Local footy: Tatura wins Goulburn Valley flag

I missed last year’s Goulburn Valley Grand Final, but back on the road to see the 2012 version in Shepparton. 24 hours after the Hawks and Swans took centre stage at the ‘G, the Deakin Reserve in Shep was the place to be for the GVFL decider: Tatura vs Seymour. (Click here for photos from the day.)

Leaving Melbourne I briefly follow a car with the personalised number plate “S3YMOR” – is this an omen? And I don’t believe in omens or superstitions.

I see contented Swanny supporters driving out of town up the Hume. Red and white scarves and Swan mascots proudly stacked on the parcel trays.

But there is a detour. A truck crash near Nagambie has blocked the Goulburn Valley Highway – have to detour via Euroa. News reports say a truck hit a ‘roo, and then caught fire. Must have been some kangaroo!

Arriving at the ground, the Magoos are wrapping up. I get the “Weekender” (Footy record) and stick my nose in for a great read. Taking time to look up I notice the Shep News scoreboard is dead. A replacement board is parked on the wing. I liked the Shep News scoreboard – bright red numbers beaming across the ground. But the temporary job does have a flash graphic every time a goal is scored.

Tat are looking for their first premiership since 2003 while Seymour (Lions) won a hat-trick in 2005/6/7. Teams line up for the national anthem (not sure why we have anthems played at footy matches) and they are accompanied by the dignitaries and the comp’s B&F winner (Mark Blake, ex -Geelong).

Tat finished the season minor premiers with a 16-2 record. The Lions scraped into 6th with a 9-9 win-loss ratio. Quite an effort to win each elimination final along the way to make it to the Granny.

Tatura Bulldogs obviously started clear favourites. Being a Footscray supporter, I thought this was the team I would support on the day. But the inbuilt psychological need to get behind the under-dog kicked in as the match got under way.

Lining up for the favourites was Justin Murphy – a real journeyman at the AFL, and since. After enjoying 4 premierships with Heidelberg in the Northern FL, was he to win another up the country?

For the Lions was Saad Saad, who had topped the goal-kicking list in 2007, 2009 and again this year. 104 goals from the H&A season, and another 11 so far in the finals, he was the excitement machine who was part of Seymour’s recent hat-trick .

After a tight opening 10 minutes, Tat took control and went to the quarter time break with a 4 goal lead. Seymour just didn’t look to have the goods to match it with the Doggies. The wind did favour the SPC end, and Tat made use of it to keep the Lions goal-less at the first break.

Early in the second quarter a fight broke out in the Lions forward 50, but play moved on up the ground to snuff out the brawl. Normally an umpire “takes your number”. In the scuffle, some-one took Saad’s number – literally ripped it off his jumper, so that there was a feint reminder of his number “5” on his back. But with his stocky build and long sleeves, no one was going to mistake him for anyone else!

Tat started to play party tricks kicking for goal. Snaps over the shoulder and jumping for big marks. Seymour started to knuckle down and scores were swapped so that the difference at the big break was 25 points. After working hard, the Lions were being let down by some basic errors. Numerous turn-overs to their opposition was not going to get them the flag.

The radio coverage on the local FM station was having a few technical issues. Drop outs, then the the commentary had an annoying 15 second delay at one stage. Had to give that a pass, but not before a couple of crosses to the boundary rider who told us it was “ideal” conditions for footy. What is about commentators who loosely throw around “perfect” and “ideal” criteria. From years of hearing this on TV and radio I conclude this means the temperature falls between zero and a Marble Bar heat wave, wind speed is short of ripping the roof of the house, you can see a patch of blue sky (unless it is a night match) and the day of the week ends with a “y”. I thought is was a bit cool with a stiff breeze, and the threat of rain hovered all day. Send them to the Tiwi Islands and then tell me what are ideal conditions!

In the second half Seymour keep plugging away. Saad finally bags his first goal in the 3rd quarter. James Sullivan and Linc Wellington give the Bulldogs plenty of drive. The score-board difference between the teams doesn’t alter much – it sits around 4 to 5 goals in favour of Tat with the 6-pointers hard to come by.

Seymour dig deep in the last quarter, pull one goal back, but Tat’s back-line has been tight all day to let only 5 majors through. Their forwards don’t have it all their way either, but a 10-11 to 5-13 final score indicates that after quarter time Seymour more or less matched it with the favourites. Justin Murphy adds another medallion to his collection, while Saad finishes with 117 goals for the season.

Another good crowd wrapped themselves around the green stage, but not as much noise as expected. It was like the expected had happened and no need to work yourself into a frenzy over it.

On a related league matter, Dave Williams has signed up for another year coaching Kyabram (22 consecutive years coaching in the GVFL, the last 6 at Ky).

Driving back to the big smoke I was detoured again as the truck crash had still not been cleared. I’m now having nightmares about monster kangaroos jumping out from behind trees and taking out B doubles. And they say country footy is tough!

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