By Matt Fotia
They never trailed, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few nervous moments for Healesville’s Veterans side as they finally claimed the Bluegum Veterans Premiership, running out 16 point winners over a tough Gembrook-Cockatoo outfit, 6.7(43) to 4.3(27), in front of a strong crowd at the Healesville Football Ground.
With the memories of their 2017 and 2018 defeats no doubt in the back of their minds, Healesville were at times anxious, panicked and physical as the game ebbed and flowed throughout, with both sides experiencing periods of dominance.
It was Healesville’s potency down the forward that proved the difference, with Ricky Hay, Luke Barclay and Andrew Peters all giving the Gembrook-Cockatoo defenders headaches at some stage and making the most of their chances.
Their defence held firm throughout the middle stages of the second and third quarter when Gembrook-Cockatoo began to get on top around the ground, with ruckman Craig Clarke vital, as Andrew Shipp got his hands on the football, covering the ground as well as some of the players who had slogged it out in the senior game prior.
The Brookers were unable to find easy routes to goal however, with none of their four majors coming from a mark inside forward fifty, as Healesville’s defence stood tall. The men in the green were forced to be opportunistic, with David Zaffarese and Mick Granieri kicking two clever goals.
Their other two majors came from free kicks to impressive duo of Craig Clarke and Jason Jeans.
As time continued to become Healesville’s friend and the Brookers enemy, stoppages began to increase, with the Bloods committing numbers to the football, piling in on the Gembrook ball winners as soon as they swooped on the ball.
The final stages finished much like the entire last quarter had been played with a Gembrook-Cockatoo player on top of the football and Healesville tacklers on top of him.
The siren sounding led to countless emotions, such as happiness, pride and – for many of the Healesville players who struggled through those two losses to Mount Evelyn – relief as premiership glory was finally theirs.
Healesville utility Peter Harvey was awarded the best on ground medal for his consistent effort across the evening, whilst no player was able to find the goals on more than one occasion.
HEALESVILLE 6.7.43 defeated GEMBROOK COCKATOO 4.3.27
Best – P.Harvey*, C.Spencer, R.De Munk, W.Anderson, A.Crossman, A.Peters
Goals – R.Hay, A.Peters, S.White, L.Barclay, M.Collins, B.Litchfield
Best – C.Clarke, S.Pantorno, D.Allcott, J.Jeans
Goals – M.Granieri, C.Clarke, D.Zaffarese, J.Jeans
* Awarded medal for Best on Ground