Saints come marching in after 31 years
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.