The Masters competition has continued to grow under the leadership, drive and vision of Ian Barker. As a consequence the competition has become tougher and the players younger except for those who played with the Unquenchables. We simply get older.
Our team has been nurtured and coached by Octogenarian Bryan Burdett of the straightforward playing mantra,”Don’t kick the f*****g ball!” The team to its credit totally ignored this advice but nevertheless managed to win a handful of games. We had 3 guys in their 60s who regularly played during the season Colin Read, Glenn Hill and Dennis Collard. Brian played a cameo against the Melbourne Chargers and was on the receiving end of the tackle of the day. He bounced back onto his feet and continued playing. On the other had flighty winger Carlo Fogale sustained a foot injury tripping over his own feet and was lost for the second half of the season. It was noted that Fast Eddie once one of our once scorching wingers is now Slow Eddie.
At the recent inaugural Masters Rugby Festival Harry Harrison played 3 games then did his leg. Burdett,80 and Doug Hughes, 76, played their last competitive games and Ross Parker made a comeback but did his hammy 20 metres out thus avoiding shouting a slab. Kevin Tuson was prominent during the day and has become a key member of the Unquenchables backline. Cameo performance were recorded by Andy Ellis, Ross Saunders and Steve Merchant.
Ric Makin played a few games this season and scored a couple of tries with his bustling runs while Dominic Lewis was a strong running centre. Nick Reid, Frank Tuimaka, Andy Munro, Heath Priestly, Francois Darcas, Craig Findlay, Grant Fleet and Ant Bolocca provided our backline with drive we haven’t seen for quite a few seasons. Pete Collins continued to annoy our referees, while Paul Holden and Geoff Reilly provided stability at flyhalf. Steve Solly appeared to get faster each game. Rumours circulated that he was taking substances to improve performance.
Our forwards were our strength with Cam Gardner, Wilf Van Schaaik, Ken Langers, Nico Vlok, Tony Tennent, Chris Swaine, Paul Ramage, Carl Ramage, and Pete Fuller providing stability and drive to the pack. Morne De Villiers had an outstanding season in the forwards demonstrating surprising speed agility for his size. Frankie Tuimaka was always dangerous playing in the centres and the backs. Adrian Hewerdine, a new recruit will be a real asset next year. Stuart Ramsden was slowed down considerably by his growing a full beard. He was more then and adequately covered by Jim Halls, Mick Crowe and Chris Andrews. Grant Mahoney had an outstanding season and seems to get better year by year albeit slower year by year. Kevin Walsh refused to play a game until the grounds were soft. Consequently, he had a very short season.
Short season players due to work commitments or injury were Jay Fernando, Kevin Sandells, Mark Sowden and Chris Pratt.
Special thanks to our tireless President Tilly and Barman Nico. Well done. You have looked after us extremely well through the season and through the whole of the year when we are playing touch.
Mick Headberry Award (over 35) Craig Findlay
Doug McDermott Award (over 45) Francis Darcas
Prick of the Year Kevin Sandells
Jock Strap Kevin Walsh
Bryan Burdett Trophy Nico Vlok
39th 50s tie Paul Holden
2nd 70s tie Dennis Collard
This year the Masters competition went from strength to strength. Power House entered the competition with an abundance of young, skilled and enthusiastic players. Other strong and youthful teams were University and Melbourne. We were competitive against the older teams of the Barbarians and Maroondah Misfits and the young, improving Melbourne Chargers.
This year saw the introduction of representative games which has added another dimension to our competition. There are 2 Old Blacks v Wannabes games. These games are keenly contested and both sides take pride in wearing a representative jumper. There are games against visiting Masters teams and two World over 45 games v Box Hill Unquenchables. There was also a World over 50s game v Box Hil Unquenchables. Cameo performances included Bryan Burdett and Doug Hughes both in their 70s, Martin Roche and Paul Moran both in their 60s, Steve Merchant, Andy Ellis, and Clive Welti in their 50s and Paul Holden. Martin was man of the match. This was our best win of the season U/Qs 27 World 15, a lively changeroom after with lots of tall stories about who set-up who for the tries. It is good to see the cameo “Old Bulls” have not lost their competitive edge.
