AFL Tour to Perth…a first for Newington
From the 26th to the 29th of April, I was lucky enough to take part in a fantastic inaugural AFL Tour to the most remote capital city on Earth; Perth. Being the first ever Newington tour to the West Coast, we were the pioneers. Seeking to go where no Newington man had gone before, to play, experience, and involve ourselves in some of the most incredible, and obviously difficult football games we could possibly take part in.
Being just the second official year that Newington has offered AFL as a sport, the growth has been exponential with an enormous array of players coming from a wide array of established sports; some with little to no experience in AFL, while others have played consistently throughout their entire lives. Like most of the older boys, I started playing AFL in 2017, the inaugural year, ‘shaking in my boots’ as to what to expect due to my lack of experience. Thankfully, due to the strong culture and values that were instilled into the team, no man was left behind, and as such, each of us improved comprehensively throughout the year. At the emergence of the 2018 season, this mentality and spirit shows no signs of slowing down, especially with the formulation of this tour, as each of the boys who took part, no matter their level of skill, supported each other and were ready and willing to brave the unknown of opponents over in Perth.
With weary and fatigued eyes, we shuffled our way onto the plane. Finally landing after five hours, we took off as fast as we could into the city (well as fast as it took security to search Perry May’s (11/MO) bag for an apple that he carried from Sydney). Our accommodation was in the Scotch College Boarding House where we made ourselves at home; familiarising ourselves with the grounds around us, warming up and training for a couple hours before arriving at the wrestling session. The session was strenuous, yet incredibly rewarding, as it allowed some of us to increase our strength in tackling. With our muscles aching, our tour shirts already drenched in sweat, and Lucas Ward (12/MO) with a towel somehow drenched in cologne(?!), we headed off to replenish and soothe our muscles with a dip in the Indian Ocean. The soft sand and refreshing water were juxtaposed, with the incredible sites at Scarborough Beach, questionable ‘budgie smugglers’, and a sombre sunset in the distance. We finished off the day with dinner at Grill’d, heading home to rest.
There are good ways to wake up, but a 2km run to and from Swanbourne Beach was not one of them. We carried on through the morning with as much vigour and energy as we could muster, as we went through a two-hour training session, complete with grand proclamations from Tom Longmire (9/ME) to “check out my snaps, boys.” We then hurried off and enjoyed a leisurely afternoon of beach volleyball and swimming at Hillary’s Boat Harbour & Floreat beach, before eating pizza in Freemantle for dinner. At long last, we arrived back at the Boarding House, psychologically preparing ourselves for the game ahead, including various calls by Riley Holmes (11/PR) to “get a good sleep gents, big game tomorrow,” multiple times throughout the night.
The day had arrived; it was the big game day. Still sore, but brimming and tingling with both excitement and energy, we immediately set off down to the field to face our opponents. Scotch proved extremely formidable foes; each singular moment of play was constantly a struggling contest between both sides, never ceasing to fade in our intensity. Scotch, who fielded a mix of 1st and 2nd XVIII players, only slightly gained the upper hand with points during the initial term, but this provided them with the edge on their home turf, slotting far more away with greater accuracy. We were, unfortunately, unable to make too much of an impact with the chances we had. Although each team had a succession of relatively equal chances, it was Scotch who made good use of their own home field to slot more points.
As Riley graciously accepted his ‘Man of The Match” award, we had a fantastic BBQ supplied by their AFL support group, before we had to scurry as fast as we could, to catch the ferry bound for Rottnest Island. Here we toured around on bikes, taking in the beautiful lush, exotic bush and wildlife, including the fabled Quokkas that are selectively native to Rottnest. After pulling over and swimming at a few beaches (including a mini-water park where Stirling May (10/MO) was shot off a large inflatable pillow like a catapult, with Lucas as the catalyst, only to have parents and park staff gawk in horror as he soared airborne). We later returned to Perth, having dinner before once again in Fremantle, promptly going to bed, preparing for yet another game the following morning.
To conclude, we faced another immensely, tough opponent in the form of the Hale School. Like Scotch, the competition was ferocious, each team pushed to its limits. Unlike Scotch, we managed to be more accurate with our chances, slotting several goals, although not quite matching Hale’s own barrage of goals. We played with much passion against their second XVIII team, despite us having multiple younger boys (including to name just a few: Pat Christensen (10/MA), Tom Longmire, Nick Bulley (10/LE), Callum Sharp (10/JN), Atticus Bertrams (10/KL), Rex Quail (10/PR) and Oscar Britt (10/LE) who stepped up incredibly well, giving some of the opposition a run for their money.
We must acknowledge the legendary “CP,” the fuel in our engine, our source of inspiration, knowledge and power who was instrumental in directing our team spirit. Thanks to the genius of Lucas, we developed multiple chants to rattle the Hale changerooms in his honour. At last, we headed back and prepared ourselves to depart Perth, taking in as much scenery as we could, until finally, we boarded back the plane back to Sydney; exhausted, tired, zapped, jet-lagged, yet satisfied, delighted, and most importantly thrilled for the sparkling anticipation for the season ahead.
We are all extremely grateful to be part of this tour, and all the tireless effort put in by some of the greatest and finest people we could ever hope to have. Thank you so much Rev Barham, Mr Wales, Dion Zissis and all those who made this fantastic trip possible! We are all very grateful!
Philip Langshaw (11/MA)