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United Repeated 0

In a season that started as badly as possible for the boys from Chicago, it matter nought as they barnstormed their way to consecutive MAAFL championships on the back of a strangling defence, great gmae plan and quick, energetic wingers and on ballers.

Way back in April, the United made their way down below the Mason Dixon to take on arch nemesis Nashville. With snow on the ground well into March, Chicago went in very underdone and paid the price with a ferocious opening term by the Roo boys who booted 7 goals to one and despite Chicago’s best efforts, were able to control the game until the end giving the reigning champs a classic wake up call and sending them back to Chicago with tail very much between their legs and facing old foe St Louis at home. Big Wazza Burgmann kicked a lazy 3 and Mustard De Jong tried his best along with Uhlmann and Hoyt but their resistance wasn’t enough.

Sarbacker and the Blues made the trip up the I55 in what is always a classic game. United had shelled out the big $$$ to recruit American legend BJ Gambaro and his first game in the Red, Black and White was a classic as he, Funky Miller and Poncho Bradley suffocated the Blue forwards. Drake moved himself forward in the last quarter and he, along with Uhlmann, Oscar Meyer, Dougie Fresh and Haysie broke the game apart with a 9 goal last quarter. The bad news following this game was the season ending injuries to Wazza (brain), Mustard (knee) and Pat Hoyt (knee) that put a big dent in the United line up.

The Ohio Vally team visited the shores of Lake Michigan next and a comfortable 6 goal win was brought about by the emergence of Brian Hoyt who snagged 7 big ones to set female hearts racing throughout the Chicago Metro area. The mercurial forward improved his form later that night as the worm made it’s first (and thankfully, not only) appearance of the season and even more female hearts crumbled as the “I like Brian” T-Shirt came off illuminating Bozo in all his glory. The Ohio Valley game signalled a resurgance though as the United team finally started to click as United guns in Roofy, the ever Dangerous Dave Allen and Mr Dependable, Poncho Bradley hit their strides ahead of the two remaining matches.

Chicago put on a rainy, windy, dreadful day to welcome the Freeze as they invaded our fair city. Scoring was hard but in one of the toughest games for a long time, where men threw themselves at the ball and each other (always fair and in the spirit of the game though), Chicago came out 7 points on top and with that thrilling victory and Milwaukees defeat of Nashville, all was slowly falling into place for the United lads. Uhlmann again was magnificent taking one of the seasons best grabs in the wet. Dave Allen continued to be a dangerous threat to the opposition and the continued good form of Hayse and Brennan was heart warming for the hierachy at Burgmann Towers. Other notables were the first gamers in Isadore, Casanovas, Dhoory, Stace and Pace with all representing the future of the club.

The finale to the season was delayed as the 90 minute drive up the I 94 instead turned to several hours as the Chicago heavens opened up again, drenching our fair city. Chicago went into the game several players down and one player with at least one finger down. The stage was set for Milwaukee to walk across the stage and accept their trophy as Chicago needed a big win to deny them on their own ground. The game started with Chicago looking menacing as they took the game right up to the Bombers and at the half, there was nowhere to hide as the United, tails up, looked to press the issue. B.O.G Frank Bradley had shut down big Heath in the Bomber forward line with Big Al finding a new position at full back as he and MAAFL/ USAFL legend, big Plugger duked it out for the umpteenth time in US footy history. The United runners in Miller, Hayse, Fitzgerald, Tyrekos, Casanovas, Wolfe and Isadore were on fire as they ran the Bombers off their feet giving the big fellas up forward in Drake, Roofy and Hoyty all the ball they needed. With the whipper snappers in Oscar and Gordo having big days as well, it became an 8 goal romp in Chicagos best game of the year. The history between these two clubs is well documented, making this victory even more special for all assembled.

For one week that seemed like a year, Chicago sat on the edge of her seat, waiting for the Nashville v Minessotta game. The Freeze needed to win or get within about 6 goals of the Roo boys for the glory to be ours again. In what must have been a cracker of a game (28 goals kicked), the Freeze collected a big win over what must have been a very determined Roo outfit who will rue this season which started so promising for them, only to end in anquish as successive trips north saw them in winning positions against both the Bombers and Freeze only to see them slip away.

