By Smokie Dawson
In 2002, Donald Rumsfeld, the former US Secretary of Defense, made some now infamous comments about the search for Iran’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’. He pontificated: “There are known knowns…there are known unknowns…but there are also unknown unknowns”. When one considers these comments, it is not a stretch to think that Rumsfeld could well have been talking about the Williamstown CYMS Football Club as we transition from a long pre-season into the footy season proper. KB’s “Summer of Fun” is now over and Round 1 is upon us.
Practice match opponents Geelong West, Grovedale, and Melton (Ballarat FNL premiers) were deliberately selected to provide our new, emerging, and existing players with the most searching of examinations. While these audits proved thorough and challenging, our players were in no way disgraced while also leaving them without doubt that there is much more work to be done.
The ‘known knowns’ are many and varied. There are some 76 players on our senior men’s list, of whom 35 are new faces – 13 are up from the Under 19s, and 13 are players who are returning home to the Fez. Excitingly, there are nine brand new faces. Of these, Jack Briskey, originally from Toowoomba, is on Port Melbourne’s list and played at centre-half-back in two practice matches; Max Hell comes to us from Werribee Districts; and Mason Jacob joins us from Point Cook Centrals. And familiar faces such as Mitch Zadel, Archie Kirkland, Tom Warner, and Jack Harrison have returned to the fold. Exciting youngsters such as Will Bokma, Jai Haines, Dylan Cutajar, and Hamish Tambourine have all had their moments in the practice matches.
The leadership group of the senior men’s list has a new and very different look. Rob Chan has been appointed skipper. Making his debut in the ‘unders’ in 2011, Rob’s knowledge and experience over the past 12 seasons will prove invaluable to a youthful list. Young veteran Brad Tucker and the enormously improved Nathan Malkoun are Chan’s vice-captains. Off-field, coach Con Terzoglou will be supported by 200-game legends Mick ‘Meatballs’ Manning and Steve Barlow and the youthful Taite Sharpe.
At this time of the year in particular, it is nigh on impossible to get a handle on the look of the opposition, and this will prove to be a huge unknown. The CY’s have never played our round 1 visitors St Bernard’s at senior level. But we do know that they a) have a strong history of maintaining their position in the upper divisions of the VAFA, b) have always boasted a very strong junior program, and c) will be very keen to ensure that their demotion from Premier A will be as brief as possible. It is a ‘known known’ that St Bernard’s will be at the very least competitive, and at best a massive hurdle for our young team to overcome.
Perhaps the biggest and most inevitable ‘known unknown’ we will confront is the question of availability: we know that players will be unavailable at various points throughout the season, but how severely we will be afflicted by the injury curse is unknown. The old mantra of being able to “keep your best cattle on the park” is one of the truest. When and how regularly our many VFL-listed players will be available are questions that even Archimedes might struggle to answer.
Of course, even Donald Rumsfeld himself would be unable to sugar-coat the loss of on and off-field leaders Tom Johnstone and Sam Callard, who will be living and working abroad this year. We know that their absence will be felt, but the ‘unknown unknown’ is how severely? Who will put up their hand and step into the beach left by these two imposing figures? For the moment, this remains an ‘unknown unknown’, to be revealed in full this Saturday.
And did I mention the CY’s faithful? We will be out in force at the Fearon to usher in the new season. That much we do know.