Five-by-five is a radio communications expression which means ‘loud and clear’. Five-by-five is a good, clear, crisp signal. As in ‘alright, testing, one-two-three-four ……we’ve got five-by-five’. Pitch perfect, as it were. The Warriors were anything but at far-flung Kingston less than two weeks back.
All static and white noise. Unlistenable. And, as the lights dimmed over the Grange that Monday night, Heidelberg’s Invincibles were six games to play and many bandwidths off an unprecedented club third consecutive Premiers Plate. Fans of cult TV show ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ would also recognise the more metaphorical meaning of five-by-five, the catch phrase popularised by Buffy’s one-time arch nemesis, Faith.
For a time, Buffy and Faith waged war on each other; a series of titanic fever-pitched battles between the only two gals on the planet boasting near invincible ‘slayer power’. A not dissimilar clashing of the titans as the distance between the mere mortals of the NPL compared to the mighty Warriors and their modern day mega-rivals, Bentleigh Greens.
So it had to be those bloody Bentleigh Greens – on their deck as well – just four days after the banana peel effort at Kingston. And has been case so many times over the past three seasons of utter domination by the two clubs, it was season on the line blockbuster, yet again. We thoroughly expected lashings of knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out as well as a significant helping of blood and thunder to keep the dream alive.
Instead, we were witness to a performance for the ages and a stellar Warrior win, every bit the equal of any of such glorious effort preceding it since Catalina Street was almost re-branded as Silverware Central in 2017. Katsakis’ remarkable Invincibles were close to perfect under the Kingston Heath lights. The boys were five-by-five. Pitch perfect, if you will. That jaw-dropping second half wasn’t a re-lighting of the flame, as much as a re-igniting of a flame thrower which will likely be scaring the daylights out of the teams still in the finals frame.
Too old and too slow, they say? The battle scared veterans are getting a smell of that scent of success again – and loving it! There is a spring in the step and a gleam in the eye. Let’s roll boys. Petrie and Cartanos are almost fully fit again. Wilkins is silk and due a return. Schiavo should be right for a welcome late season run.
And the jets are throttling up for full thrust. I reckon wrecking-ball Rueben is cherry-ripe for showtime. The spotlight loves Seanie Ellis as much as we do. Zahra and O’Brien are white-hot. Harry is in sparkling touch. Oh, and we’ve found a couple of blue-ribband colts as well. Where the hell have Chris Dib and Brendan White been hiding? And, if Lucas Derrick is this polished at just 20 – and him just coming off a knee reconstruction at that – the kid will be a destructive footballing force to be reckoned with in the forseeable future. Arousal levels are high. The horizon is lustrous and aglow with hope and promise.
Oh, and the relevance of the oh-so-dazzling destruction of Bentleigh Greens to five-by-five you ask? Kats rang me a few days after the Bentleigh success and kind of half-growled and half-whispered “five by five, Blakey”‘. Certain that I hadn’t mistakenly become embroiled in a covert Soviet spy ring, my immediate response sounded very similar to ‘what the duck”? “It was Kats. We are five by five”, he replied. “If we win our last five games we will win it again. Five by five, Blakey.”
So that’s it really. Win five and the plate settles back in the trophy cabinet at headquarters. Where it belongs, I might add. The path to glory, the road to a bona fide three season dynasty, the long highway to legend status starts this Friday night away down in Dandenong. Then head bayside to Port Melbourne a week later. Our final farewell to Catalina Street against Oakleigh follows, and then a finale of gloves off and heavyweight hitting all the way home, with Avondale away and a last round road trip deep into enemy territory, at South Melbourne on August 25. A potential white-knuckle ride to the very end, much as it happened at Bulleen on that extraordinary Round 26 afternoon back in 2017. Five-by-five and we win the day, the season again, and get written into footballing immortality.
Five-by-five is also used in the military, when discussing a tense confrontation being defused, or hailing success in battle. ‘Everything is five by five’, would be an appropriate military response to the question of how such events were concluded when the fighting is done and the day is won. Come 5:00pm on August 25, Katsakis won’t have to whisper any longer should his once-in-a-lifetime team of champions manage to negotiate the harrowing five stop road home. Hopefully, he can respond in full voice and declare “we are five by five”.