EA­GLES BABY BOOM

The Sunday Times - - Front Page - JOR­DAN MCARDLE

WEST Coast sup­port­ers des­per­ate for a good omen ahead of Satur­day’s pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal needn’t look any fur­ther than WA’s coun­try leagues.

Three “bush” teams shar­ing the Ea­gles name lifted their re­spec­tive pre­mier­ship cups aloft last week­end, while a few other fa­mil­iar names also tasted Septem­ber glory.

Bod­ding­ton pro­vided the most in­spi­ra­tional story of the lot, caus­ing an epic grand fi­nal boilover in the Up­per Great South­ern to fin­ish an emo­tional year on a high.

The Rod Williams-coached side knocked off a star-stud­ded Katan­ning by eight points in front of a big home crowd, end­ing their 21-game win­ning streak in the process. The Wan­der­ers cruised through the home-and-away sea­son with a 14-0 record and a whop­ping per­cent­age of 601, smash­ing

Bod­ding­ton by 45 points just a fort­night be­fore the stun­ning up­set.

A proud Williams de­scribed his team’s “great char­ac­ter and re­silience” even to reach the fi­nal af­ter a cou­ple of tragic in­ci­dents.

Bod­ding­ton player Jesse Cross­man, 23, died in April when he fell from the back of a ute be­ing driven by a close mate, and re­cruit Adam Waight was lucky to sur­vive af­ter wrap­ping his car around a

tree on Al­bany High­way.

The former East Fre­man­tle for­ward suf­fered se­ri­ous in­ter­nal in­juries be­fore a re­mark­able re­cov­ery saw him re­turn to the foot­ball field mid-sea­son.

“We’ve had some huge dis­trac­tions and turmoil this year,” Williams said. “It was just a re­mark­able ef­fort for us to be there and our guys showed great char­ac­ter and re­silience.”

More than 2300km away in Broome, Hay­den Smith’s af­ter-the-siren hero­ics gave Looma Ea­gles their first West Kimberley flag since 2013. With scores level against mi­nor pre­miers Ca­ble Beach and just 10 sec­onds left, Smith took a mark di­rectly in front be­fore coolly slot­ting his set shot.

The Ea­gles of Gin­gin made sure their vic­tory was far more straight-for­ward in the Mort­lock de­cider. The green-and-golds pow­ered home in the sec­ond half, boot­ing 16 goals to four to ac­count for de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Dal­wallinu by 76 points at Won­gan Hills.

Sam But­ler, the fi­nal player from West Coast’s 2006 flag to hang up the boots be­fore tran­si­tion­ing into an off-field role, added another medal.

The 32-year-old fea­tured in Kulin-Kon­dinin’s up­set East­ern Dis­trict win over pre­miers Bruce Rock, along­side ex-Ea­gles rookie Si­mon Duck­worth. He was con­vinced to play by fel­low West Coast em­ployee James Grab­ski, one of the com­pe­ti­tion’s best.

The older brother of Ea­gles’ Mark LeCras led Cer­vantes to their 17th Cen­tral Mid­lands Coastal Foot­ball League flag in 21 years with a seven-goal per­for­mance against Lancelin.

Brent LeCras, the league’s lead­ing goal-kicker for the sev­enth time, was awarded the Roger Tonkin Medal for best-afield.

BOD­DING­TON EA­GLES LOOMA EA­GLES

GIN­GIN EA­GLES

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