Dateline 21 November
Location Upstairs Weston ICA
With the season only 32 overs away from completion, the Famulee rolled up for the annual end of season presentation extravaganza. With the game scheduled for an 8:10pm start, 40 minutes would be heaps of time to complete presentation - as long as Sticks wasn't organising food. So the Famulee decided to keep John the barwench busy and knock off a few beers and sit back for the first ever live reading of the Houndstooth votes - Brownlow style.
Schlangy posted a scoreboard and doing his best Wayne Jackson impersonation, read out the votes starting from Round 1 that year. It quickly turned into a two horse race between Big Bird and reigning Houndstooth winner, Sticks. Schlang, Gadj and No Look were the only threats, but with Rounds 16 to 21 still to be counted it was Big Al in front of Sticks by a single point.
Round 16 saw Sticks claim the 3 points and ironically it was Redeye scoring her first 'tooth points (2 more than WaWa) for the Famulee, and relegated Big Al to the one vote. Round 17 saw Sticks tie for a point with the Great Man (WaWa) as Stewie "Arrrgghhh me shoulder" Dunn took the 3 points and Gadj claimed two and Big Al just missed out and Sticks was up by two votes.
Round 18 saw Sticks take out the 3 points as Al again missed out with Inzy and Schlang taking the remaining points. With a 5 point lead, DB was heard to proclaim the dreaded words "surely he can't lose it from here" which have heralded the death of many a seemingly matchwinning lead. And sure enough Round 19 saw Big Al return for a best on performance and 3 points as Sticks claimed the two points to remain four in front.
There was only two rounds remaining - and the games for last weeks final which had seen Sticks in career worst form. The last two rounds saw the International Man of Mystery (Mojo) and No Look claim the 3 points in each game as Al was only able to claim one point.
Sticks had retained the Houndstooth and was elated - and the crowd roundly booed him in true Famulee style as the jacket was again presented.
The beers kept flowing as Schlangy proceeded to hand out the achievement awards for the Famulee. These certificates have become widely sought after, and will be going straight to the pool room of many a Famulee member, with the exception of DB who was heard to exclaim, "i'm burning this thing". Ahhhh DB if only you realised that meant we would be printing 50 copies and posting them round the nightclubs in Civic!
Schlang once again did a sensational job of the certificates, even if he was barely able to fight off tears of emotion (or was that laughter) while presenting Gadj with his "Eye's of a Mole" award.
The Grand Final team had been decided with the remaining original six founding members selected, minus WaWa who was advised by his doctor (Dr Nick from the Simpsons) that he had ruptured his calf tendon the week before. The Great Man took this on the chin, and when Gadj asked for a prematch speech, WaWa urged his teammates on with an inspirational pre-match speech of "Fark off ya bastards". The Famulee were gee'ed up (i.e. the beers kept coming) before suddenly we were rudely interrupted by Adam the umpy saying we had to play a game of some sort.
Apparently the opposition had decided there wouldn't be a toss and they would bat first as they were one short. "Not farking likely" replied skipper Gadj as he proceeded to the coin toss and promptly won it, sending Sticks and Herschelle into bat first and the Gheckoblaster was fired up as they strode to the wicket. The pair had barely batted together before, but set about destroying the oppositions morale with a great opening partnership.
Sticks registered the first zak of the game and followed it up with a fly by of the back net to dish out high fives to the massive crowd assembled. He then followed this up by again swinging like a rusty gate and being knocked over middle stump - no high fives this time! Herschelle meanwhile batted like a man possessed and never looked in trouble and worked the side nets beautifully, not once offering a chance. The pair came from the field with an extraordinary 52 runs to their name. Gadj hailed his great captaincy as the rest of the Famulee inhaled their beers.
Schlangy and Herc were up next and set about consolidating on the good start. Herc provided some fodder for the many digital cameras that were about, getting knocked over middle stump. The boys struggled early, but worked the ball beautifully to come from the field with a solid 21 partnership of runs and also soaked up the pressure of the desparate bowling changes that were coming thick and fast. The thuds from the opposition dummy spits were resounding and almost deafening!
The wrecking crew was up next with the big boys coming out - No Look and Big Bird strode to the crease, intent on causing grevious harm on the oppositions bowling figures. Big Al almost knocked out a couple of spectators behind the back net, with a zak that would have vanished out of two MCGs. No Look was also not to be denied and took full advantage of the fieldsman at the back net, who was escorting more balls to the boundary than a Pakistani cricketer.
