My Grand Final Memories (As a Player)

Upon reading the many tales of juniors having a crack for the flag over the last couple of weeks, I thought it would be fitting on the weekend of the Capricornia League’s Grand Final that I should share with you experiences of a trio of  Grand Finals that I took part in as a player. Sadly none of those ended with the scoreboard the way it should have been.

 

1999, UNDER 17’s GF vs BITS, ROCKHAMPTON CRICKET GROUND

It was my first year of playing after finally convincing the old man that I wouldn’t act juvenile, and that he wasn’t so worried that I would get hurt, for at the time I was lacking a little in the weight department. Having gone through the finals surviving sudden death semi finals, I’ll tend to remember the session on the Thursday night before the big day. We warmed up with the senior team (who had also qualified for the GF in a similar manner, knocking off BITS in the prelim to end a long winning streak for them) before heading off in our own direction, which was unusual that year given the bulk of the sessions were done with the seniors. For some reason the newspaper wanted to take a photo of the senior team but someone called me over to get into the picture, not bad for a waterboy!

Game day was a sunny day which was a little unusual for a game at the Cricket Grounds (for some reason it usually rained in those days when we played there). I don’t recall a lot of the pre-game speech but I do recall being given 2 pieces of Juicy Fruit to chew on, and for the first time all year we wore actual Brothers jumpers. For every other game that year we used the Rockhampton Grammar School jumpers which were red and black, although not all of the kit matched in design. Instead of the number 15 that I wore that season, I wore a jumper which was slightly too big for me with number 49 on the back.

Everything on that day worked out well for the first 3 quarters. Then in the last quarter, some inexperience coupled with questionable umpiring conspired against us. That season the umpires from the league had been on strike for some unknown reason, and the season continued with umpires coming up from the south controlling the senior games. That afternoon however, the normal umpires controlled the junior games only with the fly ins taking care of the main game. Suddenly a big lead turned into a 10 point loss, and as the lead whittled down we froze not knowing what to do much like Richmond in 2013 when Carlton stormed home in that Elimination Final.

My contribution off half back that day was minimal, a solitary mark and kick late in the 3rd term that earned the wrath at the three quarter time huddle of not the coach, but of teammate Ben Ryan. Yes the same Ben Ryan who shares the number 27 with me these days, although his 27 comes on a green shirt. He mentioned something about being able to run, run, run, but apart from those words all I got from the pep talk was that he wasn’t happy I burned him.

 

2000, UNDER 16’s vs BITS, STENLAKE PARK

It was a debacle of a season at Under 16 level. Only 2 clubs, Brothers and BITS had enough players to regularly field a team, with other clubs not being able to attract many more than 9 players at that age level. Heck the rep team only could find 18 players before a frantic phone call to me the night before the start of the carnival saw me roped in, but that’s another story that I’ll tell later.

With only 2 teams able to field a side, there was a suggestion that instead of a finals “series” being played there would be an “All Star” type concept where BITS would be joined by the 6 players Gladstone had, and we would be joined by the 8 players Glenmore fielded. Naturally BITS who had the wood on us didn’t like the idea of having a premiership taken from them, so we played them 3 times in 3 weeks. It wasn’t ideal either, that our Under 16’s played the second semi on the first Saturday at BITS (got pumped), then backed up about 24 hours later in a typical Cricket Ground slop to lose a reserves semi final (4 goals to 1, won’t mention who kicked our 1 goal but I was told I kicked it 15 metres then ran 150 metres to pump the boys up).

Grand Final week was disrupted after I was decked in the Prelim (lost again, but I had a decent game at full back). Apparently the bloke who decked me had to front the tribunal, and instead of me having to front up to give evidence, I had to sign a Statutory Declaration stating what I believed happened on the Tuesday night before the GF. I thought homework was consigned to Maths B and C where I was trying to get my head around position vectors….

Game Day was another fine day, although thanks to the old man and his (at the time) wife we were running late after a detour to the shopping centre for some reason. After a little rev up from the coach – who had apparently wanted to use their banner as motivation (a roo being dropped into a pot of boiling water) – we trotted out to try to win the only game that actually mattered all year. Personally however it turned out to be disastrous. Having already taken a knock in an earlier game which chipped a gun (hasn’t been fixed to this day), I copped another accidental stray elbow from whom I believe was a teammate which caused me to bleed from the mouth. Having spent most of the game on the bench trying to stop the flow, when I emerged after the long interval I struggled with my confidence seemingly shot. We got done yet again, although perhaps there was a sense of inevitability to the result.

 

2011 RESERVES vs BITS, STENLAKE PARK

This was the least disappointed I felt after a GF loss, given that even the coach was just happy to have a real chance to defend the premiership won in 2010, yet it was the most disappointment I had felt at the same time. Disappointment actually isn’t the right word, I was actually bitter about an aspect of the day which I felt contributed to the loss. I’m not saying we would have won (lost by 6 goals, they probably were the better side), but I feel there was a little too much interference from the seniors who hadn’t made the 4. The same thing happened the next year when we were knocked out in the semi final, a game which I missed after a calf injury hadn’t recovered 9 days after occurrence. Obviously they just wanted to have virtually a 20 man squad, but I felt being one of the 2 seemingly outside that 20 (the other was 49 years old with the enthusiasm of a bloke who was 19) I probably would have helped more on the ground that in the dugout.

You can read a more detailed account of the day HERE.

 

I doubt now, given that I’m a part time footballer, that I’ll experience a GF win. Perhaps my tales may inspire others to drag me across the line, though I’m not as optimistic.

 

About Mick Jeffrey

32 Year Old, Bulldogs Member and tragic. Reserve Grade coach after over 225 combined senior/reserves appearances for Brothers AFC in AFL Capricornia. 11 time Marathon finisher, one time Ultra Marathon finisher and Comrades Marathon competitor 2017.

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