The outlook was bleak on Saturday morning when we woke to pouring rain for Round 1. We had a big day planned for Sunday and didn't want the rain to spoil our party! Thankfully, although the rain was consistent on the Saturday, it cleared up overnight to produce a glorious day for rugby league on Sunday. For those of you who don't know, I am an English teacher so I do enjoy writing a word or two - these could get lengthy! Let's round up Round 1!
SATURDAY ROUND 1 SUMMARY
Mini Teams: All of our little Under 6s (the 6/1s had a bye) had a win in what was a first competition game for many of the players. Nice work by the Baby Emus!!! Our 7/1s contested a hard-fought 22-22 draw while the 7/2s travelled up the mountain to a very chilly Katoomba Showground where they won 24-16. The 7/3s had their opposition forfeit on them so they take the 2 points easily in their first game! Unfortunately the 8/1s went down 14-10 to St Marys in a tough-fought contest in the final match of the day at Leonay Oval. After going up a division after their grand final win last year, the 8/2s came up with the goods against Brothers defeating them convincingly 30-4. Nathan King, in his first year of coaching at Emu, took the 8/3s to a 20-20 draw against Waratahs. A great effort all round from our littlest Emus in Round 1 and I'm sure the boys and girls had fun in the mud!
Mod Teams: Our mod teams had a great start to season 2013 with just the 11/2s losing, at it was ever so close on the scoreboard, going down by just 4 points in their 14-10 loss to Glenmore Park. The 11/1s had it all over St Marys in their 36-6 win while the 11/3s came from behind against Minchinbury at half time to defeat them 28-22. The 9/1s won their game against Western City Tigers comprehensively with a 28-12 win, while the 9/2s who have gone up a division after their grand final win last year, smashed Cambridge Park 40-4. Our 10/1s had the bye but our 10/2s travelled down to a very wet Peppertree Oval and defeated St Clair 30-10 with Jai Lane carving up in defence. Well done to all our mod teams on a great start to the season.
International Teams: The Saturday International teams experienced mixed results but all showed promise for what will surely be a big 2013 season for all teams. The 12/1s continued their hard slog in Division 1, going down 38-10 to Brothers while the 12/2s carved out an impressive win against St Marys at Leonay, taking the 18-12 win. The 13/1s are starting their season on top, beating Quakers Hill 28-14. The 13/2s also had the goods over Quakers Hill, beating their seconds side 22-12. Our 13/3s were playing under-strength with just 10 players so struggled against Cambridge Park, going down 40-8. The 14/1s went down 28-6 to the usual big St Marys boys, while the 14/2s were defeated 22-16 in the Katoomba fog. Our 15/1s have been ravaged with injuries already (hopefully getting them out of the way early to come home stronger than ever!) so struggled against St Marys, going down 42-0. The 15/2s looked good in their game against Colyton/Mt Druitt but unfortunately went down narrowly 16-10 at Leonay Oval.
TONGA/SAMOA TEST MATCH RELAY
We had some late organising to do when we were called up for an exhibition relay at the Tonga/Samoa Test Match played at Centrebet on Saturday night. EPJRLFC Relay Coach, Wayne Pearce, took the boys along for a bit of fun and although we were two runners down, we were still competitive. The 2013 Penrith JL Relay will be run later in the season. In the coming weeks will get each team to have a run-off then the top two runners from each team will run-off against one another to determine a runner, first reserve and second reserve for each age group. We're going to give ourselves every opprtunity to take out the event in 2013!
SUNDAY ROUND 1 SUMMARY
In what is now becoming a tradition, Emu Plains took on St Marys in the first game of the season. We faced them in all five grades and contested the Pesle-Dicker Shield in A-Grade. The day was perfect for rugby league with the ground having held up overnight after the Saturday of rain.
Juniors: Our U16s, under the guidance of new coach Mark Savage, went down narrowly 24-22 but looked promising having only come together as a whole team late in the pre-season. The U17s had a hard-fought game but unfortunately went down 30-6 against Saints.
