ALL premierships are special, but for Charlton, perhaps Saturday’s North Central league triumph means just that little bit more.
A little more for the past three years of grand final heartache the club has endured.
And a little more for the hardship the community is facing as it again battles against floodwaters that for a period last week cast some doubt over the grand final going ahead as scheduled on Saturday.
Instead of the Charlton community enjoying the excitement of grand final week with five teams vieing for flags across the football, netball and hockey competitions, there was the lingering threat of floodwater damage, while the grand final teams were forced to train by car headlights on Thursday night with the town’s power out in what will be another tale that will go down in folklore as part of the 2016 premiership.
On the field, has there been a more luckless footy team over the past three years than the Navies, who had endured the agony of a trifecta of narrow grand final losses in a row by a combined 21 points – including one in extra time two seasons ago – in what was becoming the country footy version of the “Colliwobbles”.
Ten players who had been part of all three grand final losses – Aaron and Ben Walklate, Luke Kyriakides, Luke Mulquiny, Joe McGrath, Anthony Judd, Michael Laffin, Sam O’Connor, Rhys Thompson and Kieran Sait – took to the field on Saturday.
What must those 10 players have been thinking when at the 18-minute mark of the final quarter when the scores were level at 9.9 apiece and Wycheproof-Narraport had the momentum and wind at its back?
But the Navies dug deep and drawing on perhaps a combination of the past three years of pain with the added motivation of winning for a town doing it tough at the moment, Charlton finished the stronger to win 10.10 (70) to 9.9 (63), sparking a mix of jubilation and relief at the final siren as the monkey was finally off the club’s back.
Combine the senior premiership, the Navies ending Wedderburn’s six-year reign of dominance in the A-grade netball in extra-time and the under-16s upsetting the previously unbeaten St Arnaud with the backdrop of the flood adversity the community endured in the build-up and the grand final near-misses of the previous three seasons, Saturday’s success will go down as one of the most memorable days in Charlton’s history. Congratulations Navies.
Luke West – sports reporter