Thun­der­ers show Wares


HE’D won SANFL flags with Cen­tral District but steer­ing Iron­bank to a drought-break­ing Hills A2 grand fi­nal triumph against Brett James’ Kers­brook was sweet­est for Eli­jah Ware.

Iron Bank, coached by Ware and Stu­art Wells, won its first flag since go­ing back to back in 1998-99. Iron­bank’s ef­fi­ciency kick­ing 14.11 (95) to Kers­brook’s 9.13 (67) pre­vailed in swirling, icy winds.

The Thun­der­ers were never headed in an up­set, 28-point win with Ware best afield when it mat­tered.

“Ev­ery flag is sweet, you work hard through the year and it is good to get a bit of re­ward,” said Ware, who played two AFL games for Port Ade­laide in 2006.

It was all of 10 de­grees as rain and cars en­cir­cled Calling­ton Oval where the Bre­mer River flows nearby.

It didn’t dampen the spir­its of the hardy Hills folk. This was unabridged coun­try footy at its best.

Ev­ery­one had a hands-on role in get­ting their boys to the sec­ond Satur­day in Septem­ber, from wa­ter­boys to salt-of-theearth types man­ning the BBQ’s, esky bars and match com­men­tary.

Iron­bank, a com­mu­nity club with­out a pub or post­box as pres­i­dent Paul Lang­man notes, was des­per­ate to atone for los­ing last year’s grand fi­nal to Nairne-Brem­mer. Train­ing un­der first-year coach­ing com­bi­na­tion Wells and Ware on Thurs­day night had none of the ex­cite­ment of last year, just a sin­gu­lar fo­cus on the job to be done.

“Stuie and I have taken it on from last year, changed the club a lit­tle bit and put in a bit of a game plan. It took us while and all paid off in the end,” said Ware as post-match cel­e­bra­tions hit over­drive.

Win­ning with a group of kids and colour­ful fig­ures sport­ing dodgy hair­cuts who came through the club’s ju­nior grades found a spe­cial place in the heart for Ware.

“You have guys like Jar­rod Tagli­a­ferri, Chris Mor­gan and Levi Grigg is a bit of char­ac­ter. You get them at ev­ery club. These boys have been to­gether since they were ju­niors and haven’t tasted suc­cess at Agrade level. It means a lot to them and good to see boys stick­ing around the club. It is al­ways good to win as an un­der­dog.”

Ware paid trib­ute to Nor­wood and Crows leg­end James, who cut a stoic fig­ure in de­feat.

“Kers­brook are a tough unit. Paul James still dom­i­nates and so does Beef when he plays. It is great to see guys go off to AFL, win pre­mier­ships and be back at their lo­cal club do­ing that sort of stuff,” said Ware of su­per-coach James.

“It is amaz­ing.”


HOW GOOD IT IS: Iron­bank cel­e­brates its drought-break­ing grand fi­nal triumph over Kers­brook at Calling­ton Oval.


HIGH DRAMA: Robe snapped a 34-year pre­mier­ship drought by beat­ing Mt Burr on the siren at Glen­coe, 9.10 (64) to 9.7 (61). Craig Pitt kicked three goals — in­clud­ing the match­win­ner. Jonathan Agnew was best. NO TROUBLE: West Whyalla se­cured the Whyalla League pre­mier­ship with a com­fort­able win against Weerona Bay, 10.13 (73) to 2.14 (16). Cap­tain Kode Pat­ter­son and coach Brad Smith with the cup.

Pic­ture: SEAN McGOWAN

THRILLER: Kingscote won the Kan­ga­roo Is­land flag af­ter beat­ing de­fend­ing premier Western Districts in a coun­try foot­ball clas­sic, 6.10 (46) to 6.7 (43).

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