Premiership articles

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Premiership articles

Post by Lee on Wed Sep 30, 2015 10:16 am

This is a beautiful piece of writing by Dave Brown on the 'Footy Almanac' website:

SANFL Grand Final – Woodville West Torrens v West Adelaide: Rubbers’ Grand Day Out

September 29, 2015 by Dave Brown

SANFL Grand Finals are pretty good. In your AFL Grand Final 100,000 people, some of whom follow one of the teams involved, pay a small fortune for the privilege to say they were at the Grand Final. As they soak in the atmosphere they manage to passively subtract from it at the same time. If you want to go to a footy game with the best part of 100,000 people, there are quite a few opportunities in the AFL calendar.

By contrast, your average crowd at the SANFL these days is a few thousand. It’s a long way from the twenty odd thousands that packed various suburban grounds in the mid-1970s. Nonetheless the SANFL Grand Final presents the opportunity to be part of a crowd that is dramatically larger than normal. It is an opportunity for people to pull out that old scarf, wander down to one of the best stadiums in the history of human existence and cheer on the team they might only follow passively across the season.

Pre-game

Today, we have almost 26,000 people at Adelaide Oval as two of the lesser supported teams get their opportunity for a premiership. The West Adelaide Bloods, the sentimental favourites, aiming for their first flag since 1983 against the Woodville West Torrens Eagles, the dominant team of the competition in 2015.

As groups of children, branded with some junk food company’s logo, do footy related things on the ground, You Am I emerge on a stage at the northern end. They work their way more than competently through a short, sharp set of oldies (by my count two songs from Sound As Ever, two from Hi Fi Way, one from Hourly Daily and one from #4 Record).

Playing a footy stadium is a tough job – the unmiked thud of the bass drum runs interference with the rest of the performance. Those of us of the appropriate age are briefly transported back to various gigs at Thebby Theatre and Big Day Outs (or is that Big Days Out?) at Wayville Showgrounds.

First half

The game ball arrives via helicopter. Blighty (the man, not the statue) tosses the coin to the advantage of what is kind of his former club and we are underway. 24 degrees with just a whisper of a breeze is perfect for footy fans, not so much for players who will be feeling it later.

Delightfully, the teams start off one-on-one and West take the early advantage of an apparent ruck superiority with goals to Green and Fielke. Michael Wundke picks up the next two for the Eagles before West get them back for a 13 point quarter time lead.

There are competing stories today but it’s not yet clear which will be the headline. West Adelaide are winning the footy and trying to handball to release runners. They refuse to kick and hope, preferring to accept the risk of over-using the ball. They could blow this game open if their field kicking was as good as the Eagles. By contrast, the Eagles are relying on their structures to win the ball on turnover and try to get to Wundke or Ainger one-on-one.

Wundke has the potential to turn back the clock – not his own specifically but ours collectively – to a time when big, burly, full forwards could win the game off their own boot. After West threaten to get away, out to a four goal lead early in the second quarter, the Eagles drag them back again. Freedom versus process, again and again.

Wundke’s story continues – he takes a run up the wing and spends the next five minutes paying for it. He then misses a set shot after copping a high knock – he is the heavyweight fighter, slumped in the corner one moment and up connecting with punches the next. Just before half-time he gets another contested mark and puts it through. He looks crook but, perhaps, the key story today will be his. West Adelaide by eight points at half-time.

Second half

Early in the third Wundke again goals and it is back to two points. Both teams drop a man back intermittently as the game ebbs and flows. West’s ruck advantage starts to tell as they win the clearances and do just enough to stop the Eagles getting the ball into space. The game is breaking down and some players are already starting to cramp.

After a long period of scrubby play, Kaine Stevens kicks a goal late in the quarter and West Adelaide take a 15 point lead into the final break. West Adelaide look the fresher of the two teams, but we have been fooled that way many times before.

A glance around the stands and it’s worried West Adelaide faces that grab the eye. Men of a certain age watching the game through the eyes of a younger man. Men on the cusp of middle age through the eyes of a boy, including the big one next to me. Mentally preparing themselves for the worst because that is what they have come to expect. 32 years will do that to you.

The Eagles get on top early in the last quarter – the first five minutes spent almost exclusively in their forward half. The Bloods hold them and hold them, ably led by Porplyzia loose in defence and Schmidt loose at the clearances. Something’s got to give and eventually it is the Eagles as West switch the ball quickly down the ground for Beech to kick a tough goal from deep in a pocket.

The Eagles are now winning the ruck but every time they kick it forward, Porplyzia is there to greet it. It is mystifying that, three goals down with 10 minutes to go in a Grand Final, the Eagles make no attempt to make him accountable. Wundke cannot win the game for them under such circumstances.

Meanwhile, down the other end, West miss three opportunities to finish the contest as they break through the Eagles’ lines. That is until Shannon Green runs onto a loose ball and kicks the sealer from 45 out. West Adelaide have come from ninth in 2014 to win the premiership by playing an attacking, attractive brand of football. Today’s story belongs to long suffering Bloods fans and Mark Mickan.

