Local Footy: Roosters find boosters to see off Heidelberg

You can always bank on a handful of dramas in local footy at this time of year, but few would match the events of the Northern league in recent weeks.

Heidelberg was heavily favoured all season to win its sixth premiership in seven years. In round 16, the Tigers defeated the second-ranked team, West Preston, by 88 points. In the second semi-final, the Tigers defeated the Roosters by 109 points. West Preston managed a total of six goals over the two games. Just as well they had a card up their sleeves.

West Preston’s best player during the season, midfielder Pece Micevski, had flown out on the eve of the finals to study at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He was taking up a six-month exchange as part of his double degree in law and science. About 30 West Preston players chipped in $50 each and the club made up the balance to fly him home before the preliminary final.

The match against Bundoora earned statewide prominence after the league-appointed timekeepers allowed the third quarter to go for 39 minutes. West Preston won by 32 points. Bundoora argued all last week that the Roosters had kicked match-winning goals during the swollen time-on period, but the club’s efforts to have a rematch fell on deaf ears.

That was the first bit of luck for West Preston. The next came in the grand final when Heidelberg midfielder Anthony Franchina, one of several former AFL players in the Tigers’ line-up, tore his calf in the opening minute. Fellow midfielder Sean Logie then wrecked his knee and ankle when a Roosters player fell across him.

Heidelberg, despite being two men down, maintained its edge until West Preston kicked two late goals in the second quarter. The Tigers led at half-time by 17 points, but West Preston had momentum.

The match then became a mirror image of the previous night’s AFL final between Collingwood and Geelong. Heidelberg, like the Cats, looked old and slow. West Preston, like the Magpies, ran the opposition off their legs.

West Preston president Graham Mills made the point that conditions were boggy during the two big losses to Heidelberg, while the grand final at the Preston City Oval was played on a dry track.

“We’ve got young kids who love to run, and it was perfect conditions for it,” Mills said.

West Preston went on to score a victory for the ages by 21 points. The Roosters’ former AFL players, Bill Morrison (Collingwood) and Shannon Watt (North Melbourne), both played their parts in key-position roles. Former Carlton champion Greg Williams presented the medal for best on ground to his son Jake. The Micevski brothers were among the Roosters’ best players.

Early on Sunday morning, Billy and Billy’s girlfriend left the celebrations at the West Preston clubrooms to drive Pece to the airport for a 4am flight. Pece had to return to Florida because he was to sit on exam on Monday.

Heidelberg coach Gavin Crosisca, the 1990 Collingwood premiership player, urged his players after the match to stick together for the Tigers’ next premiership tilt. Heidelberg general manager Greg Sheahan said there would be no recriminations after the unexpected loss to West Preston.

“They were too good on the day,” he said.


  1. Good stuff Paul

    Any value in a Father/Son option for Diesel’s lad?

  2. Another father son for the Cats, JB.

  3. Just looked up Main and Holmesby’s Encyclopedia of AFL footballers. On current rules Diesel’s kids are only eligible for the Swans or the Blues, but I suspect if Jake Williams is already playing for West Preston he has beeen knocked back by both clubs. It would have to be several years since he played for the Cannons.

    Great report, Paul. You can always rely on the Diamond Valley League to provide good value. I refuse to call it the Northern Football League. I first started reading DVFL game reports in The Heidelberg Mirror as a primary school kid in the mid fifties and later in the decade I went to my first Heidelberg vs Greeensborough match at Warringal Park. It will always be the Diamond Valley to me.

  4. Andrew Starkie says

    Living on the opposite bank of Edwardes Lake from West Preston Lakeside, I get to see a handful of Roosters’ games each year. Their recent history has been interesting stuff. They won the 2004 div. 1 flag from 5th spot, however, languished in the bottom two from 2005-09, avoiding relegation by the skin of their teeth. Thankfully, there’s always been a side worse than them. Like most suburban comps, success in the NFL is determined by money. Those who have it, win flags, those who don’t, don’t. I think 8 of the past 10 flags have been shared between Heidelberg and Northcote Park. Despite strong junior teams, the Roosters have struggled to keep pace with these clubs on a senior level, due to lack of funds, made worse by the fact the home ground does not have a fence around it, stopping admittance from being charged. Vin Dattoli replaced Matthew Larkin (Roo Legend) as senior coach last year and brought with him a host of new faces. Shannon Watt joined the club in 2010 and the Roosters finished third after the home and away season.

    Last Saturday’s win was a football miracle in the northern suburbs. The final siren brought pandemonium and High st. shop owners were seen boarding up their windows. A week down the track and the boys are still powering on across the lake.

  5. Good to hear Andrew, I also live Lakeside and saw a couple of games last year and listened into the quarter time address which was interesting but didnt get to any this year.

    Great effort by the Roosters.

    And go pies.

  6. Great article Daff, I wish I had made the game.

    My 8 year old boy, Jackson, played for the Roosters Under 9s this year. He wore the number 29 jumper after his hero, Gazza. The team had a terrific year, winning most of their matches. In Under 9s formal scores and a ladder aren’t recorded but the boys (and girl) and parents know a win from a loss. After a win the team leaves the the field, arms linked, singin the Rooster’s song, “Oh, It’s a grand old flag”. We witnessed that many times through the year.

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