“Getting up at 20 to six on Saturday morning, it was the earliest I’ve been up for a game for a while.”
It wasn’t a game of under 14’s footy, or parents driving across the state to get their kids to their 8am game on time. Instead, it was third-year Zebra, Anthony Seaton, and about 20 of his Sandringham teammates preparing for a footy journey like they never had before.
The Sandringham Zebras received their first taste of interstate travel in the new national VFL format this weekend just gone, jetting into Queensland on Saturday morning before triumphantly returning later the same night as 11-point victors.
It was the first time many of the Sandringham listed players had left the state to play football, yet Seaton said the players couldn’t have been more relaxed when the ball was bounced.
“When we got on the bus (after the flight), I think guys started to wake up a little bit. We got to the ground, it looked like a local one which I think we all enjoyed, it felt like I was back playing for my junior club. We were watching a local game before, having a bit of a laugh… by the time we got onto the field everything felt normal,” Seaton said.
It was testament to the Club’s organisation that the players were able to relax before the game, and it was certainly a contributing factor in the match.
Despite controlling the vast majority of the first three quarters, the Zebras found themselves with a battle on their hands in the last.
The lead changed seven times throughout the fourth quarter, but despite the almost 2,000 kilometre journey and the scenic change from the bitter cold of Melbourne to the scorching sun of Coorumbene, the Sandy boys kicked four of the last five goals to deliver a memorable victory.
Despite the win against the odds, the fly-in, fly-out nature of the game had left most of the team too tired to blow off steam and celebrate after stepping off the plane back in Melbourne.
However, there was one moment from the trip they were able to have a laugh about and bond over involving youngster Hedley Smith.
“He’s a pretty energetic young bloke, it doesn’t really matter what’s going on, he’s always jumping around,” Seaton said.
“He debuted and made a speech before the game; he was telling us how he did his own tattoo. He was going to write 'live, laugh, love', but instead he wrote 'love, laugh, love'. That cracked the boys up a fair bit.”
While the players flew back home that night, the coaches had different ideas, spending the night together in the sunny state.
Head Coach, Jake Batchelor, said it was good to “have a few quiet beers with the other coaches and bond a bit.”
Overall, it was a successful Saturday for the VFL men's team, and a day that likely won’t be forgotten by many involved for a long time to come.
The Zebras have one more interstate match towards the back end of the season in New South Wales, and if this weekend’s performance and experience is anything to go by, the boys will have circled it on the calendar as soon as they got home.
Written by Seb Mottram - Sandringham Football Club Media