ST ARNAUD, Boort and Wycheproof-Narraport have all celebrated success on North Central Hockey Association grand final day.
The Saints’ men endured a tough battle to defeat Wedderburn 4-2, atoning for a grand final defeat last season to Boort.
A relieved St Arnaud coach Tom Hamilton said his side was forced to work hard in the second half after they led 3-0 at half time.
“It’s probably fair to say we didn’t play our best, but it’s a grand final and anything can happen,” he said.
“We got the quick start we were looking for, but the second half they put on a few goals to make us pretty nervy, but we got one back at the end through Andrew Niblett and were able to hold them off.
“He’s the league best and fairest. Nibby and I play in the Sandhurst team in the Hockey Central Victoria league and won a grand final there too.
“It’s a huge commitment playing Saturday and Sunday, but that’s what you do when you love the sport.”
Wedderburn’s Dale Jackson was named best afield.
The Saints entered the grand final contest hoping to complete an undefeated season, which brought with it extra anticipation and nerves for their coach.
“We’ve been in nine of the last 10 grand finals and only won two, so the odds were against us,” he said.
“Every grand final is tough. Last year we lost (the grand final) on our home ground, so coming back this year and trying to win was tough.”
The flag win was the Saints’ first since 2014.
Meanwhile, Boort snared its first women’s flag since 2014 with a 4-2 win over Wedderburn.
The Magpies were led by their captain and best and fairest Chelsea Challis-Broad, who capped a wonderful season by being named best on field.
A Masters Games bronze medallist this year, Challis-Broad said the Magpies had been challenged strongly by the Redbacks in the latter stages of the match.
“Wedderburn did finish top, but we had beaten them the last two times we played them,” she said.
“I think a lot of us were quietly confident of beating them if we could turn it on on the day.
“But they just kept coming.”
The Magpies have now won three of the past five women’s grand finals following back-to-back successes in 2013-14.
Their premiership side comprised an intriguing mix of four players aged in their 40s, several in their 20s and a bunch in their teens.
The youngest was Chloe Baker, who is just 14.
The feel good story of the day belonged to Wycheproof-Narraport, which won the under-age grand final 5-1 against Birchip-Watchem.
This season was the first in 11 years that the Demons had fielded a team in the junior grade.
Eloise Gretgrix (Wycheproof-Narraport) and Jack Trollope won the respective best on field medals.