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

 

 

 

SEASON 2005

SANDRINGHAM'S FLAG

 

If there was one lesson from Sunday's grand final win by Sandringham, it was that we should never underestimate the role of history and tradition in the life of a football club. When the AFL swamped the old VFA in the late 90s many clubs simply surrendered. The loss of our name and its replacement with the totally inappropriate VFL was the first step.

Then came grand finals where there were so many AFL players it made a joke of the day. In the blink of an eye many clubs lost huge chunks of their identity. Preston suddenly became the Northern Knights and assumed the colours of their junior partner; Coburg was transformed into the Tigers and after more than one hundred years as the Seagulls Williamstown appeared in Collingwood jumpers.

Throughout the difficult times Sandringham never lost sight of who it was. General manager John Mennie's understanding of the club's history is so comprehensive he can tell you how many cans of VB the club sold at a game in 1981. It's people such as Mennie who've maintained the link between the past and the present at Beach Road Oval. It's no accident that a Melbourne supporter would be captured on ABC TV wearing a Sandringham jumper and a Mohawk haircut in the colours of the Demons VFL partner.

Equally, it's no surprise that Melbourne coach Neale Daniher spent his day in the crowd rather than in the coach's box. And how refreshing it was to hear Daniher acknowledge the importance of Sandringham's culture and integrity on ABC TV?

Sandringham's victory on Sunday was written in the stars. Coach Mark Williams had played in Sandringham's 1992 premiership win against Williamstown, the first of two flags the club would win under Trevor Barker, who would subsequently die of cancer. As a tribute the club named the Beach Road Oval after the former St Kilda champion. These days Barker's mum and dad can be found on the wing at the ground every week. Unlike some clubs, the Zebras have never forgotten their own. That's probably why president Garry Gilchrist sought out Williams at the end of 2003. With an eight-year coaching stint at the Bullants behind him, Williams was the right man for the Sandringham job.

Now he's the first coach to take the Sandringham to consecutive premierships and the club can lay claim to seven premierships in eight grand finals since 1985. It's truly remarkable and a tribute to Mennie and Gilchrist. For Williams it is something about which he should be proud and something he should cherish. Although he'd have experienced a few shudders when Jade Rawlings went within a fingertip of marking in the goal square with minutes remaining and the Tigers needing two goals, his coaching was flawless. The use of Ezra Poyas inside fifty in the second quarter was a match-winning move.

Sadly for Simon Atkins, he could never quite pluck a card from his sleeve. He should have played Ed Darcy. Although he's still learning the game Darcy could have done just what Poyas did inside fifty. That aside, the Tigers simply turned the ball over too much to win the match. Atkins use of ruckman Daniel Bandy would have been a masterstroke if his players had not left the big bloke stranded with terrible kicking on the rebound. Late in the game it was Bandy who swung the match towards the Tigers. Along with captain Travis Robertson, one of VFL's best players, Bandy was inspirational. For courage and relentless running, Robertson is in a special class. It's class of two. It's one he shares with Sandringham captain Chad Liddell. Although an injury confined Liddell to the interchange bench for a considerable part of the game his spirit never left the field of play. As with his coach he has made an indelible mark on Sandringham's history. When talk turns to the club's best ever captains, Liddell's name will be up there with 1946 premiership captain-coach and club best and fairest Len Toyne. That's some achievement.

 


 
 

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