ternes started to give the Bombers headaches. After two quick goals by Milwaukee, Ehlers goaled followed by a freak goal from MacGlashan that sent the 200 strong crowd into hysterics. Patty Hoyt slipped through a classic crumbers goal on the siren to send United into the first break 6.0: 36 to a very disappointed Milwaukee 3.0: 18 who had done enough to be a lot closer.

The Chicago defense was given a lovely dressing down by their injured coach and they were able to respond in kind with a marvelous second quarter led by club President Drew Ehlers and last gamer ‘Biggun’ Jackson by shutting down Milwaukee. At the other end, Burgmann was able to add another while a free kick to Billy Uhlmann set up Chicago’s second. Chicago still struggled with movement through the middle but the move of Palmer (wing) and Deri Morgan into the center late in the quarter had an instant effect as the two were able to set up several forward thrusts. At the long break, United led 8.3: 51 to the Bombers 3.2: 20

The premiership quarter belonged to Chicago as they could taste their first MAAFL flag in United colors and their first in six years since the barnstorming Swans of 01. Three players, MacGlashan, Frank Bradley and Dan Kastilahn remain from that famous team and each was putting in their best as Chicago slammed on 6 big ones for the quarter. After a quiet first half, big, bustling Roofy was moved into the ruck where he was able to take the game over. He kicked truly to start the Chicago onslaught. Ambrosino kicked truly followed by MacGlashan for his third. Ternes went to the bench and Burgmann to full forward where the boy from Katandra became an irresistable force. He banged on three, all from huge grabs which sent at least 4 girls in the crowd into hysterics. But for some bad kicking, the big fella may have had another three. At the long break, Chicago seemed to have the game in the bag as they led by 68 points 14.5: 89 to a shell shocked Milwaukee 3.3: 21.

Milwaukee went into the final quarter knowing they had only kicked 3 points in the previous 2 quarters of football. 10 minutes after the bounce, they had added 6 straight goals and were on fire as the Chicago midfield collapsed, along with their much vaunted defense. A flurry of activity on the Chicago bench saw Jackson, De Jong, Roofy and an injured Funky Miller thrown back into the game to stem the bleeding out of the middle and down back. The game to and fro-ed as Chicago tried to wrestle the ascendancy from the upbeat reigning premier who sniffed an improbable come back. A goal to Roofy stopped the rot for Chicago and when Burgmann hauled in another big one handed grab before kicking his sixth, the game was over and wild celebrations started across Chicago. Best On Ground Warrick Burgmann, interviewed after the game praised ‘his’ supporters and his teammates stating “yeeeeess mate, nice one. Happy to be back in the United colors showing both big Al and Ternesy how to mark and kick”. For Milwaukee, the game showed what could have been. They were able to play sustained, attacking football in short bursts but were completely outgunned in their backline as they gave away several inches to Burgmann, Ternes and MacGlashan. The Bomber forward line was starved of quality balls as the suffocating Chicago backline took its toll but their midfield was able to run all day and they always bought numbers to the ball as evidenced in their sensational final term.

Chicago were well below their best but had enough to win the game. Burgmann and MacGlashan were unstoppable up front and after a poor start, Miller, Ehlers, Poncho and Jackson headed an impenetrable defense. The move of Deri Morgan, Roofy and Betty Palmer into the middle was the impetus that created the run that finally got the United team going. All up though, this was a fantastic season for United as they take an undefeated MAAFL season into the Nationals in Louisville, full of confidence.

Results

Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
United 6.0.36 2.3.15 6.2.38 2.2.14 16.7.103
Milwaukee 3.0.18 0.2.2 0.1.1 6.0.36 9.3.57
Goals United: Burgmann (6), MacGlashan (3), Ward (2), Uhlmann, Gambas, Hoyt P, Ambrosino, Ehlers
Milwaukee: None
Best United: Burgmann, MacGlashan, Ehlers, Palmer, Bradley, Jackson, Miller
Milwaukee: None

Piranhas Choke on Tiger Pie 0

Football is a heartbreaking and ruthless game at times that doesn’t care who is more or less deserving and so it was Friday night as the Piranhas faced off against a couple of Tigers and a lot of Rhinos in a game that was a must win for the boys from Lincoln Park.

