STRATHFIELDSAYE’S Darryl Wilson gave his final three quarter-time address to his players staring at one of the toughest challenges of his seven-year coaching tenure at the Storm.
The Storm had kicked just four goals to three quarter-time in Saturday’s BFNL grand final against Eaglehawk at the QEO and were 20 points in arrears as the Hawks led 7.11 to 4.9.
Admittedly, the Storm had the aid of the breeze to the city end in the final quarter, but by his own admission, Wilson had felt on a hot day his side was “cooked” earlier at half-time when they were just one point down.
“I could sense our boys were tired at half-time and we had Lachlan Sharp struggling with a hamstring, Brad Rohde struggling with a hamstring, Lachie Bonney had hurt his hip, so we had a few blokes who weren’t right,” Wilson said.
By three quarter-time with the Hawks holding the ascendancy, Wilson’s message to his players, to accompany several moves, was to throw caution to the wind in the final term.
“I spoke to the players about I’d rather get beaten by 10 goals by taking the game on rather than go down by not having a crack,” Wilson said.
“We put some extra numbers around the ball, put Kal Geary forward, took Harry Conway out of the forward line and tried to suck their key backs out of the contest, put more pressure on them and control the ball a bit better.”
In what was a last term for the ages, the Storm more than doubled their three quarter-time score as they slammed on 9.1 to 0.3 to win 13.10 (88) to 7.14 (56).
Strathfieldsaye’s nine last-quarter goals included five from superstar forward Lachlan Sharp, who ended the match with six to add the AFL Victoria Country Medal to his Michelsen and Ron Best medals in 2017.
“He’s obviously a great player who has had a sensational season. You hope your stars stand up and he did today,” Wilson said.
I spoke to the players about I’d rather get beaten by 10 goals by taking the game on rather than go down by not having a crackDarryl Wilson - Strathfieldsaye coach
“I thought Kal Geary (Nalder Medal) was unbelievable, Jamieson Sheahan was sensational, Josh Formosa and Sam Heavyside were fantastic… there was no doubt we had a lot of good players, which you need to win grand finals.”
Saturday’s victory brings the curtain down on Wilson’s seven year reign as Strathfieldsaye coach.
When he took on the job in October of 2010 the Storm were only two seasons old and just taking their BFNL baby steps.
Given they are now nine years old and playing in a competition where eight of the other nine clubs have more than 100 years of history, the Storm are still very much the babies of the BFNL.
Young it may be, but Wilson finishes with Strathfieldsaye as the undisputed current day power club – the Storm won all three football premierships on Saturday.
The seniors, who featured 16 one-point players on Saturday, have won three of the past four flags; and the under-18s three in a row.
Wilson bows out as Storm coach with not only three flags, but a 107-32-1 record from 140 games – a winning percentage of 76.4.
“You hope the script plays out the way you want it to and it certainly did today,” said Wilson, who announced last month he would be stepping down at the end of the season.
“I’m obviously rapt, but it’s all about the players. They are the ones who go out and play; I only manage them and try to make sure they are right.
“The club puts a lot of time and energy into rehab with medicos and physios and it’s great for all the hard work that goes in by everybody to get the result today.”
With Saturday’s trifecta in which it won the seniors, reserves and under-18s by a combined 104 points, Strathfieldsaye is the first club since Gisborne in 2002 to complete the BFNL football clean sweep.
In the wake of the post-match celebrations, president Mick Farrell said the enormity of the club’s achievement would take some time to sink in.
“A lot of hard work has gone into it, and there was obviously a lot of emotion around today given it was Darryl’s last game as coach,” said Farrell, who is in his second season as president.
“It’s not something we spoke about during the week, it was just a case of taking each game as it comes.
“When we got the under-18s it was off to a good start, then the reserves had a great result and obviously for the seniors to finish the way they did was fantastic.
“The fact we are a young club, everyone who has been involved has had the chance to create our culture and write our history and the people who have come from other clubs, they have brought the best of those clubs with them. We’ve got a great mix and it’s just a great day for the club.”
Saturday’s winning senior team featured co-captains Shannon Geary and Jayden Donaldson, Sharp, Jake Hall, Kellan Smith and Lachlan Bonney who have played in each of the Storm’s 2014, 2015 and now 2017 flags.
The win was a remarkable eighth senior flag in a row for forward Brad Rohde, who before joining the Storm this year played in seven-straight Bridgewater premierships in the Loddon Valley league.
• Strathfieldsaye’s premiership team – Shannon Geary, Jayden Donaldson (co-captains), Brad Rohde, Lachlan Wallace, Sam Simmons, Matthew Harvey, Sam Heavyside, Lachlan Sharp, Harry Conway, Jake Moorhead, Ben Lester, Jack Neylon, Kallen Geary, Jake Hall, Jamieson Sheahan, Trent Donnan, Harry Crone, Josh Formosa, Brad Stringer, Fergus Payne, Lachlan Bonney, Kellan Smith. Coach: Darryl Wilson.