FINAL '17: Demons vs Lions (Prem)
Frank Caldow and Ash Walsh | 16.08.17
Wandsworth Demons 4.14 (38) def. North London Lions 5.5 (35)
2017 Champions - A whole lot of yes ploooooise!
29 weeks ago on a frosty Sunday down at the common by the big tree the first training was had where the foundations for the season were set. From that day, from a club perspective there has been a lot of hard work and effort that was rewarded with all 5 teams playing it out for the chance of 5/5 Flags. Having 5 teams play on that day is a fantastic effort and well done to Social and Women's Prem on their wins, but going into the Premier Men's game, the club only had 2/4 cups in the cabinet.
Everything is always a lot more tense come Grand Final day. The best way to put it is a mixture of excitement, anxiousness and stress all wrapped up in a big bundle. The crowd was building, there was an array of food options thanks to excellent organisation from the club, the weather was doing all sorts and everyone you talk to asks some sort of question about your nerves so even if you aren't feeling them, you're at least thinking about them.
We came hard out of the blocks and had all the momentum for the most part of the first term. Nobby set the tone from the get go, causing all sorts of headaches around the ground and with our midfield brigade as hungry as ever, we were producing bulk scoring opportunities without being able to capitalise. A free kick down the other end saw Lions kick the first major, and despite five more shots in the quarter we went into the first break all square, 6-6.
The Second quarter was a much more even match with Lions starting to gain control over the crucial midfield battle. We had missed a change in the first term to gain a scoreboard ascendency were now effectively participating in an 18 on 18 battle of tug-a-war. If you have ever played tug-a-war with 18 men on both side's, it's very hard to ever find a clear winner because the strength evens out the more people you have. That's where we found ourselves. Both teams squandered opportunities but a late goal to the Lions saw us go into the halftime down by 8 points, despite winning the first quarter and drawing the second.
Mind sets in those situations is everything for playing groups. There we were, a team that was favourites after being the best all season, who had dominated possession for the greater portion the match, yet were getting beaten on the scoreboard. This can then be amplified with the defeat in last seasons Grand Final and the 7 years since the club had the Premiership Cup it is very easy to fall in ‘here we go again' thinking. It was at that moment Ash delivered one of the best motivational speeches I have heard in football or anywhere else. The group were re-focused, knowing we had 50 minutes ahead to play on our terms and finish the day in front on the scoreboard.
So, back to the tug of war we went, the relentless pressure from both teams continued. It was only after 12 minutes into the quarter, and 62 minutes into the match that we finally kicked our first goal. Moments later Ricci Bobby kicked our 2nd and it seemed like we might be getting away from them. This was short lived as they managed to snare one back late, but we went into the last term 3 points ahead.
The last quarter was much the same as the previous two quarters. A complete slog. Lions kicked the first one and poked their nose in front. After more back and forth Sammy Bowler who had been brilliant all day sent a 55m kick down Pitto's throat who moved it quickly forward to Jet who with an experienced head played on quickly and ran into the open goal to force our nose back in front with 7 minutes to play.
These last 7 minutes were similar to the final stages of chess when you have hardly any pieces left, mixed with Markers-Up. We went into the game tall and this paid off with all of Nobby, Nafan, Bowler, Drake, Rabbits, Rouse and finally Tex all talking saving marks in our back half.
The siren sounded and we were victors. The playing group can be extremely proud of this achievement. It has been a fantastic year. We are so proud of the way that you brought into the game plan, and we stuck to it right until the end - without the hunger and pressure, we wouldn't have got over the line in such a tight contest. Couldn't have asked for a better group of legends.
With a lot of people to thank. Firstly to the committee led by Jimmy, Xav, B, Casa and Sam. You guys set the foundation for the club and allow us to do our jobs effectively.
To the coaching staff, particularly Harry Dixon, Yeao and big Benny Drake who we couldn't have done it without, thank you very much. To Whitey, Dom, Jonesy and Donners - well done on a fantastic year - and thanks for the support. To all of the physio's - thanks for keeping everyone fit and healthy, and a special mention to Bubbles who worked super hard to get a few Senior boys up and about for the Granny. But more on all of the thanks at vote count.
Finally, to the whole Club - thanks for helping with water, setting up, packing down and most of all the huge support we got every week. The feeling was electric in the Granny and it shouldn't be underestimated the motivation that is found when you hear support from the crowd.
Enjoy a well earned break and can't wait to see you all at footy trip and vote count!
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