LAKE NOKOMIS, MN- Billy Uhlmann, Gordon Ambrosino and the big man in Rohan Ward led a red hot Chicago United team into the deep freeze of Minnesota in a game that Chicago desperately needed to win to maintain their strangehold on the MAAFL title for 2009. The Freeze shook United to the core last season and an equally tough game was expected when the United team touched down in Minneapolis and made their way (erroneously) to the banks of the mighty Mississippi to take on the upstarts from the home of the Pillsbury Dough Boy (and you all thought Al was from Corio Bay didn’t ya’s?) and the humble Cheerio…. not to mention Target and of course both Judy Garland and Bob Dylan!!!
The breeze afforded a 2 or 3 goal advantage to the northern end and BJ Gambaro got things underway handsomely by winning the toss and kicking with the it. Ehlers, Ward and MacGlashan were the big boys United would be relying on up front while Gambaro, Bradley and Fitzgerald welcomed back Mustard DeJong to the impressively strong United backline along with Betty Palmer and Brian ‘the shirtless worm got me kicked out’ Hoyt. United brought 25 boys up but Oscar Meyer was a late withdrawal that worried the coaching staff as his goal kicking ability (and pace) would be sorely missed.
United were out of the blocks first and constantly attacked Becker and the Freeze backline as they searched for the first. Minnesota hung on gallantly and continued to thwart the United forwards who were certainly not starved of opportunity but the delivery to them was not up to their liking. Deehan, Bashford and big Stace were hot in the middle and the wingers in Uhlmann and Hayse provided plenty of spark and it wasn’t long until Ward started to put his 4 fingered stamp on the game by taking a grab about 60 out and banging long to where MacGlashan was able to get his impressively big posterior into perfect position to keep his opponent out of a contest in the square and took a nice grab. Not wanting to risk a set shot dead in front and possible ridicule, big Al played on with the speed of a hypnotised gazelle tricked into thinking itself a tortoise and banged home United’s first of the quarter. United continued to attack but bad kicking for goal and desperate defence by the Freeze kept them out and at the first break, Minnesota had the upper hand despite not troubling the scoreboard attendant going in 1.5: 11 to 0.0: 0 down but about to kick with a handy breeze.
The United coaching staff looked at the positives including all them having all the play and then moved MacGlashan to a spare man in defence hoping he could dominate the air and stem the onslaught that was sure to come. United asked their middlemen in Rocky Deehan, Deri Morgan, Paul Drake and Stacey Elmore to step up to the plate and pressure the Freeze runners and win the ball out of the center as this has been an area of concern but for once they answered in kind, even after the loss of legend Rod Bashford to a knee strain early in the game. Elmore, giving away 6 inches and about 100 lbs was particularly impressive as he repeatedly won tap outs giving his runners all the ball they needed. With Al down back, the United forward line opened up and it was new dad Roofy Ward that took full advantage taking several telling marks before the recently parolled Anthony Sacco, fresh from his starring role in the Melbourne Underground hit “Underbelly” was able to go Daicos and soccered a ripper through to bring up Uniteds second which was all the more important as it showed scoring into the wind was not impossible.
The Freeze were able to bring their first up as they started to settle down and play some good footy but it was all Chicago from there on in. The run from the backs, especially Mustard, Poncho, Hoyt and Fitzgerald was fantastic and they singlehandedly turned the game as the Freeze struggled to control all the spare men around the ground this set up. Drew Ehlers was able to continue his Phoenix like return to the pinnacle of Australian Football in the Midwest with a nice grab and goal into the wind. Billy Uhlmann had the ball on a string and when he exploded out of the midfield and hit big Roofy on the left tit, it was all Roofy had to do to go back and slot through his first of the afternoon. A season defining quarter of football came to an end as a completely shellshocked Minnesota trudged from the field and big Becks looked around for answers. United had the tail up and Drake went straight for the Freeze jugular moving MacGlashan to center half forward and Roofy to full forward with strict, simple, Ditka type instruction to his charges “get the fu*&ing thing and kick the fu*&ing thing as long as you fu*&ing can and let the big bastards do their thing”. At the half, United by 23 points 4.5: 29 to 1.0: 6
Rocky Deehan continued his impressive metamorphis from Rugby god to Australin Football legend as the Xavier prodigy produced a shirt front that Brian Urlacher himself would’ve been happy with before going back after the Sherrin and coming up with the free kick, inspiring his teammates and scaring a few at the same time. The flying Almond in Billy Uhlmann opened up the United floodgates after a clever mark was met with a clip behind the ears that netted him 50m and a certain goal. Deri Morgan was also on fire in the middle as Stace continued his good work and the United backs became mere spectators. Dougie Fresh came on to have an instant impact and I could go on forever but the backing up, numbers to the ball, sharing the ball etc etc was a wonderful thing to behold as the United threatened to blow the game apart. Roofy took a grab on the run after Drake marked at center half back and his Burgmann like bomb sailed through from 60 yards out. Dave Worniak, with his stunning wife on the sidelines guarding his stash of 48 cold Miller Lites got amongst the action with a smart goal from about 20 yards out. Roofy then decided he’d go ahead and kick his fourth for the afternoon as Oscars fingers started to show fatigue as he tweetered for his life, keeping the huge Chicago fan base back in the Windy city up to date. When it looked like it had all been done, Ambrosino decided to chase down and smother a seemingly free Freeze defender in what was possibly play of the game but alas, that may have even been improved on when Brian Hoyt took off from the backline with a smart pass to hayse. Hayse held the ball and handballed inboard to a runaway freight train that turned out to be Hoyt following his kick up (it took 5 years of coaching and yelling but by god, we got there!!!) and he kicked, Jimmy Jess like into the forwards. At the orange break, a very happy United team led 9.11: 65 to Minn 1.0: 6
MacGlashan went into the ruck to replace an injured Stace whose next to best on ground heroics was the impetus for the win and the strong showing from the United midfielders. Kastilahn was welcomed back into United colors as he took his place in the middle and in the famous red, white and black for the first time in a long time. His impact was immediate as MacGlashan won the tap, DK took hold, dodged one and found Drake with a handball that put the coach into space and he went bang with a ball that found that man again, Rohan Ward who marked strongly. He calmly went back and went BANG for Chicagos 10th as they continued to apply the pressure. Ambrosino set the crowd alight again after chasing down a lost Freeze defender and in a damning tackle, laid him out and received his just rewards with a holding the ball decision. His kick into the big boys saw the ball bounce to Stace who soccered off the ground bringing up his first meaning Chicago now had 10 separate goal kickers.
The Freeze, to their credit, never gave up in the face of wave after wave of United attacks and their perseverance mixed with some poor manning up led Minnesota to get a couple of late ones to put some respectability on the board as the final siren blew mercifully in the afternoon breeze, echoing a magnificent Chicago win in which all players had a hand in. After a magnificent team effort, Chicago eventually ran out winners by 56 points. Next up is a possible match up with UsFooty ranked number 1 team the Eagles of Baltimore.
United: Ward (5), Worniak, Uhlmann, Sacco, MacGlashan, Ehlers, Elmore
United: Ward, Uhlmann, Sacco, MacGlashan, Hoyt B, Ambrosino
Paul Drake (leaving Billy… BOG… at the airport before the game and then trying to blame his missus)
BEST BAR IN MIDWEST:
Brits! I reckon we go up when the Sox play the Twins next just to go to Brits and get some decent fish n chips!