It has been an eternity coming but after all the hard work by so many over so many years/months the football gods have finally smiled on our great footy club and presented us with not one, but 2 Grand Final wins!! What a day and what a great moment for so many people. From my vantage point in amongst the sea of blue and gold over the far side of the ground, here is what I saw:
First up it was our Reserves side up against Robina, without doubt the two best sides going head to head and this really did have all the makings of a cracking game. Robina were the only team to beat us all year, ironically with a very late goal in the major semi-final 2 weeks ago. With a week’s rest and a full list to choose from they were going to be very difficult to beat, and so it proved. We had a very strong team as well, with the seniors having a full list to choose from it meant a couple of extremely unlucky lads in Sharkey Friis and Jed King missed out after playing the whole season in the ones. Good news from the ressies point of view though as they were available and both showed their class on and off the field with how they went about their footy on Saturday. Spare a thought for Jordy, Crispy, Natcam, Schmidty, Knuckles, Balmy, Tye, Greeny, Jac Kelly and Adam Simpson who missed out altogether, no one enjoys picking Grand Final sides for the pure heartache of leaving blokes out. Tough decisions were made and all those blokes showed their class as well in how they handled themselves in the face of such great disappointment. Also feel for Lenny who was injured (broken hand), could have hidden it so he could play (and he would be a walk up start) but took the selfless path and declared himself unfit to play, thus putting the team needs first and cementing his name in Pumas folklore. He’s a great fella is Lenny and he epitomises what team sport and Puma spirit is all about.
Anyway footy, what happened? I don’t know who won the toss but we kicked down to the creek end first up, against a very slight breeze. I imagine, after Trent Cotchin’s disastrous decision to kick against the wind a couple of weeks ago, the Robina captain won it and kicked with it to start off. I didn’t think at that point though that there was all that much advantage either way. It didn’t look good to start with, despite us winning the first clearance Robina got the first 5 free kicks of the game and the first goal, not surprisingly, through a free kick right in front. We looked a little nervous early on and it seemed to take a while for us to settle in to the game. A great handball from big Jeff Heath to Chris Veneman though got us on the scoreboard and we were away. The umpires started to realise we were out there too and we started to get rewarded from them for our efforts as well. Robina got another one to edge back in front but we replied with the next three, through Richo, skipper Charmo and Heath to take a 12 point lead into the first break. It was a great contest to this point, fairly congested at times but when the ball did get out into the open some good run and skills were on display from both teams, it was an entertaining contest. Jed King and Wilbur were getting plenty of it through the middle, Sharkey, Hoppy and Ethan were tough to get past down back and Jeff Heath was causing plenty of headaches up forward. What could we do with a slight breeze in the second to ram home our advantage.
Pezz got us on the board first and that took us out to a 17 point lead but then momentum, for a time, swung Robina’s way and they put our defence right under the pump. If not for some poor kicking and some missed opportunities they could have been in front but we held on and got the momentum back through great goals from Barnesy, through a Pezz intercept up field, and then Pezz again, through a soft free kick it has to be said, to give us a handy 17 point break at the main change. Pezz, King and the acrobatic Hoppy down back were all prominent during the second quarter but still blokes contributing all around the ground. The half time chat from coach Muff was very measured and very calm, highlighted our good discipline but also enforced the need to be a bit smarter and cleaner with our ball use, especially by hand. The Premiership quarter was now at hand, win the quarter and we win the game, simple as that.
