A ROOSTERS FLAG TO STIR THE PASSION
THE JOURNEY OF GERARD FITZGERALD
He's tasted the pain of defeat on three occasions - twice with North Ballarat and once with Port - but on Friday night at the Dome Gerard FitzGerald was always in control. With the tears rolling down his face president Peter Wilson captured the significance of the moment.
Now the Roosters are premiers in the VFL, after a proud and unique history in the Ballarat League. But the story is really FitzGerald's. The gentleman coach, whose attention to detail is unrivalled, is not only a master coach but a wonderful person.
No matter how many times you taste the euphoria of a premiership they never lose their aura. Minutes before the final siren I felt that exhileration as I offered 'Fitzy' an open microphone and felt the relief that had consumed him.
Fitzy debriefs after the 2008 grand final win
Port never looked in control of the game. The Boroughs struggled in their back half, where Josh Smith was too big and strong for Luke Livingstone, and had no answer for ruckman Orren Stephenson. Could they have matched up earlier?
Could Dylan McLaren have taken Smith, thus leaving Livingstone with a more productive role? Should Adrian Bonaddio have been left on the ground instead of being interchanged regularly in the early stages of the game?
It's easy to offer possibilities after the event. What was clear to me was that Port looked in trouble at half-time. Robin Nahas was off his game and wallowing in self doubt. John Baird looked annoyed and there was no one to ignite the team.
Who said grand finals are like another game?