I’m sure those are the words that have made all our amazing supporters smile and walk taller over the last few days. From day one of preseason our playing group and coaching staff had only one thing in mind, and for us to go out and win both League and Reserves premierships for the first time in our great club’s history is great reward for all.
There were a lot of questions asked and lots of thoughts and opinions on our preparation into the grand final, especially having only played one game over the last month. But internally we couldn’t have had a better lead into the game for both teams. With essentially every player on our list available for selection, together with some training sessions over the last month that were as fierce and high quality as any I have ever seen at this level, the entire group were ready to produce their best effort, and that is exactly what they were able to do. A lot of credit to Tom Stevens and the high performance team for having our group in this position
We had two strong focusses into the game – being relentless with our hunt and pressure, together with our defensive action to take away time and space with the ball, and therefore Sturt’s ability to move the ball by foot. Right from the first bounce we could sense that we were locked in – our ability to dominate around contest and own territory for long periods turned into scoreboard reward. In big games, the best pressure is on the scoreboard and the first quarter most certainly set up the game for us. While my feeling was that we had potentially not got as much reward as we possibly deserved, we couldn’t not have been happier with how our first half turned out.
A focus at half-time was that we had overused the ball by hand a little and gone away from being a kicking team. The start of the third quarter was very strong as we kicked the first two goals and played a strong brand. As always though, there are momentum shifts against good teams and to Sturt’s credit, they played some solid football through the mid part of the third quarter. As we had been able to do over the day, we were able to find a way to be the next to score, and some good work at the end of the third quarter kept the game in our control but still far from comfortable. The last played out much the same as we had expected, and pleasingly our group were able to withstand and keep the game in our control. As a coaching group we couldn’t be prouder of how the players went about it and they deserve the reward for all their effort.
The Reserves group had to battle hard for the full 104 minutes to get the result that they deserved. Without doubt they have been the best team right throughout the season, playing a strong brand of football consistently. We have spoken several times over the season about the talent and the excitement we have in several players in this group, and for them to experience this and the challenge they had to overcome to get the result that they deserved is great for their development. Like our League group, we couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved over the season. League and Reserve premierships in the one season is an outstanding effort.
From my own perspective, I’m still pinching myself. There is relief, there is excitement and mostly pride. I have been asked several times over the last few days, what does this mean to me. I think the thing that sums it up most is the emotion and the joy that a lot of the past players and legends of our club have shown over the last few days speaks enormously about what this means to our football club and our community. That is what it is all about.
There are so many people that go into making this happen, including our volunteers and support staff, our high performance team, our medical staff, our football club staff, our coaching group, our board and club staff, and most importantly our supporters. I can’t thank everyone enough. It is a complete team effort by all to get to this point.
We will let this settle in a little, but what is for certain is we are not satisfied, and soon enough we will get stuck into going again and getting after the 2024 season with the same goal in mind. I can’t wait for that.
GO BAYS – PREMIERS 2023
Goal kickers (League): Lachie Hosie (6), Luke Reynolds (3), Matt Allen, James Bell, Cole Gerloff, Corey Lyons
Goal kickers (Reserves): Nick Leck (3), Austin Kitschke (2), Hunter Window (2), Will Chandler, Jordan Moore, Darcy Scott, Brady Searle
Best Players: Lachie Hosie, Corey Lyons, Matt Snook, Cole Gerloff, Brett Turner, Brodie Newman