TOWN’S GRAND HOPE
INVERLEIGH LOOKS TO BREAK 25-YEAR FOOTY DROUGHT:
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.