Needing the win to jump the Rhinos on the ladder, the strong Piranha line up came out firing against a Tiger team decimated by injury, departures and god only knows what other calamities. Playing 14’s (very good turn out indeed), from the jump it looked like the Trixies were finally going to defeat their nemesis for the first time in Metro history. Roofy, playing across the half forward line was damaging and threatening to take the Tigers apart single handedly. He kicked his first and only bad kicking from LP prevented them from being further in front. The Tigers were able to hit back late but bad kicking for goal marred their chances to take an unlikely lead into the quarter time break. First quarter, LP led 1.3: 9 to 0.4: 4.

The second quarter mirrored the first with LP getting on top early through both Ternes and Roofy who were marking everything but the score didn’t reflect their dominance. Roofy added two more and Ternes one before Brian Hoyt started to impose his will on the game. He kicked his first before the OBK snagged his first via a classic snap to close the gate on an interesting first half. At the long break, the Pianhas led the Tigers 4.5: 29 to 2.4: 16

Kastilahn urged his Piranhas to go for the throat as they had all the play and had held the Tiger ball movers well. Their forwards were active if inaccurate and the Piranha defence was miserly with DK, Cisco, Byron and MacGlashan all doing the job. On the other hand, a desperate Mustard looked for a spark anywhere and moved Drake away from the suffocating tag of Beau Rogers and onto Ternes and Jez into the middle as well as having new guy Arneau turn up along with game winner Craig Miller.

The third quarter marked a Tiger turn around as they started to run harder and hit harder than the shell shocked Piranhas. Tiger stars Uhlmann and Hoyt were on fire as well as Monico whose form in his first season is nothing short of remarkable. New gun Neil Morrisey started to pick Roofy apart, shutting him out of the game in a great performance by the new fella and all of a sudden the opportunities for the Piranhas started to dry up. Hoyt kicked his second and Uhlmann slammed on another as the Tigers shut out the Piranhas and at the orange break she was a three point game with the fading Piranhas hanging on 4.7: 31 to 4.4: 28.

The last quarter was a cracker with the Piranhas swinging MacGlashan up forward and with no options for the Tigers, he was picked up by Pat Hoyt who was giving away a mere 4 feet and 100 pounds to the big fella but managed to keep him quiet and in the process pick up a couple of kicks and timely marks which further frustrated the Piranha faithful. All of that MacGlashan height and muscle was felt by Morrisey as big Al let the Piranha frustration out with a hit for the ages that left the new fella seeing stars for a few minutes.

Best on ground Brian Hoyt booted his third to put the Tigers in front for the first time but the Piranhas hit back with a fortuitous goal to Ternes after a very deft pass from big Al. The final last frantic minutes were sensational as each teams backline stood tall as the midfields of each team ran themselves silly. The ball finally fell to a crumbing Jezza (playing for Lincoln Square) who after a bit of a duck and weave slammed on the winning goal (on the left boot just quietly) to allow the Tigers to run out 5 point winners, 6.6: 42 to 5.7: 37

A devastated Piranha team watched on as the Tigers marched into the second annual Metro grand final. This was certainly a bitter pill to swallow for a dominant piranha team that should have won this game. The last metro game is a big one indeed as the Piranhas look to rebound from this devastating loss to face the Rhinos in a game that will decide the Tigers opponent in the GF. The piranhas need a handy win while the Rhinos can be satisfied with a win, draw or slight loss although it is obvious they will be looking to put the result beyond doubt as soon as possible in that game. This is the perfect showdown at the business end of the season and all Rhinos and Piranhas are encouraged to turn up.

Results

Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Tigers 0.4.4 2.0.12 2.0.12 2.2.14 6.6.42
Piranhas 1.3.9 3.2.20 0.2.2 1.0.6 5.7.37
Goals Tigers: Hoyt B (3), Uhlmann, Morgan J, OBK
Piranhas: Ward (3), Ternes (2)
Best Tigers: Hoyt B, Uhlmann, Morrisey, Miller, Hoyt P, Brian Monico
Piranhas: Ward, Ternes, Ehlers, Beau, Supernaut, Cisco

The battle of the MacGlashan medal heats up even more as both Hoyt and Roofy join Oscar and Gordo on 13 a piece and with his best on ground performance, Hoyt appears to be a front runner in the Burgmann Medal as well, particularly as the Rhino and Piranha playmakers struggle for consistency.