IN 15 or so years of covering footy matches at the QEO I’ve never felt so gutted.
Nine times out of 10, I have no allegiances when reporting on matches and the result means little emotionally.
Sunday’s game was a different story.
It was a classic David versus Goliath tale.
The minnow that is the Bendigo Gold up against the powerful Carlton-aligned Northern Blues.
Semi-professional players with a total annual salary of about $180,000 up against some AFL-listed players who earn more than that individually.
For much of the last quarter it appeared the minnow would score a famous victory.
That elusive first win was there for the taking only for Nick Holman to bob up with a goal in the dying seconds.
You couldn’t help but feel sorry for the 23 Gold players who gave their all.
Even the local footy people who love to knock the Gold would have felt the pain of the players.
The look of despair on the players’ faces after the siren sounded and in the rooms after the game said it all.
They were shattered.
The two men I felt sorry for the most - coach Aussie Jones and chairman Tim Dickson.
Under adversity, Jones and Dickson have poured their heart and soul into the Gold.
The club wouldn’t be around without them.
A shock victory over the Blues would have been a worthy reward for their efforts.
After the game Jones spoke of the respect he has for his players because of the way they deal with adversity.
It’s fair to say the players’ positive attitude and drive to improve comes out of their admiration for their coach.
The players play for him – that’s half the battle to becoming a good coach.
Jones hasn’t won a game as Gold coach, but that doesn’t make him a bad coach.
Under the Gold’s circumstances, a lesser coach than Jones would have lost the playing group a long time ago.
As for Dickson, he bleeds Gold.
He continually puts his head up to talk up the Gold even though he knows there’s plenty of people out there ready to take a pot shot.
What people don’t understand is the sacrifices he’s made to keep this club afloat.
One win wouldn’t have automatically solved all the Gold’s problems or kept the nay-sayers quiet.
But it would have given the entire club a well-deserved shot in the arm.
Unfortunately, the football gods weren’t smiling on the Gold.
Let’s hope they get another chance to break that duck before the end of the season.