Coco is still the king

BEACONSFIELD held its past players day on Saturday with a reunion of the 2000 reserves premiership side that was addressed by four-time senior premiership coach Leigh “Coco” Clifford. The legendary mentor waxed lyrical about the many personalities he had to deal with during his time with the Eagles and gave particular mention to the Cashman brothers and Craig “Socco” Jackson, whom he described as “uncoachable”. Of interest was the fact that six of the 2000 reserves premiership players, coached by Craig Jolliffe, went on to play in senior flag-winning sides under Clifford afterwards. A talking point also was the video of the senior grand final from that year, which was run during the afternoon. Unfortunately for Eagles fans that game resulted in a loss to traditional rivals PAKENHAM, and Clifford was far less interested in chatting about that game.

DOVETON is claiming an “unofficial victory” over PAKENHAM on the weekend because of an administrative error by the Lions. Veteran former coach Dan O’Loughlin was a starter for the Lions but his name apparently failed to appear on the team sheet supplied before the game. Unfortunately O’Loughlin lasted only 10 minutes before injuring a hamstring and leaving the fray, however, the Doves were on to the error and one informer reckons the four points should be theirs. While it is not an issue and the Doves jibe is tongue-in-cheek, the Lions administrators would not want to make the same mistake in a week’s time.

ROC coach Kris Fletcher announced to his players that he would not be reapplying for the job in 2011 in the rooms after Saturday’s belting at the hands of BEACONSFIELD. Fletcher has been hamstrung by a club decision to concentrate on making the under-18 finals, thereby keeping the majority of the junior talent out of the senior side when it needed it most. For the Kangaroos’ sake it is to be hoped that those emerging players resist the temptation to leave for big bucks in the EDFL or other CCL clubs, because if that happens, the exercise of sacrificing the senior side this season will have been for nothing.

BULN BULN named its Team of the Decade (1999-2009) at a well-supported function last week. Star utility Hayden Major was captain with plenty of players well known to West Gippsland football followers selected. These included now GARFIELD coach Brent Eastwell, a five-time best-and-fairest winner with the Lyrebirds, George Morgan who had a stint at PAKENHAM, and Matt Gray, an EDFL best and fairest and now a star with WARRAGUL in the GFL. KOOWEERUP star Rhys Morgan and his brother Ross also made the team along with former DROUIN ruck rover Shane Peters, Che Jenkins and Grant Pask, more recently linked with LONGWARRY. Current players to make the side included Anthony Baker, Michael Whyte, Jeremy Jagoe, Rick Mitchard and Mitch Nobelius.

THIS time of year it is quite common to see a few blasts from the past appear among the reserves team lists as clubs that are well out of finals contention attempt to see the season out with a full complement of players. That was the case on the weekend with retired ROC legend Mick Moylan pulling on the boots along with nuggety TOORADIN goalsneak Aaron Setford, the brother of BEACONSFIELD playmaker Clint. One game to go boys, one game to go.

NEVER let it be said that CORA LYNN does not celebrate special days in its players’ lives. That was never more apparent than on Sunday at Lysterfield Lake where a hardy group of Cobras gathered at 9.30am for a recovery session from the weekend’s game. The occasion was Jimmy Bradshaw’s birthday and the lads joined in the festive atmosphere by wearing party hats and sharing a cream cake while wading in the freezing water at temperatures described by one participant as “arctic”. It wasn’t long before there was cream and cake all over the boys and the rendition of “Happy Birthday” was one to behold, as several bemused onlookers did.

IT took a trek across the other side of the world for former NAR NAR GOON player Simon Sweeney to finally clinch a premiership. Sweeney, who can lay claim to having coached NORTH MELBOURNE player Lachie Hansen in his junior days, is president of Californian club the Bayside Sharks and overcame an ankle injury to take his place in the grand final a couple of weeks back and slotted a goal with 15 seconds on the clock to get the Sharks over the line. “It is his first flag in 15 years of football,” proud dad Andy Sweeney reported.
IT WAS all too much for DEVON MEADOWS veteran Paul “Skins” Freestone on the weekend. The big bloke, who transferred to the Panthers from CRANBOURNE in 1995, played in the reserves on Saturday before changing and joining former Eagles teammates in the social rooms for the 1990 premiership reunion. However Skins’ heart was not in it because the Panthers seniors were playing for their finals and he could not stand and watch as the former Cranny lads urged on their side to down his. Freestone sneaked out the side door and joined his Panther supporting mates on the boundary as they barracked Devon Meadows home to a magnificent victory.

