In the Sheds: Teague falls just short of flag aim after going back to his roots

By Paul Daffey

While many AFL people keep their footy roots in mind, none match the determination of former Carlton and North Melbourne defender David Teague to maintain those roots. Teague played in a premiership at his home club, Katandra, just north of Shepparton, when he was 17. Now 28, he’s the coach of VFL club Northern Bullants and the development coach at Carlton, but he was determined this year to play with Katandra in the Picola and District league, which is made up of dairy farmer and rice cockies, when coaching commitments allowed. “I love the way the whole community goes to the games and supports it,” he said. On Saturday Teague played his fifth game for the season, against Shepparton East in a preliminary final at Waaia. He played in what he described as “the centre”, the quaint old position where he played for Katandra a decade ago. His teammates included his 24-year-old brother Gregor (“ruck-rover”), cousin Wes Teague, 31 (“half-back flank”) and his best mate from his youth, Steve Lawless (“half-forward flank”). As the Kats were about to run on to the field, Teague’s auntie Kaye, the mother of Wes, suggested a picture of the three Teagues but Wes said: “Nup, too late.” And on to the field they ran.

WES went on to be the Kats’ best player while David, Gregor and Lawless were also handy as Katandra took a four-goal lead into three-quarter time. In the final quarter, however, the opposition’s marking targets fired up and Shep East ran out winners by 13 points. Former St Kilda wingman Jason Trianidis kicked eight goals for the victors despite a bung ankle keeping him tethered to the goalsquare. “They ran over the top of us, which was disappointing,” Teague said. After the match, Teague drove a carload of teammates to the Telegraph Hotel in Numurkah (there’s no pub in Katandra) for a counter tea and then back to the Katandra clubrooms. Teague stayed a short while before retiring to his parents’ farm. On Sunday morning he drove back to Melbourne, where he remembered talk of midfielders and frontal pressure and coached the Bullants to an unexpected victory over Williamstown in a VFL semi-final at the Gellibrand Oval.

MAYBE the Kolora-Noorat footballers who defeated Timboon Demons in the Warrnambool and District league grand final on Saturday should be known as the Rainbow Warriors, given that a glorious rainbow arced over the Warrnambool’s Reid Oval following the siren. On Monday Kolora-Noorat president Gerard Justin broke away from the celebrations at the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Terang to say that the 50-point margin failed to reflect the tension in the match. “It was a hard-fought win,” he said. When asked about the celebrations, he said: “No nudie runs just yet.” Justin’s choice of words was ironic considering the goings-on during the grand final. With the ball at centre half-forward at one end, an unknown supporter hared onto the field wearing a wetsuit and dacked one of the three umpires, Sam Johnstone, a 20-year-old officiating in his first grand final, who was at the other end. In 2005 East Warrnambool player Ben Gray went to court after streaking during the Warrnambool and District grand final at the Reid Oval. He was found guilty of wilful and obscene exposure in a public place and fined $600. The identity of Saturday’s neoprene invader is unknown at this stage but in a town the size of Warrnambool it is sure to be known before too long.

WHEN ruckman Peter Street was delisted by the Western Bulldogs after last season, officials from Geelong league footy club St Joseph’s knew that Street lived in Geelong and he wanted to become a policeman. Their winning pitch was that St Joe’s had two senior detectives, Brad Lancaster and John McKinnon, who served on the club committee and who might be able to point him in the right direction regarding police work. Over the past fortnight Street has done himself a small disservice. Successive best-on-ground performances have lifted St Joe’s into the Geelong league grand final at Skilled Stadium on Saturday week. The problem is that he’s due to enter the police academy to start his plod training two days later. Street steered St Joe’s to victory over Colac and then over South Barwon, which had lost only one game, in Saturday’s second semi. Scores were locked until St Joe’s veteran Christian Shaw kicked a behind in the last 10 seconds. The St Joe’s captain, midfielder Brett Jackman, is a good mate of Collingwood captain Nick Maxwell; they went to school together. A minute after the siren had gone St Joe’s president Mark Jackman, the father of Brett, received a text message from Maxwell congratulating him on the win. “He must have been listening via local radio,” Jackman said. If all of St Joe’s current AFL alumni were to go to the grand final they’d have Maxwell (Collingwood), Cameron Ling and Matthew Scarlett (Geelong), and Tim Callan and Shaun Higgins (Bulldogs). Jim Bartel went to school at St Joseph’s College but played his junior footy at Bell Park. The St Joe’s footy club will play the winner of this Saturday’s South Barwon v Bell Park game in the grand final.

St JOSEPH’S upset win over South Barwon was nothing compared to the shock that accompanied the Western Region league division-two grand final between Parkside and Deer Park at Werribee’s Chirnside Park on Saturday. Parkside went into the game undefeated; its average winning margin during the home-and-away rounds was 71 points. Deer Park had to win the last three rounds just to make the finals. Then they defeated Laverton, Albanvale and North Footscray in the finals to make the grand final. Deer Park president Mark McGoldrick, who coached the club to its only previous premiership, in A-grade in 1994, said the Lions gave themselves a chance before the game because they had a young side on a big ground. At half-time Parkside led by 21 points. But then Deer Park began to run all over them and the Magpies had no answer. “It was totally unfamiliar for them,” McGoldrick said. The tale of the game was embodied by Deer Park midfielder Shaun Harrison, a 19-year-old who had 32 possessions after half-time. Parkside’s 34-year-old centre half-forward Sedat Sir, the former Footscray defender, was among the Magpies who starred early before running out of puff. At the 20-minute mark of the last quarter, Sir’s opponent, Wayne Duggan, streamed downfield to kick a running goal from outside 50 and seal the win. The Lions scored by 21 points, which was the half-time margin in reverse. “It was one of those blue-collar jobs,” McGoldrick said. “The underdog got up.” The curious twist in the tale is that Deer Park will now reject promotion to first division. The president said his club’s player bill this season was $17,000, a fraction of what would have to be spent to be competitive if the Lions were to go up. “We can’t afford it,” McGoldrick said.

THE other big upset from the weekend was the straight-sets exit of Balwyn in division one of Melbourne’s Eastern footy league. Croydon’s defeat of Vermont in the second semi also raised a few eyebrows given that Croydon were playing in their first division-one final since 1975 against a club that makes the grand final more often than not. Vermont last week defeated Balwyn by two points in their qualifying final, 11.11 (77) to 9.21 (75), after the Tigers missed 10 set-shots from inside 30 metres. Balywn was expected to bounce back (and kick straighter) in the first semi against Blackburn, another club that has had only rare experience in division-one finals. But Blackburn, which has improved greatly since former Hawthorn rookie Kristan Height returned from an ankle injury late in the season, had the Tigers’ measure and powered to a 46-point victory, earning a preliminary against Vermont this week. Balwyn president Richard Wilson said the Tigers had no excuses. “The stars just didn’t align for us this year.” He said the Tigers would have a short rest and then return to the recruiting hustings, targeting players coming off AFL and VFL lists as well as talented footballers from lower divisions who want to have a crack at a higher level. “Our recruiting machine will be out there as usual,” Wilson said.


  1. That photo set from the WDNFL GF brought a tear to my eye. The rainbow photo for the presentation is perfect!

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