David and Goliath

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David and Goliath

IT’S a football marketer’s dream – a grand final between the league’s biggest and smallest towns.
When Stony Creek takes on Wonthaggi Power next Saturday for the Alberton Football League premiership, it will be a David against Goliath battle that should have every local football fan on the edge of their seats.
Stony Creek, which defeated Korumburra/Bena in Saturday’s preliminary final, has not played in a grand final since 1985 and has not won one since two years earlier.
This year will the fifth grand final in a row for the mighty Power.
This success has been the downfall of the Power, which will play its last game in the Alberton League after finally succumbing to immense pressure to leave the league.
Where – or even if – it will play next year is still up in the air.
But come Saturday at 2.30pm, the club’s histories, politics and futures will be all forgotten as the ball is bounced in one of the most anticipated grand finals in years.
Stony coach Leigh McQuillen said the excitement around the club was something he had rarely experienced in football.
“To be in the grand final for the first time in 24 years is pretty special,” he said.
“It’s been a long few years working up to this for the guys.”
McQuillen said he won’t be changing the team plan to cope with the power of Wonthaggi.
He said Stony’s thumping win against their grand final opponent earlier in the season would be pretty much irrelevant come Saturday.
“I don’t read too much into that,” he said.
“The game was level pegging at half time and we broke away in the last quarter.
“If you look at the results since then you would say they have definitely improved.”
McQuillen believes there is more respect than animosity between the clubs, which should translate into a physically hard but fair game.
“It’s going to be on for young and old from the start,” he said.
“I think both sides are very fair sides, they attack the ball hard and I coach my boys to do the same.”
With three wins out of three finals matches, McQuillen said the atmosphere at Stony Creek was becoming more charged every week.
“It keeps getting better and better. I thought it was great after Phillip Island, even better after Yarram, but this is just fantastic.
“You can say as much as you want to keep a lid on it, but I was more than happy to let them enjoy Saturday night as long as they realised that on Sunday we had to start preparing for the biggest match of their lives.
McQuillen will play his last match of senior football on Saturday, giving him a final chance to win his first ever senior flag.
“Personally, this is it for me, so I would love to go out on a high.”
Wonthaggi Power president Rob Tesoriero said despite his club enjoying its customary position as a grand final participant, the occasion never became any less special.
“It’s a nice habit to have,” he said.
With the club finally being shown the door from the AFL at the end of this season, many believe that it will be a fired up Wonthaggi that runs out onto the Foster showgrounds on Saturday.
But Tesoriero said the bitter saga over the club’s future will not be used as motivation before the big game.
“I don’t think this game is any more special because of the circumstances,” he said.
“We just have to stick to the disciplines that we know best, the things that help us win games of football.”
An injection of new blood in to the club this year should provide an energy boost to any players who have become blasé about grand finals appearances.
And Wonthaggi Power’s famously passionate supporters should also help push the boys in teal towards yet another flag.
“There’s a couple of good young footballers, 16 years old,” the Power president said.
“We’d like to think that most of Wonthaggi would go to Foster on Saturday, we know we have loyal supporters at our clubs and we’d love to see them there.”
Stony president Greg Burge said he has been waiting a long time to see his boys in a grand final, with only one finals appearance since 1985’s losing appearance on the big day.
“It’s great, mate,” he said.
“It’s there to be enjoyed, we haven’t had much success in recent times so we may as well enjoy the ride.
“We’re not celebrating by any means, but we are certainly going to enjoy the week.”
When Stony Creek won the flag last in 1983; players to figure in a “blood bath” contest included Shane Dempsey, Gavin Zerbe, Don McKnight, Joey Smith, Lachie Hughes (coach), Des Thorson, Glenn Thorson, Graeme Beech, Andrew Westaway, Barry Thorson, Brendan Laube, Graham and Tom Browne, Daryl Bentley, Peter Fisher, David Hilet, and Martin Schawalder.
It was a big year for Stony Creek, winning both Seniors and Reserves premierships.

Short URL: http://www.thestar.com.au/?p=328

Posted by Chris Brown on Sep 8 2009. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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