WARRANDYTE Football Club made history in a momentous day for the community winning three out of three grand finals in front of a jubilant crowd at Walker Park on Saturday.
the U19s, Reserves and Seniors outfits all displayed the necessary grit and desire to record hard-fought wins over Ferntree Gully, Forest Hill and Kilsyth respectively.
For Warrandyte, the Grand Final victories mean a promotion back into division three of the EFL, as well as a place in the history books, becoming the first team of the decade to have all three sides win their grand finals in one year.
2015 triple flag souvenir liftout Pages 17-20
Icing on the cake
Bloods seniors seal the deal for triple treat
By MIKEY DI PETTA and SCOTT PODMORE
AS if the pressure wasn’t on.
Two sensational performances by the Warrandyte Football Club Under 19s and Reserves to claim flag glory, and the Bloods seniors were suddenly faced with ticking off a perfect day – a triple premiership bonanza that was as rare as hen’s teeth.
Pressure, indeed, because our seniors were the ones every fan was most confident about and also because their victory would be the deciding factor for moving back into Division 3 where the competition is better and healthier.
Playing a Kilsyth team that had pipped the Bloods by a point during the season, Warrandyte was well and truly primed with a week off after a convincing second semi final win over Forest Hill and also welcomed back James Appleby and Troy Ratcliffe to field an imposing line-up full of strong run and carry.
The Bloods line-up couldn’t look any more menacing.
With the crowd also primed after two big wins in the earlier games, the roar for the Bloods was immense.
Warrandyte couldn’t have asked for a better start, winning the ball early out of the middle and generating penetrating inside 50 entries. The Bloods forwards were licking their lips and it didn’t take long for Froud to claim his first and Appleby to slot one shortly after. The Bloods stormed to a 13-point lead within minutes.
However, Kilsyth proved it was up for the fight and star full forward Jay Sherlock answered Froud with a major of his own, starting a run of three straight Kilsyth goals. The momentum of the game was turned on its head and only desperate defending by skipper Tom Naughtin kept the margin under single digits at the first change.
Sherlock began to stamp his authority on proceedings and booted a controversial second major that seemed to graze the post to hand Kilsyth a two-point lead at quarter time.
Coach Tout calmed his troops in the quarter time huddle and pointed out “we knew they would challenge like this, it’s no surprise”, urging his troops to settle, focus on their roles and get stuck into the style of game that had worked for them all year. That including demanding more from playmakers to rise to the challenge, and even squared up in and under veteran Tom Appleby with a poke to the chest making it clear he was one he wanted a big lift from – and deliver he did, as the Bloods came out in the second with a dominant display throughout the second term kicking six goals to two.
Dunn and Froud began to link up in brilliant fashion, assisting goals for each other to help build a strong Warrandyte lead. They would continue to dominate and bag 11 majors between them in a powerful display of two gun forwards seamlessly linking up as the competition’s most dangerous forward set-up.
Froud ran amok and quickly had the crowd in a state of delirium with three majors in 10 minutes and that excitement reached fever pitch when skipper Tom Naughtin bombed one in from outside 50.
As the half-time siren sounded, the Bloods left the field to raucous applause, having taken a commanding 25-point lead, 9.7.61 to 6.6.36.
The onslaught continued in the third term and Warrandyte seemed to have one hand on the cup with Froud benefiting from quick inside 50s that were clearly unsettling the Kilsyth defence. The Warrandyte run and carry was on show and was complemented by plenty of physical pressure from Jacob Daley, who threw his body into every contest as he had done all year. Daley was tremendous, an inspiration all day and eventually was rewarded with best afield honours.
Fans young and old began to accept that the trio of wins was now not just a possibility, but was looking extremely likely with Warrandyte leading by 44 points with a quarter to play.
It seemed impossible, but Kilsyth capitalised on Warrandyte’s drop off in intensity at the beginning of the fourth to squeeze their way back into the game. The underdogs chipped away at the deficit and suddenly found themselves within four goals off the lead with about ten minutes to play, but Warrandyte did enough to hold that lead and emerge as 23-point victors claiming the third premiership of the day.
Warrandyte fans piled onto the ground to celebrate with the three sides who had provided the first taste of grand final success since 2006. In a spirited community gesture, the senior team invited one and all in for the theme song which was delivered loud and proud.
Bring on season 2016 when the Bloods step up to Division 3.
Warrandyte 3.5.23 9.7.41 15.10.100 16.11.107
Kilsyth 4.1.25 6.6.42 8.8.46 12.12.84
Warrandyte goals: Froud 6, Dunn 5, Naughtin, Lamaris, Ansaldi, Skorsis, T Appleby.
Warrandyte best: Daley, Gauci, Froud, T Appleby, Tout, Naughtin.
FLAG NO.2 Reserves dig deep and deliver
FRESH off the back of the inspirational U19s victory, the Reserves came out pumped up and ready to add to the Warrandyte tally.
The misty morning had cleared and the sun began to beam down over Walker Park and the crowd swelled to new levels in expectation for another terrific contest.
However, the game was a scrappy affair for the first 15 minutes of the match when both teams locked down each other’s forward line and the scoreboard was showing donuts. Not even a point had been scored as both teams went at it with relentless intensity.
But the Bloods finally broke the deadlock, finally managing to prize the ball free out of the endless stoppages and peg the first on the board before 100-goal star Gareth Hitchman also found a way through the big sticks to give the Bloods a two goal cushion going into the quarter time huddle.
