Many pos­i­tives to take into 2016

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Sport -

with Josh Kennedy IT’S im­pos­si­ble to imag­ine the emo­tions you feel af­ter los­ing a grand fi­nal.

When pre­par­ing for last week’s game against Hawthorn, you don’t re­ally think about the re­ac­tion you might have if you come up short in the big­gest game of your life.

All of your fo­cus and that of your team­mates is on pre­par­ing for the game, do­ing ev­ery­thing you can to give your­self the best chance of suc­cess. The ram­i­fi­ca­tions of win­ning or los­ing don’t re­ally cross your mind.

But the mo­ment the siren sounds and the op­po­si­tion is cel­e­brat­ing, it’s just such an empty feel­ing.

For all of us, it wasn’t just about the big­gest game of the sea­son, we were play­ing the big­gest game of our ca­reers.

We have been work­ing hard for many years – some of us longer than oth­ers – for that mo­ment and when you lose that game it’s re­ally gut-wrench­ing.

Un­til that point, the week had been ev­ery­thing we had ex­pected and prob­a­bly more.

From the time we had about 10,000 fans at a train­ing ses­sion on the Mon­day of grand fi­nal week, to the time we left for Mel­bourne and the grand fi­nal pa­rade, it was just all very sur­real.

The build-up and the ex­pe­ri­ence, run­ning out in front of 100,000 peo­ple at the MCG was fan­tas­tic, but sadly the game did not play out the way we had hoped.

In time, we will re­flect on the sea­son and be proud of what we achieved in the year. But at the mo­ment it just cuts pretty deep that we couldn’t match the Hawks when it mat­tered.

We will do ev­ery­thing we can in the pre-sea­son to en­sure we give our­selves the best op­por­tu­nity to get back there in 2016 and get the re­sult we all dream about. ing for play­ers and fans, but the heart shown by this team has been a key el­e­ment to its suc­cess.

The corol­lary of the Ea­gles’ re­newed belief has been suc­cess and an in­fec­tious faith among fans.

About 100 fans stood out­side the Su­bi­aco Oval gates on Sun­day, an hour be­fore they were due to open, and all of them gen­uinely be­lieve next year be­longs to the Ea­gles.

It has been a tough decade for West Coast fans, marred by a wooden spoon, straight sets fi­nals ex­its and scan­dal, but the cur­rent team has buried the past and shown there is plenty of hope for the fu­ture of the club.

Next year will see the re­turn of key de­fend­ers Mitch Brown and Eric MacKen­zie, as well as ex­pected im­prove­ments from young guns like Liam Dug­gan.

Cap­tain Shan­non Hurn put the loss to Hawthorn down to his team not mak­ing the most of its op­por­tu­ni­ties and thanked sup­port­ers for their belief.

As one fan’s sign read at Sun­day’s pa­rade: “You all tried your best, very proud”.

Com­mu­nity News­pa­per Group is an af­fil­i­ated part­ner of the West Coast Ea­gles.

THE few hun­dred West Coast sup­port­ers who showed up at the de­feated team’s welcome home pa­rade on Sun­day put aside the grand fi­nal dis­ap­point­ment and re­flected on how far their side had come in 2015.

While there were un­der­stand­ably a few grim faces among the Ea­gles play­ers, the glass clearly re­mained half­full for the loyal fans.

Many in the crowd said they had not ex­pected West Coast to get this far in 2015 – nei­ther did the crit­ics.

It was sup­posed to be a year to re­build and foster young tal­ent, but the Ea­gles sur­prised ev­ery­one.

Vic­tory in the grand fi­nal would have capped off a fairy­tale sea­son for West Coast Ea­gles fol­low­ing two pre­vi­ous sea­sons that ended with them out­side the top eight.

At the start of the sea­son, there was barely a com­men­ta­tor who tipped the Ea­gles to make the fi­nals, let alone the grand fi­nal.

On re­flec­tion, the 2015 home and away sea­son can be con­sid­ered one of their great­est ever for the club in that it came from nowhere.

Make no mis­take, West Coast Ea­gles’ 2015 grand fi­nal loss to Hawthorn was crush- Josh Kennedy and the Ea­gles only re­main­ing premier­ship player, Sam But­ler, thank fans for at­tend­ing the play­ers’ welcome home event.

An inked-up fan shows his ded­i­ca­tion to the Ea­gles.

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