HEROES OF THE WEST
BUT IT’S HEARTBREAK FOR TASSIE’S MAGPIES DUO
THEY left it until the final, thrilling minutes of the game, but West Coast Eagles have banished the demons of 2015 in an epic AFL Grand Final victory over Collingwood.
The Eagles, returning to the last Saturday in September after capitulating to Hawthorn three years ago, pipped Collingwood by five points at the MCG.
Among the heroes were mid-fielder Luke Shuey, above left, who was best on ground, and Dom Sheed, who slotted the match-winning goal.
The result was heartbreaking for Tasmanian Magpies Jeremy Howe, right, and Brody Mihocek, whose premiership dreams were crushed.
“KEEP your head up and stand proud.”
That was a father’s simple message to Collingwood’s star defender Jeremy Howe, 28, after the Tasmanian was part of the Pies’ five-point loss to West Coast in yesterday’s AFL Grand Final.
Howe, who went in under a cloud due to an injured ankle, was left devastated by the narrow loss, with his dad, Andy, left to console his youngest son.
“I just said to Jeremy, ‘mate keep your head up and stand proud and just look at what you’ve achieved’,” Andy said.
“‘Each and every one of you has got to be proud of making it to a grand final at least for one and even though you didn’t get a win, it was a great effort’.”
The Dodges Ferry family, Andy, eldest son Justin and Jeremy, had been brought closer together following the sudden death of wife and mother Kim two years ago.
Kim’s sister, Karen Wade, was also in the rooms yesterday to offer emotional support alongside her husband, former AFL Tasmania chief executive Scott and their son, former Australian Test gloveman Matthew.
“Jeremy came out and we got pretty emotional between the two of us and a couple of other family members,” Andy said.
“What can you say? Do you say good game? Anything you say just doesn’t seem enough, but they tried their arse off.
“He was gutted, absolutely gutted.
“He would have loved to have won and walked off the ground a happy man.
“He tends to take things hard and we had a bit of a chat this morning about his mum and that would have been a fantastic thing to win for her, but anyway we can’t do anything about it now.”
Howe was one of Colling- wood’s better players as the Eagles midfield took over and continually pumped the ball forward in the second half, finally cracking the Pies’ stoic defence.
Andy Howe dismissed any suggestions his son went into the game injured, saying he was 100 per cent, but he injured a calf in the second half, and had a sore hamstring and cramp as the thrilling match wore on.
Howe wasn’t the only Tasmanian connection though as it looked like Brody Mihocek’s fairytale season would have the perfect ending.
The boy from Burnie, overlooked in six AFL drafts before being taken as a rookie by Collingwood, appeared to be a premiership player in just his 16th game, and a key contributor at that.
He kicked his first and only goal in the first minute of the last quarter to put the Pies six points up, and had a contentious pack mark not paid in the forward pocket late in the game when the premiership was on the line.
His father, Jack, said the loss was a hard, emotional lesson to learn but the Pies would be back.
“He [Brody] is OK but there are a couple of very emotional players that are
crying, but they will get another go,” Jack said. “They are talking with their families, Brodie Grundy is there, he was getting a bit emotional.
“He looks like an emotional man. Different guys, different emotions.”
Jack said Collingwood president Eddie McGuire got around all the parents in the change rooms after the game.
“Eddie said, ‘sorry bud, hopefully next year’,” he said.
“And they will come back stronger and bigger and better next year.”
Emerging from a “silent locker room”, Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury said the club must use the hurt of yesterday’s crushing defeat to help realise its potential next season. “I feel like this group is only scratching the surface of how good it can be,” Pendlebury said.
“We started the year with not much belief and not much confidence and we got to within a kick of winning it all.’’