Hamburg’s final game of the regular season – home against Berlin – loomed an interesting challenge.
Sitting proudly and stedfast atop the AFL G ladder heading into the encounter, there appeared little other than pride for the Dockers to play for. Nothing could alter the club’s position and honour was the result’s sole rider.
But opportunities to enter a finals campaign undefeated are rare and few would argue against the idea that this current Dockers line-up deserves to sit alongside the 1948 Bradman-led Invincibles as one of Australia’s greatest international sporting achievements.
A training celebration mishap sidelined coach Pete Richter but the league’s most damaging left-footer offered his players a few stern words: Hamburg was to start full of fire and attack Berlin from the outset.
So “Mad Dog” M Gauding headbutted the turf during the warm up.
The Fremantle Docker was blowing strong and it was clear there would be a scoring end, but nevertheless it was with some trepidation that Harry Thring managed to snare a steadier before the opening break after a lucky 30m penalty put him within range. The core midfield unit of Half Time “Donkey” Clarkson, C Woodward and P Evermann were winning enough of the ball and their delivery into the forward line was exquisite in the second term. If only the forwards were able to finish the work…
S Gilbert – hot on the heels of Croc Josh in the race for the Coleman – missed an early attempt and it was a miss that proved expensive. Confidence is contagious, the same goes the other way.
Thring missed the next set shot…then another…then another… it became ridiculous. Eventually May decided to simply bi-pass the forward line and convert off his own boot – not a bad tactic actually…a much better idea than trying to switch across defensive 50 into the wind and directly into the path of the competition’s most prolific goal scorer. Harry Wyatt also tried his hand at that tactic – it didn’t work either (2 of Berlin’s 5 goals right there).
The Crocs were throwing everything they had at the contest and although their good players managed to use the ball well out of the contest and when given the opportunity, the foundation of Hamburg’s success comes from its grunt players. While they might not draw the spot light as much as a Gilbert or Nauman – guys like Gill and G-Train were working tirelessly to keep the home side in the hunt.
At three quarter time the feeling amongst the group was that although they had strung together exceptional passages of play, there remained work to be done to hold onto that unbeaten record.
Levi’s electrical tape was beginning to peel away from his knee but kicking with the aid of a stiff breeze in the final term the Dockers managed to run out 5-goal winners…
– An Interested Observer
*The Hamburg Dockers would like to formally apologise to September Bar for the decibel level later on Saturday night.
** The Interested Observer would like to formally apologise for the delayed posting of this current edition. The heart-warming celebration of Sean Gilbert’s 30th birthday party eventually lead to several days of soul searching. To observe a team stick together until the early hours is both exhilarating and draining. The highs are high…the lows are…well…they’re awful. (Mic drop)