My notes now say that Steve is a peanut. That’s not what it really says but young kids might read this so I have edited it. That will teach me to leave my notebook lying around amongst Colts blokes while I head off to the rooms to have a listen. Anyway the 3rdquarter was a fascinating one. First from the umpiring point of view. I know I can tend to criticise them from time to time, maybe unfairly, but they were certainly difficult to work out in this term. The first half saw free kicks even at 8 each, the 3rd quarter saw 14 frees paid (8-6 against us) and a staggering 7 fifty meter penalties (4-3 against) so they really started to have an impact on the game, much to the frustration of many supporters around me. We got the first 5 free kicks and then Robina got the next 7 in succession, strange how these things go. That didn’t take away though from what was still a great and very intense game of footy unfolding and the game certainly went up a notch in pressure. Mal Vincent pushed forward and kicked our first, in reply to one from Robina. Then another one for the Roos, but when Jeff Heath goaled from what appeared to be a couple of back to back 50s we were back out in front by 17 and looking comfortable enough. Robina had other ideas and kicked the last three of the quarter, the last to some poor discipline from our side and a pair of fifties saw the scores all tied up at the last change. Fitzy, Hoppy, King and Veneman stood out for me in that quarter. What a cracking last quarter we were in for!. The mood in the huddle was more disappointment than anything, we really had let a good position slip through some poor discipline, a fact certainly not lost on coach Luke. He pleaded for one last big effort and the boys were away, I couldn’t wait to see this unfold.
Unfortunately the opening goal went to Robina, that was now 4 in a row and we were struggling a bit, they were really coming at us hard, they had built some confidence and had the momentum. But the lads dug deep and when Reading goaled to put us back up by a point everyone lifted, especially the crowd who were getting right into this game. It then went goal for goal, one to Robina (from another really soft free kick) but then one to Bridgey, who had been well held up until this point, saw us back in front. 10 minutes in and the scores were locked up once more. A Robina point, excitement building, a Robina goal, desperation building, a Springwood point, still a chance. This was edge of the seat stuff, back and forward the footy went, lots of Roos bodies behind the footy and getting difficult to get the ball forward and into some space. Then the moment that I, along with most of the Pumas people at the ground (except the players), thought the game had gotten away from us. With most of the Robina forwards pressing up the ground there was no one in their front half. A break from the middle by one of their blokes and a long kick into an unmanned forward line saw the footy roll and roll and roll some more and trickle over the line for a point milliseconds before our defender could get there. 7 points up and with no time on the clock the game was gone. Or was it? Someone forgot to tell the blue and golds out there that they couldn’t win from there. The Robina boys were out on their feet and out of position, this allowed us to take a quick kick in and move the footy around the kiosk side almost unopposed. We went coast to coast to see Reading (what a great move to push him forward) on the end of it and the resultant goal put us within a point with only seconds left. We had to win the clearance from the restart and we did. A long kick into the forward line drifted into the pocket and at the contest a free kick was paid to Bridgey. I don’t often agree with umpires but I could have given this umpire a great big hug right then because he actually paid the correct free kick, under pressure, so well done!! So as they say, cometh the hour cometh the man, Bridgey had the chance to do what every footy loving kid dreams of, kick the winning goal in the Grand Final!! On a 45 degree angle, 30 out, it went straight as a die and never looked like missing. Somewhere in amongst all the cheering the siren sounded (I didn’t hear it) and that set in motion great celebrations. What a game!!
So in the end it lived up to all expectations of a cracking game and it absolutely was, it went right to the wire and worth every cent of the 7 bucks I paid to see it. Fantastic scenes post match and fantastic to see the sportsmanship of the Robina side, how devastated they must have been but no histrionics, they just accepted it and acknowledged the game for what it was, they are a class outfit and very deserving Grand Finalists.
The final score was Springwood 13-9-87 defeated Robina 12-10-82.
Bridge 2, Reading 2, Pezzelato 2, Heath 2, Richardson 1, Veneman 1, Chalmers 1, Barnes 1, Vincent 1
The listed best players were Bridge, Reading, Ruf (a great effort given the hard tag he had all day), Pezzelato and Sutton and I have no problems with any of those. I would also like to add Hoppy, Fitzy and Jed King who in my humble opinion was close to the best player on the ground, I thought he was the difference between the 2 sides he was a jet. You could name the whole team and I would have no problem with any of them because it was a great team effort to get over the line against a great opposition. Congrats to everyone!!!
How could the senior group not be buzzed after that!! That win by the ressies must surely have got the juices pumping.
