FOOTBALL comes with no guarantees that a grand final team will be back on the big stage the following season, and that’s why Wycheproof-Narraport is desperate to make the most of its second opportunity in as many years at winning a flag.
The Demons lost last year’s North Central league grand final to Charlton by seven points, but 12 months one have earned another crack at the premiership on Saturday at Boort.
This time the Demons’ grand final opponent will be Birchip-Watchem.
“We obviously remember what happened last year and we’ve really strived hard all season to make sure we don’t have that feeling again,” Demons coach Julian Bull said this week.
“We know the mistakes we made last year and we’ll be working hard to make sure we don’t make the same ones again.”
Bull conceded after last year’s grand final the Demons had peaked too early in the season and hadn’t been able to produce their best footy when it counted.
They won their first 13 games last year before splitting their last six 3-3, which included losses to Charlton in both the second semi-final and grand final.
This year the Demons ended the home and away season with a 14-1-1 record and 14 points clear on top of the ladder, before again falling short in the second semi-final, going down to Birchip-Watchem by 42 points.
The Demons bounced back last week with a 21-point victory over Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers in the preliminary final.
“This year, besides from the game against Birchip a couple of weeks ago, I feel we’ve been more consistent leading into Saturday,” Bull said.
“We were back to our best last week playing some really good contested footy, which is the way we like to play.
“I’m confident we’re going into the grand final in better form than last year.”
Saturday’s grand final team will feature 16 players who were part of last year’s defeat – skipper Boe Bish, Rolly White, Benjamin Brennan, Spencer Allan, Matt Riordan, Tim Holobowski, Dane McLennan, Andrew Mead-Harding, Adrian Pappin, James Coatsworth, Corey Jones, Kieran Prestidge, Chris Howgate, Ricky Allan, Conner Burge and Joel Turner, while Bull was non-playing coach.
“The great thing about our team is we have a lot of locals and we’re very minimal when it comes to the player points,” Bull said.
“We know we’ve got to capitalise on our opportunity while we have this team together. We’re fortunate that we have a lot of big-game and finals experience and I’ve got no doubt we will turn up with the right mindset on Saturday.”
The Demons’ grand final team of 21 will feature 19 one-point players, with the only exceptions being Toby Sheahan and Tim Holobowski, who are both two-pointers.
The Demons’ average of 23.3 player points per game is the lowest in the AFL Central Victoria region.
Wycheproof-Narraport won its last premiership in 2010 when Demon Matt Dillon was best on ground in their 44-point win over Boort.
Bish, Brennan, Turner and Prestidge are 2010 premiership players who have a chance to also add a 2017 medallion on Saturday.
There’s no shortage of leadership in the Demons’ grand final team, with Bish, Allan and Coatsworth all previous coaches of the club, while there’s also the 157 games AFL experience of veteran Jones, who at the age of 36 still looms as one of Saturday’s biggest grand final X-factors, be it playing forward, midfield or half-back.
Saturday’s grand final between the Demons and Bulls starts at 2.30pm.
GRAND FINAL TEAM
Number in brackets is calculated off club best players each week – six votes for the player named best, five votes for the second best and so on.
B: 8. Spencer Allan (5), 14. Robert Binks (11),34. Trevor Rumbold (0)
HB: 19. Boe Bish (27), 44. Julian Bull (6), 2. Corey Jones (38)
C: 13. Adrian Pappin (13),26. Tim Holobowski (14),25. Conner Burge (15)
HF: 15. Kieran Prestidge (1), 7. Matt Riordan (18),16. Joel Turner (11)
F: 33. Benjamin Brennan (0), 5. Andrew Mead-Harding (17), 18. James Coatsworth (21)
FOLL: 21. Chris Howgate (21), 20. Toby Sheahan (14), 1. Ricky Allan (43)
INTER: 41. Rolly White (1), 47. Jordan Bish (0), 53. Dane McLennan (2)
BY THE NUMBERS
Record – 15-2-1
Average for – 110
Average against – 52
Percentage – 211.7%
Quarters won – 54 of 72
Time in front – 79.2%
Corey Jones – 70
Andrew Mead-Harding – 55
Matt Riordan – 33
James Coatsworth – 31