THE naysayers said women’s footy would never take off in Bendigo.
The naysayers were wrong.
Yesterday the Bendigo Thunder defied atrocious conditions and the Victorian Women’s Football League north-west division’s power club La Trobe University to win Bendigo’s first premiership in women’s football.
The grand final triumph comes just two years after the club was born.
“Even the best clubs take five to 10 years to establish themselves on and off the field,’’ an elated Thunder general manager Bianca Rinaldi said after the win
“We’re premiers within two years... we couldn’t be happier.
“These women step up and are desperate to play football. They’re an amazing bunch of people who have worked extremely hard to get this far. They deserve all the success they get.”
A FOUR-goal second term burst was the catalyst for the Bendigo Thunder’s historic Victorian Women’s Football League north- west division grand final win yesterday.
With the Coburg Oval resembling a giant mud pit, the clash between the Thunder and La Trobe University was always going to be low-scoring.
After an even first term, the Thunder broke the game open with a four-goal to one burst to take a match-winning 22 point lead into the second half.
In real terms, the 22-point margin represented at least an eight-goal lead in normal conditions.
As hard as La Trobe tried in the sloppy conditions to get back into the game, the Thunder stood firm.
No goals were kicked in the third quarter before La Trobe added the sole goal of the second half in the final term to reduce the final margin to 15 points.
Angela Foley was awarded best on ground for her great game in the ruck and at centre half-back.
Hayley Trevean in the centre and fellow midfielders Jess Kile, Jess Kennedy and Millie Hipwell were also four-quarter performers for the Thunder.
Thunder coach Russell Jeffrey, who has previously coached and played in grand finals, said the Thunder’s success rates as a career high.
“Right from the word go these girls have wanted to be the best they could possibly be,’’ Jeffrey said.
“They have a great resolve to prepare themselves properly for football. They work very hard at their football. It’s been a pleasure for me to work with a group that is so keen to improve.”
Jeffrey paid tribute to skipper Emma Wolters for sparking the second quarter burst.
“Emma Wolters really stepped up in the second term with a couple of goals,’’ Jeffrey said.
“To take that 22-point lead into the second half gave us plenty of confidence.
“The second half was a real slog. I couldn’t be prouder of the way the girls toughed it out.
“La Trobe had a few opportunities late, but the backline was great.
“Lil Waters was brilliant in the last quarter. She made great position at full-back and cleared the ball really well. The great thing about today was that everyone played a part in the win.
“It probably hasn’t sunk in with the girls yet, but they’ve made history today,’’ he said.
“In years to come people will look back on this group as the team that really got the Bendigo Thunder going by winning the first premiership.”