It might have been a pre-sea­son cup but for

Sunday Mail - - NEWS - SCOTT WALSH SPORTS EDITOR

DAR­REN Grant and his ju­bi­lant War­riors’ team­mates heard new coach Rus­sell Ebert’s mes­sage loud and clear.

No beers. No Straight home to bed.

“So af­ter the game, a few of us went back to the club at Woodville,” Grant laughs.

“We opened the doors to the func­tion area and, mate, it was full. All the sup­port­ers had gone back there.

“Ev­ery­one saw us, so we thought ‘Shit, we’d bet­ter get out of here’ be­cause Rus­sell had said ‘No, we can’t cel­e­brate’. So we got in our cars and went home.

“I just re­mem­ber be­ing awake un­til two or three in the morn­ing. I couldn’t sleep. It was a feel­ing where you wanted to cel­e­brate – but you couldn’t.”

This was the night the War­riors – now the other half of the Woodville-West Tor­rens Ea­gles part­ner­ship – were cham­pi­ons.

Thirty years ago, in April 1988, Woodville won the SANFL’s Es­cort Cup pre-sea­son par­ties. 13 wins and a top-four fin­ish cul­mi­nated in a pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal and, fi­nally, there was op­ti­mism at Woodville Oval.

Blight re­tired af­ter a fol­low-up fi­nals ap­pear­ance in 1987 and, shortly af­ter sea­son’s end, the War­riors were pre­par­ing to an­nounce they had se­cured cel­e­brated West Aus­tralian coach John Todd.

But be­fore Todd had even left Perth to sign with Woodville, he was head­hunted by AFL club West Coast Ea­gles.

About the same time, Ebert was ousted as Port Ade­laide coach, and was quickly iden­ti­fied as the so­lu­tion to Woodville’s lead­er­ship void.

“It was a spe­cial group,” O’Dwyer says. “We had some

TRIUMPH: Woodville’s Scott Par­sons takes a soar­ing mark over Port Ade­laide’s Bruce Aber­nethy, above; Woodville play­ers cel­e­brate their Es­cort Cup win, top right; SANFL pres­i­dent Max Basheer with Woodville cap­tain Ron Fuller and ju­bi­lant play­ers, right; and Fuller with the Es­cort Cup tro­phy, be­low right.

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