Geelong Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - WILL HO­GAN

THE lit­tle coun­try town of In­ver­leigh has been draped in brown and gold ahead of its first chance at a GDFL pre­mier­ship in a quar­ter of a cen­tury.

Ev­ery­where from the In­ver­leigh Ho­tel to the In­ver­leigh Bake­house is show­ing its colours, with bal­loons and stream­ers be­deck­ing shop fronts and ex­cite­ment in the town at fever pitch.

To­day’s clash against league pow­er­house Bell Post Hill is In­ver­leigh’s first grand fi­nal since the club, then known as Leigh Dis­tricts, last won a Gee­long & District Foot­ball League grand fi­nal back in 1992.

The pre­mier­ship tilt is a huge high for the com­mu­nity club, which has ex­pe­ri­enced more than its fair share of lows.

Just ask games record-holder Mal­colm Quin­li­vian.

The 1961 pre­mier­ship player lived through huge changes at the club and saw his beloved club go un­der for seven sea­sons when, crip­pled by a lack of play­ers at the end of 1994, it went into re­cess be­fore re­form­ing as In­ver­leigh for the 2002 sea­son.

Mr Quin­li­vian still at­tends every train­ing ses­sion and game, and be­lieves the cur­rent In­ver­leigh team is one of the best sides he’s seen.

“This side is the best crack we have at it,” Mr Quin­li­vian said.

“We have watched most of the play­ers come through the ju­niors so a pre­mier­ship would mean a lot.” Diehard sup­porter, Ralph Smith, has had a mas­sive week pre­par­ing for to­day.

Along with a num­ber of vol­un­teers, he has spent the week drop­ping bal­loons off at lo­cal es­tab­lish­ments and dec­o­rat­ing the clu­b­rooms; help­ing get the town into the grand fi­nal spirit.

“I have al­ways said that I wanted to see a grand fi­nal be­fore I die,” Mr Smith said.

“We have one of the big­gest fol­low­ings in the league and it’s been a good way to get to know peo­ple.”

Michelle Orr, who works at the In­ver­leigh Bake­house, won’t be at the bak­ery to­day.

Ms Orr will join a bus­load of 50 peo­ple head­ing to St Al­bans Re­serve to cheer on the brown and gold.

She’s been an In­ver­leigh res­i­dent for 16 years and was wit­ness to the club’s worst pe­riod. “It was a pretty flat time,” Ms Orr said.

She said she wished for a win for the sake of the town.

“We have noth­ing to lose so I give us a good chance.

“It would be dev­as­tat­ing for the town if we lose be­cause we have come so close. We will have a lot of sup­port, not just from In­ver­leigh but the other GDFL clubs.”

If In­ver­leigh hap­pens to run over the top of Bell Post Hill to­day, it will be rem­i­nis­cent of the team’s 1961 pre­mier­ship vic­tory. And one last fa­mous story. Coach and town po­lice­man, Harold Crowe, re­port­edly left the cel­e­bra­tions 25 years ago with one fi­nal mes­sage.

“The town is yours tonight, but don’t wake me up!”

“I have al­ways said that I wanted to see a grand fi­nal be­fore I die.”

Rene Van Dalen, Daryl Mal­ady, Ralph Smith ( with dog Bos­ton) and Roz Lee­son. Mal­colm Quin­li­vian pla yed in the last pre­mier­ship In ver­leigh won 25 y ears ago.

Sara Hage­bols and Michelle Orr from the In­ver­leigh Bake­house.

In­ver­leigh Ho­tel bar staff Carmel Reynolds and Bry­die Walker.

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