Gippy League Grand Final observations with Liam Durkin

All in it together
VERY pleasing to hear Sale senior playingcoach Jack Johnstone rang every single Magpie player that couldn’t get a place in the starting 22 for the reserves Grand Final.
With both teams qualified, Sale was blessed and equally cursed to have more players than
spots available.

Selection headaches
SELECTION is always a hot topic whenever a Grand Final is concerned.
Sale went in unchanged from the preliminary final. Jesse Collins could have played his first
game since the qualifying final, but the decision was made to leave him out.
To Collins’ credit, he graciously opted not to take a spot of someone in the reserves.
Leongatha made one change, bringing Ned Hanily in for Nick Nagel. The former had not played since Round 17, but repaid the faith by kicking two goals and featuring in the best
players on Grand Final day.
Nagel could count himself a bit unlucky, having played every game from Round 15, only to get axed for the last game.

One club mentality
MY favourite sight at the Grand Final came when the Leongatha senior team ran onto the
Ordinarily in that moment, the senior team would break into a jog around the square, but
on this occasion, the Parrots made a beeline straight to the reserves to join in celebrating
their victory.
And it wasn’t just a token pat on the back – they were full on hugging reserves players
and looked genuinely thrilled their mates had been successful.
Should we be all that surprised?
A couple of hours later Cade Maskell and Tom Marriott were being presented best on
ground medals.
Maskell has captained senior interleague. Marriott has won two senior league best and
Guess what? Both have also played reserves.
Even the best players in the league aren’t too proud to play seconds for Leongatha.

Abrupt end
THE national anthem is only performed at local footy and netball for special occassions, such as a Grand Final.
A portable speaker, Spotify and a phone are generally all that is needed.
With players, officials and spectators standing before the big match on Saturday, there was a feeling of unnecessary delay as the second verse of Advance Australia Fair began to play out.
Clearly local football and netball did not have time for the second verse, and the national anthem was cut after the words ‘radiant Southern Cross’.
It would appear someone selected the full version of the national anthem on Spotify.
At least it wasn’t the full full version.
Did you know Advance Australia Fair actually has four verses?

Just reward
ALWAYS good to see people rewarded for being team players.
Leongatha’s Grant Fleming has been one of the nice guys of the competition for a number
of years, but a premiership had always eluded him.
At 34 he may well have thought his time was up, but he finally got a medal around his
neck on the weekend.
In Round 17 of the regular season I found myself playing on Fleming.
Toward the end of the game, (they were absolutely smoking us) I wished him well for
the finals and said I hope they win the flag for his sake.
Darcy Hume was another I was pleased for. Hume had generously helped out an opposition club during the year when they were short on numbers.
By doing so he may well have jeopardised his position in the team, but he ended up a
premiership player.
Perhaps there is indeed a karma in sport.

Agony and ecstasy
IT would have been a tough night for the Pendleburys last Saturday.
Sale’s own Scott captained Collingwood in their one-point preliminary final loss to
Sydney, while his younger brother Ryan played in Sale’s losing Grand Final.
Those on the Swans bandwagon however, would have been jumping for joy after the final siren.
During the day I bumped into Damian Hogan, son of the late great Kevin Hogan, who played for South Melbourne and after whom a studio at ABC Gippsland is named.
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester, himself an old South Melbourne supporter, was also chuffed with the result, watching the match all the way from the USA.
On another note, is Sydney the best no-name team of all time?

Game away from the game
IT isn’t only the players who lay big hits on the field.
As the Leongatha players rushed on stage for the traditional ‘yahooing’, dozens of cameras were at ground level snapping away.
For a few seconds it was every man for himself, as people literally pushed their way forward to try and get the best shot. Such a sight is common in media, and is
especially heightened whenever a high-profile politician is involved.
I had a great shot of Scott Morrison lined up when he visited the region a few years ago,
only for a network TV camera to come barging in and clock me right in the side of the face.

Thoughts please
NOT wanting to rain on peoples parade, but I think only Leongatha can have the title of
premiers and champions this season.
While Morwell A Grade technically did not lose a game, they did have a draw, and that in my books means they didn’t go through the season with a perfect record.
That being said, given how dominate Leongatha and Morwell was this season in their respective sports, I posed this question to a few people after the game: How would
Leongatha go in the VFL and how would Morwell go in VNL?
It is hard to answer, but an interesting discussion nonetheless.
Traralgon played in the VFL 25 years ago. Could the Leongatha team of today perhaps
match it with a lower ranked VFL side?
What division would Morwell’s A Grade team play at VNL level?
I would love to hear your thoughts if you have any.
Let me know by emailing