The boys also provided the batting highlight of the night as Big Al faced up. Weary from hitting tripe to all corners of the park, the big man missed one that went straight thru him. No Look yelled "NOOOO!" but as the keeper fumbled to regather the ball, Big Bird started to take a few steps down the pitch. No Look calmly regained his ground as Al looked up and saw that he was in strife. He turned just in time to see his bails removed in a classic Famulee mix up! At the end of the over he said to No Loko "Sorry man, I thought you said "GO!!!" Despite this the big guns came from the field with a tremendous 41 runs to their names and the total was looking healthy on 117.
Gadj and Inzy were up next to round off the Famulees innings. Inzy, the elder statesman of this motley crew, held up his end beautifully, throttling the opposition bowling without giving them a sniff of a wicket. Gadj meanwhile struggled early with his new gogs, before latching onto one and zakking it further than Als. The boys simply would not be denied, and the opposition could sense the match was turning - they had started to bark as well as spit dummys at each other, and were not happy... probably not helped by the Famulee roaring with laughter behind the back net every time they screwed up!
The Famulee assembled behind the back net had started to realise (through slightly beer addled brains) that a fairly decent score was being registered. The skipper and the crafty veteran came from the field with a briyyant total of 37 runs to their name, and the final total was 154 on the board - at a run rate of almost 10 runs an over.
Could the Famulee defend 154 runs? Could the unthinkable happen and the Famulee somehow pull out a victory? Carry over chump and skipper Gadj pulled on the wig and urged his troops on reminding them of WaWas words and saying "if we are ever going to win a GF, it's going to have to be tonight!"
The opposition sent out their cannons first in an attempt to reduce the Famulees total. And they were pretty damn succesful too - the first ball of the innings from No Look, almost vanished back into his ankle and forcing the big man into an impersonation of WaWas flapping wing from the week before. Despite the fact that you could see the stitches of the ball in his ankle 20 seconds later he was doomed to wear the wig next! After four overs the score was 56 to Any Windows. The Famulees heads were down, until a fired up (and now wig bearing) No Look reminded them that the rest of the batting to come was... well not as good as the first pair!
The next pair proved that right as wickets began to tumble. The Famulee were throwing themselves at everything in the field, with Inzy and Big Bird taking some stunning reflex catches. Inzys in particular almost went through his stomach and came out his back. The runout attempts started hitting the stumps even if Adam was watching the other game at the time. Hersch was denied time and again by bodgy runout decisions which when reviewed on camera afterwards were definately gone!!!
Thanks to sensational bowling from Inzy and Schlang, after 8 overs the score was 91, and the huge pro-Famulee crowd could sense a tight match unfolding. The next pair proceeded to grind away at the total as the Famulee continued their efforts in the field - some being assisted with swigs of beer in between overs.
After 12 overs and great bowling from Gadj and Herc, the score was 114 and everyone was on the edge of their seats. DB had gone, so we didn't have to worry about the "surely they couldn't lose it from here" factor, but it was going to be tight none the less! 39 runs or less would spell victory, while 41 runs would spell disaster for the Famulee.
With ten runs an over required, the final four overs saw some superd bowling from Schlangy and incredible fielding from Big Al. Twice he plucked the ball out of midair as it headed towards the back net for crucial catches that changed the context of the game.
The last over commenced and Gadj had saved himself for this moment of glory. With the score on 136 and approximately 8 balls to come, he sent the first ball way down legside. Yep we'll have that again was the call from the batsmen, and the next ball saw a shot travel through the field to the back net. Bugger was the call from the bowling end, as the lead dropped to 13 runs. The next five balls conceded 7 runs as twos and singles were worked, as the fielders closed around the batsmen to reduce their scoring. The bad guys now only needed 6 runs for victory.
Then it happened - another legside wide from Gadj and a strange hush fell over the crowd... with the exception of a few choice F words (i.e. Fine!) being rattled off in the grandstand. Ohh gee, yes please we'll have that again was the call and with approximately two balls remaining, the margin was only 4 runs.
The crowd was hushed and on the edge of their seats. The opposition were cheering and huddled together at the back net, urging their batsmen on, as Gadj approached again. It was short and wide, when suddenly the batsmen hooked it hard into the nets. It lobbed off the net between Schlang and Herc as the batsmen took off. Sticks and Hersch set off from the other side of the court after it as it floated slowly towards the safety of the turf. The pitch was a mad scramble as batsmen and fielders were going every which way as the ball dropped closer to safety. Sticks was closing fast, but the ball was dropping faster - until one last desperate lunge saw his fingers slide underneath the ball, and take what will forever be known in Famulee folklore as "The Catch".
