Berwick Uses Darwin Connection To Seek A Mcvictory
Wednesday April 23, 2008
The Wickers of Berwick are flying in the face of country footy orthodoxy.IN RECENT years, it has become common for Victorian country clubs to recruit from Darwin. Our footy season is played in their off-season. It has also become common for country clubs to encourage players to prepare for matches as best as possible, following the lead set by AFL players.At Berwick, on Melbourne's south-eastern fringe, both these recent conventions have been overturned. While the Wickers have again recruited half-a-dozen players from Darwin, they have had to find accommodation for only three. The other three fly in from Darwin every week, courtesy of $140 return flights on Tiger Airways.One of the three, James Puautjimi, was booked to fly down last Thursday, only to become stuck on the Tiwi Islands because of a family funeral. The 19-year-old finally managed to get on a flight from the islands to Darwin on Friday and board a flight from Darwin to Melbourne at 2am on Saturday.Berwick president Peter Jensen was at Melbourne Airport to pick up Puautjimi about six hours later. On arrival in Berwick, the indigenous teenager had one request: McDonald's.By the time he pulled on his boots to play at 2pm, his preparation had entailed an overnight flight on which he had slept not a wink and a McMuffin Meal Deal, no glucose supplement required.He then ignited the Berwick crowd, just as he had in his first match. He made several scintillating runs, flashed his gleaming teeth, kicked a couple of goals, and then headed back to his island home, 60 kilometres north of Darwin.Berwick's other Darwin recruits include Mark McLean, the son of former Footscray and Brisbane defender Michael, and Ben AhMat, brother of former Sydney forward Robbie. The club is coached by former Geelong star Ronnie Burns.Even with such an array of guns, Berwick has failed to crack a win. In the first round, against Beaconsfield, it lost when former Collingwood forward Andrew Williams kicked a goal just before the siren to give his team victory by five points.Last week, Hampton Park's playing coach, Josh Taylor, took a mark on the siren and kicked a goal to give his team victory by two points.Berwick this week plays Narre Warren. They could do worse than buy McMuffin deals for the entire team and see how they go.Not all northern recruits are from Darwin. Some are from Queensland, such as Robinvale's new playing-coach Tim Moncur. His father, Danny, made a rugged impression in the Sunraysia league as playing-coach at Mildura and Merbein 30 years ago. Tim, a well-spoken teacher, is not particularly renowned as a chip off the old block, but you mightn't have thought that last Saturday.Tim, a 190-centimetre ruckman, was playing against Mildura when he ran into his cousin, Jarrod Alderton. Alderton emerged with a black eye, while Moncur was reported for striking. He faced the tribunal and was let off the charge. His cousin probably wishes he would go back to Queensland.