Lions to break ice
Great Western is only days away from embarking on its first senior final series since entering Mininera and District Football League in 2012.
Although the seniors have taken a while to make the finals, the club’s reserves were able to make a splash in the league in their second year when they beat Wickliffe -Lake Bolac to capture a 2013 flag.
It has been a long process for the Lions’ senior team to get the opportunity to show their stuff in the finals, with their results before this season being far from flattering.
They have spent most of their time in the bottom three, with their best previous season in seven years coming in 2013 when they finished ninth on the ladder with six wins.
In 2017 William Bell joined the ranks as coach and has taken the team from 12th place to the top three in the three years.
Bell’s focus, along with coaching, has been player retention and recruitment.
Holding onto players for multiple years has enabled the Lions to maintain a core group and add quality footballers to build up to the powerhouse they have this year.
The Lions are delighted to see improvement in their whole list; their reserves also finished in the top two. The club attributes this to ‘sticking tight to team values’.
Moving into the unknown of the finals, the Lions will be excited but also nervous.
They have played a good brand of football during the home-and-away season and how
they will hold up in the heat of the finals is anyone’s guess.
However, with the quality players they are boasting as well as the experience throughout the team, there is no reason to think their great run won’t continue.
Although a flag is in sight and definitely on the cards, the main focus for the team will be to win their first MDFL senior final and to not get ahead of themselves, taking it all ‘one step at a time’.
Great Western has shown plenty of promise and is in the post-season for good reason.
They do, however, find themselves in the season play-offs with some finals specialists in Lismore-derrinallum, Penshurst and Tatyoon, which have all been strong for many years.
In fact, they have featured in the top five together eight times in the past 11 years and won two flags each in that time.
Rounding out the top five and not to be pushed aside is Woorndoo-mortlake, also playing in its first finals for more than a decade.
Great Western might lack finals experience, but what they do have is a long list of players who have shone throughout the season.
The Lions’ midfield has continued to go the extra mile every week, doing their fair share of the heavy lifting and giving their forwards plenty of scoring opportunities.
Jesse Bennett, Andrew Cameron, Nick Dunford and Lachie Malloy have all regularly featured in the best players as well as doing their own bit in front of goal, with Cameron and Dunford kicking 48 and 28 goals respectively.
Combining with these players have been the Lions’ big men in Jeremy Cronin and Josh Hustler, giving their players plenty of first use around the ground.
That’s not forgetting the Lions’ X-factor players in the ‘Tiwi Boys’, Gerard Cunningham, Steven Lorenzo and Bradley Palipuaminni, who all perform each week. Cunningham and Lorenzo have kicked more than 115 goals between them for the season, and give their supporters something to cheer about each week.
With the top five all so close it is set to be a great finals series and it is anyone’s for the taking.
Great Western has posted some great wins during the home-and-away season but the season has not been without its faults, dropping games to Caramut as well as Penshurst and Lismore-derrinallum.
Great Western’s finals campaign opens this weekend against Lismore-derrinallum at Willaura.