WITH Echuca already ensconced in the 1970 grand final, Sandhurst had to beat Eaglehawk in the preliminary final to earn a spot in that season’s big dance.

Forty years ago, the BFL had a Top Four in place.

Eaglehawk had won the first semi-final to snatch a preliminary final place while the Hurst was coming off a second semi defeat at the hands of the Graham Arthur-coached Echuca.

Going into early October’s preliminary final 12 of the 16 pundits polled in the Saturday Advertiser picked Eaglehawk.

All three Addy experts — Alan Martin, Dick Turner and chief footy writer Noel Beaton — went for the Two Blues.

Golden Square coach Bill Bonney (now a member of the 2010 Hall Of Fame selection panel) picked Eaglehawk although Castlemaine mentor Ron Auchettl named Sandhurst as the winner.

Murray Bombers coach Arthur also fancied Sandhurst even though his side had inflicted a five-goal defeat on the Maroons a week earlier.

AUCHETTL said he considered the Hurst’s young players would settle down after the second semi-final loss and added: “I like Trevor Keogh at centre half-forward and Brian Walsh in the centre.”

Arthur commented that the Maroons had more avenues of attack than Eaglehawk.

“Both play similar games moving the ball into the open but Eaglehawk rely on just two or three to get the ball down to full-forward Greg Kennedy.”

Most of the 16 players, coaches and commentators asked for their selection mentioned that during the home-and-away rounds Sandhurst and Eaglehawk had played out a draw at the QEO.

Bonney liked the look of the Sandhurst side with Walsh in the centre and Petherbridge on the ball.

“And Terry Nolen will be better able to finish off their attack at full-forward. Despite this Eaglehawk will be too big and too strong but they won’t do it as well as Echuca did last week,” said Bonney.

South Bendigo coach Ron Knight also fancied Eaglehawk.

“Sandhurst has no counter for Mike Hammond and Greg Kennedy. Geoff Southby could hold Kennedy for most of the day, but Kennedy will still kick six or seven and that will be enough for Eaglehawk to win,” said Knight.

ON TO the game itself with Eaglehawk selectors opting for Bob Emery on a half-back flank (replacing injured Francis Gill) while the Maroons brought in Damien Cleeve, Terry Nolen and John Giri.

The Two Blues blitzed the Hurst in the first term, with only   inaccuracy in front of goal restricting them from a huge lead.

Beaton wrote in Monday’s paper that poor kicking had robbed Eaglehawk of a six or seven goal lead. As it was the Two Blues led 4.6 to 2.1 at the first change.

“What did Maroons’ coach Des Dickson say to his players at quarter time?” Beaton asked. They were stung into action as a result of his fiery words while Eaglehawk stopped to a walk.

It was a magical change as a three-goal deficit became a three-goal lead. Free-wheeling Petherbridge reveled in the freedom of the following division and so did Mick O’Sullivcan and rover Shane Higgins.

Terry Nolen became the full-forward they needed, Brian Walsh was at home in the centre while John Lynch and Len Rodda were mini-Maroons who “massacred” their opponents on Sandhurst’s half-forward flanks.

Players who were unsighted in the second semi-final loss to Echuca became stars, and despite the typical Two Blue fighting spirit the game seemed to be gradually slipping out of their hands.

Some of Graham Arthur’s philosophy from the previous week certainly rubbed off. Sandhurst players contested every issue and even their little men harassed the Hawks with persistent pressure football.

And the Maroon new boys — 22-year-old Damien Cleeve, Terry Nolen and John Giri — brought back to add “life to the dead” were goers from the first bounce.

However, big “Delicate” Des Dickson discarded his robust role and tried for a fantastic John Coleman mark. He missed, but his feet seemed to be on Geoff Southby’s shoulders.

The crack full-back crashed heavily and broke his collarbone.

For the next 10 minutes the Maroons were in absolute disarray. It took many minutes for them to decide to replace Southby and by then Hawks had them on the run.

Pre-game predictions seemed to be coming true. Hawk big men Lance Lane, Mike Hammond and Bryan Clements ruled the air.

Their centreline trio of Kevin Pedrotti, Brendon Keane and Chris Ilsley were clear winners while Jim Kennedy was back to his best at centre half-forward.