The Unquenchables is clearly the oldest side in the competition. We regularly have a majority of players over 50 as well as 3regular players over 60. Consistent with recent years whilst we have an abundance of eligible players on paper they never seem to make it to game day. Luckily, with all games played at the one location there is always plenty of players who are willing to help a team which may be struggling to put a team together on game day. This has helped to promote a positive culture of keen competition and fun.
Bryan Burdett, a youthful 79, took the field with Dennis, 69 to celebrate his achievement of 1000 games for the club. The try Dennis scored in the first minute of the game was not a gift but a demonstration that he still has all his skills except that he can only play in slow motion these days.
We recruited some good players but most of them fell by the wayside. There was Disappearing Dominic, a hard running centre from New Zealand, Andy McKeknie from Scotland, Joel Boojers strong running centre from Queensland and Kevin Tuson, a junior parent. Post season we have gained a Yank, Kenny from Denver Colorado and Morne from South Africa. Things are starting to look good for next year.
Russell Roth, our Maori sidestep expert, has been unable to play this year due to illness. We have missed his determined runs down the sideline.
Award winners this year are: Doug McDermott Over 35 Player of the Year, Tony Tennent, The Mick Headberry Trophy for the best player Over 35, Grant Fleet, Jock Strap Award, Paul Holden, Bryan Burdett Trophy, Chris Andrews and Prick of the Year Chris Swaine.
We are lucky to have two loyal sponsors who have supported the Unquenchables year after year. They are Jinda Thai Restaurant in Abbotsford who provide the Man of the Match Award and Stan McHugh, Caledonian Smash Repairs who not only gives us financial support but referees Masters games as well. Stan is a past Unquenchable player who has been a generous sponsor of the club as well as our team.
It was a season beginning with hope and anticipation. Bryan Burdett was positively salivating with excitement while selecting his first run on team for the season’s opening game. Sadly, it was all downhill from there, at an increasingly rapid rate as the season drew to a close. Our summer recruiting guru Stan McHugh guaranteed for months an influx of confirmed successful1XVgrand finalists from the early 2000s. They were going to be the backbone of the team. Of course this has been anticipated every year for the last several seasons. Jack, Spike, Darren Rutene, Big Eddie….they were all going to play Unquenchables. Darren played a couple of games in the 3XV then 2XV and ended up in the 1XV.Big Eddie had a couple of operations before he could make it onto the pitch so his season was stuffed. First run in January at touch Simon Mother blew a calf, Spike did his shoulder, Stan broke his sporran strap and Sarge, another recruit from the past never ever fronted. Meanwhile Jack was busy organising a raffle. They were all out for the season.
We had to rely on our team stalwarts from the previous year. The young recruits from the last two seasons could be relied upon couldn’t they? Huw Edwards had family commitments, Ian Moore had a back operation, Nick Reid and Rich Bristow disappeared and Clinton Capell our half back coached the 3XV. Graeme Featherstone had major knee surgery and Grant Fleet, just when he was hitting his straps in the centres was hospitalised and out of action for most of the season. Gerard Swaine started his own business and was another player from the previous season who was rarely seen.
Francois managed his leg injury through the season and became stronger and more confident with each game he played. Dennis suffered what would be season ending injuries for ordinary players but managed to almost play half the season. Chris Peugot suffered a significant hand injury and was out most of the season.
