Many pos­i­tives to take into 2016

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway - Joel Kelly

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.

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