Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : VFL            Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

 

 

AGONY FOR FITZGERALD

ECSTASY FOR WILLIAMS

IN 2004 AT OPTUS

Football history is studded with images of a losing grand final coach offering his outstretched hand, albeit brief and fleeting, to the victor. However, the appearance of Mark Williams and Gerard Fitzgerald together for the ABC cameras at the conclusion of the 2004 VFL grand final was truly remarkable. His face drawn and drained of colour, Fitzgerald was palpably devastated by Port's four point loss to Sandringham. Yet when asked by the ABC's Ross Booth about his tenure on the coaching position at Port, Fitzgerald was, as always, diplomatic and statesmanlike. 'People have made something of it because I have a one year contract,' he said. The truth is Fitzgerald entered the grand final wishing he'd been reappointed. Although Port has said they only appoint coaches on a one year basis, they had good reason to reappoint their coach before the grand final. Might that have made a difference? Who knows? For grand finals sometimes defy logic, and the slightest distraction can impact on the result.

There was nothing Fitzgerald could have done on Sunday to change the result. Nor is there a single reason why he should not be reappointed. Despite Williams describing him as the best coach in the VFL in recent years many insiders believe he won't get the job in 2005. Port needs to be careful. Professional coaches are highly suspicious about taking on a coaching job that doesn't offer some security, and premierships aren't won overnight. And they definitely aren't won by coaches who don't feel loved. Given a grand final and a preliminary in consecutive years (2002/2003) couldn't save another good coach, David Dunbar, and Port couldn't find its way to reappoint Fitzgerald before the 2004 grand final, the job at Port might begin to look like a poisoned chalice.

Ironically, with the game appearing lost midway through the last quarter it was Port's VFL players Anthony Aloi and David Pitt who provided the goals that almost gave the Borough their first premiership since 1982. And with minutes remaining it was VFL player Nick Gill who went perilously close to marking at centre half forward on the second attempt. There's no doubt Port's fiercely independent president Peter Saultry will be asking why AFL-listed players Callum Urch and John Baird didn't show more footy composure during a turbulent second quarter.

Although Baird was desperately unlucky to have a free kick paid to Nick Sautner after the Zebra full forward had just dribbled a goal through at the Heatley end, it could have been avoided. Two goals to Sautner when the Zebras were struggling was the break they needed. It was a grand final the Port president desperately wanted and genuinely deserved. A decade ago the once mighty Port was almost lost to the VFA. Under Saultry the club has remerged as a financially strong and brazenly independent VFL club. But while it has four consecutive grand final losses (1987/93/02/04) to reflect on, the Zebras have won six premierships since 1985. Sandringham was a fitting winner in what was a great grand final.

OPTUS HAS HAD ITS DAY

When the VFA was renamed the VFL it was said to be a great marketing strategy. It's a claim not reflected in attendances at grand finals. On Sunday a miserable 8,000 people travelled to Optus Oval. The crowd - on a beautiful day with no Victorian clubs remaining in the AFL premiership race - did not reflect the quality or passion of the game. The VFL must look for another venue. Optus is not liked by football followers. Nor does it enhance VFL football. In the absence of big marking forwards VFL grand finals on Optus are low scoring affairs dominated by midfield scrambles and the rebound. And while Optus is great for the ABC broadcast - whose TV audience on Sunday exceeded 250,000 - and accommodates the VFL's corporate requirements, there are other considerations. A crowd of 12,000 at Port Melbourne or a similar venue - for example, Coburg once the grandstand is renovated - would enhance the VFL's distinctiveness and help to market it as an alternative to the AFL. Whilst I appreciate the issues faced by CEO Ken Gannon, the VFL simply can't continue to play in front of grand final crowds of 8,000 at Optus.

REDLEGS REGROUP

Big Eddie will be there in spirit.

 

While Nick Sautner's free kick on Sunday will be talked about for a long time, it won't ever rank with Frosty Miller's free kick before the siren in 1971. On Saturday 2 October Frosty is a certainty to be named in Dandenong's Team of the Century at the Grand International Ballroom in Dandenong. As MC I'm looking forward to the opportunity to catch up with some of the monsters who terrorised us in the '70s.

Goo'day Phil,

I was just having a look around the web and looking for some solace in regards to Port Melbourne's defeat on Sunday and thought your site would be as good as any. I read you each week as one of the highlights of inside football, along with Jimmy Main.

I totally agree with Optus Oval not being right for the VFL grand final. It's a ground best suited to AFL players and well a more suburban location would have made all the difference in the result yesterday. And agreed on Port Melbourne having rocks in their collective heads if Gerard FitzGerald is elsewhere next year.

On the Nick Sautner second shot at goal - my belief was that the goal umpire has to have completed waving the flags for a second shot to be awarded as a shot at goal (nowhere near) - not a free kick from the centre as I would've assumed it should have been paid. Soft as it was in itself, Sandringham got two good sucks on the officials' sauce bottle. Where's Sautner gonna be next year with his mercenary-like changing of clubs?

Anyway thanks for a good read in IFand passioned calls both this year and in advance. Some of the boys think your favourite player would be Anthony Aloi! Oh yes, I am one of the Port Melbourne fans (spiky white hair) who presides behind the goals (with probably too much to say), by virtue that unlike the AFL, you can have a good yell out and cheer loudly. That's its greatest advantage.

What more to say? I guess there's next year. Gonna need some time before that after yesterday though.

Kind regards,
Mark Le Nepveu

 

 

 

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