Saints come march­ing in af­ter 31 years

Southern Riverina news - - Front Page - By Marissa Daly

THE Saints came march­ing in on Sun­day to record their first pre­mier­ship in 31 years.

Ber­ri­gan caused what is be­ing touted as one of the big­gest up­sets in coun­try foot­ball this sea­son with a con­vinc­ing 31-point win over highly-fan­cied arch ri­val Jer­ilderie.

Emo­tions ran high at the Ber­ri­gan Sports­ground as the siren sounded and Saints sup­port­ers rushed onto the field to cel­e­brate along­side their North West Pi­cola League pre­mier­ship he­roes.

Fi­nal scores, Ber­ri­gan 16.6 (102) to Jer­ilderie 10.11 (71).

Roam­ing Saints for­ward Ged Towler re­ceived the best-on­ground medal with four telling goals.

Ber­ri­gan’s vic­tory was a far cry from the 61-point semi fi­nal loss to the Demons a fort­night ear­lier.

The club’s last taste of pre­mier­ship suc­cess was in the Murray Foot­ball League in 1980.

Un­der coach Gra­ham Bland (dec) the Saints beat Nathalia at the Tocumwal Re­cre­ation Re­serve.

From the side­lines mem­bers of the 1980 pre­mier­ship team waited anx­iously for the fi­nal siren on Sun­day.

Among them was An­drew Gor­man, whose sons Matt and Will played a huge part in the club’s 2011 suc­cess.

Matt had also col­lected back-to­back league best and fairests at the Pi­cola League vote count a week ear­lier.

Other staunch Saints sup­port­ers and former pre­mier­ship play­ers Syd Dick­ens, Mar­cus O’Dwyer, Ken Moar, Steve Senini and Peter Blake also en­joyed the day.

‘‘It’s pretty emo­tional I can tell you,’’ said Mr Dick­ens, who played in the 1980 flag.

‘‘Thirty-one years is the long­est the Saints have gone be­tween grand fi­nal wins in their long his­tory.’’

But judg­ing by the re­ac­tion of the club’s ded­i­cated sup­port­ers, it was worth the wait.

Saints coach Jamie Robin­son said the club al­ways had a be­lief it could win.

‘‘It is a great feel­ing, to break a 31-year pre­mier­ship drought, and we de­serve it.

‘‘We had no pas­sen­gers to­day, it was an even per­for­mance across the board, ev­ery­one did their part.’’

Club pres­i­dent Gary Lewis said the club was ‘‘over the moon’’.

‘‘We are ec­static. Thirty-one years is a long time in any­one’s lan­guage.’’

Mr Lewis said the win was es­pe­cially poignant for past play­ers who have con­tin­ued their strong sup­port of the club over the years.

‘‘At the af­ter-match cel­e­bra­tions we had mem­bers of the 1980 grand fi­nal team stand up and hand over the ti­tle.

‘‘Syd Dick­ens ad­dressed the boys and gave them a re­sound­ing thumbs up for their ef­forts.

‘‘It was quite emo­tional, ev­ery­one is ab­so­lutely thrilled.’’

Mr Lewis said while the Saints had been work­ing on a vic­tory for more than 30 years, it has been dur­ing the last three years they be­gan to taste suc­cess.

‘‘With Jamie Robin­son, we have come back from the bot­tom to be run­ners-up two years ago and to fin­ish third last year.

‘‘I would like to thank all the peo­ple be­hind the scenes who have made this pos­si­ble as much as the play­ers them­selves.

‘‘The com­mit­tee mem­bers, the coach­ing staff and the vol­un­teers.’’

The Ber­ri­gan Lions Club manned the gate on Sun­day and re­ported a crowd of more than 1800 peo­ple flock­ing to the grounds from 6.30am on­wards.

With Jer­ilderie rep­re­sented by three net­ball teams and all four foot­ball sides the lo­cal ri­valry was in­tense.

The Demons’ fourths achieved the rare dis­tinc­tion of back-to-back pre­mier­ships when they over­came Strath­mer­ton in a nail­bit­ing one­point fin­ish.

In thirds foot­ball, Ber­ri­gan lost to Jer­ilderie by 25 points.

Jer­ilderie’s C re­serve net­ballers im­pressed on court with a two-goal win over Yar­roweyah.

MORE than 1800 peo­ple flocked to the Ber­ri­gan Sports­ground on Sun­day to wit­ness Ber­ri­gan beat Jer­ilderie by 31 points, in the North West Pi­cola League grand fi­nal.

It was an emo­tional day for Ber­ri­gan play­ers, sup­port­ers and their fam­i­lies - and a great day of com­pe­ti­tion all round.

In the re­serves, De­niliquin Rovers held on to beat Jer­ilderie by just one point, 34-33.

Jer­ilderie claimed vic­tory in the un­der 17s against the Saints, 73-48.

In an­other close match, Strath­mer­ton lost to the Dees in the un­der 14s, 41-40.

The ladies held their own on the net­ball court, with the C re­serves team from Jer­ilderie run­ning home as win­ners against Yar­roweyah, 29-27.

Ber­ri­gan club pres­i­dent Gary Lewis said the Saints were ‘‘thrilled’’ with their win. It wouldn’t have been pos­si­ble with­out the great sup­port and spirit of our ded­i­cated com­mit­tee, Mr Lewis said.

Chris Cameron, An­drew Gor­man cel­e­brate a late goal in the last quar­ter.

An­drew Erick­sen and James Ware watch the pre­sen­ta­tions.

Ge­orge Fen­ton and Kel Bax­ter cel­e­brate the Saints’ vic­tory.

Zoe Hol­combe and Lauren Knight cheer Jer­ilderie’s C grade net­ballers.

Noel Bax­ter with son Thomas.

Au­drey Shan­non Brad­ford, Iso­belle Brad­ford and Izzy Coates.

Stu­art Pyle con­grat­u­lates Ged Towler on his best on ground per­for­mance.

Jenny and Chris Erick­sen with Lochie and Annabelle Steven­son.

John, Mar­cus and David O’Dwyer wait for the siren in the fi­nal quar­ter.

An­drew Pyle shakes hands with Luke Bryce.

Chase Saun­ders em­braces team mates.

Jack Yel­land gets a hug from mum Ali.

Tak­ing a break from cook­ing the bar­be­cue to chat with Keith Kennedy (left) are ‘Smi­ley’ Ryan and Steve Fox.

Jer­ilderie pres­i­dent Des McRae (left) con­grat­u­lates Ber­ri­gan club pres­i­dent Gary Lewis.

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