State Footy: VFA memories flood back as Preston attack overpowers Port in Preliminary Final

Off to North Port Oval for the Preliminary Final between Preston, now known as Northern Bullants, and Port Melbourne,  always known as The Borough.
I missed the first 10 minutes  because of my partner’s very important birthday lunch/celebrations at  a very  swish Melbourne hotel. I could barely wobble my way out of the hotel because of the amount of fantastic food I had persuaded my body  to take in, so I was grateful a 109 tram  soon arrived to take me to the  game.  By the  time I got to the gate, the Footy Records were all  sold out, which was a bit disappointing but there was a big crowd in,  the sun was out and the game was in full swing.
I have been to the North Port oval many times  over the years in the good old VFA days. I can remember one game in  particular between Port and Coburg some 20 or so years ago. Phil Cleary was Captain-Coach of the Burgers, the day was  cold windy and wet , the  ground was a mud heap and the scores all day were very close. Phil was  handing out a little bit of retribution to the Port players all day  and was copping a lot back as well.

The last quarter was like cross-country wrestling and Phil was handing out plenty and the Port crowd  in the Norm Goss grandstand were beside themselves with rage.  At last the siren went and Coburg had pulled off
a surprising victory by a couple of points. As the jubilant mud-
splattered Coburg players left the ground, Phil blew kisses to the
ferociously angry  Port supporters in the grandstand. I was not a
little worried about Phil’s well being, but about an hour later there
he was having a well-earned beer with a mixture of Port and Coburg
players and supporters in the clubrooms under the grandstand.
Phil is here today but in a more peaceful role; he is the boundary rider for ABC TV. He looks just as intense as he makes his comments  to the TV audience and he never stops pacing the boundary. Given half a chance he would have been out there in it.
I was a staunch Coburg supporter for many, many
years. In my early childhood I thought they had the same jumper as my
beloved Dons. When I discovered the jumper was dark blue with a red
stripe, I was a welded-on Burger, but I must admit I lost a lot of the
passion when they became linked with Richmond and called themselves
Coburg Tigers. In my day they were Burgers or Lions.
Back to the game, at quarter-time there were 10 points
in it, but in the second and third quarters Preston completely took
over. The skill of Yarran , the strength of Cloke and the  overall attack on the ball by all the Bullant players was too much for the Borough, who made plenty of mistakes and missed easy opportunities , a result of pressure from Preston, so by three-quarter time Preston they had a commanding seven-goal lead.

The Borough came out fighting in the last quarter and at times looked as though they could make up the deficit , but Preston kicked a couple of goals at crucial times and ran out winners by 21 points.

The Borough let the game slip, especially in the third quarter, but I admired their spirit in the last, and I tell you what, the Borough jumper is great. Long may they stay a stand-alone club and long may they play wearing their fantastic strip.

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