Seniors: The C-Grade side are looking good in 2013 and proved so with a refined win, taking it home 28-14 in the end. Reigning premiers, A-Reserve, went down 30-26 in a close encounter, but still look good so early in the season. Our A-Graders came out pumped up for a big one. Since its inception in 2011, the Pesle-Dicker Shield has been won by Emu Plains both years and they were looking for a three-peat. Tom Romer came away with a man-of-the-match performance in the 16-6 win, with Emu Plains JRLFC taking home the Pesle-Dicker Shield once more. The late 'Johnny Pez' loved nothing better than beating St Marys so it's always great to pay tribute to him by winning the game on the day.
A GREAT BIG THANK YOU TO EVERYONE...NO REALLY, IT'S REALLY BIG!
In my first year as secretary I don't think I could have asked for a better start to the regular season, other than the mild panic attack regarding the rain on Saturday! It was so heartwarming to see our community come together with our regular supporters, the FEGs and You Can Dance supporting the EPJRLFC on the day.
Since 2011, when former club president John Pesle passed away, we have contested the Pesle-Dicker Shield when playing against St Marys in the first round of the competition. Tony Dicker, from St Marys, who unfortunately couldn't be with us on the day due to illness, was represented by his sons Simon and Ben who joined the St Marys board and committee on the southern side of the field under the FEGs' tent. The Former Emu Greats formed in 2011 and are made up of former players, coaching staff, committee members, sponsors and supporters. They get together formally at two games each year - for the Pesle-Dicker Shield and 'Back to Emu / FEGs Day' when Emu take on Brothers at Leonay Oval. It was fantastic to see so many of them at our presentation later in the evening, mixing with the new brigade of Emus and waxing lyrical about former glories. I'd like to thank the FEGs, particularly Kev Canning and Andrew Pesle, for their support on Sunday.
In paying tribute to two great club men in John Pesle and Tony Dicker, we also paid tribute to Glenn Patullo-Harrison who sadly passed away a couple of weeks ago. His son Isaac plays in our Under 17s and younger son Elijah, plays in the Under 11s. The U17s paused for a minute's silence before their match and Leonay Oval came to a stand-still for one minute before A-Grade kicked off to remember Glenn. On the day, the girls from You Can Dance where Glenn's daughters Bethany and Rachel attend, sold tickets in five raffles with all money raised going towards the Patullo-Harrison family. The girls did a great job, raising over $1,300 in ticket sales. Thank you to those who donated prizes and purchased raffle tickets. The You Can Dance crew topped it off with a cheerleading performance at half-time of the main game. Later in the evening at Emu Sports Club we auction off two pieces of memorabilia to raise nearly $4,000 for the family. The U17s, John Corey and Wayne Pearce sold more than 400 raffle tickets at Emu Sports before our presentation also. To those of you who dug deep and supported the Patullo-Harrison family in such a sad time, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Glenn's brother Dave, speaking on behalf of the family, thanked everyone involved with the club for their kindness, support and overwhelming community spirit shown in the past few weeks.
We had a pretty big crowd down at Leonay on Sunday, with plenty of kids running around. It was great to see our little Emus watching the big boys go around on a sunny afternoon. Thanks to everyone who came down on the day and joined us at our presentation later that evening. The vibe at the field and back at Emu Sports was electric - let's hope that flows throughout the 2013 season. I'd also like to thank all the coaches, managers and trainers for their efforts so far this season. I hound them daily with emails and texts and they don't seem to be too bothered by me ;) They've done really well to get 32 teams onto the paddock for 2013 and I wish them every success as the year rolls on.
Finally, I'd like to thank the EPJRLFC Committee. Normally thank yous are left until the end of the season but that seems too late. I have worked closely with these amazing 15 people over the past few months preparing for the 2013 season and they deserve their thanks now rather than later. We're a mad but merry bunch of volunteers who can usually be found at Leonay Oval on a Saturday morning from around 5:30am and again on Sunday from around 6:30am, and we rarely leave until well after the sun goes down. They work their butts off all day, running the canteens, working the BBQs, cleaning the fields, ground managing and ensuring the days run smoothly. Somewhere in between all of that they watch and/or coach their own kids' teams, run around town for their non-rugby-league-playing kids, as well as deal with the trials and tribulations of normal life. Somehow, this is actually fun and we keep coming back, week in, week out, to do it all again.
