The Year Before
The Varnished Culture summarised Glenelg Football Team’s 2018 season in emojis – see here.
The Tigers won their last 6 matches in 2018, including a close one at Prospect against North Adelaide, the eventual 2018 Premier. It showed that, in retrospect, despite a 9:9 win-loss record, Coach Mark Stone’s message was getting through.
2019 Minor Round
The augury was good, and the 2019 Minor Round was much happier: whilst we were pipped at the post by Norwood in Round 1, and narrowly headed by South at Noarlunga in Round 10, the first half of the season had Glenelg flying and atop the premiership table, after solid wins against Adelaide, Sturt, West Adelaide, the Eagles, Central Districts at Elizabeth, Port Adelaide by 8 goals, North on the Queen’s Birthday, and Centrals at home. The only other real hiccup came in Round 3 against South at the Bay, when Josh Scott broke his arm in 2 places (we felt it from the Stand) while Glenelg came from 6 goals down well into the last quarter to draw the game.
The Tigers were much less dominant in the second half of the minor round. With Josh Scott out injured and Lachlan Hosie plucked like a ripe gooseberry by the AFL, the goal-kicking department took a hit, despite the continued brilliance of Liam McBean and Luke Reynolds. The midfield, led superbly by Jesse White in ruck and Matt Snook and Luke Partington driving out of the centre, held-up gamely all year, as did the defenders led by those key marking backs, Captain Chris Curran and Max Proud. And the spine was ably supported by our fantastic wing-men, flankers and pockets.
The 2019 players were cohesive, smart, fit-as-a-fiddle, and, crucially, they didn’t rattle. When in Round 12, Woodville-West Torrens Eagles, needing a win to keep in touch with the top 5, came at them like pterodactyls on acid, or when Port at Alberton revved-up late and closed with our early lead, Glenelg FC dug a bit deeper and found the shining path. A week later, when the Crows decided to play much of their A team against them, they still held on by a handful of points. But The Varnished Culture started to get worried: the Mojo was dipping, it seemed, evidenced by a messy, frustrating, very-lucky-to-escape draw against North at Prospect, and a narrow loss to Sturt at Unley in the final round.
2019 Major Round: lead-up
After Norwood headed Sturt in a thriller, and Port beat Adelaide in the dullest “Showdown” in history, the Tigers lined-up, with a week off and a month of indifferent form, against the old enemy. In a sensational game, where the lead changed frequently and some miraculous work was done on both sides, Port beat Glenelg by 4 points, to head straight into the Grand Final. And Glenelg had to chalk-up another finals loss to the Magpies, and return in a week against Adelaide, who had blasted their way into the Preliminary Final with a comprehensive win in the First Semi.
I don’t want to say “I told you so”, but I told you so: on the day of the loss to Port, ‘remembering’ a similar trajectory in 1934 (when Glenelg lost the Semi by heaps to Port and clawed back to win the flag), I posted this comment:
“TIGERS ARE JUST SHARPENING THEIR CLAWS – OK, we lost narrowly. But we’ve been off our feed for a month and Port’s overpaid AFL wannabes are good – they killed us on the spread and in the air. Yet I saw our team get its mojo back in the last quarter – Luke Partington played a blinder, and Luke Reynolds improved after having a shocker. A bit of luck and we might have won. Now we get a chance to get more form against the Fruit Tingles, and all being well, we will roar into the GF and tear the Power a new one! Glenelg WILL prevail!!”
The Grand Final
After disposing of Adelaide with a glorious measure of contempt (rather like Wotan smiting Hunding in The Valkyries), it was Grand Final Time. The team comprised (alphabetically):
Brad Agnew, Darcy Bailey, Andrew Bradley, Bradley Close, Chris Curran, Will Gould, Cory Gregson, Aaron Joseph, Liam McBean, Brad McCarthy, Marlon Motlop, Carl Nicholson, Luke Partington, Max Proud, Luke Reynolds, Jonty Scharenberg, Joshua Scott, Matthew Snook, Jesse White, Matthew Uebergang, and Michael Virgin.
