JONTY: Alright boys, it’s the most exciting time of the year, you’ve each had grand finals on the weekend and I’ve got mine coming up. We’ll start with best action and we’ll extend it a little bit with grand final reviews. I’ll start with mine to get out of the way. The local team I watched was the Dandenong Stingrays; they went down to Oakleigh in the preliminary final. Elli Symonds was ultra-impressive and is a name to remember for next year. She kicked two goals in the second quarter to try and keep her team in it including a goal from outside 50. They put up a good fight, only four losses for the season, including the game on Saturday. But without further ado, let’s get to the grand final action and I’ll start with you, Dave. You had a fire at your game, that would’ve been the low light but certainly would’ve caused drama. What on-field was the best action?
DAVE: Yep…towards the end of the second quarter of the twos, smoke started to come from behind the bar. The bloke next to me said ‘I think the generator has caught on fire’ but within about 30 seconds, a tree exploded into flames to the ‘oohs and ahhhs’ of the crowd. The wind was blowing the flames and I thought it was going to get ugly. I’m actually really surprised how well everything ended. On-field, Inverloch was far too good for Phillip Island, who didn’t turn up. Inverloch’s pressure was fantastic. The best action? At the 20-minute mark of the last quarter I went to my car to grab some notes, for post-game interviews, and Will Hams, best on ground for the day…
JONTY: (Interrupts) Clearly best?
DAVE: Clearly. He dropped off his opponent in the forward pocket and, right from the where my car was, he kicks a goal to put an exclamation mark on a premiership win. No-one could kick a goal from there all day. He banged it at the right hand post, drifted it back and I had the best view in the house. He ran back to half-forward, got swamped by his teammates and it was game over. That goal was amazing but he did so much more to warrant the best-on-ground medal.
MARCUS: I was at the Emerald v Berwick Springs grand final yesterday. You could tell Emerald were on straight away and Berwick Springs were a bit off. I think it was crystallised very early. The second goal of the game: after an inside 50 to Emerald, Jared Derksen, the big ruck, crunched a Berwick Springs opponent, the ball spilled to another Titans defender who was wrapped up by Rogan Goonan in a perfect tackle, that was paid holding the ball. Their half-forward, Lachlan Hoye, picked it up, ran 30 metres unopposed and nearly kicked the ball into the next suburb. That was after about 10 minutes and in hindsight it was symbolic because Emerald were up for the fight and Berwick Springs didn’t quite turn up.
DAVE: What was the turnaround, did Emerald have returning players? It felt like they were the best team, lost that tag, then turned up on grand final day.
MARCUS: On paper, the lineups were similar. Maybe the week off for Berwick Springs came at the wrong time. It’s hard to say, but I was surprised at how dominant a performance it was.
JONTY: Have you had any players who have made their mark on this September? You often talk about players’ reputations being made in finals, and certainly solidified. Anyone match that description for you, Dave?
DAVE: Not really. There were 10 players who won Inverloch’s last premiership in 2017 and this premiership was all about that group staying together through the pandemic, getting knocked out in an elimination final they shouldn’t have lost last year, and redeeming themselves. They should’ve finished top two and got the double chance last year but stuffed that up and then got knocked out in week one of finals. So there was redemption on their minds and the old boys came together.
JONTY: Did you see the chemistry on grand final day?
DAVE: Yeah, especially after the game, talking to the players, it was clearly a special moment for the club with the footballers and netballers celebrating together. The coach from last year Ben Soumilas had a vision that A-Grade netball and senior football would win a flag on the same day together and it all came to fruition.
JONTY: Brendon Gale-esque.
MARCUS: Do you believe that? That he had a vision five years ago and it just happened to come to fruition.
JONTY: Is Saturday the first time you had heard about it?
DAVE: I heard about it last week.
MARCUS: There’s an asterisk on that.
JONTY: What was the overriding narrative of the premiership win for Emerald, Marcus?
MARCUS: They were the best performed side in the home-and-away season but they really did do it the hard way. They lost the semi-final in the first week in overtime, they had four players do ACLs in preseason, one player suffered a lacerated liver. Sean Clearihan, the senior coach, lost his father about six weeks ago too, so to go the long way and have to beat Healesville in the semi, they kept fronting up to every challenge and full credit to them, they were able to get it done on the day.
JONTY: Uncanny how similar that is to Cranbourne last year, who had lots of players missing, including a few due to ruptured ACLs and did it the hard way. It’s a good segue into Cranbourne, I’ll throw to you first, Dave. From your point-of-view, we’re obviously going back a few years, maybe tell us about the beginning of this generation and then I’ll speak about more recent times. They’ve built a reputation as being hard to beat.
