Club greats re-unite to celebrate memorable day
TEN years ago, Rochester’s senior football team stunned the GVL, and most of the Goulburn Valley in general, when it upset the powerful Seymour side in the grand final to claim the GVL premiership. This Saturday, the club is holding a reunion to celebrate the 10th anniversary of that remarkable feat and is inviting everyone to Moon Oval to watch the 2018 Tigers take on Benalla. Don’t remember the 2008 grand final? Dylan Cuttriss certainly does. Here, he tells of the day he became a premiership player.
The year was 2008, Hawthorn had beaten Geelong a day earlier, and the stage was set for one of the biggest upsets ever seen in Goulburn Valley Football League history.
Playing on the then customary last day of football in Victoria, the young Rochester Tigers were to enter the arena against the formidable Seymour Lions outfit, who were chasing their fourth premiership in a row.
Little did the Lions know they were not going to have the whole game played on their terms.
The run to the grand final was not all smooth sailing for the Tigers.
A comfortable win against Echuca at Kyabram was overshadowed by a tense wait for the tribunal’s ruling on superstar Ash Watson.
Watson had been sensationally cited for striking a player who was 200 metres away from him at the time.
Commonsense prevailed and Watson was free to continue his stellar season which would see him crowned Rochester’s best and fairest player for the year, an award Watson has become accustomed to collecting in the following 10 years.
After such a dramatic week, the Tigers slumped to a loss against the Lions at Tatura.
Though many thought doubt had crept into the Rochester camp, this myth was put to bed the following week as the Tigers once again clicked to run over Mooroopna at Deakin Reserve, the venue for the following week’s premiership showdown.
The days to follow showed the true spirit of the tight-knit community from the country Victorian town, commonly referred to as the birthplace of Sir Hubert Opperman or the town before Echuca.
Yellow and black streamers, balloons, posters and player photographs adorned all shop fronts along the towns three main business streets, ensuring that any traveller who passed through the town during this week found out first-hand what the coming Sunday’s game meant to the townsfolk.
Daniel Schmidt, in his first year as coach, had taken over from the legendary David Williams, whose successful stint at the helm of the Tigers had yielded two premierships, along with many agonising runnersup finishes.
The grand final proved to be a tight affair with nothing between the two sides in the first half.
The Lions were able to open up a break after half-time and when they kicked a goal after the three-quartertime siren, it looked as though the Tigers would again finish as bridesmaid.
Rochester trailed by 19 points going into the final term and it looked like the Lions would secure their fourth flag in a row.
Unfortunately for the script writer, someone forgot to let the tenacious boys from Rochy know they were not supposed to finish atop the dais on this occasion.
In the last quarter, Rochester fought for every possession and slowly clawed back the deficit.
With five minutes left in the game and Rochester still trailing, enigmatic Ben Duscher flew above a pack to tap the ball into the path of Watson who sent it deep into the direction of Elliot Bowen.
A smothered snap enabled captain Dean Moon to pounce and the skipper did no wrong as he guided the kick straight through the middle to give the Tigers a three-point lead, something they had not seen for the majority of the day.
As the final siren sounded, a jubilant Rochester faithful mobbed the playing group.
The at times insurmountable task had been completed by the underdogs.
Superstar Bowen, who had been imposing throughout the day, rounded out a brilliant game to steer through four last quarter goals to finish with seven majors for the game.
It was one of the best, if not the best, individual game seen in GV grand final history.
The days to follow would see a whole town rejoice in the club’s first senior football premiership since 1999.
The coming Queen’s Birthday weekend will see the players and supporters re-unite after 10 years to reminisce about the memorable season.
An open invitation is extended to all community members to attend the match against Benalla and watch the current Tiger players display their talent, which incredibly still contains two premiership players from 2008 — Watson and Dylan Cuttriss.
Rochester football club’s 2008 premiership side in celebratory mood.