Sunday 22 September 2019 dawned to rain, but then the sun burned through and whilst the afternoon was chilly and blustery, the wet weather held-off till evening. 40,000 fans took their seats to view what was an impressive game, where the Tigers opened fire early.
First Off the Mark
Despite the traditional scratchy start by both sides, an early Partington tackle and a good McBean mark suggested the Bays were up and about. And three minutes in, a lightning chain of handballs – Close to Agnew to Partington to Reynolds, who goaled – settled the nerves. That was it for about 8 minutes, during which Port made a number of sorties but were met with Glenelg’s defensive swarm. Then Darcy Bailey smothered a Port defender’s kick, mopped up and hand-balled to Nicholson, who tango-d back and snuck a second goal. In what was developing as almost a purely defensive contest, Glenelg held sway and were much more polished on the rebound. At about the 20 minute mark, Bradley Close, on the end of a Reynolds-Snook exchange, lined up from the pocket. Close is an Eddie Munster double, with the gothic addition of a black eye; but he threaded a difficult shot through as if it were a training drill. And near the end of the quarter, Nicholson kicked long to full forward, where Josh Scott took a great juggled mark and goaled. Four – Zip: what a start.
At 1/4 time, it was Glenelg 4.1 (25); Port Adelaide 0.3 (3)
Not Second to the Ball
Everyone knew Port would steady and come out swinging in the second quarter, but an early hint of Glenelg’s resilience (and lucky breaks) came in the first minute, when Michael Virgin kicked the ball forward, Reynolds collected from a B-Grade bounce, and snapped truly for his second goal. There ensued about 10 minutes of pointless to-and-fro, after which Port’s Billy Frampton smacked Will Gould in the face, twice, and got a free kick! Evidently striking your opponent’s arm with your face is not allowed, so shame on you, Will. (Frampton, incidentally, was lucky to make the Grand Final after he was a little too busy with his fists in the Semi Final.) Anyway, Frampton’s kick forward was marked by Tobin Cox – who used to play for us – and he kicked Port’s first goal. Port started to look on a roll, but desperate defence, especially by Aaron Joseph, restricted them to points only. Eventually Frampton took a good grab and goaled at the 19 minute-mark, closing the margin to a mere 13 points. But then Snook got the ball to Gregson, who ran free and kicked to half-forward, where Marlon Motlop outpointed his opponent for a mark and a steadying goal.
At 1/2 time, it was Glenelg 6.1 (37); Port Adelaide 2.6 (18)
Third Time Lucky
The third quarter opened with, for this writer, the team goal of the day. Partington grabbed the ball from the ruck contest, and while falling from a tackle, passed to Bradley, who sent a long handball forward. Scharenberg dived to collect it and hand-passed forward in one smooth motion to Scott, who turned and kicked a goal. A few minutes later came the individual goal of the day: Max Proud took a strong mark and kicked to centre-half forward, McBean muscled his opponent out of the way and scrambled a kick into the pocket, where Motlop gathered the ball, did a little two-step and sent a check-side kick through from a sharp angle, to open up a 5 goal lead. We were daring to dream The Dream – but as the football gods wearily remind us, you can never write-off the Magpies. Port Captain Cam Sutcliffe stood up for his team in a sensational display, kicking 3 inspirational goals in 15 minutes. But for a great riposte by Luke Partington in the middle of that (coming from a lightning handball exchange involving Virgin, Snook, Nicholson, Reynolds, back to Snook, and to Close) the lead at ‘lemon time’ would have been very shaky indeed. As it was, we wondered if 21 points (3 & 1/2 goals) was going to be enough.
At 3/4 time, it was Glenelg 9.5 (59); Port Adelaide 5.8 (38)
Bringing it Home
The Tigers did what they had done all day: kicked the first goal of the quarter. Snook (again!) grabbed the ball from the bounce and kicked it to the north-eastern flank, where McBean executed a brilliant ‘don’t argue’ and centred the ball. Josh Scott grabbed it and nipped between two opponents to score full points. It was a dagger to the chest of Port, because for the next 18 minutes, they couldn’t buy a goal, as Glenelg’s Defence displayed their finest quarter-hour, keeping Port to its lowest score of the year. Time and again the Magpies bombed forward, and time and again Glenelg (in the forms of Curran, Agnew, Proud, Joseph, McBean et al), with gutsy tackling and terrific marking power, turned them back. By the time Marshall for Port sent a good kick forward and Cox got a goal, we were 7 or 8 minutes from the toll of the bell, but still there was no comfort. About 24 minutes in, Glenelg Coach Mark Stone came to the boundary line to enable more urgent instructions to go out – players, sensing the clock, intensified efforts, and no one was leaving.
