Capping off a great year for the club, the mighty Bloods reigned supreme in the 2017 Grand Final at Casey Fields. The boys were in front pretty much from the start and prevailed by 48 points. Peter Shakallis was named best on ground for the victors. For a full rundown and details of the game
Windy and mild conditions greeted the Bloods at Casey Fields for the 2017 Premier C Grand Final. It was a tense opening with the first 7 or 8 minutes dominated by stoppages as both sides were content to arm wrestle. The wind made things tricky although it probably favoured the end to which we were kicking. Caulfield scored the first two majors. Whitey, who had been burrowing in everywhere, answered and great roving from Corey Connelly levelled things up. The game was a good physical contest with no easy kicks. Unfortunately, Shane Valenti went down to a knee injury and so we were one down half way through the first quarter. Waitey was presenting well but delivery was difficult in the conditions. The “iceman” Johnny Nicolopoulos scored a goal from a free kick to give us a handy 9 point lead at quarter time.
The second quarter was going to be decisive. Caulfield had the gale and it was going to be difficult keeping them at bay. But that is exactly what the boys did. Led by Aaron Toy and Tim Witherow the defence held up well to restrict them to just the one goal. Lachie Treverton took some telling grabs, thwarting a number of dangerous Caulfield forays. The first ten minutes were goalless and it took the “Coreys” to break the deadlock. Corey Rich converted after Corey Connelly fought hard at ground level. We were proving more effective in front of goal and some Nick Gooda desperation resulted in him scoring two very important majors – one an excellent goal on the run. We were starting to get on top led by Jacko in the ruck. Jimmy Paul and the other midfielders either won the clearances or determined that Caulfield didn’t get any easy possessions. Jordy Donnelly was creative on his wing while Jack Munro and Brodie Steele were providing plenty of run off the backline. Nicho was also getting plenty of the ball across half-back and provided a couple of decisive runs. So we went into the break with a handy 20 point lead but the emphasis was certainly on the next two quarters of the match. The bell came a little early for Jordy Donnelly who was streaming through the middle, eyes alight, with the goals the clear focus. It wasn’t to be but almost summed up the half with the Bloods appearing to have the momentum.
The first goal of the second half is always important and Ed Limon duly produced the goods after four minutes. It was a good kick in the conditions from about 50 metres out. Caulfield answered but that was enough from them. Corey Connelly stepped in again for another major, while Alfie scored a scrambling goal amidst a swarm of Caulfield opponents. Once again the defence held up well and we were dangerous whenever we ventured forward. Plymo was starting to exert himself on the contest. Our intensity had not waned and as a result, Caulfield struggled to get any momentum.
Much to the crowd’s delight the breeze had swung and appeared to favour the end to which we were kicking in the last quarter. Caulfield, while frustrated, tried to mount a challenge but were finding it extremely difficult. It was early in the last quarter but a Scotty Ellis major after four minutes looked like the sealer as we moved to 42 point lead. Jack Munro ran off his half back flank to be on the end of a series of handballs and convert on the run. This was certainly the sealer. Waitey and Corey Rich put the icing on the cake and a very tired group of proud boys were ecstatic when the final siren sounded. Because of the warm conditions and intense nature of the contest, the team were out on their feet. During the third quarter, Ed Limon had damaged his shoulder again, so it was courageous effort to record the victory with depleted forces. Cramp was common, but Caulfield were in no better shape, having been hounded and pounded all day by a desperate and deliberate Haileybury outfit.
It had been a tremendous team effort with everybody contributing throughout the contest. Peter Shakallis had been brilliant and was a very worthy winner of the Michael Ritterman medal for best on the ground. He led from the front all day and this was a fitting reward in his first ever grand final. Shak’s attack on the ball set the example for the rest of the team. There had been a good spread of goalkickers and the tackle count was consistently high demonstrating our intent. It had been a great day and continued our great run in finals. Indeed, the Seniors have won 9 of their last 10 finals appearances. A Grand Final victory is for the players and this particular group deserve the title of Premiership Team for 2017.
Goal Kickers: C. Rich 3, N. Gooda 2, C. Connelly 2, A. Woltering, B. White, N. Waite, S. Ellis, J. Nicolopoulos, E. Limon, J. Munro
Best Players: P. Shakallis, J. Paul, A. Toy, N. Gooda, J. Arthur, L. Treverton