Birchip-Watchem Bulls charge home to beat St.Arnaud: Round 17 North Central Football League

St.Arnaud run onto Lord Nelson Park for their important round seventeen clash with Birchip-Watchem in the North Central Football League.

Former North Melbourne 1999 premiership player, Shannon Motlop, back playing in the sticks with the St.Arnaud Saints in the North Central Football League.

Birchip-Watchem coach, Zach Holmes, out-reaches his St.Arnaud opponent in this ruck contest.

Birchip-Watchem’s Brenton Hall grabs the umpire’s shirt as he tries to prevent St.Arnaud coach, James McNamee, from shooting at goal.

Birchip-Watchem – the visitors – kicked clear of St.Arnaud in the final term after an even contest during the day.


By Shane Goss (

The St.Arnaud Saints have failed to grab a spot in the top four of the North Central Football League despite a spirited effort against finals rival Birchip-Watchem at Lord Nelson Park in St.Arnaud.

With just four points separating the teams heading into the round, a win was a must for the Saints if they were to play any part in September.

In cool and breezy conditions before a good crowd the Saints began well with playing coach, James McNamee, kicking the first two goals of the game. Kicking with the wind towards the changerooms end, St.Arnaud attacked the ball with the desire McNamee would have hoped for.

However, no sooner had St.Arnaud gone two goals up and the canteen run out of dim-sims, when the Bulls found the target and added three majors of their own to lead by four points at the first change. As the respective netball and hockey games went on around the main stage,the Saints fought to stay in the hunt. They were struggling without multiple talls on the forward line with McNamee a one-man band.

At the main break the visitors were nine points up. Volunteers in the canteen were kept on their toes as the temperature struggled to reach double figures. The season before the Saints were cemented to the bottom of the ladder. This year there had been anticipation of some finals action. The second-half was important.

Neither side were prepared to give an inch in the third quarter and traded blows like Olympic boxers fighting for gold. Former North Melbourne premiership player, Shannon Motlop, now with St.Arnaud, was trying to lift his team through the midfield but urged his teammates for speedier ball movement.

The margin was reduced to seven points at the final change. Locals seated in-front of their cars around the boundary had forgotten the radio coverage from the MCG. Instead wondering whether or not the Saints fortunes had finally changed.It was on the cards just minutes into the final quarter as again full-forward McNamee led by example to put the Saints in front.

But their glory didn’t last. The Bulls charged into their forward line again and again in the final quarter. Spearhead Lachie Foott kicked his fifth goal for the game. He was well supported by Jarrod Tyler and Tim Walder who snared three each. Cameron Hall was close to best-on-ground for the Bulls down back and the mop-haired Charlie Hallam was in everything around the middle.

Birchip-Watchem piled on seven goals to St.Arnaud’s three for the quarter to run out 32 point winners. The margin not indicative of the game and the Saint’s efforts to remain in the race for the finals. McNamee was a standout for the Saints with his eight goals while Motlop, Jono Miles and Torin Petrie all battled hard. In the end the Saints could well have done with another tall marking option down forward.

Birchip-Watchem delivered when it mattered and move up to third place on the ladder. St.Arnaud’s season is all but over, needing to beat second-placed Wycheproof-Narraport away in the penultimate round next week.

St.Arnaud: 2.6 – 5.9 – 9.10 – 12.11.83.
Birchip-Watchem: 3.4 – 7.6 – 10.11 – 17.13.115.

St.Arnaud – McNamee 8, R.Wild, S.Motlop, N.Coghlan, B.Organ 1. (McNamee 42 for year)
B/W – L.Foott 5, J.Tyler 3, T.Walder 3, M.Smith 2, C.Hall, R.Vesikuru, D.Ferrier, Z.Holmes 1. (Foott 62 for year)

St.Arnaud – S.Miles, S.Motlop, J.McNamee, T.Petrie, L.Stewart.
B/W – C.Hallam, Z.Holmes, T.Carland, A.Hutchins, T.Walder, C.Hall.

About Shane Goss

I am currently working as an assistant manager at the Kilmore Racetrack as well as freelancing in the media as a photographer and writer. I have been heavily involved in the cycling media for the past ten years before taking on a full-time position at the racetrack. My passion for sport and especially football keeps me busy with projects on weekends.


  1. Good league the North Central. I’ve been to a few games @ Donald, actually that has me thinking Donald are @ home to Boort on Saturday. Maybe a nice rural drive will be in order. Let’s see how it pans out.


  2. Stephen Cooke says

    Loving the culinary references, regular readers now know where to get the best burgers and best dim sims (if you hurry) at country Vic grounds. Love the photos too, Shane.

  3. The Motlop looks very like the current Cat’s one.

  4. Good story and good pics
    Nothing beats a day at footy in the “bush”

  5. I would recommend the drive Glen. I was suprised with the standard of the game (with all due respect to both teams, and the competition). I reckon the top two in Wedderburn and Wycheproof-Narraport would be a good game to see, maybe the GF. Thanks for your words Oges and Stephen, still looking for the best pie. Motlop still had the skills Phantom, he was dodging and weaving all day.

  6. 17 – 12 (113) ?

  7. I think the young fella is removing the 3, Phantom. Probably replacing it with a 4.

  8. Best meat pies in SA are at the Pt Elliot Bakery. Pt Elliot have combined with Goolwa in the Great Southern Footy League one of the strongest in SA
    Found out the other day Walpeup/Underbool Footy Club in the Mallee League run a mini- bus from Adelaide each weekend (and back) with players a lot of whom played for West Adelaide in the SANFL

  9. Andrew Fithall says

    My late father Grahame played for St Arnaud in the mid fifties. Dad was born there, moved away to teachers college and returned briefly as a teacher (one – the third oldest – of my seven siblings was also born in St Arnaud). Dad’s nephew Ian Fithall was a good player winning four club best and fairest awards between 1964 and 1970. Ian also won the league B&F in 1965.

  10. Any other tips for Shane on where to find the best meat pies at country Victoria football grounds? Turner’s bakery used to supply the pies to the Lake Boga football ground – super pies, very thick pastry. Pie nights at junior footy training twice a year were memorable. Do they still have pie nights at junior footy training?

  11. Basso Divor says

    Volk’s pies were legendary in Ouyen in the 60/70s, but am certain old Vic has passed on and the family are possibly no longer in the pastry business. On a side note, Jeff Kennett has previously talked up the vanilla slice available in Ouyen, so tasty comestibles still have a profile in the region.

  12. volky max says

    Vic Volk took over Volks Pies Ouyen, from father Wal (now deceased).
    Closed business 1984 after 50 years….Vic now in Melton.

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