IT takes a special team to win four premierships in a row.
On Saturday Bridgewater achieved the rare four-peat feat after defeating Bears Lagoon Serpentine by eight points in a long-waited Loddon Valley Football League grand final classic.
But coach Zac East says the secret to the Mean Machine’s success is more than just talent and hard work – the foundation of this Bridgewater dynasty is built on mateship.
“We’re a very tight group,” East said following the Mean Machine’s 15.11 (101) to 13.15 (93) victory over the Bears.
“When we went to recruit at the start of the year, we were only going to go after a group of tightly-knit boys.
“We’re really close mates and that’s what it is... the boys want to play with each other.
“With footy these days, people go chasing money, but I don’t think that’s going to happen at Bridgy and that’s why we’ve been able to win four in a row.”
For the second year in a row, the Mean Machine created a piece of club history.
Last year’s grand final win over Newbridge was the first time Bridgewater had won three premierships in a row.
Now the Mean Machine have won four in a row for the first time and in doing so become just the fourth club in the 110-year history of the LVFL to win at least four on the trot.
The only other clubs to have done so are Newbridge (1907-10), Laanecoorie (1919-23) and Calivil United (2003-08).
“It’s history again for our club... we chased three in a row for the first time last year and now we’ve got four. I couldn’t be more prouder of the boys,” East said.
“We probably came in as the slight underdogs today, but we were confident we could get the game done if we stuck to our structures.”
Unlike the past three years when the Mean Machine won in a canter by margins of 65, 99 and 115 points, they had to fight until the final siren to win their 21st premiership.
They were slow out of the blocks, conceding the first four goals of the game and trailed the Bears by 27 points at quarter-time.
“I had to speak to the boys at quarter-time to settle down and get back to what we needed to do and the boys produced in the second quarter and got us back in the game,” said East, who kicked three goals.
After their slow start, the Mean Machine set the win up with blistering second and third quarters when they outscored the Bears 12 goals to four.
The Mean Machine led by as many as 35 points during the final quarter, but had to survive a last-ditch fightback from the Bears, who kicked the last four goals of the game to cut the margin to eight points.
Bridgewater full-forward Alex Collins won the AFL Victoria Country Medal for best on ground.
Collins booted seven goals, including four in the second quarter when the momentum swung Bridgewater’s way.
“He’s flamboyant, but he stood up today and kicked straight, which is what we needed him to do,” East said.
“And that’s why he’s kicked more than 100 goals (109) for the season.”
The Bridgewater side includes East, captain Darren Clutton, Deon Jones, Luke Scoble, Daniel Nalder and Brad Rohde who have played in all four flags.
● The premiership team:
Zac East (coach), Darren Clutton (captain), Alex Collins, Brad Rohde, Adam Parry, Callum Prest, Taylor Strachan, Cameron Hayes, Deon Jones, Jackson Bennett, Angus Parry, Marc Lindsay, Jack Hickey, Simon Hanns, Tristin Nalder, Daniel Nalder, Luke Scoble, Kris Jermyn, Jayden Exell, Josh McLeod, Leigh Harrison.
● The Bridgewater four-peat:
2013 – 15.11 (101) d BL-Serpentine 13.15 (93).
2012 – 21.12 (138) d Newbridge 10.13 (73).
2011 – 22.18 (150) d Pyramid Hill 7.9 (51).
2010 – 27.6 (168) d Calivil United 7.11 (53).