Then Brad Close gave to McBean who jammed the ball on his boot. A Port defender took the ball and tried to bustle free of Motlop, who held on grimly, and then earned a second free when another opponent piled on top of him. The resultant kick looked wobbly, but his aim was true. This dagger went into Port’s heart. As Mark Soderstom (Glenelg, 1996) called it for Channel 7: “Marlon Motlop…for goal number three, right on fifty…Has he got enough on it? He has, I think it’s over the line! Glenelg are going to win the Flag, this is enormous!…It’s going to be mayhem down at the beach tonight.”
Port fans started to pack up. Then Finally!! came the siren. It was over and Glenelg fans experienced a salad of emotions: Joy, Relief, and in some cases, Disbelief.
AT FULL TIME: GLENELG 11.7 (73) d. PORT ADELAIDE 6.9 (45)
Your correspondent needed a few stiff drinks with GFC Life Member Torrie Osborn. Then it was off to the Bay on the Glenelg Tram, where one supporter kept up a merry (if imperfect) round of “We’re From Tigerland”. At the Club it was pandemonium: many of the fans were not born when we’d won in 1985 or 1986, let alone 1973, and I think that that late, great Club-man Ian Hardy was the only person I knew who’d seen us beat Port Adelaide in 1934.
Glenelg Football Club had taken virtually ALL the Marbles in 2019:
The Thomas Seymour Hill Cup (see above) for the 2019 Premiership – they also had their colours hoisted on top of the West End Brewery according to tradition, and received the keys to the City of Holdfast Bay:
With 28 possessions, eight tackles and seven clearances, Matthew Snook was awarded the Jack Oatey Medal for best on ground;
Luke Partington capped a magnificent year in midfield with the inaugural SANFL Player of the Year Award, a great GF performance and the Magarey Medal;
Liam McBean won the Ken Farmer medal for goalkicking;
And he was unofficially joined by Luke Reynolds, who kicked key goals when it counted in the GF and joined Liam on 53 goals for the year;
Jesse White was justly given the John H. Ellers Best & Fairest Award for his outstanding, and pivotal, work in ruck and around the grounds;
Cory Gregson was awarded SANFL’s Mark of the Year;
Glenelg won the Stanley H. Lewis Memorial Trophy as the best performed club across three grades of the competition – League, Reserves and Under 18. No offence Stanley, but we really wanted this:
Apart from the whole complement of players who stoutly fought the 2019 season for Glenelg, at all levels, and the Coaching Staff led by Mark Stone and ably assisted by The Quiet Achiever, Paul Sandercock; apart from the Club Board and Management (in particular Nick Chigwidden, now a ‘Great of Glenelg’, who was vital in leading the Club out of the financial and football wilderness, and his Presidential Successor Peter Carey); apart from the employees and volunteers who serve the drinks and pick up papers and sprig boots and keep the show on the road, it was heartening to see the long-suffering supporters enjoy sweet victory in their own quiet (or noisy) way.
Glenelg has done it tough (of its Grand Final appearances in 1934, 1950, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1992, 2008 and 2019, it has lost 13 of them – of which I have seen 11) – it gets no favours and no external love. Before the game, in a very witty article for fake news site “Adelaide Mail,” Dan Schmidt wrote “In what promises to be a tightly contested Grand Final, the only certainty on game day is Glenelg fans will be the slightly more tolerable ones for a change.”
We’ll take that: we flatter ourselves that any neutrals in the large crowd on the day supported the Bays as the “slightly more tolerable ones.” But here’s a warning: success may make us utterly intolerable in future. That’s not our problem.