RELIEF is how Charlton coach Aaron Walklate summed up his emotions in the wake of the Navies’ North Central league grand final win on Saturday.
The previous three years on grand final day the Navies had watched on as their opponents enjoyed the spoils of premiership victory at their expense.
However, three years of heartbreak in which the Navies had lost grand finals by margins of just one, eight and 12 points was eased on Saturday as they won a cliffhanger against Wycheproof-Narraport, 10.10 (70) to 9.9 (63), at St Arnaud.
Ten of Saturday’s team had played in the previous three grand final losses.
“It’s a massive relief to get the win,” said Walklate, who won the Des Darcy Medal for best on ground.
“We’ve been here for four years now and to get one in a game that’s only seven points… all our four grand finals have either been won or lost within two kicks, so it’s great to be on the winning side of things.”
It was a gritty win by the Navies, who had the momentum going against them when the Demons had drawn level 18 minutes into the final term after they had earlier trailed by 13 points at three quarter-time.
However, the Navies had the last two scores of the game – a goal to Andrew Hooper and behind to James McGrath to secure their first flag since 2009.
“A couple of the boys really dug deep late and put their body over the ball. Our back six was super all day in getting crashed into by Jonesy (Corey Jones) and whoever else was down there,” Walklate said.
“They were tireless all day, but everyone had a crack for us and that’s all you can ask for in finals.”
The grand final win doubled as the 200th senior match for Navies’ captain Daniel Thiesz, who played a fine game in defence.
“Thieszy did a super job on the last line of defence. It’s not an easy place to play, but he didn’t shirk any issue all day, played his role and that’s all you can ask.”