The Freeze win handed Chicago it’s third MAAFL title and second in a row. Celebrations went on long into the night (and for some, into the emergency room!!) as September 20th became enshrined as “Chicago Day” with the United and the Cubs clinching along with the birth of a young De Jong warming hearts across the city.

The Chicago hierachy needs to take a bow though as their hard work starts to pay off. The win can be attributed to a competitive, well run Metro competition, born only three years ago. Some very handy recruits have started coming through coming through the ranks as training attendance improves out of sight meaning the future in the Windy City looks promising as they look to continue their winning ways next season and push for three in a row.

They play like the men down under

They play like the men down under 0

This article is originally from TimeOut magazine by Tim McCormick.  See the original article here.

GOING POSTAL Rest assured that even though there’s no Foster’s in the frame, this is Australian rules football.
Photo: Hayley Mccormick

Although it’s brilliantly sunny on the day we visit the home pitch (Waveland Field) of Chicago United, the city’s lone Australian rules football club since the Chicago Sharks and Chicago Swans joined forces a few years back, it’s difficult to tell just what the crikey is going on. That’s partly because of the pair of softball games underway on adjoining fields and the precocious puppies rolling around on the sidelines. It’s the first practice of the season, and the relaxed vibe continues with wives enjoying 312 brews and kids chasing around their remote-controlled cars.

Relaxed, that is, until you cast your eye to the field and see 36 burly men scrambling after a football that’s slightly larger than NFL size. “Footy,” as the game is sometimes lovingly referred to, was developed in the 1800s by English colonizers as a way to keep cricket players in shape during the off-season. But the game’s similarities with cricket end with the fact that both are played on an oval field about 450 to 500 feet in diameter.

Here’s the gist. Each team of 18 tries to advance the ball to the opposition’s goal posts. At the ends of the field, four posts are set up, with the two inner ones referred to as the goal posts. Every time the ball is kicked (and it must be kicked for a point to register) through the inner goal posts, six points are racked up. If the ball soars through the outer posts (known as the behind posts), one point goes on the board. The team leading after four quarters of play (Chicago United plays 15-minute quarters; some leagues play up to 25-minute quarters) will be hoisting Foster’s in a fit of victory.

But since the game is a mash-up of rugby, basketball and soccer, scoring isn’t as easy as it sounds. As Chicago United vet Dave Worniak puts it, the game consists of “pretty light rules on what you can [or can’t] do.” After the initial tip-off (similar to what you see in basketball), teams will move the ball down the field through a series of dribbles, punch passes (the ball is hit with a closed fist) and kicks (the best-case scenario, as any kicked pass caught allows you a free kick). All the while, you’ve got the opposition hoping to tackle you to force you to cough up the ball. Any time the ball goes airborne (though throwing the ball is forbidden), the game turns into a free-for-all with every man jumping, leaping and lunging for the ball.

Locally, the team has enjoyed more than its share of success, beating up on squads from cities like St. Louis and Milwaukee to go undefeated during last year’s Mid American Australian Football League (the oldest in the States). At nationals, they ran into a bit of a buzz saw against teams from the coasts where the Australian emigrant populations are a tad larger.

In an effort to ensure the club is always stocked with fresh blood, Friday evenings are set aside for “Friday Night Footy.” “It’s a chance for everyone in the club to get out and play a game, since not everyone plays on the travel team, and also to encourage new players to come out and give it a go,” Worniak says. Post-game revelry at the Globe Pub in North Center certainly doesn’t hurt the cause (neither do the frugal $50 dues for first-year players).

Of course, the team is well represented by lads from Down Under. Many of them found out about the league through the grapevine of the Australian Consulate, which sponsors Aussie pride events such as the celebration of Australia Day—the day in 1788, January 26 to be exact, when Captain Arthur Phillip arrived at Sydney Cove.

Other players ended up on the field through a friend of a friend, or out of curiosity after having passed the action at Waveland.

According to native Aussie Rohan Ward, “It’s definitely a social thing, but once game time comes, it’s pretty intense and pretty physical.”

See if you’ve got the stones to join up for Friday Night Footy.