Being scoreless in the opening stanza didn’t deter Forest Hill, who came out with the same level of attack on the ball and it started paying dividends.
Stoppages were certainly clogging the flow of the game and neither side was able to crack the game open. Jake Bentley showed admirable determination around the packs to help Warrandyte restrict opposition movement, but it was clear the Bloods had to get their season-defining “run and gun game going” to have a real chance, as one supporter aptly pointed out behind the fence.
A quiet quarter on the scoreboard for Warrandyte allowed Forest Hill to creep closer as the halftime siren blew, and managed to get within seven points of the Bloods, trailing Warrandyte 2.0 12 to 3.1 19.
An expectant and slightly restless Warrandyte crowd primed themselves to get behind the Reserves as they came out for the second half and do their part to help the side secure a second Bloods premiership.
However, it was Forest Hill doing all the singing in the stands after a magnificent three-goal burst stunned Warrandyte midway through the third term. The Bloods midfielders struggled to provide any serviceable entry for star forward Hitchman and co, as the fiercely congested nature of the game seemed to suit Forest Hill.
Strong defending by the Forest Hill back six restricted the Bloods to just two behinds for the term and Warrandyte trailed by nine heading into the last change, leaving the game on a knife balance. It was looking terribly like a repeat of last year’s Grand Final match in which the Bloods succumbed when it counted.
But not this time.
After a three quarter time spray by coach Wally Cashion, the Bloods came out showing they wanted it more. The game continued to sit in the balance throughout the early stages of the quarter, but it was Warrandyte holding field position due to terrific forward and midfield pressure, in particular by Toby Versteegen. The Bloods reduced the deficit to just two points by the 10 minute mark of the term and what followed in the final 20 minutes gave every supporter at the ground goosebumps. The Warrandyte boys well and truly switched on in the game’s most defining moments.
The Bloods found another gear and their forward line burst into life, seemingly feeding off the crowd. Hitchman bagged his third, which was quickly followed by a brilliant running goal by Kyle Sultana to put Warrandyte eight points up with just 10 minutes to play.
Dangerous small forward Matt Colborne-Veel finally got his moment late in the term kicking a clutch goal to give Warrandyte a double digit lead and send the pro-Warrandyte crowd into raptures.
With time winding down, Mitchell Gaffney iced the cake, kicing one of the goals of the season tucked on the boundary line to seal a classic 19-point win, Warrandyte taking the premiership by 18 points.
Warrandyte 2.0.12 3.1.19 3.3.21 8.9.57
Forest Hill 0.0.0 2.0.12 5.0.30 6.3.39
Goals: Warrandyte: Hitchman 3, Sultana, Gaffney, Jurey, Colborne-Veel, Parker.
Best: Bentley, McWhirter, Munro, Johnstone, Versteegen, Gaffney.
Flag No.1 One giant leap for Warrandyte
By MICHAEL DI PETTA
UNDER 19s captain Sid Phillip-Owen said it best on Saturday in the post-match pandemonium as our Thirds rose from being underdogs to premiership heroes – “it’s one giant leap for Warrandyte”.
The Bloods’ Under 19s were first up on the big day and set the tone in sensational fashion claiming the flag with an inspiring 22-point win over Ferntree Gully.
Phillip-Owen played a terrific captain’s game to take home best afield honours and young star Benny Richardson kicked three to lead the Bloods to victory.
The game began in in typical finals fashion; tough and uncompromising, with consistent drizzle also affecting play. Warrandyte was relentless in its attack on the football in the middle of the ground and staunch down back, limiting inside fifties.
Young star Ben Richardson got Warrandyte off to the start they needed, finding space in the forward 50 to mark and convert.
The game remained stoppage heavy, with snap shots at goal serving as Warrandyte’s only way of troubling the scorers until Daniel Mifsud booted a beauty through the Bloods second.
Richardson added another late in the quarter to cap off a terrific first term, allowing Warrandyte to stun the more fancied rival in Ferntree Gully and take a 22-point lead into the quarter time break.
The second term was a very different affair, as Forest Hill emerged a much more effective team attacking the football with more vigor then the Bloods.
Getting numbers around the stoppages, the Forest Hill midfielders and forwards worked to lock the ball in their half and struck back with two quick snapped goals.
A couple of dropped marks and strong forays forward allowed Forest Hill to draw level, before a timely after-the-siren goal by Josh Beasley relieved the pressure for Warrandyte and allowed the Bloods to five-point lead into half-time.
The second half saw the Warrandyte leaders come to fore, especially captain skipper Sid who led by example, going back with the flight and putting his body on the line over and over again to rescue his side from opposition attacks. Defender Astan Ure stuck to his task in a lockdown role in the backline, but Ferntree Gully were still able to wrestle control of the game and took a five-point lead into the final change.
With the game and season on the line, Warrandyte lifted brilliantly in the final term, with Sean Bowers slotting one to put the Bloods 10 points clear with just 15 minutes to play. Ferntree Gully attempted to respond, but Captain Sid continued to play a blinder, especially when it counted, and refused to let his team surrender the lead.
A quick-fire pair of goals by big man Josh Beasley put the game beyond doubt with just a few minutes to spare and Warrandyte and supporters celebrated the first flag of the day.
Warrandyte 3.4 4.5 5.8 9.13.67
Ferntree Gully 0.0 3.6 6.7 6.9.45
Warrandyte goals: Richardson 3, Beasley 3, Bowers, Mifsud, Bektash.