Chasing the elusive bush premiership


I am a 28 year old weekend warrior.  I have played out my entire footy career in the MPNFL south of Melbourne as a struggling ruckman for the Crib Point Football Club.

My career at Crib Point has been quite a journey, many pre-seasons, followed by many games of football, many sub-par games, some good ones scattered in there and many beers have been part and parcel of my ten year senior career. 

I was there in the seniors when Crib Point were hammered by Tyabb by over 180 points, I was also there and kicked the opening goal of a game when Crib Point beat the eventual premiers, Langwarrin, three weeks later. 

I have been lambasted for backing out of a contest (I’m sad to admit I have thought of self-preservation on the field at times) and I have also been praised for putting my body on the line and head over the ball.

I have kicked goals that helped win matches and I have missed goals from the edge of the goal square.

I have (a couple of times) dominated opponents in the ruck and on others (more than a couple), been dominated.

I was there when the reserves defeated Hastings by three points in their only win of the year in 2009, I was also there when the reserves finished second only to be bundled out of the finals in straight sets in 2004.

Over 160 odd games of seniors and reserves football and I have done nearly everything except win a premiership.

Hell, I haven’t even played in a winning final.

Now, at 28 years of age I am finally realising the clichés all my coaches had drummed into me when I was in my early twenties are true.

‘You’re a long time retired’ is one that sticks with me.

For the first time in my mediocre footy career, I am beginning to realise I cannot play the game I love forever.  At 28, more team-mates are younger than me than older, I’m starting to feel a little sorer after each game, I jar up a little more in my joints, I seem to suffer a weekly dislocation of one of my fingers, the tenderness of my right medial ligament and the stiffness of the metal plate in my right hand are all constant reminders that footy takes a toll on the body and it chooses when you give it away, not the other way around.

This off season I am rejuvenated with the prospect of playing some decent finals footy.  I love Crib Point and it will forever be my home and my last game of football I ever play will be donning the black and white.  I am a former committeeman, Under 18 coach and hopefully, future life member.

I hope like mad they play finals in 2011, even though I will not be there.

In the off season I made a move interstate to Murray Bridge and my girlfriend, a supporter of the Imperial Football Club, said it was a club I should look at playing for.

They tick two major boxes. 

Firstly they wear the navy blue.

Secondly they are a club that oozes success.  In 2009 their senior team won the flag.  In 2009 and 2010 their reserves side reigned supreme.

I finally have a sniff and I am going to do everything in my power to play some finals footy.

The beauty of the River Murray Football League with its seven clubs situated along the Murray River east of Adelaide is the league has a final five. 

Sounds laughable but it’s a pretty competitive league and the premiership hopefuls run five deep.

Imperials are always strong.  Imps have been finalists every year for the decade and last tasted success in 2009.  In 2010 they underachieved with a preliminary final berth.

Their cross-town rival is the Rambler Football Club.  The Roosters are the reigning premiers and also hoisted the cup in 2008.  A tall strong bodied side with stars across the park, they’ll be tough to topple in 2011.

The runner-up team for the past two seasons has been the Mannum Kangaroos.  Mannum, the farthest north team in the league has former no. 1 draft pick, Clive Waterhouse on the books.  Word on the street is they have recruited a star full-forward from the Hills League who will be looking at a 100 goal season, minimum.

Jervois are a team that won four consecutive flags during the noughties.  Imperials were their victims on a couple of occasions.  Jervois has struggled a bit the past couple of years but a new coach in the form of former Crow Chris Ladhams has put them back into contention.

Meningie were a much improved outfit in 2010.  Finishing fourth, they were competitive against the top three and will be competitive again in 2011.  Ten years on from their 2001 triumph could see them challenging the business end of September.

This season has reinvigorated me a little.  Even though I’m 28 and my ‘premiership window’ (to use another cliché) is closing, and fast, this year I feel I have a chance. 

I have always said I will not retire happy unless I win a flag.