The crowd erupted and the oncourt celebrations began - Sticks launching himself off the side net and putting his elbow straight back into Schlangys jaw. The rest of the Famulee mobbed him as the crowd, fuelled by numerous beers and led by the Great Man, went absolutely beserk behind the back net! The opposition were shattered - nothing but silence from their team huddle, which had been jubilant only one ball beforehand. They now needed 9 runs off the (approximately) last ball of the innings, and surely Gadj couldn't bowl another wide.... could he???
Thankfully he delivered it safely and the celebrations began in earnest. The oncourt Famulee embraced and began jumping up and down singing about 15 different victory songs at once, until the circle collapsed and down they went, still yelling and carrying on like they'd won the World Cup. And so they should have too, as they won their third consecutive cliffhanger final and first Premiership and established themselves as a superpower of D Grade Open at Weston ICA.
The shaking of hands was done before the high fives to the crowd were dished out, and the celebrations were quickly shifted upstairs. Tony Blardyfarken grudgingly handed over the premiership trophies to the Famulee and Sticks won Player of the Finals - apparently the two finals the week before didn't count in actually determining Player of the Finals, and as Mojo summed up perfectly "Ahhhh you take one bloody catch...!"
The photos continued as more beer came out and the pizzas were duly inhaled. Then it was time for another one of Bawdys speeshal jokes. "No No, this time time it will be good - i've got props" she proclaimed. The crowd were soon disapointed though however, when it turned out to be another marathon which everyone had already heard anyway. It was encouraging though that some of the other teams joined the Famulee in heckling the wig wearing joke teller. Bec followed this up by asking what the "chicken things" on the website were... No Look was relived that he was not the only dud to have blurted this out.
Joke finished, it was time to recount more stories, jokes and the usual bar banter while watching the final for the grade below ours in which one team was wearing hospital gowns. Amongst the numerous classic calls to emerge, was Mojos to Bec as she was heading for the bar. "How many should I get?" Bec asked, to which Mojo replied "Err on the side of too many!"
John the barwench was kept busy as the empties piled up around the Famulee. Mojo also kept himself busy knocking off cold pizza that another team had left half an hour ago, and a very pissy WaWa helped himself to a runners up trophy that got left behind! He also came up with a classic call to a batsman that played a very WaWaesque air shot in the game below. "Arrrgggghhhhhh ya farken spasszthtic" he proclaimed much to the amusement of all gathered around. The great man followed this up by barking something at Waz along the lines of "ahhhh ya bastard blardy nicknamerererer!" whichagain brought laughter from all assembled.
The slighter shitter than us game finished and Tony Blardyfarken came up to make the presentation for their grade. The almost riotous Famulee were not keen on moving out of their way though, until the bribe of two extra pizzas was forthcoming - these also disappeared in a feeding frenzy, and still the beers kept rolling out.
Gradually the crowd began to thin, as some of the Famulee and their sensational supporters vanished into the night. WaWa made it as far as the car, then as far as two blocks away, before realising he was "No blardy good" (something we could have told him 12 months ago!) He crawled into the back of his car for a quick nap two blocks from Weston ICA... only to awaken at 4am and complete his journey home looking and feeling very second hand.
A few Famulee members would probably still be there if it wasn't for the ugly lights being turned off at about 12:30am. It was only then that the last (and very pissy) Famulee members would leave the scene of perhaps the greatest victory ever seen in a Weston ICA, D Grade Open Grand Final involving the Partridge Famulee.
The aftermath of the Grand Final was severe though, with many a sore head being reported, and various hangovers rating from 1 to 3.5 on the Hangover scale. Quote of the day came from a very seedy Mojo who while struggling through the early morning reported "A ham, cheese and tomato toasted sandwich just saved my life".
So the Famulee look forward to another season were again true mediocrity will prevail. The new "net worth" selection policy for finals should also make for some traditional Famulee self centred efforts which is to be encouraged and should be a late season highlight.
Congratulations Famulee on what is hopefully the beginning of a long reign at the top! Congrats to all players in the grannie, and a big thanks and sloppy kiss to all those who came and supported us, as well as those who donned the Hawaiian in what will forever now be known as "The Premiership Year"!
Yours in premiership glory!!!