Young rover Neil Monro (17 y-o) flashed into the forward line in flying forays and the old firm — the Kennedy brothers — had their close partnership working.

Greg, the BFL’s top goalkicker, had shown brilliant form before Southby departed. But when the shorter Robbins was temporarily thrown into the breach Kennedy stole the show.

Greg took six marks in the third quarter but his kicking was astray (he finished with 5.5). The Two Blues added 7.6 to 4.1 to take just a four-point advantage into the last term.

Alan Elvey had gone to full-back for the Maroons with replacement Rod Binks on the ball.

As the last quarter started Two Blue forward Jim Kennedy’s groin injury had stopped him to a walk. Big Bryan Clements was limping badly.

Thirty-five-year old coach Ledwidge himself replaced full-back Ken Gilbee and Eaglehawk’s last card was on the table.

But Sandhurst had too many trumps and Dickson was the biggest of them. His strong marking and mobile ruckwork made him a scene-stealer and his youngsters followed suit.

Lynch, Rodda, Higgins, Alan Wills and Ron Somerfeld were full of enthusiasm.

The Maroons added 4.4 to 1.3 to win by 15 points.

SANDHURST      2.1      7.9      11.10       15.14 (104)

EAGLEHAWK     4.6      4.8       11.14       12.17 (89)

GOALS – Sandhurst: T. Nolen 5, M. O’Sullivan 3, S. Higgins 2, L. Rodda 2, T. Keogh, B. Walsh, D. Dickson. Eaglehawk: G. Kennedy 5, J. Kennedy 2, N. Monro 2, G. Scott, L. Lane, J. Ledwidge.

BEST – Sandhurst: L. Rodda, D. Dickson, J. Lynch. L. Conroy, R. Petherbridge, M. O’Sullivan, T. Nolen. Eaglehawk: G. Kennedy, B. Clements, M. Hammond, K. Pedrotti, L.  Lane, P. Burke, G. Scott.

Selected stats — Sandhurst:  Cleeve 15 kicks, four marks, 2 handballs; Leo Conroy 17, 4, 0; Lynch 23, 5, 2; Rodda 25, 8, 2; B. Walsh 17, 4, 4; Petherbridge 15, 10, 7; Dickson 15, 9, 1.

Eaglehawk: Pedrotti 18 kicks, 1 mark, 1 handball; Greg Kennedy 14, 12, 0; Hammond 13, 11, 5; Pat Burke 20, 2, 2; Clements 11, 8, 0; Lance Lane 15, 5, 7; M. Taylor 16, 3, 1.

Umpire: Jeff Crouch. (He’d announced his retirement leading up to the BFL prelim. final. Crouch had umpired 200 VFL games, including 15 finals and five VFL grand finals.)

RESULTS of 1970’s early finals — 1st semi-final: Eaglehawk 18.23 (131) def. Golden Square 11.12 (78). Greg Kennedy 11 goals for the Hawks, Ron Best just one for the Square.

2nd semi-final: Echuca 16.17 (113) def. Sandhurst 12.10 (82). David Fox nailed six goals for the Murray Bombers.

Echuca went on to win just their third BFL flag in a heart-stopper, scoring 15.13 (103) to Sandhurst’s 14.13 (97) in the ’70 grand final.

Richard’s tip for preliminary final: South Bendigo by 29 points. Season total for 2010: 79.


  1. Rocket Rod Gillett says

    Thanks for the memories Richard.

    Remember seeing Sandhurst and the Borough play in this period – Sandhurst were a very youg team – they ran Echuca pretty close – heard the game broadcast on 3BO by the legendary Dick Turner.

    Were there any Protestants in the Sandhurst team?
    I know the coach was also RC because his younger brother Royce coached St Augustines in the Kyabram Junior League.

    Greg Kennedy was a marvellous player – was him kick 6 magical goals in absolute teeming rain against Rochester at Canterbury Park in 71 – when the Two Blues went on to win the premiership.

    Mick O’Sullivan had the bandiest legs I’ve ever seen on a footballer – he was very tough.

  2. Greg Allan says

    “Were there any Protestants in the Sandhurst team?”

    My dad, Anglican, was a selector at the time. Can’t speak for the players. I was eleven but remember those finals very well.

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