Kyabram Free Press

Gig’s 1991 grand final win upsets Lancaster ‘run’

- By Rohan Aldous

Jeff Turpin always had a bit of fire in the belly on the football field — anyone who crossed his path in the Heathcote, Kyabram District, Goulburn Valley or Picola leagues will know that.

But unlike a lot of people who can handle themselves in a verbal stoush, Turpin could back it up with his football ability.

He spoke to me last month, on the eve of Girgarre Football Club’s planned centenary celebratio­n, about one his proudest football moments.

And you guessed it, there was a fair bit of tongue in cheek about the day the Girgarre Football Club upset a run of “1” year premiershi­ps for Lancaster.

“Any other year they (Lancaster) would have won it. We just had a great year,” Turpin said.

Lancaster had won the premiershi­p in 1981 and went on to win the Kyabram District pennant again in 2001 and 2011.

They still haven’t given up hope of completing an amazing trifecta by winning the title again in 2021.

Smack bang in the middle of that spectacula­r run came the Girgarre Football Club premiershi­p team of 1991.

Turpin recalled the day clearly, telling the story of the Kangaroos’ victory at the Murchison oval, then the go-to for the Kyabram league as a grand final venue.

“It was the worst conditions I’ve ever played in. It rained a little bit, but the wind was unbelievab­le,” Turpin said.

“It was blowing toward the river and the boundary umpire on that side would have gotten RSI.”

He said one shot for goal, by left-footed Lancaster full forward Johnny Mustafa, actually went backwards out of the goal mouth.

“He actually had a shot on goal, it went in and blew back out,” Turpin said.

Turpin, then 21, said the baby of the Girgarre team that year, Gino D’angelo, had a lot to do with the final result.

“He was only 18 years old and ended up being one of the best players that day,” Turpin said.

“He’d kicked seven in the preliminar­y final, but was due to come up against Rowan Bennett from Lancy in the grand final.

“Rowan used to play on Gino and had his measure. He never kicked a goal against Lancy while Rowan was there.”

But D’angelo played in the ruck and at centre half-forward in the grand final and rounded off his great finals series with a near best afield performanc­e.

Turpin almost didn’t get to play in the grand final after being reported in the first final.

“I was reported for striking the bloke who was tagging me in the first final,” Turpin said.

“Chris Salter (Lancaster premiershi­p coach) was watching from the sidelines and volunteere­d to be a witness, to help me get off.

“I told him I wouldn’t need one, because it was only a push to the chest.

“Then I got to the tribunal and the umpire told them I’d dropped my knee into his chest and punched him in the face.

“The Lancy guy was then threatened with suspension for giving false evidence.”

Long story short, Turpin got a week for his troubles and sat out the preliminar­y before coming back for the final.

One of Turpin’s Girgarre premiershi­p teammates, Rod ‘Rocket’ O’neill, is now the president of Lancaster Football Club.

The 1991 season was a little different between the two clubs.

“The first time we played them that year we knocked them over pretty easy,” Turpin said.

“The second time, because it was a pretty wet year and their ground had just been re-surfaced, the match transferre­d to Ky rec reserve.

“And they beat us. They beat us again in the first final at Nagambie.”

Turpin played his first senior game at Nagambie in 1985, as a 16-year-old.

“We played in the thirds grand final that year, I played three or four senior games,” he said.

“We had players like Garry Mckenzie, Ron Mansfield and Matt Flanagan.”

Turpin’s first game was against Merrigum, and his first kick — well, he can tell the story.

“My first kick was courtesy of Sev Cortese, who kicked me and I got a free kick,” he said.

Turpin played 320 senior games for Girgarre, a product of back-toback junior flags with Kyabram Blue, before playing in losing grand finals with Girgarre and Kyabram.

“I played a couple of years at Picola, and at Rushworth for three years,” he said.

Turpin won the Cheatley Medal in 1993, and also two club best and fairest awards with the Tigers.

By the end of his career the now 52-year-old had won five Girgarre best and fairest titles, and was runner-up on another six occasions.

He won the Kyabram league’s Inch Medal in the Under-18 competitio­n and was twice runner-up in the Mcnamara medal.

Turpin still follows the Kangaroos, despite the fact his son crossed to Picola early in the season.

He was looking forward to catching up with his premiershi­p teammates from 1991, but unlike at Stanhope and Lancaster the premiershi­p reunion has had to be put on hold.

“They (Stanhope and Lancaster) were lucky to get their reunions away earlier in the year,” Turpin said.

“Gig had a three-day plan for the launch of the book, the reunion and Team of the Century.”

When asked how he would have handled time out of the game due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictio­ns, Turpin leaves no doubt.

“I would have been no good in this COVID time. It would have killed me not to be playing football,” he said.

“I would have gone nuts.”

There are still many Girgarre premiershi­p players from 1991 in the area, and Turpin regularly smiles as he drives or walks along Allan St past Craig Ferguson’s hair salon.

“He was a member of the premiershi­p team, and Kyabram,” Turpin said.

“It was one of the funnier things about the win. The deal was that if we won the granny Myersy (ruckman Peter Myers) was going to have the beard cut and have blonde tips.

“Then Gus (centre half-back and Mcnamara Medallist Gus Wallis) agreed he would have a trim-up and put a colour through his hair.

“We won and they honoured the pledges.

“Gus actually looked 10 years younger.”

 ??  ?? Winners: Jeff Turpin with a team photo of the 1991 Girgarre premiershi­p team, which put a spanner in the works of Lancaster’s bid for a succession of flags in the first year of each decade since 1981.
Winners: Jeff Turpin with a team photo of the 1991 Girgarre premiershi­p team, which put a spanner in the works of Lancaster’s bid for a succession of flags in the first year of each decade since 1981.
 ??  ?? Under pressure: Girgarre’s Jeff Turpin kicks away from Avenel’s Brett Mcdonald.
Under pressure: Girgarre’s Jeff Turpin kicks away from Avenel’s Brett Mcdonald.

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