SFL Grand Final 2013 Review
The Premiership Cup is back in the Derwent Valley as the New Norfolk Eagles are the kings of the Southern Football League again and their reign doesn’t look like ending any time soon.
New Norfolk racked up its fourth grand final victory in the past five years at KGV yesterday, their latest with a powerful performance against the emerging Claremont.
A strong crowd turned out to see the match, heralding strong support for community football.
Last year’s crowd was eclipsed as SFL officials finalised the turnout figure at 5337 on a perfect day for football.
“It’s fantastic,” SFL president Kyron Johnson told “The Mercury Newspaper” on the day. “We’ve done a lot of work throughout the last 12 months at SFL level, so we are extremely happy with the crowd today.
“It’s a bigger event than last year, we’ve got two great teams playing and it’s a good result for the league.”
It was a perfect day, the ground looked immaculate and the New Norfolk and Claremont fans got right behind their teams. Cheer as they did for their Eagles and Magpies, the biggest roar came when a football ricocheted off the front of the main grand stand and hit a policeman in the back of the head.
Incorrect reports of civil unrest at the SFL preliminary final a week earlier that were actually outside the ground well after the completion of the game, proved nothing more than media sensationalism as the crowd was on best behaviour for yesterday’s bumper turnout, with families being out in force and the ground full of kick to kick action in the breaks.
“People love this level of footy, they love their clubs, they like where the SFL is heading and where their clubs are heading, so we’re all looking forward to making it even better next season,” Mr. Johnson said. “Hopefully we’ll introduce a new city-based club (Hobart) next season. We’ll talk to them in the coming weeks about their application to join the league, so the future is bright for the SFL.”
It was a dream come true for New Norfolk coach Jon Murray yesterday when he steered his Eagles to a premiership in his first year as playing coach. There was no one more proud of the Eagles’ 15.15 (105) to 9.8 (62) win over a gallant Claremont at KGV than the man whose entire career has been at New Norfolk. Seconds after he was presented with the SFL’s most precious silverware, his players swarmed Murray and hugged him so hard it will take the rest of the week for the indent of the premiership cup to wear off his face.
“It’s unbelievable, surreal,” Murray told “The Mercury”. “After coaching the reserves to the premiership last year, and now playing-coach in the seniors, it’s something you dream of doing as a kid, it’s just unbelievable.”
As well as watching New Norfolk win the reserves premiership, the crowd saw the SFL’s two best, and physically toughest, senior teams go hammer and tongs in a grand final classic.
It took New Norfolk only 27 seconds to kick the first goal of the game when rover Roger Belcher bamboozled Claremont’s defence to run into an open goal. Claremont didn’t take that lying down, kicking the next two and holding the lead with high intensity in the midfield until the scores were levelled at the 14-minute mark — then New Norfolk took the ascendancy with three in time-on.
From there the Eagles dominated, their defenders Rohan Heron, Ben Lovell, Mark Horne, and Shane Bonnitcha forming a fortress down back. With the half-time margin 25 points, New Norfolk was the team to beat.
However, Claremont unleashed the beast in the second half, its captain Nathan Brown coming alive to set the Magpies on fire and inspire them back into the contest. When Scott Webster kicked truly entering time-on, the Pies were within 10 points of the Eagles and the “Mont” supporters hit full voice. But, two late goals gave New Norfolk a 23-point buffer at the last change, and Murray implored his men to give their all for another 25 minutes.
Claremont kicked the first goal of the final quarter and looked poised for another comeback. Then enter Nathan Ross, the eventual Gorringe-Martyn Medal winner as best-on-ground, slammed consecutive goals and set-up another, and New Norfolk was on its way to its fourth flag in five years.
“I’m proud of the way the boys responded,” Murray said. “I was proud of our discipline and the way we attacked the ball. We knew within ourselves that we could do it, that there wasn’t a hurdle we couldn’t overcome and when we were up against it we were able to respond and it’s fantastic.”
Veteran Leigh Post, 36, walked away with a premiership medal in his farewell to football, having debuted in the previous Statewide League against North Launceston in 1998. “I’ve been lucky enough to win my third premiership with New Norfolk today, so it’s a great way to go out,” Post told “The Mercury”.
Claremont gave it a good shot, and were led brilliantly by skipper Brown and young ruckman Daniel Fox, while full-back Patrick Bedford kept a leash on New Norfolk’s power forward Michael Thompson, who was outstanding early and threatening to tear the game apart and the Magpies look set to be a real challenger in 2014 after some wonderful coaching and player development by Coach Kim Excell.
SFL Reserves Grand Final
New Norfolk 8.8 (56) defeated Kingborough 5.8 (38)
Johnstone Medal winner – Aaron Papera (New Norfolk)
SFL Colts Grand Final
Sorell 9.10 (64) defeated Kingborough 8.7 (55)
V.A. Geard Medal winner – Jake Williams (Sorell)