I’m not going to make the mistake of going through the motions.  My attendance at training has been flawless.  My 94kg frame trending down to the 90kg I aim to get to by March.  I’ll keep a steely look at the coach whenever he speaks (I always do) and I’ll do everything I physically can to do my part to contribute to team success.

Seniors or reserves, I’ll play where I’m picked.  I just want to play in a flag between now and the end of my ordinary footy career, which could end at any time with a simple twist of the knee. I will not take a single session or game for granted.

After all you are a long time retired in this game.


  1. Jared
    You are right…premierships do not come easy. Good luck for the season!

  2. Jared,

    there are few greater thrills in life than that when the siren sounds to end a grand final, you are on the ground, and your team is in front.

    Live the Dream.

    By the way Wynyard footy club in N W Tasmania need an experienced ruckman this year and they play in Navy Blue.

  3. Plenty of time left Jared! I’m chasing the flag dream at the moment and I’m 45. Hope you make it sooner than me…

    What do you want to know about aching joints?

  4. Jared

    You have really captured something here, and in the very simple language I love.

    Would love you to keep us posted throughout the season: you may develop quite a following among those reprobates and failures who visit this site living vicariously through your on-field deeds. You’ve certainly got my attention.


  5. Jared Newton says

    I’ll be sure to keep you all updated as the season progresses. Hopefully I stay fit and on the park all year.

    As for the aching joints, I shouldn’t complain too much, a few beers and I’m on the dancefloor on a Saturday night. The day I can’t walk after a game, well, that’ll be the day I probably walk away and live my footy dream through coaching or through a son or nephew.

  6. Jake 'Cobba' Stevens says

    Good luck Jared,

    Similarly I played junior footy for the past 6 years at Mt Martha JFC. Where we never won a flag. We were runners-up 3 times but never made it all the way.

    But this year I’m fortunate to join another successful team this year Mornington.I will play in the Under 18 side which will this year attempt back-to-back-to-back premierships.(which has never been done in the league).

    I realize my “Premiership Window” has a lot of time left in it, but I too hope that I may lift the cup one day.

    All the best


  7. Jared Newton says

    Good luck Cobba, Mornington are a club with a pretty successful history so you’re every chance. I watched them smash Hastings by over 100 points in the 2001 GF.

  8. Alovesupreme says

    Most of we ancients can relate to your experience. During 15 seasons of football (park/paddock level), I played in a single premiership (Under 19s). I was first emergency in a premiership side, and played in a losing Granny; otherwise a handful of finals losses. My brother who was a far better player than me, played in something like 10 Grand Finals for a single win (as an under 16 player).
    So they’re a precious commodity, whatever the standard. Good luck with your 2011 quest.

  9. jared

    a great read.
    i’m officially on the imperials bandwagon!


  10. Pamela Sherpa says

    GOOD LUCK Jared. Everyone deserves to experience the exhilaration of winning a premiership once in their lifetime. Will look forward to your reports about country footy and life up in that part of the world.

  11. Mick Jeffrey says

    I’ll have to hand it to you, you’ve done something I could never do (change clubs). Hope to hear more from one weekend warrior to another.

  12. Peter Schumacher says

    Is Tailem Bend in this league? If not, does this town still field a team?

  13. Jared Newton says

    Yes, Tailem Bend are in the RMFL. They struggled a little last year and were wooden spooners but their reserves made the finals.

  14. Scott Elliott says


    Your comments also stick with me as well.

    I am 35 and have just recently retired from playing footy for Port Fairy in the Hampden Football Netball League for the past ten years (a mix of senior and ressies) after moving down from Melbourne. Having been a ruckman/key position player for all that time I realised late in the season last year that the body could’nt cope anymore with the rigours of the game no matter how much physio or recovery I did. I probably had more downs then ups with the Seagulls, only playing in finals a total of 3 years out of the 10. This was quite different to when I played junior footy in Melbourne where I played in 4 flags in a row, but I can hardly recall them now. I think Bobby Skiltons comments still ring true when he said he would give all of his b & f’s and brownlows for one premiership medal.

    All the best for the season Jared and look forward to hearing your progress throughout the year.

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