Thank you to the best registrar ever Grant Townes, and his trusty side-kick Jodie Wallace. Thank you to my amazing assistant-secretary Sharon McMaster who also ensures our kids are running around in the red, white and blue gear each year. Thank you to Jason McMaster, Head of the BBQ, and the driving force behind our new amenities block currently being built on the top field. Thank you to Barry Buttifant for his outstanding ground managing who also manages two of our teams. Thank you to Cass Corey and Jo Pearce who make sure our canteens are stocked and run smoothly through out the day - they're also very helpful at picking things up from the Junior League Office at the same time as the Penrith Panthers teams seem to train - how very convenient! Thank you to Kel Peleti for your tireless efforts around our grounds - I think you sleep less than I do! A big thank you to J.C.(John Corey) who makes sure those fields are looking top-notch each week (with the help of Brad Boland and Matt Newton) and is always on-call to receive canteen deliveries - not only that, he coaches two of our Saturday teams! Thanks to our committee newcomers Jon Lester (also coach of the 6/3s) and Al Harding who are work-horses throughout the week as well as on weekends - Al will get 'Emu 4 Life' written on the fields in white paint sooner or later! Thanks to Paul Wallace for buying us dinner and baring the brunt of our "Where's Wally?" jokes! (LOL) Thanks to Wayne Pearce for looking after the relay team and putting so much effort into all our U6 kids. Thanks to Stephen Chester for his advice and support with the plethora of background operations, procedures and Sunday footy stuff that I had no idea about coming into this job. Most importantly he looks after the numbers as treasurer and I hate numbers (English teacher here, not a Maths teacher!) so I'm ever grateful for his commitment to the club. Although he's not on the committee officially, I also need to thank Peter 'Shrek' Howlett, who has worked tirelessly to seek and support our 2013 sponsors, run the season launch, be an unofficial Sunday coordinator, organise Glenn's wake, plan the Sportsman's Lunch and other 2013 events, and generally just work his butt off for our club. I'd like to thank Pete Foster, El Presidente Extraordinaire, for his unwavering committment to all the kids in our club. He has been up at the fields each week coaching an Under 6s side until they recently found a coach all while coordinating more than 50 kids across the whole U6s age group into 5 teams. He's made sure all teams have their equipment for the season, and made sure teams know exactly how to look after their balls! Pete has had a tough start to the year off the field so we're extremely grateful for all you do for our club and kids during such a hard time.
I brushed over him at the beginning but I need to give my final big thank you to Grant Townes. I threw him in at the deep-end, making him registrar for this season when we really had no idea what we were doing. Along with Jodie, they have managed to register 503 players for the 2013 season - an amazing feat within itself. He's also coach of the 9/2s and obviously, a Dad. I work in the city, leaving at 6am and returning at 6pm so he does all the running around for our kids and at Penrith JL. He organises and cooks dinner most nights, sorts out the homework, permission notes, school uniforms and all that fun stuff! People always say to me, "I don't know how you do it" or "How do you fit it all in?" and the answer is, Grant Townes. He's an amazing Dad and husband and myself, Maddie, Oscar and Max would be lost without him. If the last few weeks have shown me anything, it isn't the insanity of trials or drama of footy politics, it is the importance of family. I thank you for being such an awesome family man and dedicated Emu (4 life!) xo
Well that's it for the Round 1 Round-Up! If you're still reading, I thank you for tolerating my ramblings! Until next time, I hope you enjoy the photos I took over the weekend. If you have any happy snaps from the weekend that you'd like to share please don't hesitate to text them to me on 0423 512 848 or email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yours in Sport,
E M U P L A I N S J R L F C