Grand Finals are funny things, so many stories of unbackable favourites getting beaten on the big day. Burleigh’s own website even alluded back to the GF of 2004 when they won it, after getting beaten by over a hundred in the semi final. Our record against them this year was good, wins by 56, 106 and 103 (in the major semi) coming in. Surely we had the confidence but surely too we knew that Grand Finals can cause all sorts of jitters and that any team in one is a chance. The team was at full strength, not surprising for the biggest game of the year, and as mentioned earlier a couple of blokes desperately unlucky not to be there, but that’s the game and it happens in every Grand Final in every competition around the country. There are always hard luck stories and disappointed players. And there will be next year and the year after and the year after for as long as footy is played. And of course our fellas were ready to make amends for last year’s loss in the AP Cup Grand Final. Again, not sure who won the toss but we were kicking to the creek end against what was now a slightly stronger breeze, maybe a couple of goals at the most.
The usual early game jitters from both sides saw a few fumbles and turnovers but eventually we worked it forward for second year Puma Hoops to take a great grab, kick the goal and settle us down into the contest. The first quarter was a pretty dour struggle with plenty of congestion and contested ball. Every now and then one team would find some space only to be cut off with some good defensive work from the opposition, or through a nervous skill error. Both teams struggled to make a lot of impact on the scoreboard, and with only 2 goals for the quarter, both to Springwood (Josh Menz proving that he does have a right foot), it meant that at quarter time it was still very much anyone’s game. I loved Menzies opening term, he was winning plenty of footy through the middle, as was Pagey, Greg Friis and Sponneck down back was fantastic with his athleticism and his run. Great defensive work by all down there to keep Burleigh goal less for the term. Up by 12 at quarter time with a slight breeze at the backs for the second. A rare sight too (apparently) during the quarter and I think someone actually has a picture of it but water carrier Buckets actually smiled. Twice. I’ll treat that like a UFO sighting until I see the picture.
Maybe Buckets could see into the future and that future started brightly with new Puma Luke O’Shea finding some space to mark and goal and put the early pressure right on the Bombers. Rowan was still finding the footy, Proudy was setting up many attacks through pinpoint use of the footy and Zaine was starting to really have an impact. Unfortunately though we just weren’t putting Burleigh away, we were starting to miss a few chances and that kept the door open for them. 10 minutes in they eventually broke the drought and kicked their first and the game was back on. O’Shea again but then another to Burleigh. Their confidence was rising and they were starting to chip the ball well around the ground and run in numbers and really start to even the contest up, despite the scoreboard still having us seemingly in control. Friis kicked an absolute monster from outside 50, then another new Puma in Andrew Soutar (I believe pronounced Sowter, thanks Tony King for clearing that up) got another (albeit a little lucky free kick wise, but we take those) to put a gap between the two teams. The Burleigh mob didn’t pack it in though, they kept coming and some loose defence from us just before half time saw them get a soft one to stay in it at the main break. Up by 24 points at half time but with 19 scoring shots (plus a couple out on the full) to 10 we could have been further in front. Although to be fair they had 3-7 so weren’t making the most of their chances either. A bit ugly as the players walked off the ground to a fair bit of abuse from a minority number of Burleigh supporters but our guys to their credit let it slide. I didn’t see what happened to cause this bit of a kerfuffle, directed at one player in particular, so can’t comment on it but security handled it all pretty well, even if one of our young female supporters copped some unwarranted abuse as well. It could have gotten really messy but thankfully it all died down and we all concentrated on the upcoming second half.
Coach Kingy was how you would expect, pretty calm and focussed, and he just outlined a few areas to improve on. Our forward line needed to work a little smarter, try to create a bit more space for our forwards and use the ball better coming in, rather than just bomb it in. Show some patience and keep up the good discipline. Plenty of calm from the players too, everyone knew there was still much work to do.