LONGWARRY warriors Grant and Leigh McDonald both played their 100th senior game for the Crows on Saturday, fittingly against their former club, NAR NAR GOON. The match will be remembered by both, but for all the wrong reasons. Grant dislocated his shoulder in his first contest and his game was over barely a minute into the match. That precipitated a flood of goals by the Goon, which went on to win by a record margin in a game best forgotten by the Crows. Longwarry will finish bottom this season and miss playing finals football for the first time since 2003. But it is not all doom and gloom for the Crows, with their under-18s pipping top-of-the-table NAR NAR GOON by two points, whetting the appetite for a possible second semi-final clash in three weeks.

A VOTE taken at the EDFL executive meeting last week saw the retention of the controversial Player Points System introduced this season. It was overwhelmingly supported much to the chagrin of NILMA DARNUM and BULN BULN, the only two clubs to vote against it.

WIND was the dominant weather affliction on Saturday and it all but ended in tears during the under-18s game between ROC and BEACONSFIELD. The clash was moved to the Upper Beaconsfield reserve in a bid to keep the Perc Allison Oval in reasonable nick and the breeze grew stiffer as the morning went on. Its strength became evident to all when there was a loud crack and several good-sized tree branches came crashing down across the roof of a van parked around the ground. The gentleman inside the vehicle was out in seconds, and unharmed, but there was little warning and his luck was obviously in.
DANIEL Charles was reappointed as the senior BULN BULN coach on Saturday night. Lyrebirds president Brian “Barney” Sell described Charles as one of the best coaches he has seen. “When he wants to make a point he does not degrade a player, speaks to them one on one and is always full of praise and encouraging,” he said. “He has introduced a variety of training drills, some difficult and challenging, but drills that keep the players interested. Chairman of selectors Phil Harvey will also stay on in support and the Lyrebirds hope to also secure veteran Dean Burnell, who showed he still had plenty to offer but has been sidelined in recent weeks with two fractured vertebrae.

FORMER AFL KANGAROOS player Troy Makepeace has been reappointed MOE coach for 2011, which will be his fourth season at the helm. Unfortunately for the Lions, their 2010 finals prospects disappeared after LEONGATHA bedded down fifth spot on the ladder with a win over DROUIN on Saturday. It has been a difficult season for MOE, having to play all their home games at YALLOURN NORTH while their ground underwent a million-dollar upgrade.

CASEY Fields No. 1 oval is all but over as far as a venue for CRANBOURNE is concerned, according to our spies. People at two Casey Cardinia League venues confirmed that Casey Council chiefs told the club that the preferred option was to shift the Eagles to Oval 2 permanently. That has not gone over well given the original plan was for the main oval to be shared by the CASEY SCORPIONS and Cranbourne. The fact that the Oval 2 surface is considered second rate, there is no fence around the oval and the social/change rooms are yet to be completed are other issues that need to be addressed if the shift is to happen. Life would be so much easier if the council didn’t have to look after its own residents, wouldn’t it?

LAST week’s Footy Shorts item about the presentation of an old playing strip to BEACONSFIELD president John Airdrie was incorrect. Airdrie, of course, was a DOVETON player in the 1982 grand finals and the Doves downed the Eagles that year. His opponent John Finn was the Eagles fullback and most certainly not a Dove.

NEERIM NEERIM SOUTH will play in its first final since 2002 after cementing sixth spot with a win over ELLINBANK on Saturday. The season has been a personal triumph for Cats coach Dean Hendrikse, who has guided his team from 11th in 2009 with only six wins up to sixth and with 11 wins to date. “With only two new arrivals, Nick Humphrey and Luke Nobelius, people laughed when I said at the start of the season that we could make the finals and our improvement would come from within,” said the ecstatic coach on Saturday night. Hendrikse was also quick to praise captain Chris Urie, whom he described as the most influential captain in the league. Renowned as a good judge of young talent, Hendrikse also praised under-16 Victorian Country representative Tom Muir, describing him as good enough to make the AFL.

AND speaking of young talent on the rise, WARRAGUL has unearthed a potential star in its under-16 captain Tom Fusinato, the son of senior coach Peter. According to star utility Matt Gray Saturday’s hit-out against MOE was the best debut he has seen in his senior career. Fusinato, an under-16 GIPPSLAND POWER squad member, lined up on the wing and played with composure that belied his tender age.