2024 SENIOR FIXTURE
Toorak Park return set for R2
Those who have followed Old Xaverians closely over the decade and a half that Matthew Handley has terrorised opposition players on the way to 900-plus goals have become accustomed to seeing jaws drop.
Today, the seasoned fans saw them drop again, as the big Chopper turned on a performance for the ages, cutting the Caledonians down with six magnificent goals and carried the Old Xaverians into another Reserves Grand Final.
Handley booted the Rossoneri's first at the six-minute mark of the opening term, but the Red Men proved a formidable opponent thereafter and shut down supply. The Cards led by four points at the first change.
The second term was the X-Men's turn with the breeze, but the guns from both teams were silent. A goal apiece - Xavs's solo courtesy Ed Delany - was all they managed and the Scotchies still led by four points at the long break.
The second half opened with a quick one to the Reds. Handley nailed his second at eight minutes. He booted his third in time on, and Ted 'Senator' Kennedy added another a minute later, but the Cardinals went to the lemons leading by 18 points.
Four minutes into the last, and the Escotia drew twin calicos again to take a 24-point lead. Another six minutes elapsed before a Xaverian response and minds were already wandering to next week's preliminary final. Handley kicked his fourth to keep hope alive. But it was nother five minutes before Ned Niall struck to bring the Claret and Stout within 12 points. Handley came back with two in the next five minutes and with 21 minutes gone, the teams were locked on 63 apiece. Bobby Knott out the X-Men in front by a goal at 24 minutes and then Handley missed a set shot. But it was enough.
Many years ago, Matthew Handley heeded the Teddy Roosevelt philosophy "speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far". He has. In fifty years time, many of these Xaverian players, with their their grand-kids bouncing on their knees will be able to proudly boast to these youngsters, "I played with Chopper Handley".
"Wow, Pop, really?" they'll likely say. "That bloke is a deadset footy legend."
Old Scotch meets St Kevin's in next week's preliminary final. The Red 'n' Blacks wait.
Congrats to all and to Ben Scala, who picked a great contest in which to play his hundredth.
Goals: M. Handley 6, E. Delany, E. Niall, C. Knott, H. Bell,E. Kennedy
Best: M. Handley, E. Kennedy, J. Langford, D. Tuddenham, J.Lowe, E. Delany