Breaking The Drought | The Suburban Footballer’s Secret Diaries

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The dreaded drought can come in many forms, but in football, it simply means a run of matches without a victory.

The worst drought I have ever been involved in ran from Round One 2006 to Round Twelve 2010. Almost five years. 84 matches. 1,544 days without once singing our song. If losing is character building, then we had enough character to sink the Titanic. Zero confidence but a shitload of character.

The only positive was that we were no longer concerned about relegation as we could not go any lower. I remember one pre-season we held an intra club practice match and our coach joked that half of us would experience a victory today. It was a fucking draw.

The drought was very nearly broken midway through its third year. I remember the day well. We led the top of the table Oakleigh Districts by 48 points halfway through the final term and it was looking like one of the greatest upsets in football history was about to occur.

And then it happened. The fucking head count. I remember all lining up in the centre of the ground as the umpire counted us. 15, 16, 17, 18. Unfortunately for us, he kept counting. 19, 20, 21, 22. “Please stop” I remember yelling. 23, 24, 25.

We had 25 players on the field. We had two players from the bloody reserves out there. No wonder we were finding it so easy to find a loose man. No wonder our flood was working for the first time in the three years we had been attempting it. It was a dark day for the club.

I remember the day we actually broke it a lot more fondly. We beat 5th place Murrumbeena by a goal. It was pointed out to us that they had their entire senior side and half their two’s side out with food poisoning from a bad batch of chicken parmas after their Thursday night training, but that didn’t stop us from giving them an ear full as they walked off.

I’ll never forget standing in a circle in the rooms and realising that 42-year old club legend Fossil was the only one who knew the words. We instead spontaneously decided to sing ‘Horses’ by Darryl Braithwaite and it will long be remembered as one of the highlights of my career.

We were soon back on the loser’s list, going down the following week by just under 300 points. One of the main reasons the margin was so large was because 12 of our players did not turn up to training all week or the game as they were still on the bender to end all benders celebrating the victory. When they finally did return to the club a month later, the fact that they had all gotten ankle tattoos to remember the game by, showed just how much the win meant to the boys.

Another drought worth mentioning is that held by our club trainer Jeff who legend has it, has gone his entire 68-year life without ever being with a woman. Newcomers to the club are often in disbelief when they are made aware of this 68-year long drought but once they spend just a few minutes with the guy, they soon become believers.

He is one of the creepiest humans I have ever had the displeasure of meeting and the fact that we allow him to rub oil into our skin on a weekly basis is something that just doesn’t sit right with almost the entire playing group. This is a drought that I can’t see being broken any time soon.

PS: Best of luck to Ardmona and Nunawading who are both trying to break their droughts this weekend in Sportsbet’s Battle of the Battlers…you both can’t lose!

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