Many positives to take into 2016
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 half-full 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 crushing 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.
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.