The first half of “The Premiership Quarter” was all Springwood and we really should have been 10 goals up at the midway point. Despite goals from Hoops and Zaine early we were still missing some pretty gettable goals and that was keeping the scoreboard close enough to give Burleigh a sniff. As is often the case when you leave the door open a bit good teams can barge through and Burleigh, to their credit, tried their utmost to get through. They kicked a couple in a row and all up 4 of the next 5 to get the margin back to 28 points at the last change, despite us having 32 scoring shots to 14 to that point. We kicked 3-10 for the term (against 4 straight) and it could have been all over red rover but it wasn’t. 9 goals 23 at the break wasn’t great reading but the positive was that in general play we seemed to be pretty much in control, in my opinion anyway. We just had too many players contributing around the ground and they were having trouble covering them all. Zaine was on fire now and clearly best on ground, Luke O’Shea was a handful up forward and Joe, Blake, Sponno, Josh Sutton, Brownie etc were very strong down back. Yes they kicked 4 goals but they only had 4 scoring shots, that’s a great defensive effort in my books. Coaches words at the final break of the year were pretty simple, patience and run over the top of them, no one was tired and there was no reason we couldn’t run the game out and bring it home!!
Burleigh had one last shot, they had to come out strong and take the game on and as a result it got pretty willing early. The contests now seemed to have a bit more in them and there was more urgency from both sides. Again we missed a few (4 more points to be 9-27) before finally another new boy in Robbie Jard got one straight and we went out beyond 6 goals. Tough from here for Burleigh but to their credit they kept at it, they didn’t make any contest easy. A great moment to then see club stalwart and all round great club bloke Bear Wallin got on the board for his first and I reckon that was game over right then. That was 7 goals and there was no miracle come back from there. O’Shea got his 4th and the celebrations were being planned, 48 points up. A soft free kick and 50 saw Burleigh get one back but it was too little too late and the game went through the motions for a while. An all in fracas got everyone interested again and the excitement levels rose but once that all settled down Zaine went again followed by a Burleigh goal, another to Zaine, another Burleigh and then the last and the fifth for the day for Luke O’Shea saw the final margin 49 points. When the siren sounded, whilst I am sure there was some relief in there too, there was utmost joy from players, coaches and supporters. We did it!!!! After many, many premiership-less years we finally had one. Well two actually so what an extraordinary day.
Zaine Pringle, quite deservedly was presented with the best on ground medal but what a great joy it was to watch the faces of the players when they received their medals, especially those that played in the GF last year and even more so the blokes like Thommo, Brownie, Robbie Raudino (who with immaculate timing played his 200th game on Grand Final day!!), Bear, Menzie, Blake, Donger, and BJ who played so many games through what would probably be some of the lowest points in the clubs history. To see the joy on their faces was priceless.
The final score was Springwood 15-29-119 (no that is not a typo) to Burleigh 10-10-70
Goal kickers Luke O’Shea 5, Zaine 3, Hoops 2, Soutar 1, Robbie Jard 1, Menzie 1 (did I mention it was on the right foot?) Greg Friis 1 and Bear 1.
Best players listed were Zaine, Blake, Luke O’Shea, Albie Proud, Dean Gentle and Brownie and absolutely all fair enough. I would also include Pagey (ok I am a bit bias there), Menzie, Sponno who was outstanding particularly early and Greg Friis. Boof Furfaro got better as the game went on and skipper Thommo ran around like a 20 year old, he was awesome. Once again it was a great team effort and every player had a hand in the victory so difficult not to mention everyone.
So that’s how the day unfolded and what a great day it was to be a Puma. Since though I have the floor, and the licence to write a few things down I have a couple of things I would like to add:
The Celebration & Thanks:
Firstly and obviously there were great celebrations back at the club afterwards. And no doubt still going as I write this a couple of days later. Whilst I’m getting way too old to party for too long I made sure I stuck around for the speeches before I headed off to leave the younger ones to it. These are a very important part of the celebrations, it’s the time to thank those that made it all possible. The theme of all the speeches, in my mind, from the President, Andrew, to the coaches and to anyone else who had the microphone was that these were premierships for everyone. Every single Puma person. Sure it was the players who deserve the most accolades, they are the ones that put their bodies on the line, and for that they fully deserve all of that. But these really were premierships for everyone, from the players and coaches to Andrew Hickman to Denis McCaig to Graham Murrihy to Bear to Simmo and to the countless others who put their lives aside to work for a footy club to try to achieve something special. And below these blokes are the fabulous committee people who direct the club in all its activities. Then there are all the other volunteers, the runners, timekeepers, water carriers, canteen operators, banner makers etc etc. And not for just the senior club but for the whole organisation, the Youth and Juniors included. And of course the wins were for all those young kids who pull on the Puma jumper every weekend hoping to, just like our newly crowned senior and ressies premiers, one day have a medal of their own around their neck. And don’t forget the supporters (and wasn’t it great to see so many there on Saturday), the wives, girlfriends, brothers, sisters, parents, mates and of course the old boys (great to see so many of them at the game too) who have pulled on the Pumas jumper in years gone by. And of course all of our wonderful sponsors, without whom, none of this would be possible. So yes these were premierships were for everyone and I loved that this was made clear by all the speech makers. That made me very proud to be a Puma right there.
