It was supposed to be the first real hit-out of the season for Hoppers Crossing in the Western Region Football League division 1, but freak weather put an abrupt end to such plans.
The Warriors had a delayed start to the campaign after their round one fixture against St Albans was rescheduled for Good Friday, so four tough quarters against finals contender Altona would have been the perfect kick-start to the season.
But the clash with Altona was abandoned minutes after the sides had returned from the half-time break.
Warriors coach Steven Kretiuk said he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“I’ve never felt like this before, walking away from a game,” he said.
After most of the first half in which players and fans bathed in sunshine, a storm rolled in and the umpires stopped the game because of lightning.
“It was blowing a gale down one end and 27 degrees and then within a minute it was World War III with the weather,” Kretiuk said. “I’ve never experienced anything like that coming off the ground.”
The good news for Hoppers Crossing is that it led by seven points when the game was stopped.
That means the Warriors will receive four premiership points, barring any intervention from WRFL headquarters.
That’s not the way Kretiuk wanted to get the Warriors’ first win of the season, nor is it ideal for his side in a match practice sense.
“The way the game was going, no side probably deserved to win,” Kretiuk said.
“We started off really slow and, to Altona’s credit, they were beating us in all facets of the game. I thought we slowly worked ourselves back into it and started to gain some momentum.”
Two late second-quarter goals – a magnificent long-range goal from Ashlin Brown as he was hemmed up on the boundary and a set shot goal from Wayde Skipper – meant the Warriors were on level pegging at the main break.
Only five minutes were played in the third quarter before the umpires stopped play, but that was enough for the Warriors to get their noses in front and secure the four points. A decision had to be made within 30 minutes to continue with the game or abandon it.
With the lightning still around, the players eventually shook hands and called it a day, which Kretiuk says was the right decision for health and safety of the players and officials.
“It was a difficult situation to be in, but it would’ve been unhealthy for the guys to head out there again,” he said.
“Sitting around for 40 minutes, it’s a recipe for disaster with the soft-tissue injuries, so common sense came through.
“It’s a duty of care and whatever happened with the points from there is out of our control.”
Despite the shortened game, Kretiuk has plenty of ammunition to throw the way of his players after a performance that left a lot to be desired with only a six-day turnaround until the Good Friday battle with St Albans at Hogans Road Reserve.
“It’s important we deal with what we did in the first half and look at that during the week on the video,” he said.
“We’ll highlight some areas that we were poor at.”