Photo and words by Wayde Petersen
After 31 years the mighty Murchison Grasshoppers broke their premiership drought with a 31 point win over Stanhope at Tatura.
Murchison, despite some wayward kicking, seemed to have Stanhope’s measure throughout the game, and the 31 point margin was flattering to the Lions after being out -played on the big day.
In the 2nd Semi Final at Avenel the Grasshoppers wreaked havoc over the Merrigum Bulldogs, winning by 72 points. Merrigum didn’t recover from that thrashing, beaten easily by Stanhope the following week. It was a pity because the Bulldogs, like Murchison, spent a lot of years in the cellar and a Murchison v Merrigum Grand Final would’ve been really great for the league, as the Doggies hadn’t won a flag since 1986.
Wayde is a goal umpire, Murchison supporter and also Scoreboard Pressure’s Goulburn Valley correspondent. His previous contributions have been about Avenel, Longwood, Murchison, Mooroopna, Nagambie and Wunghnu.
Wayde had some anxious moments at the tense ending of a Reserves game between Stanhope and Lancaster this year, where Stanhope won with seconds to go on the clock. All the action was at his end during those last few seconds. “When the Stanhope forward kicked the ball I was thinking ‘Jesus, don’t shank it and kick it over the posts! Kick it straight, or at the very least shank it badly so it’s an easy call.’ I was more nervous than the bloke with the footy.” The Stanhope forward kicked truly.
What I can tell you is that I had the close game that day at Tatura, where Undera came home from a 3 goal deficit to defeat Avenel in the Reserves Premiership 10.6.66 to 8.14.62.
(that story from the Stanhope & Lancaster reserves game was from the 1st Semi Final three weeks earlier, another game that was close all day)
All the action was at my end in the last quarter, where Undera, after playing terribly all day, and with Avenel being woeful in front of goal, really came home with a wet sail to get the lead with only 3 minutes remaining, they then went to kick another goal (a real mongrel punt that floated in the breeze, a goalies nightmare) to get a 10 point lead, then Avenel got one back to make it 4 points, then the ball was in Avenel’s forward line when the siren sounded, and Undera really pinched a Grand Final.
It was my first Grand Final as an umpire, and it was a good, close and hard fought game of football, although Avenel really let a premiership slip that day, at least I got to do the close game because the Under 18’s was a blowout with Lancaster defeating Nagambie by over 10 goals.