NO longer will BFNL grand final day be associated with disappointment for Strathfieldsaye’s Ben Lester.
Having played in a losing grand final team in 2013 and then missing out on both the Storm’s 2014 and 2015 victories through late season knee injuries, on Saturday Lester finally earned the premiership medal he had been so desperately craving.
The Storm defeated Eaglehawk 13.10 (88) to 7.14 (56) at the QEO, with 22-year-old Lester one of the grand final’s feelgood stories given the two knee reconstructions he has endured that at times almost forced him to turn his back on football.
“This is an absolute dream come true today,” Lester said.
“To win a flag personally given everything that has happened is fantastic, but for the whole club to win the seniors, reserves and under-18s, it’s just a massive achievement … I can’t say enough about the club.”
The Storm became the first BFNL club since Gisborne in 2002 to win all three football premierships.
As well as Lester, the Storm also had Lachlan Sharp play in Saturday’s flag following a knee reconstruction.
Unlike Lester, though, Sharp had played in the 2014 and 2015 premiership wins.
“Sharpy and I are best mates and for us to have basically not played at all last year (Lester missed all of 2016; Sharp played three games), to be here today, it’s just fantastic,” Lester said.
“I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about today and it’s happened. The best thing about it is I have my best mates around me who I’ve played with for years, but have been very envious of after missing out in two and playing in a losing one.
“This is why I stuck at it… to win a premiership and be able to say I’ve done it.
“I had those couple of years out where I just hated footy, I didn’t want to come to watch, I was very angry at times, but this is just sensational and a dream come true.”
The Storm recovered from a 20-point deficit at three quarter-time as they piled on nine unanswered goals in the final term.
“We had to do it the hard way, but if you’re in it you’re always going to be a chance,” Lester said.