Big fish from little creek

When it counts: Fish Creek upstaged Newborough to win the Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League senior flag. Photographs: Zaida Glibanovic




SO much was expected of the 2023 Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League Grand Final between Newborough and Fish Creek.

Both sides had impressive performances leading into the big dance; the Bulldogs had been unbeaten, but the Kangaroos had got within a kick just a fortnight earlier during the second-semi.

The weather was near perfect, the ground at Morwell East excellent, but for Newborough that’s unfortunately where it stopped, the premiership favourites not able to get themselves in the game at any time, losing 9.12 (66) to 5.8 (38).

The Kangaroos jumped out of the blocks courtesy of a two, maybe three goal breeze, inaccuracy in some ways keeping the Bulldogs in the game at quarter time.

Newborough stopped the bleeding by halftime, but were unable to bridge the 17-point gap that existed.

There was concern for concern but it was not yet a crisis.

The third quarter was when the Kangaroos put some space between themselves and the Bulldogs, a 36-point margin was always going to be a hurdle too far with just 25 minutes of football remaining.

Newborough’s best was not good enough on the weekend. Every door they opened was quickly closed, but that didn’t stop them trying to break the door down, their last quarter, their best as they cut the margin but still fell short by just over four goals.

Fish Creek maintained their title as the most successful team in regional Victoria, their 2023 premiership, their 37, keeping them at the top of all clubs in the state.

Victorious coach Jarrod Walker was ecstatic in the aftermath.

“Newborough have been the benchmark, and it was probably not a bad place for us to be coming into the game as underdogs,” he said.

“With Newborough coming into the game undefeated, there was a bit of pressure on them, and they are going to be a strong team for a long time to come, but it wasn’t to be their game today.

“When we play our best footy we have the full 21, but definitely today we had a few standout as well. Matt McGannon, Jack Hayes down back, a few dangerous forwards, Blaine Coates through the midfield as well but the whole team did very well.

“I think just our physical game that we started to play through the season, through preseason we worked on being fit and being competitive, you know we’ve got some skilful players but we base our game on that pressure and it really pays dividends in the end.”

Newborough coach Craig Skinner meanwhile, was left to ponder how it all went wrong, in what was a second consecutive Grand Final defeat for the Bulldogs.

“Look, I’ll be honest, I’m starting to get sick of this feeling, it’s not what we play footy for, but I’ve got a very good group of footballers and outside of footy they are really good people, the whole thing is that you gotta keep turning up and doing your best and that’s what we have done,” he said.

“I know it was only four goals in the end, but we were beaten from the start almost through to the end, it didn’t really seem like we were in it at any stage.”

Season 2023 has been quite possibly one of the more competitive years in the MGFNL’s long and respected history, and Fish Creek have proved themselves worthy premier.

Lunchtime league: Tarwin won the reserves premiership.
Flying high: Thirds premier Yinnar.