Chicago, IL- On a cold day in the windy city where the mercury worked hard to reach 70, Chicago United hosted the MAAFL’s up and comers in the Columbus Jackaroos in a game that would effectively decide this season MAAFL title. Both teams come into the game undefeated and Columbus was coming off what is by far their biggest win defeating the Roos of Nashville. Chicago had the experience and height, Columbus was an unknown entity with plenty of energy looking to upstage their highly fancied rivals.
Chicago captain BJ Gambaro won the toss and elected to kick with a 2 or 3 goal breeze to the Belmont end and umpires Hendrie and MacGlashan got things underway in front of a handy crowd of around 50 brave souls who expected a lovely day in the August sun but were treated to a November day instead (least the beer stayed cold!). From the outset the Jackaroos dropped two men back to counter big Roofy Ward and manned him up with his long lost cousin Robbie Ward and that battle of the two Wards was an enthralling part of the game all day. The Jackaroos elected, very wisely, to go with 18’s after bringing an impressive squad of 25 up to the small Waveland Field. Like downtown real estate, space was at a premium and it was a very intense first quarter as Chicago tried to impose its will on the game but the tackling, harassing and conviction of the Columbus upstarts proved quite formidable indeed. Despite controlling the play, Chicago was unable to break the Columbus defense and against the play, Columbus was able to bring up the games first major after a nice mark in the goal square. Another huge battle was going on in the ruck as Brad Dailey for Columbus gave everything against his two taller opponents in Stacey Elmore and Joey Trimberger who was playing his first MAAFL game. Chicago continued attacking but was constantly denied by Columbus and it wasn’t until the end of the quarter that Chicago’s Anthony Sacco was able to mark and pierce the two big ones with a lovely kick from 40 out on a tight angle. At quarter time, Chicago led a gallant Columbus 1.2: 8 to 1.0: 6 and it was a very worried Chicago leadership team that went looking for answers. Columbus had managed to get plenty of the ball and wasn’t letting Chicago dictate the play and had almost shut them out after kicking with a handy breeze.
The second quarter continued much like the first with some tough, classic football being played by both teams. Columbus had the breeze but the Chicago defense, led by Gambaro and Forte were too strong. Both Herrmann and Scher were playing their first MAAFL games and revelling in their assignments down back and as the defense started to click, so did the Chicago game plan and with both Ryan Hayse and Billy Uhlmann on the wings starting to get a lot of the ball, Chicago started to look the better team with some very effective running and that is what set up Sacco whose mark and goal brought up number two for him. Minutes later Forte found Drake in the middle and his pass found Roofy Ward who had finally got a step on the Columbus Ward and from 40 out Roofy went back and delivered the goods and all of a sudden Chicago shot out to an 18 point lead. Columbus though, were not about to drive 5 hours up the I-65 just to lie down and they hit back with another goal before half time, making the difference at the long break a close 12 points and setting the scene for a massive second half. At the half, Chicago led 3.6: 24 to Columbus 2.0: 12
On the Chicago bench the coaches looked for answers to the close checking of their forwards and mid fielders and the intense pressure Columbus were putting on the ball carriers creating many skill errors. Ward went to full forward and Ehlers, who was playing a great game came out to center half forward to crash a few packs and challenge the free reign Columbus had been getting off their half back line. Chicago started the second half kicking with what was now a slight breeze offering no real advantage but it was they that started to control the game as their defense took a stranglehold over the game. The run created from Forte, Scher, Gambaro, Rory, Herrmann and Palmer was marvelous and with the amount of ball the forwards were getting it wasn’t long until the Columbus backs were stretched to breaking point. Roofy Ward opened up proceedings with a lovely mark and goal and backed that up with his third for the game minutes later after taking a big grab after Drake hit him again with a bomb from the wing. Oscar Meyer came off the bench and it was his fresh legs that provided a much needed spark and he started getting a ton of the ball. Meyer was able to take a nice grab and played on around the flank and with an Oscar Meyer special, slotted Chicago’s third for the quarter. Meyer continued to dominate up forward and if he had have kicked straight, could have blown the game apart but alas, his 1 goal 5 contribution and Warrick Capper looks merely got him the golden goose award. At the orange break, Chicago had shot out to a 32 point lead 6. 9: 45 to 2.1: 13
The final quarter saw the Chicago engine really start to purr as they had winners all over the ground. Rocky Deehan was playing his best game and winning plenty of ball in the middle as his ruckmen in both Trimberger and Elmore matched up beautifully together. With the Chicago runners in Hayse, Herrmann, Blundell, Uhlmann and Ambrosino getting more space as the Columbus defenders tired, the United started to run away with the game. Ambrosino kicked the first of the quarter and then Timmy Herrmann celebrated his great first up game with a goal of his own before big, bad Roofy Ward finished off the Jackaroos with another two from set shots including a ripper from the boundary line that got the crowd going. Columbus continued to defy the United though and hung on gallantly against some big odds and they were still able to go forward often but the great wall of Gambaro stood them down each time. At the final siren, Chicago had put a stranglehold on the MAAFL title as they ran out 58 point winners over a very dogged and impressive Jackaroos team.
|United: Ward (5), Sacco (2), Ambrosino, Meyer, Hermann
|United: Hermann, Uhlmann, Deehan, Hayes, Gambaro, Forte
Oscar “the Wiz” Meyer