“I DON’T know who scripted this!”
That was a comment from one Magpie supporter at half time as the players walked from the field at Dalyston on Saturday with their star forward and expectant centurion, Michael Kraska, having just one goal, three points to his name.
He’d also kicked one out on the full, failed to make a modest distance with another and decided to ‘change up’ the pressure by handballing off or passing away several certain chances.
He was stuck on 95 goals for the season and it seemed as if the bumper crowd, many with cameras in hand, a photographer from the Herald Sun and Weekly Times and the local press would all have to come back next week.
But no one expected the unexpected and, in the end, the Kraska circus kept everyone thoroughly entertained up until the last minute of the match.
96. A fine mark and perfect kick from 25 metres in the first minute of the third quarter brought up number 96 but Kraska missed two easy chances from 30 metres out indicating the ‘nervous nineties’ still had hold.
97. The turning point came at the five minute mark when Kraska followed Kyle Kirk’s lead and slotted one from 30 metres.
98. He had his 98th in the 11th minute after a clever pass from Glen Parker.
99. Six minutes later, he had his 99th after his jumper was pulled by a Korumburra-Bena Giants defender.
There were to be no more goals in the nine remaining minutes of the quarter so those waiting at the town-end goals had to troop up to the other end to witness the 100th.
By then Korumburra-Bena had swapped James Fowles for Darcy James in the key defensive post but such was the weight of possession by Dalyston, that neither could be considered at fault for Kraska’s efforts.
Coach Paul Brosnan made no mention of the milestone at the final huddle, instead concentrating on defensive pressure, and trying to hold the Giants goalless, if not scoreless.
“We didn’t speak about it before the game, either, we just let it happen,” said Brosnan after the game.
However, there was still a twist and turn in it before the end.
Thirty seconds into the last quarter, Kraska collected the ball close to goal and took a flying shot he’d normally kick but it went narrowly through for a point.
100. Three minutes later he was after the loose ball again when he was tackled by the Giant’s Daniel Lloyd. Central umpire Peter Ozols blew his whistle to signal “too high”. He said afterwards he could have called it for ‘holding the man without the ball’ as well. Kraska went back and with a nice high kicking action, banged through the 100th from 25 metres out.
The shot signalled pandemonium for a few minutes as players mobbed their man for congratulations and protection, while 30 well-wishers ran on to the ground.
Thus relieved, Kraska went on to kick four more for good measure; on the run, after well-judged marks, you name it… it was all too easy all of a sudden.
After throwing the trophy ball to his girlfriend Katie Eldridge after the final siren, Kraska was chaired from the ground, much to the delight of his team mates and Dalyston supporters.
But the adulation was lost on the main man.
Asked what he thought of kicking 100 goals, a good-natured Kraska said: “Not much”.
“Nothing. It’s no big deal really. It’s a team game and we’ve got much more important things to do this year. It’s just another game in the middle of the season.”
Coach Paul Brosnan echoed those sentiments in the rooms afterwards, congratulating his full forward on a fine achievement but underscoring the team’s defensive effort.
“It’s a terrific effort as a unit to keep them goalless – a great effort by everyone,” he said.
“It’s good to get it out of the way. Now we can move on to bigger things.”
For all that, the crowd enjoyed it and there’s little doubt it swelled numbers at the match between the top and bottom sides.