News

Season 2007 produces a number of surprises

By Richard Jones

Before the start of each BFNL season the Bendigo Advertiser produces a very handy and complete guide to the upcoming season.

Such was the case in 2007 when as well as the three senior local leagues --- the BFNL, the HDFL and the LVFL --- there were previews of the then existing Bendigo Bombers as well as the under-18 Pioneers.

It’s interesting, if not very flattering, to look back at what we Addy tipsters came up with in predictions for the BFNL Top Five.

These “tips” came along with who we thought might win the Ron Best Medal, the Michelsen medal and the wooden spoon.

This how it actually finished. Gisborne 17 wins, 1 loss; Eaglehawk 14-4; Sandhurst 13-5; G. Square 12-6, 140.27% and South Bendigo 12-6, 131.46%.

Ron Best Medal: Damien Brown (Eaglehawk): 59 goals. Michelsen Medal: Matt Fitzgerald (Gisborne).

Grand final: Eaglehawk 12.12 (84) def. Gisborne 12.10 (82). It was one of the most thrilling season deciders of the early to mid-2000s.

So what were those mid-April predictions?

Adam Bourke: Top Five: Golden Square, Sandhurst, Gisborne, South Bendigo, Eaglehawk. Michelsen: Jason Griffin (GS). Ron Best medal: Dayne Frew (SB).

Nathan Dole: South Bendigo, Sandhurst, G. Square, Gisborne, Eaglehawk. Michelsen: Cameron Hall (SB).Ron Best: Wayne Mitrovic (Sandhurst).

Luke West: G. Square, Gisborne, Sandhurst, South Bendigo, Eaglehawk. Michelsen: Nathan Gilliland (S’hurst). Ron Best: Matt O’Toole (GS).

And what about mine? Top Five: Gisborne, G. Square, Eaglehawk, Sandhurst, South Bendigo. Michelsen: Marcus Barham (Gisborne). Ron Best: Matt O’Toole (GS).

All of us tipped North City, the Ballarat-based club, to collect the wooden spoon for 2007.

And of course they didn’t. The Northies finished eighth with a 5 win-13 loss record.

In the cellar for 2007 was Kangaroo Flat without a single victory: 0-18 and just 37.7% !

At least we all got the Top Five correct, if not in the correct order. Not that difficult, you might rightly say, with the gap between the leading five clubs and the bottom five well in existence, even as early as 2007.

Castlemaine finished sixth with a 9-9 record, a creditable performance for a club which has fallen on really tough times in more recent seasons.

 

After successive grand final victories in 2005 and 2006 Gisborne was aiming for a hat-trick of premierships.

As Bourke pointed out in his editorial leader to the 2007 supplement there’d been only one real question asked.

It was simple and straight-forward. Can anyone beat Gisborne?

“In four of the past five seasons the simple answer to that question has been ‘no’,” Bourke wrote.

“But this year (2007) I have talked myself into thinking that this won’t be Gisborne’s season.

“Crazy? Maybe. Illogical ? Perhaps. Gisborne will again be a force. No doubt about that.”

The Advertiser senior sports writer noted that he expected the gap between the Graveyard Dogs and the chasing pack to be minimal.

“The Bulldogs have lost three of their major midfield weapons: Michael Dillon, Daniel Sipthorp and James McFarlane.

“But still past players in Levi Moss, Ty Elliott and Stewart Hamilton return to help offset these departures,” Bourke continued.

He speculated that unless Gisborne senior coach Marcus Barham had “an ace up his sleeve” it was hard to see Gisborne being stronger than a year earlier.

Yet Bourke still conceded “the chasing pack” needed to have improved since September 2006.

“Square, South, Sandhurst and Eaglehawk have done their best in the off-season to try and bolster their lists.”

In his editorial Bourke detailed some of the new coaches and incoming players to lists among the four chasing mainstays.

The Wade Street Bulldogs had signed Jeff Brennan as new coach and had added quality recruits in Mark Adamson, Hamish Dahl and Ryan Curtis.

Skipper Christian Carter could also be cosidered a Square ‘recruit’ in that he‘d missed the entire 2006 season with a knee injury.

The Addy sports writer named South as the “most intriguing” of the four, main threats to Gisborne.

“A new coach in Rick Coburn, a long list of ready-made senior recruits offset to a large extent by a departures list just as long for the club which finished third in 2006,” he mentioned.

“But the Bloods are promising to be more physical this year under Coburn and will have more than enough firepower up front to kick winning scores.”

Bourke settled on Sandhurst as the club with the best potential “to make giant strides.”

“New coach Nathan Gilliland combined with former Bendigo Bombers duo Mark Vigus and Sam Richardson, along with ex-Pioneer Tyson Findlay, give the Dragons four valuable additions to their midfield.”

The Addy tipster mentioned that luck with injuries and the right off-field support would be critical for the Dragons.

And so to Eaglehawk which, as listed earlier, was the eventual 2007 premier.

“As usual the Hawks have been a major, off-season player. Signing key forward Damien Brown is a major coup while Shannon Milward adds a much-needed boost to the Borough midfield,” Bourke noted.

Bourke wrote that the signing of veteran ruckman David Cox (originally a Castlemaine star) was “a surprising one” although his experience and tap work at centre bounces and boundary throw-ins would be a bonus, he noted.

“The Borough showed glimpses in 2006 that it could challenge the likes of Gisborne, but in the end fell short in September.”

And what about the remaining five clubs? Bourke said with the exception of Maryborough the other, four clubs looked to have improved during the off-season.

Not that anyone of us could surely have guessed that the Kangaroo Flat Roos would finish in the cellar without a single win to their name.

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