tom didnt have a great game, but he wasnt the only one. once game was gone he was asked to sit out and save it for the bronze medal game. heres a bit of aussie masters story...
By Will Witchell
Flew into Prague with Stephen Hayes via Dubai (which was 29 degrees at 5am... nice place to visit...)
Greeted by Veronique, a French Canadian Worlds volunteer, at the airport and got the scoop on travel directions to hotel and the tourney rego area. After dumping our stuff off we hooked up with rest of the 'greys' at the pub to watch the world cup game on that night- Germany spanked the Argentians.
Good to see all the boys and we were excited about the week ahead. Hadnt seen Bryan Petteys for a few years and it was good to catch up with him in particular. Good to see living in Utah hasn't made him a mental case!
Went back to our hotel and kind of slept ok but after talking it over at brekky the next day found out that many of us didnt have the most comfy beds - it was a bit like sleeping on the side of a hill actually. Big soft spots in the beds and some guys even missing slats under the mattress. Welcome to Eastern Europe i guess. Anyway, typical European breakfast of cold meats and cheeses and some fruit ie apple and orange. One choice of cereal- corn flakes and some yogurt i think. Ordinary coffee- everyone is a coffee expert these days but it was the old drip filter kind of stuff... puke.
Day 1 (Stinking Hot. Very little wind early but a consistent light breeze later in the day)
First Game we started brilliantly and never let up. We destroyed the POMS 17-6. Very satisfying. They didnt really implode yelling and screaming at each other like we have seem them do in the past- that was the only disapointment in this game!
Got my first layout block in this game. Tracking my man up the sideline i spotted a cutter in mid field and peeled off at the right time and made a sweet layout 'flop' in front of him to get the D. It was on the astro turf field too which was nice and cushy (some of the softer types might tell you it was abrasive and was harsh on the skin but dont listen to them). Not sure that D was a good idea as i got asked to play more D as a result (sigh). Not very good for my stats (its a team game Will- no 'me' in team).
So after having good stats in Vancouver (possibly skewed as a result of score keepers asking me who threw or caught a goal on a few occasions... not a very good idea... 'number 3' kept popping out of my mouth) i now found myself playing D (75%) and 0 (25%) and well my stats ground to a standstill. I had just 2 turnovers though so i was happy with that and one was against Venezuela whop we beat to 1 or 2.
Second Game was more of a challenge against Surly (sponsored by the Surly Brewing Co which is owned by one of their players) and we had out poorest pre game warm up (which we addressed and have had excellent pre game since then, thank you Piers). So second game ordinary start and we are in the hole 1-4 and call a time out. Pretty standard these days to call a T/O when down 3, especially with 2 T/Os per half. We rallied and played some excellent D and solid reliable O and Tom Gack did his usual ho hum stuff, yeah not too bad Tom, seen it all before Tom. Yawn...
Jonkers made a sweeeeeet sky over a couple of opponents to get a D in our endzone and we marched it back to get to 8-8 and have a chance to actually take the half. We were on a 7-4 run and full of momentum. We wisely used our 2nd T/O of the half to talk it up and push hard and psyche ourselves up for a big effort to take half. We junked them and made them throw a lot of passes but they took half. We had a chance to go up 10-9 but some of our throwing decisions weren't the best and we didnt finish very well losing that game (against the team that came 2nd at UPA Masters) 12-17. However we are looking forward to another shot at those guys. With a better start and with our noses in front we have a team capable of applying a lot of pressure and taking them down. There were some calls here, more by us and i thought they were restrained over a couple of them. I had a bit of a blow up at one point but am on a mission to play hard but with more self control as far as the calls/spirit debates go. Overall so far so good.
Jetlag and running around in a stinking hot day meant i was in bed at 6.30pm. No joke. Almost fell asleep in my dinner plate. Got a 5 hour snooze before again drifting off for another 4 hours or so. Sun came up and i lay about for an hour or so before deciding to go for a walk and see if Tesco supermarket was open. I have been punishing the summer fruit - nectarines, grapes etc yum and getting into some dill cucumbers which are great tourney food due to their high salt content which helps prevent cramping. As do plums apparently. Yeah plums... weird huh. So ok off to market, its open 24 hours and on way back i pass the hoity toity hotel and i stop in and ask if the cafe is open, can i get a coffee? I get directed to their restaurant area and discover an oasis... eggs, bacon, and numerous choices of cereal and fresh fruit incl apricots etc.. what to do... their are only 3-4 ulti players having brekky here at this point and well the eggs and bacon were too big a lure. After first brekky i go to my hotel and dump my shopping, have first shower (having 6-7 a day its so damn hot) and then naturally its time for 2nd brekky. Its good to be a Master.
Day2 (overcast in morning but still very warm and again no wind early but light breeze later and actually quite hot late afternoon)
First Game v Figjam (Canada) we destroyed them to 6 or 7 and i think they were just shocked at how well we played. We played our A game from the start and kept our foot to the floor all game. Satisfying. Everybody contributing. Great team vibe going and awesome to get back on track after a wobbly 2nd game yest. I got 2 Zone Ds this game- one were a guy would have caught it at second attempt if i didnt get there first and one playing Pommie where i was tracking back aiming to get in a passing lane between thrower and receiver and as i was doing so had my arm stretched out into that lane while peaking over shoulder trying to see if the reciever might be stepping inside (or there was another threat on the inside) and the guy threw it so close to my outstreched hand that i had it with a lunge. think it would have zipped past me if my arm wasnt already stretched out.
