ONE of the biggest home and away crowds in Gippsland League history packed the Traralgon Recreation Reserve on Queen’s Birthday Monday to watch former Carlton teammates Brendan Fevola and Nick Stevens line up for the Maroons in its clash with fierce rival Morwell.
Despite kicking six goals in a dominant individual performance, the services of country Victoria’s top forward was not enough to help Traralgon over the line against the in-form and undefeated ladder leader.
More than 150 people packed a luncheon prior to the match to hear from Fevola, who talked up his on-field chances.
When asked by a patron how many goals he would kick for the afternoon, Fevola replied “probably eight. If I kick any more than six I’ll be rapt because I only played two days ago … if they get the ball in enough I’ll kick a few,” he said.
On top of his permanent role at Yarrawonga, Fevola has this year been doing the rounds of country Victoria.
“There’s a few clubs but I’ve only missed one Yarra (Yarrawonga) game,” he said.
And Fevola is playing just as important a role off the field.
“He does enormous amounts and he is just a kind person and it’s great to have him back at these footy clubs and he raises a lot of money for local areas and local footy clubs,” former teammate Stevens, who was among the best on ground, said.
“If we can drag people back to the footy it’s only going to be great for grass roots footy. It’s good for the players that you play with. I love it. I love playing footy. It’s great and its rewarding,” Fevola said.
Morwell was first to get on the board, however it was not long before the crowd of thousands got their wish when Fevola took a one-handed mark in the pocket and went on to kick the first of six for the day.
It was the Maroons’ only goal in a disappointing opening term which saw it trail by 20 points at the first change.
Traralgon worked its way back into the contest in the second and by half-time was back within 10 points.
Another flying Fevola grab and goal was the highlight of the third, helping Traralgon stay in touch as it went to the final change just 11 points adrift.
The crowd held its breath with every Maroons forward entry in the last, with Fevola lurking as a constant threat.
Coming off the back of several packs, the drawcard forward continually found ways to get his hands on the ball and kept the home fans’ hopes alive with two goals for the quarter.
Traralgon hovered within eight points of the lead for most of the term, but Morwell held tough and kicked four goals to three to produce its eighth straight win to the tune of 14 points.
Fevola was swamped by fans after the final siren and proved his worth with gate takings just shy of $16,000.
For more photos turn to page 4.