THEY didn’t win the Loddon Valley Football League premiership on Saturday, but Newbridge coach Phil Birchmore believes the Maroons’ vastly improved showing in 2012 has helped win back the respect of the competition.
The Maroons were beaten by arch-rival Bridgewater in Saturday’s grand final, going down by 65 points, 21.12 (138) to 10.13 (73).
But when you look at where the Maroons have come from, they have every right to be proud of their efforts in 2012.
Not only has the club overcome a turbulent 2011 off-field when its home ground, Riverside Park, was destroyed by floods, but the Maroons have bounced back from four ordinary seasons on the field.
Having lost the grand final to Calivil United in 2007, the Maroons quickly fell away, winning just 18 of 64 games between 2008 and 2011.
But having gone from just four wins last year to grand finalists in the space of 12 months, the Maroons are back on the right path.
“Probably the main thing I’ve spoken to the boys about is getting respect back, and I think the club has started to get back some respect,” Birchmore said.
“We’ll look back on it over the next few days, and while it has been a satisfying year from where we’ve come from, it’s not a satisfying result today, but we have to learn from it and come out better and stronger next year.”
Newbridge was forced to play catch-up football all game after Bridgewater kicked the first four goals of the match inside the opening 22 minutes.
“We knew we were up against it from the start, but no excuses, we got beaten by a better side,” Birchmore said.
“We wanted to get off to a good start, but they kicked the first four goals and put us on the back foot.”
Newbridge trailed by 43 points midway through the second quarter, but hit back with three-consecutive goals to draw within 25 points.
However, the Maroons’ momentum was stifled when Bridgewater full-forward Brad Rohde goaled after the half-time siren.
“That goal hurt us... one of the things we need to be better at is fighting quarters out right until the end,” Birchmore said.
Newbridge – which still hasn’t won a flag since 2000 – suffered a major blow when gun onballer Brad Comer (torn calf) was ruled out on Friday afternoon, with Mitch Holt his replacement.