Second Game v 2nd ranked German team
(no war jokes, not sure how many of you know this but my grandfather died in a concentration camp...
...he fell off a guard tower).
OK OK stop cringing no more jokes... So we were on a high here and warmed up well and came out very strong as we thought this would be a tough game. Should come out hard every game i guess. Anyway, we were well in control taking half 9-5 and finished quite well taking it 17-11. Maybe one or two miscues on O late but more of an execution thing rather than decision quality thing unlike late on the first day. We had some calls in this game that were hotly debated. Mostly it was the same guy on their team who was involved. Gack did his nah-na a couple of times, its a Polish ancestry thing when playing the Germans. He was far more restrained than in 2000 thankfully. As a general rule Gack should NEVER do the post game talk in a Aust/Ger game. Shudder....
One of our guys who shall remain nameless had to apologise after he had a few metres on his opponent and turned back to him and yelled "run motherfucker". Kind of funny really but prob more appropriate in a tight game back home amongst a bunch of Aussie mongrels. The Europeans can be a bit delicate but when they call foul cos "you touched my back" after we clearly got the D before they had a chance it kind of gets peoplese backs up. I got a bit of sunburn, no sunscreen provided by tourney and my hat and my umbrella go walkabout... love a good brolly during worlds - 6 days in the sun all day when coming from winter to summer can do wonders. Keeps sunburn at bay but also helps lower body temp. I need every little advantage i can get these days.
Ok so by now are a bunch of happy Aussie ulty players... the masters are going great as are ALL 3 mixed teams and the opens doing good too. Only bummer was the womens teams who didnt quite fire but hopefully a lot of the u19s girls and u23s girls will really come on as a result of a couple of world comps... seems to me a shame that some of the younger ones wont get 3 cracks at worlds this year... i leave that debate for others.
I wrote the above bits after the 2nd day and will write rest from memory as i dont have a AFDA password or cant remember it to post article.
OK memorable moments incl beating both the Japanese and Dutch teams quite comfortablky. A lot of the guys said that although the scoreboard may have been close-ish we all felt very comfortable and confident we had the goods on our opponents. During Japanese game one of our players told an opponent 'you are a bad man, a very bad man' as he was sure he would at least understand that much. They didnt make too many calls though and it was a well contested game. They got trhe better of us twice in Perth 4 years ago and i thought they pushed the boundaries a lot in the second game but anyway AT LEAST THEY DIDNT SUBSTITUTE TWO PLAYERS DURING A TIME OUT LIKE THEY DID IN GERMANY AT WUC2000. So its tough when there is a bit of history but generally speaking we and our opponents were well spirited. Except maybe Czechered Past (USA) one of their guys came and stood within a metre of one of our timeouts and listened in with a big smile on his face... yeah hilarious pal. Most of us were going for the other team in the final as a result.
The Dutch game was in the balance for bit longer than we would have liked. We had a bit of huck fever in a few games which was good when it worked but we didnt seem very good at playing shorter when it was a bit off. We had our sweedish player tell us during one time out 'if i have the disc then u run, if u have the disc then u give it to me' - not a good way to try fit into a team, esp a team that has been playing together or against each other for 10 years+ and know each other pretty well.
We sucked in the semi - too many long bombs out the back of end zone. no plan B... just a terrible game our worst of the tourney. We might only beat those guys 2 or 3 times out of 10 but we never gave ourselves a chance. I felt sick and embarrassed after that one. Anwyay we regrouped next day and fought hard for a bronze medal. Lots of turns in first 10-12 points and we had several chances to get a break. There was a little bit of tension within the camp but we eventually played a more patient offense that and some great D that got us over the line. Bronze baby! The turning point in this game for mine was Tim Ferg throw to Dan Smith and Dan making a great bid to grab one handed just within the endzone and before crashing into the fence which was ridic close to field. Hope Dan doesnt mind me saying this but i wonder about his catching sometimes but this one was a cracker and it got us the break and we were like a freight train from then on. Big moment in a big game. Nice one Dan.
The Firday party was a beauty on the banks of the river. Some volleyball action, some riverboat cruise action, lots of music and frisbee players everywhere. They shut down the music at 5am, almost an hour after the sun came up. The saturday finals day was good, hard work after 2-3 hours sleep though. Mixed final a bit one sided but the womens was a cracker, Japanese girls lost there way a bit and lost by one after having a break late in the game. The Open was also close. Both games time capped so lots of action.
Naturally our team was well prepared for a day in the stands... 20 litre barrell of beer, 4-5 chooks, bread rolls, donuts, juice, soft drinks, other snacks incl summer fruits. Envy of all around us.
Got called down to recieve our medals which was a very sweet moment, thanks to all who gave us a pat on the back or took photos for us (Gus etc). I asked Pottsy to join the tourney organisers in giving us the medals and that was cool too. Though i will have to talk to him about asking us to leave the presentation area... these moments only come along so often mate.
Sat night party at the biggest night club in europe - 5 levels. A few memorable moments incl Gack and Gus high fiving after setting up one of the younger boys with a Polish girl. Leave some of the more colourful parts of worlds to others. Great experience, only comes along so often, we did so well in most divisions we will have lots of teams eligible so hope you make the next one!!!