In the Sheds: Stony Creek people wake up and they’re still the premiers

THIS column shares its title with the In the Sheds program that airs on ABC Radio when there’s no AFL game on a Saturday afternoon. Listeners last Saturday might have heard Stony Creek president Greg Burge threaten to blow a gasket when his beloved Lions looked like being overcome by the hated Wonthaggi Power in their Alberton league grand final at Foster. Burge walked in panicky circles while describing to a national audience how his club from a town of 40 was trying to hold out its rival from a town of 8000. With a few minutes to go, Stony Creek led by 11 points. “I can’t handle,” said Burge as he got off the phone. The Lions ended up kicking a goal against the flow of play to win by 14 points, sparking riotous scenes as supporters celebrated Stony Creek’s first premiership since 1983. Burge later held up his phone for the benefit of the radio audience while leading the players in a rousing version of “Cheer, cheer the maroon and the white …” When asked on Monday how often players and officials had sung the song, the popular president said: “I reckon 75 times.” While Burge was doing this interview from the Meeniyan Hotel (Stony Creek has no pub), random players walked up, shouted “Premiership!” in his ear, and walked off. The happiest Stony Creek supporter was Leo Dempsey, who played in the club’s 1956 premiership. Dempsey, now 72, told Burge that he was worried after the weekend that it was all a dream. “He woke up this morning and said, ‘We’ve still won the grand final’. He couldn’t believe it’,” Burge said.

MILAWA footballers drew on their share of luck when they ended Tarrawingee’s streak of wins to win the Ovens and King league grand final in Wangaratta on Saturday. Tarrawingee had not lost a game since a semi-final in 2007. Late in the last quarter on Saturday it made a desperate bid to maintain its record when it kicked five quick goals to trail by four points. Century goalkicker Brendan Sessions had the chance to put Tarrawingee in front when he had a set shot 30 metres out on an angle at the 30-minute mark. He missed. Up the other end, Milawa full-forward Luke Sims had come back on after wrecking his knee in the first quarter to the extent that it now requires a reconstruction. His mark and goal from 15 metres out in the dying moments was enough to give Milawa a nine-point victory and its first premiership since 1991. The premiership players included Leigh Newton, the former Melbourne ruckman who was persuaded out of retirement mid-season by his brother Mick, the Milawa coach. Mick missed much of the season through injury, including Saturday’s grand final, but Leigh and another brother, Brent, both kicked two goals. On Monday Milawa’s celebrations at the Milawa Hotel were augmented by a busload of Beechworth footballers. Tallangatta beat Beechworth in the Tallangatta and District league grand final at Sandy Creek on Saturday. Beechworth player John Allen, a 1991 Milawa premiership player, organised his current teammates to head a little south and visit his old teammates on Monday.

SINCE Daylesford dropped back from the Ballarat league to the Central Highlands league in 2006, its rivalry with crosstown rival Hepburn has been among the fiercest in country footy. It’s also one of the closest. A fortnight ago Daylesford defeated Hepburn in the second semi-final by a point after extra-time. On Saturday the Bulldogs trailed by a point when full-forward Andrew Button took a mark on the boundary in the dying seconds. With the strong wind trying to blow the ball across the goals, Button steered the ball through to earn victory by five points as the siren went. The result overtured Daylesford’s loss to Hepburn in last year’s grand final. League officials said the brawl in the crowd during the game was the result of a family dispute rather than a reflection of the spirited rivalry between the clubs.

THE Western Region league’s Spotswood was another club to pull off a heist when it rebounded from a solid loss against Port Colts in the second semi-final to score a three-goal win in the division-one grand final at Chirnside Park, Werribee, on Saturday. It was Spotswood’s third consecutive grand-final victory over the Colts. Spotswood president Chris Murphy said his team benefited from borrowing four ice-vests on the 30-degree day. “And we just seem to match up well on them.” Spotswood’s best included ruckman Lachie McGhie, the son of Richmond premiership play Robbie (who’s president of rival club West Footscray), and midfielder Luke Theodore, the son of rough and tumble former St Kilda player Steve.

IN 2004 Ross Young was a University Blues midfielder who was the hot favourite to win the VAFA’s Woodrow Medal for the best and fairest in A-section when he was pipped by his Blues teammate, Quinton Gleeson. Last year, at WAFL club Perth, Young was leading the Sandover Medal count when he broke his collarbone in round 15. On Monday night Young, 26, made up for near misses in competition best-and-fairest counts when he polled 45 votes to win the Sandover Medal ahead of West Perth captain Jason Salecic (43). Young’s Sandover win adds to a remarkable footy journey. His home club is Donald (which is playing in the North Central league grand final against Charlton at Wedderburn on Saturday). He also played with TAC Cup Bendigo Pioneers before settling in at Uni Blues when he was studying an engineering degree. Since graduating, Young has played at Northern Bullants, Carlton (six games in 2006) and, in recent years, Perth, where he plays alongside his brother Seamus.

IN MONDAY’S Woodrow Medal count, De La Salle duo David Lowe and Matt Fieldsend scored a rare double when they tied for the VAFA’s top individual award with 18 votes, ahead of Ben Phibbs of St Bede’s-Mentone Tigers on 14. Lowe is captain of the De La team that will take on Old Xaverians in the grand final at Elsternwick Park this Sunday. His father Mark was the captain of De La’s most recent A-section premiership team, in 1991.

IN THE Ovens and Murray league’s Morris Medal count on Monday, former Port Adelaide and North Melbourne midfielder Michael Stevens, the 28-year-old brother of former Roos champ Anthony, scored three votes in the final game to steal victory by two votes. Corowa-Rutherglen’s Sam Carpenter, the one-armed player originally from Frankston, Albury’s Chris Hyde, the former Richmond player, and Wangaratta’s Matt Kelly were equal second. Yarrawonga and Albury are expected to attract upwards of 15,000 to the O&M grand final at Lavington on Sunday.

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