As usual whatever team was selected never made it onto the pitch. Players who did actually perform were Walshie when he began playing halfway through the season, Fast Eddie, Heath, Carlo, Glenn Hill, Steve Merchant, Nico, and Russell Roth. Cameron Gardner is one player who really improved this season while Colin continued to run sideways with the ball in one hand. Jeff Rielly, Chris Swain, Chris Pratt, Andy Munro, Pete Collins, Mick Crowe, Stu Ramsden, Grant Mahoney and Peter Fuller also made valuable contributions to the team, especially Jeff with the pinpoint accuracy of his strategic kicking. Carl and Paul Ramage played magnificently throughout the season whether they were playing in the forwards or backs.
Clive “Mr Pedantic” Welti refereed more games than he played but when he did play he set the backline on fire.
On paper we had the numbers but on game day Bryan our coach, selector and manager ended up trying to inspire a handful of players who could actually make it to the ground in time.
We travelled to Canberra to Play the Canberra Vets and played them again at Box Hill. We won both matches. Our touring team to the Cambodia 10s in Phnom Penh resulted in us finishing last in the competition.
Of course there is always next year……
Awards Jock Strap: Chris Swain, Doug McDermott Trophy: Paul Ramage, Mick Headberry Trophy: Jeff Rielly, Prick of the Year: Cam Gardner, Bryan Burdett Trophy: Steve Merchant.
Last season was a watershed year. This season is the season we came back from the brink as a competition. With last year’s competition starting there were just two teams, Box Hill and Maroonda. Endeavour Hills after a few games also came on board. We all wondered what would happen this year. University, Melbourne Chargers and Melbourne returned to the field. In addition, Endeavour Hills and Eltham combined to become the Barbarians. We now had a six team competition.
Box Hill player numbers looked good until Clint Capell defected to the seniors, Nick Reid was unavailable and Graeme Featherstone surrendered to wear and tear injuries. To make matters worse the Unquenchables travelled to Canberra to play the ACT Vets which resulted in Ant Balocca and Francois Darcas sustaining season ending injuries. This also happened with Fast Eddie. The result was that we were down six players with the season only just started. We had cameo appearances from Kevin Sandells, Pommie Paul, Clive Welti (often refereed), Steve merchant and Nico Vlok.
Nevertheless it was a successful and highly enjoyable season. We hosted the ACT Vets in a return match which may become an annual event. The Ramage brothers Carl and Paul were outstanding as were Richard Bristow. Russ Roth, Carlo Fogale, Huw Edwards, Gerard Swaine and Chis Swaine. Unquenchable stalwarts, Kevin Walsh, Glenn Hill, Pete the Navigator, Dennis Collard, Geoff Rielly, Stu Ramsden, Colin Read, Mick Crowe, Peter Fuller and Ian Moore(when he wasn’t injured).
We hit our peak at Melbourne playing the Barbarians with five tries scored in the first half. Jono in his only game this year combined with Gerard in the centres. They were creative in attack and punishing in defence. The second half saw another two tries scored and at least four forward passes called which would have resulted in trys. All in all it was a memorable game. Our games were always hard fought and keenly contested with Maroondah.
At the Annual Unquenchables dinner Huw Edwards won the Mick Headberry Award for best player, Andy Munro, Prick of the Year, Carlo Fogale the Jockstrap and Dennis Collard the Doug McDermott trophy. He is still trying to work out why. It must have been because of his unbelievable try against the Barbarians when he outsprinted the other 29 players to score under the posts after selling a superb dummy to run at least sixty metres. Bryan Brudett was awarded a special trophy donated by the Ramage brothers in recognition of Grumpy’s dedication and whole sale commitment to the Unquenchables. We are still however trying to work out why Chris Pratt started this year on the wing and ended up in the second row. Bryan made some unbelievable selection decisions and coupled with the strategy “don’t kick the f&#@*^g ball” ensured all players showed their talents to their very best.
On a sad note, Scott McGowan just three weeks after returning from our Old Boys Competition in Phnom Penh, Cambodia passed away playing touch at the club with his fellow team mates. He will never be forgotten.
Lots of authors over the years!