And secondly it would be remiss not to compare the feeling of these premierships to the feelings around the club in the not too distant past. I came to the club 10 years ago with my son playing junior footy in the under 12s. At the time I took a passing interest in the seniors and noted that they were at that time, a pretty competitive group. Hundreds of sporting clubs experience a decline in on-field fortunes but I think it’s fair to say our decline from probably about 2007 on was both rapid and disastrous and beyond the normal cyclic type downturn. Within a couple of years and for a period of 5 or 6 years it is fair to say we were a training drill for most other clubs in our comp. No doubt clubs marked us in before each season as a percentage booster, with probably very good reason to. I think we won half a dozen games in 5 years, maybe one or two more but that is about it. 30 goal defeats were not uncommon. We lost a heap of players in a very short time and with recruiting difficult with little cash to spend it was always going to be a long road back. I think for me though the bottoming out was the day I saw Graham Murrihy running around in the twos. That is absolutely no disrespect to Graham, he is a legend and a great bloke, but his footy career would have finished 30 years prior to that day and he nor the club should have been in that position, but they were. To see our numbers that decimated that Graham had to pull the boots on, well the only way from there was up. I loved Tony King’s summation of those down years, “we were a drinking club with a football problem”. He hit it right on the head.
But up we went. A combination of some good footballers coming our way in the last couple of years (O’Shea, Pringle, Hooper, Greg Friis, Jard, Soutar, Gentle, Proud, Furfaro, Perovic, Pennyquick, Jed King to name a few who played this year) and some regulars (Wallin, Menz, Brown, Wallis, Raudino, Thompson, Ruf, King, Steve Friis, Page, Sutton, Sponneck and Mitchell) sticking at it made for a great mix of talent and experience. Throw in the coaching talents of Kingy, Doy, Muff and Tish and that became a potent mix in 2014. Many of these “stalwarts” have been playing here since they were in primary school, that is a sensational effort and they deserve their senior medals probably more than anyone for their service and loyalty to our club. During those down years it may have seemed it but all was not totally lost. 2009 and 10 saw back to back Under 18s flags and it is no coincidence that many of those players in those teams now are senior premiership players. Some of those blokes, like Brownie and AJ for example were probably thrown in the deep end out of necessity in those years but it could be argued that they are better footballers today because of it. Brown, Page, Ruf, Sipple, Fitzpatrick, McCloy, Schmidt, McKinley, Sutton, Pezzelato and Friis (Steve) were all part of this senior squad in 2014 and if they stick around, our future is in good hands. So from the depths we rose and that makes the premierships on the weekend so much sweeter, and particularly for those that endured and toughed out those down years.
So now lastly let the celebrations continue for however long that may be. Plenty to look forward to in the short term, presentation night, no doubt a players trip away, AFL Grand Final day but then at some point the hard work starts all over again. I may be wrong but I don’t think any Springwood team (apart for the 18s as mentioned before) has gone back to back, no senior team anyway. That will be the goal now no doubt. Convincing blokes to stay, have one more year, and convincing new blokes to come to our club will be the focus. As Shane Williams, the Burleigh coach, said post match, “we look forward to next year, we will be stronger” so we can’t sit back for too long, we have to get better too. We are in a good position, the seniors are obviously strong, we have some great talent in our Colts and we have some ripper juniors coming through in good numbers. Let’s never forget those lean times and do all we can to keep this club up and where it belongs!!
Go the Mighty Pumas!!!!
Last Modified on 18/09/2014 21:06