Premier­ship Pies’ party on

First ever premier­ship caps a big year for Speight

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - O&M FOOT­BALL BY CAM POT­TER cpot­ter@ne­me­

IT has been a big year for Ben Speight.

The former North Melbourne mid­fielder had played in just one grand fi­nal be­fore Satur­day’s Ovens and Mur­ray de­cider but that was at un­der 14s level.

Now 27, the classy mid­fielder-cum-for­ward has bro­ken through for his first taste of premier­ship suc­cess and he couldn’t be prouder.

“In un­der 14s we got pumped by 14 goals or some­thing like that so to play in an­other grand fi­nal on Satur­day and win was awe­some,” Speight said.

“There were two or three pre­lim­i­nary fi­nals in the VFL (with Wer­ribee).

“In one of those years we knew if we had have made it we would have been a good chance, but it wasn’t to be.

“Satur­day’s win was spe­cial.”

Speight re­flected on the win in a sage-like way.

“I’ve been known as a foot­baller and only as a foot­baller for the past 10 years or so and it doesn’t mat­ter if you’re a good bloke or a bad bloke, that’s just how you’re seen and they don’t get to know you,” he said.

“But to come here and win the flag for Wan­garatta with a cou­ple of close mates, and a young and up­com­ing group is fan­tas­tic and to see the lift the club and the town get from it adds to just how spe­cial the win is.”

Speight came to Wan­garatta from Wer­ribee, and praised the stan­dard of the league.

“The stan­dard is highly re­garded as are the grounds,” he said.

“The grounds are way above the stan­dard you get in Melbourne, they’re big­ger, well main­tained and that is all of the ones I have played at this year.

“The weather is bet­ter, that falls into the laps of the O&M a bit, but it is a well run league with a strong com­pe­ti­tion.”

Speight, who is a fully qual­i­fied pi­lot, started the sea­son as a mid­fielder be­fore a shoul­der in­jury forced him to miss four games and his role was re-es­tab­lished as a for­ward where he booted 42 goals, in­clud­ing 24 goals in the fi­nal six matches.

“Ear­lier ‘Stoney’ (Coach Dean Stone) saw me as more an in­side mid who could go and win the footy,” Speight said.

“The body broke down and didn’t hold up through year and I just spent more time for­ward and I was able to get on the end of a few.

“When ‘Juice’ (Michael New­ton) went down I had step up, but it wasn’t just me, the whole team and es­pe­cially the mid­field; it turned out al­right in the end.”

Off the field Speight and wife Melissa wel­comed their first child, Char­lotte, but now with premier­ship suc­cess ticked off the list of his foot­balling achieve­ments, Speight said he will look to ded­i­cate more time to his ca­reer out­side of foot­ball.

“I would love to come back to Wan­garatta and play an­other, I have loved the past 10 months,” Speight said.

“But in say­ing that I have ful­filled a lot of foot­ball things and now that I have got the premier­ship it might be time to look at get­ting a full time avi­a­tion ca­reer.

“Hope­fully that means I can get ev­ery Satur­day off dur­ing the win­ter months but if not then footy may need to take a step back.

“I am only 27 so I still have a lot of footy to give, but I spent close to $100,000 on get­ting my fly­ing li­cence.

“Ob­vi­ously Char­lotte came along ear­lier this year, I won my first grand fi­nal, and now my Crows are into the grand fi­nal; I am go­ing for the big tri­fecta and if I can add a full time pi­lot­ing gig in there that would be great.”

PHOTO: Cam Pot­ter

PARTY PIES: Premier­ship cel­e­bra­tions con­tin­ued for much of the week­end as Wan­garatta Mag­pies’ Silly Sun­day and Mad Mon­day an­tics took them from the clu­b­rooms to the North Eastern Ho­tel and back again as the en­tire se­nior list en­joyed each oth­ers’ com­pany and cel­e­brated the sea­son that was in 2017. Premier­ship medals­dals were fully on dis­play all week­end and the premier­ship cup was not long out of any­one’s pos­ses­sion. Dress­ing up for Mad Mon­day has been a long run­ning tra­di­tion at the Mag­pies and the playin­gay­ing group didn’t dis­ap­point.

Con­tin­ued page 19

CUP JOY: Ben Speight cel­e­brates the win with baby daugh­ter Char­lotte on Sun­day.

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