The contemplation

Rubbers Mickan, the man who missed West Adelaide’s 1983 premiership through injury; who was sacked by Glenelg as coach because they didn’t believe his brand of footy could take them to a premiership, finally gets a medal around his neck. The satisfaction he feels must be immense and to do it at his home club, all the better. One of a long line of Bloods players from the Riverland, including Ricciuto, Modra, Tyson Edwards and Grantley Fielke.

West Adelaide may not be the biggest or most successful of SANFL clubs but today they are the best. To many present, SANFL footy is about much more than this year’s premiership. It is about our past and the way that links to the present.

To those moist-eyed men and women celebrating around us it is as much about 1983 as now and all the spaces in between. Those spaces occupied by family and friends, those present and those no longer with us. West Adelaide fans celebrate with Ian Borchard and Chris Schmidt (both captains, both Jack Oatey Medallists), with Aaron and Grantley Fielke, with Geoff Morris and Jason Porplyzia – Neil Kerley and Mark Mickan.

How the SANFL will remain relevant and vital in current times remains an open question. However, while we are still upright, those of us who remember a time before Ross Oakley paid a visit, this competition and its Grand Final will have an undeniable appeal. After the 1990 Grand Final, Graham Cornes walked into the Port Adelaide dressing rooms and said thanks to them the good times were now over – he was only half right.



http://www.footyalmanac.com.au/sanfl-grand-final-woodville-west-torrens-v-west-adelaide-rubbers-grand-day-out/#comment-752436


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Re: Premiership articles

Post by Chambo Off To Work We Go on Wed Sep 30, 2015 11:17 am

I think this year's GF, provides us with a sentimental return to the simplicity of what SANFL finals used to be all about.

2 local clubs of modest means having a crack, one of them not having had ultimate success for a long time.

Just for a moment we escaped the AFL clubs in the sanfl hype and the dominance of Centrals / Norwood over the past decade or so.

It showed that you can climb the ladder to the pinnacle from a very low place in one year. Something that might give other clubs heart for next season.

I am happy for Mickan. I don't know him, only of him. But he seems a very decent chap and has had to earn this the hard way. So good luck to him.

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Re: Premiership articles

Post by Bundy on Wed Sep 30, 2015 11:37 am

Beautifully written
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Re: Premiership articles

Post by Chambo Off To Work We Go on Wed Sep 30, 2015 11:37 am

Lee, interested to know what Rubbers' feelings were after it all sunk in.
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Re: Premiership articles

Post by Lee on Wed Sep 30, 2015 11:50 am

Outwardly he seemed the calmest of all of us, but he's a very modest and humble bloke.

I'm not sure it has sunk in even now, but he's been more concerned to acknowledge everyone else at the club.

He would rightly be a very proud man and he certainly is highly respected at Westies, both as a coach and a man.

Thanks for asking, Chambo.

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Re: Premiership articles

Post by Booney on Wed Sep 30, 2015 12:06 pm

On a similar note, Chad Cornes didn't rate the 2004 Premiership as the highlight of his playing career, saying it was more relief at getting the job done as opposed to euphoria or excitement at winning.

I would think that might be a similar feeling for Rubbers, initially relief that the job is done, over time sit back and reflect, however I've got a feeling that he would already be looking towards a premiership defence in 2016.

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Re: Premiership articles

Post by Scrunch on Wed Sep 30, 2015 1:41 pm

Lee wrote:Outwardly he seemed the calmest of all of us, but he's a very modest and humble bloke.

I'm not sure it has sunk in even now, but he's been more concerned to acknowledge everyone else at the club.

He would rightly be a very proud man and he certainly is highly respected at Westies, both as a coach and a man.

Thanks for asking, Chambo.

Be interesting to see where Rubbers rates now in the "club legends" stakes. Was a fantastic player, who then forged a pretty decent VFL/AFL career, and has now taken the Bloods to their first flag in 32 years. And whats more he isn't finished yet! Most years it's hard to see the Premier not being a genuine threat in years to come, and Westies are no different. They have the right balance of age and quality to be around the mark for quite some time. By the time he hands up the whiteboard it will be fascinating to see where he stands in the history of WAFC's decorated individuals.
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Re: Premiership articles

Post by oldfella on Wed Sep 30, 2015 3:03 pm

interesting call Scrunch --- Marks is a legend in my opinion (biased) but reading following links makes one realise just how big a career he had.

Definitely a future West Adelaide Hall of Fame

http://www.sanfl.com.au/hall_of_fame/mark_j_mickan/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Mickan
http://australianfootball.com/players/player/mark%2Bmickan/12250
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Re: Premiership articles

Post by Lee on Sat Oct 03, 2015 8:32 am

An article from the inside by a previously regular contributor to West's website:

Worth a read.

http://westadelaidefc.com.au/detective-bloodhound-report-2015-premiership-edition/


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