DIGGERS Rest finally celebrated a premiership win on Sunday after three years of heartache.
But the Burras’ first premiership since 1993 wasn’t without its scares, going to extra time to reach an outcome, leaving captain Stuart Clarke to say “you couldn’t have written a better script”.
After three successive grand final defeats in the Riddell District Football League, Diggers Rest went into this year’s final contest the firm favourite after losing just one game for the season.
Celebrating victory: The team together after the win. Picture: Josie Hayden
After a tight match the Burras held a slender lead deep into the fourth quarter against Riddell — or thought they did.
“With about five minutes to go the scoreboard had us one point up,” Diggers Rest coach Shaun Sims said.
“Then with a minute or two to go, someone noticed a mistake and we were back level.
“The siren went and there was a bit of confusion because we still had us one point up on the bench.”
Clarke thought his side had won the game.
“I had a little sigh of relief then next minute we’re getting told ‘Hang on boys, we still have to play an extra five minutes each way ... I’m still stressed just thinking about it,” Clarke said.
“We were exhausted when that final siren went, both sides were absolutely spent.”
Clarke gave credit to his teammates for the way they were able to overlook the mistake and front up for extra time.
“As soon as we found out, we just had to concentrate on the next contest straight away,” Clarke said.
With the final five minutes of extra time to play, the Burras chased down a seven-point deficit to win 12.14 (86) to 12.8 (80).
“We played some really composed football to get those two goals and when Jason Williams kicked the sealer it was brilliant,” Clarke said.
“Our backline did a tremendous job, Tom Gleeson is my hero. The amount of contested marks he took at the death down back, there was one he had absolutely zero right taking but he clunked it anyway.”
The result for Diggers Rest has eased the pain of the past three years for Clarke, who almost walked away from football after a third grand final defeat.
“I was just so frustrated to get so close three years in a row and not get the chocolates,” Clarke said.
“As soon as I got back to the club pre-season and seeing all the boys, it’s what you play footy for.
“That’s what we all play footy for Diggers for.”