DAVE: It’s a really good story, the Cranbourne story. They weren’t much chop for a while, then in 2009 the big fella comes along, Marc Holt. In 2010 they were the best team in it, knocked out in straight sets. 2011, they win the flag and it looks like a period of dominance with the best full forward in the competition. They go on to lose 2012-13-14-15 in the grand final, then win 2016. I thought they were ready to win five or six flags in a seven-year period but they just ran into a powerhouse Narre Warren team and then Berwick became strong. Some of those blokes like Holty must be close to retiring. I remember Max Gearon kicking five goals in the midfield one day which is probably the best grand final performance I’ve seen in local footy in the last decade. I love Cranbourne and I wish them all the best for the weekend.
JONTY: And maybe in a sentence, when you think of the Luke Bee-Hugos and Mick Bolands and Ryan Joneses of the world, what comes to mind?
DAVE: Tough, I remember one grand final in 2012, I went out there at three-quarter-time and one bloke couldn’t see out of one eye, another bloke was getting his shoulder taped and I thought ‘these guys are true warriors’. They’re mates who played for each other.
JONTY: A similar thing happened in the second semi final. A player went in to win a hardball and came off second best, blood coming down his face and a teammate sees that unfolding and 10 seconds later it’s his turn to put his head over the footy and get crunched and he does so unflinchingly. When it’s their time to go, they go. The players they’ve brought in, and some who have risen to accompany the older contingent, have really maintained that reputation in more recent times. If they win on Saturday, those old guys deserve credit, but the rise of Zak Roscoe, Jarryd Barker, Dylan Cavalot and those types has been excellent, but the midfield is unrecognisable from what it was a decade ago. Yet, they have maintained the core group in other areas of the ground.
JONTY: We’ll move on to league medals, we’ve all had them in the last week or so. Were your results expected?
MARCUS: It was a surprise that three Magpies polled in the top five vote-getters in the Shane Smith medal. Take nothing away from Tom Miller’s season, he was super consistent all year and deserved to win, but he only played 13 of 16 games, and I thought teammates might pinch too many votes off him, yet still polled 25 votes. Averaged 36 disposals and really stepped up in the midfield in the absence of premiership stars who vacated last year.
JONTY: And Jackson Sketcher winning one with no Kyle Martin next to him?
MARCUS: Yeah, Steve Hughes, the Noble Park coach said to me, ‘he’s been a bridesmaid for a few years but now he finally gets the credit’ which is a lovely way to sum up the impact he had.
JONTY: Very good. Dave?
DAVE: I’ll start with netball, Renee Pilkington. West Gippsland has only been going since 2017 and she won her third medal this year so she’s the best player in the short history of the competition. A lovely person too, made a really nice speech at the presentation night last Monday…so well done to Renee. And Dale Gawley – he played at Dandenong Stingrays back in the day and finished second to Brent Macaffer in the medal last year. He’s only been at Kilcunda-Bass for two years. A very good left footer and mobile and nimble in the ruck. Reminds me of Scott Meyer back in the day. Dale would be pleased with that comparison because Scotty is the best local ruck I’ve seen.
JONTY: I was hoping to see Zak Roscoe win it for Cranbourne and the storyline is that all Roscoe needed was multiple votes to win the award in the last round, 110-point demolition of St Kilda City. He was voted the best Cranbourne player on the ground, but the two and three votes were both Saints!
DAVE: That’s remarkable.
JONTY: Roscoe had a terrific season. So did Dylan Weickhardt who is a big reason Cheltenham’s in a position they’re in. The other player I thought would be up there was Justin Taylor from Port Melbourne. In Division 2, Makaio Haywood was in the top three after round 14 because he was in and out of the team, but every time he plays, he catches your eye so it is not a surprise that the umpires notice him. Ditto Ricky Johnson, he’s a livewire off half-forward and probably used 2023 to turbocharge the rest of his career.
JONTY: Just to finish off on Ron Barassi, tragic news surfaced on Saturday evening that he passed away. In a sentence Dave, when his name is said, what comes to mind.
DAVE: Mum and Dad are both mad Collingwood supporters and I was two-years-old when Collingwood was beaten by Carlton in the 1970 grand final. I’ve heard the story a million times that ‘Barassi’ won the game for Carlton by bringing Ted Hopkins onto the ground. They reckon that was the invention of modern football. I remember him as the number-one coach through his period. I think the naming of the premiership cup as the ‘Ron Barassi Cup’ is perfect, I couldn’t think of a better person so I hope it happens quickly.
JONTY: Pioneer was the word I think of so it’s interesting you talk about the 1970 grand final etc. Everything he has done for the game shows in his legacy. Someone as young as me knows his impact.
MARCUS: I don’t have as great a sense of the impact as Dave would but he certainly was one of the more influential figures in football. The premiership cup does need a name. This seems like the perfect solution to that conundrum.
JONTY: Time will tell. Vale Ron Barassi.