At 2.20pm last Saturday at Waverley Oval our Under 19 team competed in the Premier Section Grand Final against Old Xaverians for the second consecutive year – at the exact time our Men’s 1st XVIII was taking on University Blacks for a place in the Premier B Grand Final.
Losing the toss we were invited to kick to the end favoured by the wind. After a tense five or so minutes, where the ball was locked in tight between each side’s flanks, we started to win some inside ball, and looked super dangerous on the spread. With precise kicking into our forward line we managed to kick four majors while our opponents kicked one uphill and into the slight breeze. The second stanza was another tight affair, with an inaccurate Old Xaverians pushing hard to get themselves back into the contest. Hugh ‘Neville’ Longbottom’s long bomb was defining, and we took a 14-point lead into the main break.
The premiership quarter was just that; it had it all and best sums up this group – from where they’ve been, to where they are, and to where they’re going. Old Xaverians again pushed hard at the commencement of the third term, and managed to apply some scoreboard pressure by getting within 6 points. Our response was emphatic, as we piled on six consecutive majors and blew our opponents away with some outstanding team football. A 45-point three-quarter time lead was sublimely extended to 50 early in the final quarter, after we kicked the first goal for the term, snuffing our opponents out of the contest in the process. While the fat lady was concluding her preliminaries our opponents doubled their score, but the damage was well and truly done. Our boys ran out 23-point victors, securing our first Premier Section Under 19 premiership since 1952, and with it, a special place in our club’s history.
This win was a consummate team effort. Emanating from the vision of some key strategic partnerships and reinforced by some outstanding coaching by Mark Gnatt, Chris Watts, Matt Chadwick and James Ross, this was really about our boys and the amazing month of football they played. From saluting against De La Salle in a tight affair at Box Hill City Oval in the first semi-final, to standing up tall against St Bernard’s last week at Parade College, to dismantling a side that was going for three in a row at this level, these boys deserve all the credit in the world as they came from fourth to conquer all before them.
Thanks to all those who were at the ground to support the boys as they won against the odds. The only upside of the scheduling fiasco was that they were all actually there to witness it.