|Macleod G||Preston Bullants|
|Preston Bullants||St Marys PC|
As the old adage goes, the third time’s the charm and this certainly proved to be the case as the Preston Bullants held on against a fast-finishing St Marys PC to clinch a flag in their third-straight Grand Final. As far as fairy tale seasons go, the Bullants’ 20-point victory was one for the ages.
Relegated from Brown division earlier in the year, the Bullants worked hard for the remainder of the season to claim what might have seemed an unlikely position at the top of the ladder by the final round. A successful Semi-Final set up an encounter with old rivals St Marys PC, in what was a hard-fought match from both sides. Fittingly, Cooper proved to be the difference against his old side, kicking five goals, and judged to be the most influential player on the day.
But as another old saying suggests, there’s no ‘I’ in team, and the Bullants have a squad full of contributors. Josh and Phoenix were up and about, showing why they’d both finished top 10 in the YJFL best and fairest, and Liam was as prolific as ever, getting his hands on the ball seemingly at will. Jacob and Callum were tough in defence early, as was Harry, who also sold some candy at one point to create time and space for himself. Jordan was chasing down players at pace, Mahmoud was strong and fierce in his attack, and selfless too, combining well with Cooper who just loved to take a big pack mark. Or several, actually.
The Bullants had established an early lead and were determined to defend it well. Lachlan attacked the ball, and Anthony was committed with his defensive efforts, but St Marys were able to draw level, and then hit the lead, if only fleetingly. With Jack and Joel lively up forward, and both Seb R and Daniel applying great forward pressure, the boys were always going to reclaim the lead. Lucas was full of run, chasing the next contest to apply pressure, and Rufus was intercepting many of St Marys kicks forward. It was tough going, and only 8 points separated the two sides by the main break.
Max was on the sidelines, supporting coaches John, Elijah and Fab with the key statistics insights of the match. With just two quarters of footy standing between the Bullants and victory, the boys won the so-called ‘premiership quarter’, piling on five goals to one in the third. Dion and Jesse were contesting hard up forward, and Declan and Makaio had combined well for ruck duties all day. Brody was red-hot—literally—playing through a fever and making an impact. Coen and Ben worked hard all game and were involved in several attacking forays. By the time the third-quarter siren sounded, the Bullants were up, with a handy 32-point lead to defend in the final 20 minutes of the year.
When Cooper kicked the first goal of the fourth quarter, it almost seemed like the Bullants faithful in the crowd could start breathing again. But St Marys had other ideas, kicking the next three goals to make sure fans were left waiting with bated breath. Team manager Gab could be seen pacing around the length of the oval, the tension was palpable. The Bullants had to apply pressure, and lots of it, Seb F and Caspian doing their best to protect the lead, and Nathan in around the contest late in the game, as St Marys reduced the margin down to 19 points with three minutes to go. But the Bullants weren’t going to let this one go, with the final siren capping off a great season that all the boys should be proud of.
What an outstanding effort! The stakes could not have been higher. This was (he says, showing his age) a John Wayne, ‘True Grit’ struggle of skill, head, heart, conditions, desire and dramatic tension. If ever two sides deserved to play off for a Premiership it was this year’s finalists. And Brunswick and the Bullants delivered a Grand Final to remember. Sure, we didn’t win. That’s the tough medicine to swallow. But know this, by your deeds you shall be known and on 1 September 2019 the Preston Colts kept the spirit of the Red and White jumper alive. Every last player honoured the history of the club, the jumper and our esprit de corps.
The game was alive literally until the final siren sounded. And yes, that siren felt like an explosion in my chest but the last five minutes leading up to that explosion was as tense and nerve wracking as things get. While it was all that and more I think it would be wrong to measure the game on the last five minutes. The biggest leads of the game were at Quarter time when the Bullants led by 15 points and halfway through the third when the Dragons led by 18 points. Other than that the game was played within one goal and one kick the difference. At half time there was only a goal in it (and one scoring shot) and at the final siren that was still the wafer thin difference between these two magnificent footy teams.
Coulda, shoulda, woulda – the three stooges that rule that mystical crapheap called Whatmighthavebeenia. I prefer sayings like, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That’s what I think of when I think of the Bullants Colts 2019. I prefer context when considering events and what happened and why. So, this is my take and it aint worth any more than anybody else’s take, it’s just a take on things. The Bullants struggled to make up numbers at the start of the season. By years end we had a 26 man squad. In April we were knocked around by our neighbours, Reservoir. In September we played the Grand Final. As the season got under way we could identify three or four standout players, by this game we were overflowing with talented footballers and decent young men.
(I do hope we get to see these guys keep playing, fuelled by a hunger that can only be sated by a premiership, because you kinda feel that we have seen them play great footy but they’re actually going to get even better!)
An impressive sized footy crowd gathered at Ivanhoe Park, saw the hard headed and the strong hearted, the fleet footed and the simply scintillating Bullants. We saw Punter take a great wet weather mark in the Third. We saw Leo dominate … at both ends of the ground. We saw Maxy save a goal on the line. We saw Billy win clearance after clearance, certainly one of our best. Johnny in the thick of congested play finds a goal like he’s divining water. Ben T creating play after play, Ben D stopping attack after attack. We saw contest after contest, tackling and pressure, players like Lucas, Luka and Jakeb, with never say die tattooed in their eyes throw themselves at everything that moved. When the heavier than predicted rain smashed the pleasant valley Sunday spring like conditions and we found ourselves in the mud-heap we played on two weeks ago Josh just kept on pushing because he knew you had to have the ball to control the game. The Eaton’s at either end of the ground were impressive. Hamilton in one of many inspired plays tapped the ball to Leo and he kicked true. Jackson roamed the ground setting up our forward thrusts. Kingy roamed the backline forcing the ball forward. Anton rucked his guts out. And found his way forward for a great boundary line goal. Teddy, a stalwart of this side was there when we needed him. Jordan is making a habit of fearlessly attacking the contest and winning the ball. Bash, well better he’s on our side than have him as opposition. Zac V, used as a slingshot from the bench was the difference down back, in the midfield and going forward. Sam gives our forward half another level of smart and creative opportunities, such is his ability to read the ball and do something with it. Al took a knock in the First, he came off for a spell. Looked out of sorts. Then he clicked and then he played out of his skin. Terry? Terry! TERRY! Marking, tackling, running, winning the ball and taking chances. He made the YJFL Colts team of the year. Of course he did! And our best on ground was Brodie. He started off like a firecracker and just got better as the game went on. Hi brilliant team lifting tackle late in the Second you could argue was the injection the Ants needed. At that point you knew that whatever the result, we would not surrender. Brodie was the blood and guts that is the Preston Bullants.
I didn’t write anything in the Last. The rain made it hard to take notes. But it wasn’t that. It was the game. It was spellbinding. The Dragons scored almost immediately the quarter got under way. There was a sense that they might just blow the game apart. They didn’t. And not for want of trying. But what they didn’t figure on was that the Ants fought harder. When we goaled the game was on. And the PBJFC Colts team lifted their family and fans and quieted the Dragons supporters. The Ants were relentless and for five minutes we dared imagine the unlikeliest of finishes. The siren spoiled the party but could not deny what we witnessed. A great team who delivered week after week all the way to the Grand Final. That is a mighty effort.