By Matt Fotia
Gembrook-Cockatoo are putting their best side out on the park at the right time according to coach Brad Coller, as the Brooker’s prepare for their elimination final against Powelltown, after they defeated Yarra Glen at home to book their place in the finals.
The Brookers eventually won the do or die round 18 clash by 77 points, 18.17(125) to 7.6(48), but the margin could’ve been more if they’d taken their chances in the first half, with Coller rueing his sides inaccuracy in the early stages.
Yarra Glen held the lead at quarter time despite Gembrook, and Michael Firrito, dominating all the play.
“We had 97 possessions as a team in the first quarter and about 75% of the footy but only managed 1.4, I think Spud (Michael Firrito) had five shots at goal,”
“He ended up with 35 plus possession and four goals eight for the day – and an out on the full.”
The ex North Melbourne defender has continued to show his evergreen abilities in 2019, winning the clubs senior best and fairest ahead of the Brooker’s ultra impressive ruckman, Colin Bastow, whilst 16 year old Aaron Firrito finished sixth.
Bastow has been a regular in the Gembrook best players this season as the side’s number one ruckman, an incredible turnaround considering he was dropped from the side in round three.
“I dropped him in round three and since then he’s probably been in our best five every week,”
“He wasn’t particularly happy when he got dropped by he took it on the chin and has responded really well,”
Gembrook-Cockatoo, like a lot of clubs, have been battling injuries all season, but with finals on their doormat they’ve had timely influx of returning soldiers.
“We’ve hit form at the right time, with all our players back from injury,”
“I spoke to the guys after the game and said this is the best team we’ve put on the park all year,”
“It’s all coming together at the right time, selection’s pretty tough at the moment, the mix is about right.”
Gembrook-Cockatoo were one of the favourites to go deep before the season started, with a couple of prized recruits and a number of their under 18 premiership side coming up into the senior ranks.
But the Brookers are now happy to have gotten this far in 2019, given their injuries, inexperience and the strength of the competition.
“At the start of the year I would’ve said not making finals would be a bit of a disaster, given where we finished last year,”
“But you’ve got to take into consideration the youth and their inexperience and their (in)ability to maintain focus, plus all of our injuries.”
“But along with that, every team has improved, mid year I was thinking we are going to be lucky to make finals because Powelltown and Yarra Glen were on a par with us,”
“To make it now, I’m pretty happy.”