Last weekend the Cudas (with a lot of help from some friends from around Denmark) travelled to Kiel, Germany to battle the locals on their home turf as an exhibition match for Kieler Woche (one of the biggest public festivals in the country).
Arriving after a 4 hour drive, the boys were ready to show ‘ze Germans’ what Danish Australian footy is all about. The Norse weather gods were with us, providing the sunshine (some even complained that it was too hot). Being that the Kiel Koalas were only formed during the previous year, the guys from Denmark didn’t know what to expect of the home side and so it was imperative for the Cudas to come out swinging from the first bounce.
From the start, it was clear that the visitors had the better of the host side in terms of hardness at the ball, as the experience of the haphazard Danish squad shone through, culminating in a few early goals. The hosts were able to counter on just one occasion in the first term, but it was all yellow, blue and red on the scoreboard at the break. The combination of Wez, Morten and Jakob from Odense coming out of the middle was unstoppable, delivering to a strong-marking and sure-footed Seebs at full forward. Needless to say the makeshift coaches in Peter and Jason were breathing sighs of relief after the first couple of balls sailed through the big sticks.
From then on, the game became about getting the most out of the few players and low numbers on the interchange, and sharing the positions around as much as possible. Many maximised their time in the forward line, such as Patrick, who continuously found space and kicked 5 goals in the third quarter. Ever-reliable-Ras showed his both experience in defence, clearing attack after attack, and his team-spirit, passing off to others when he was up forward. The Aarhusians, Thorbjørn and Chris played well around the ground, putting pressure on the contests and driving the ball home for our forwards to seal the deal. Loke was strong in the back all day and also managed to find himself on the end of a few deliveries inside the 50 and bagged a couple in the last quarter.
Our new mate from Odense, Wez was showing his merit with some really strong grabs around the ground and continuously winning the ruck contests, providing the guys in the middle with an easy route to goal. Odense legend Morten Merhøj capitalised on both ends of deliveries out of the centre – some slick deliveries down to the forwards and kicking goals from all over the ground.
Every player had a share of the game up forward and down back, with the possible exception of work-horse Jakob, who played the entire game in the midfield whilst still doing the equivalent of the work of 3 in the backline and kicking a bag himself. A big shout-out goes to Søren Steffensen, who declared at the beginning of the game that this would be his last ever game of Aussie Rules, after playing for Odense for many years. He put on a clinic whenever the ball came his way, displaying all the skills he’s picked up along the way.
The hosts, to their credit, never gave up. Managing to convert in every quarter and seeming to grow in confidence after each break – we look forward to meeting them again in the future as the side continues to develop.
The main event though was, of course, the endless selection of local beers provided by our gracious hosts after the match. A great day of football for all was the perfect lead-up to the festivities on the night.