Ettridge stars on big stage
I woke up at quarter-past six. I just kept thinking about losing and I just didn’t want to lose.
“I just didn’t want the other guys to feel what it was like to lose and how hard it was.”
Cancer had gripped Tony for a “couple of years”.
But it was never going to prevent him savouring the final moments of a premiership.
“He said, ‘When you win one, I’ll come up and cook a pig on the spit’, and the boys loved it,” Fantella said of his father’s time-honoured tradition, choking back tears.
“We’ve done it every year. Even last year, he passed away the week after the grand final, but he cooked it on the Sunday.
“He was stuffed. He couldn’t move and he still got there. He’d do anything for anyone.
“So this year I wanted to keep it going. I won’t do it personally, it’s too big a task, but the Croatian Hall, where he was affiliated, will cook one up for us. We just want to keep that tradition and I’ll have a couple of shots of grappa, just to know he’s there.”
Saturday’s premiership ranked as one of the best for Fantella, who has played in a senior grand final in every season of his career.
“You always think about the first one, it’s the whole club, but they all have different feels,” he said.
“The first one was amazing, but in 2012 when the reserves won as well, that was incredible. I liked 2014 because it was after a loss and North Geelong came out stronger after that win and everyone wrote us off.
“I shouldn’t have taken it personally, but I did, because they’re my best mates and I see how hard they work and to hear that from people who aren’t in these walls, it hurt.
“This year is special as well. With a young list, I’ve taken on a bigger role in the midfield and personally it’s been my best year.
“It does feel sentimental, and I have never spoken about it . . . it’s the first time I’ve ever brought it up.
“Every time I didn’t want to go for a run, I’d go because I’d think about Dad, so this will go down as one of the best.” A SIX-GOAL haul from Jayden Ettridge proved just enough for the Bell Post Hill forward to take out the best-on-ground honours in the GDFL grand final.
The 23-year-old had only 13 disposals in the Panthers’ 39-point win over Inverleigh but he outpolled veteran Adrian Fantella (who finished with 28 disposals) by a single vote thanks to a dynamic first half.
“I’m glad I was able to do this on the biggest stage of all,” Ettridge said.
“I had a few injuries earlier in the year but I was fresh today and that’s all that you can ask for.”
The former Anakie goalsneak was held goalless three times against Bannockburn this year. But he sought redemption in the second term, kicking three goals in the space of six minutes to hand his side a 25-point lead.
“I had a few down games and some members of the media bashed me down a little bit,” Ettridge laughed.
“But I wasn’t going to let the side down today.”
Ettridge said the Panthers remained confident even as the Hawks came back in the third term.
“We had enough of a lead to keep them at bay,” he said.
“Now you can just see by the faces of all of our supporters that it’s going to be a big night.”
Ettridge finished the year with 76 goals, polled 11 Whitley Medal votes and held a selection in the GDFL team of the year. “You have to pay tribute to the entire back six on games like today,” Ettridge said.
FOR DAD: Adrian Fantella gets a kick away in Saturday’s grand final.