TRAFALGAR have taken out the top prize in Mid Gippsland football, beating Newborough 10.3 (63) to 8.8 (56) in a greatly anticipated grand final clash.
After Newborough had won the fourths, thirds and reserves the stage was set for the senior Bulldogs to take home the trophy, but it was not to be and their coach Allan Chandler blamed missed opportunities for the loss.
In the first quarter players on both sides were hasty with their disposals and a lot of pressure was applied leading to a low scoring opening quarter which had Newborough 1.2 (8) just in front of Trafalgar 1.1 (7).
Newborough got its second goal before Michael Farrell replied with Trafalgar’s second.
As players’ nerves started to settle Trafalgar gained some momentum and kicked their third and fourth goals.
While Newborough had a lot of the ball it did not use it as well as Trafalgar and could not capitalise on the time it spent in its forward 50 metres. Trafalgar led 4.2 (26) to 2.3 (15) at half time.
The Bloods kicked the first goal of the second half and were out to a 17-point lead; the greatest margin all day.
Newborough kicked three consecutive goals, hitting the lead with its third, 33 to 32.
The Bloods managed a goal to snatch back the lead and Newborough hit the front again, but it was short lived as Trafalgar kicked a quick goal to lead 7.2 (44) to 6.4 (40) going into the final term.
It was the same setting as every time these teams have played this year, Trafalgar was just up at three-quarter time.
And as always it came down to the last quarter.
Newborough kicked the opening goal to hit the lead by two points, but Trafalgar was quick to reply with two goals.
Allan Chandler, who had been a driving force for Newborough all day, snapped a goal from near the boundary line and kept his Bulldogs in it.
Trafalgar got the ball from the centre and Michael Farrell was part of another crucial goal, kicking it across the sticks to Slater, who kicked it through the middle and stretched Trafalgar’s lead out to 11.
Knowing there was not long to go Newborough was quick to get the ball down to its forward 50m, but Trafalgar was not going to let this one slip and tactically flooded its back line.
The Bulldogs had four shots at goal, each unlucky not to go through, all hitting the post or just falling to the side and ultimately the Bulldogs fell short as the siren sounded and Trafalgar celebrated the ultimate victory.
Trafalgar coach Chris Kyriacou said he was “so proud” of his teammates and “everyone around the footy club”.
“We said if 21 blokes stuck together and played four quarters and played for each other (we could win it). I think that’s what we did today: just played our heart and soul out. We were under the pump and we stood up,” Kyriacou said.
“We said we only had to beat them once. We said we wanted to show the football world how to win a premiership and I’m very proud of the boys for doing that.”
He said he was proud his team had stuck together and added that 19 out of the 21 players that represented Trafalgar on the day played junior football there.
“This is probably the best win Trafalgar footy club’s ever had and I’m proud to be a part of it,” Kyriacou said.
Klay Butler, who won the VCFL award and Bill McConbille award for best on ground agreed that out of the three times Trafalgar has won the premiership in the past five years “this one’s the best”.
“All the other ones we’ve been straight through without playing a preliminary final,” Butler said.
“Coming in as underdogs, against Newborough as well, our biggest rival, it couldn’t be any better.”
League best and fairest winner Michael Farrell was overwhelmed as he spoke after the win saying he was “speechless” before finding his words.
“Couldn’t ask for a better year; personally and with the team… it’s just the best,” Farrell said.
He said while he was “pretty happy” with his own performance the team performance was “unreal” and he “couldn’t think of a better way to end the season”.
“We’re a group of mates. We’re home grown, more than we were in the 2009 and 2010 premiership sides,” he said.
He said despite losing to Newborough twice through the year the group “had faith”.
“We knew we could do it,” he said.
Newborough coach Allan Chandler said his side tried, but “just didn’t take our opportunities”.
“If we didn’t miss four or five in the last quarter that would have made all the difference,” Chandler said.
“At the end of the day it’s a grand final and that’s what it comes down to and that bit of luck to go our way. We kept coming. We just didn’t do it.
“Everyone contributed throughout the day and some of the players played really good games, but at the end of the day we couldn’t get the result we wanted.”
He gave “full credit to Trafalgar for being a top side for five years” and said the success they have achieved is what his club was striving for.
“I think we can definitely use the pain of defeat next year to drive us on,” he said.
“The group is pretty young so this experience will be good for them.
“We’ve just got to harness it the right way and if we can do that over preseason I’m sure we’ll come back bigger better and stronger.”
In the other three football matches of the day Newborough just got over its opposition.