By Matt Fotia
Doveton faithful were quite literally dancing in the rain on Sunday afternoon after their side booked their spot in the Division One Grand Final, knocking off minor premier Pakenham by 34 points 8.2(50) to 2.4(16) in the almost torrential rain at Woori Yallock.
FULL TIME – #AFLOEDIV1
Doveton are first to book their spot in the Big Dance knocking off Pakenham in very wet conditions at Woori Yallock.
PAK 2.4.16 (Z. Stewart 2)
DOV 8.2.50 (M. Pierce 4, Gascard, Kelleher, Daidone, Batten)
— AFL OUTER EAST (@AFL_OE) September 8, 2019
Doveton have now knocked off the runaway home and away top two in consecutive weeks and have come from third place to be the first side in the big dance, leaving Pakenham and Monbulk to get through the nerve wrenching Preliminary Final.
The Doves adapted to the blustery, slippery and almost monsoon like conditions quicker than their more fancied opponents, who had a three and zip record against the Doves coming into the game, by going back to the basics of football – get the ball forward and do it quickly.
Coach Daniel Charles, who recently extended his stay at the club, said the Doves had planned for the wet conditions and were ready to get their hands dirty.
The Doveton Football Club is delighted to announce the reappointment of our Senior Coach Daniel Charles. Dan & his family have a long and rich history at Doveton & the club looks forward to continued success for the remainder of this final series and next year.#doves2019🕊🖤💚 pic.twitter.com/L9dn3t4eHc
— Doveton FNC (@DovetonFnc) September 4, 2019
“We knew it was going to rain, so we were prepared to play wet weather football,”
‘The plan was to surge the football forward and get numbers around the pill,”
“We also knew that we had to take away Pakenham’s run, they like to create a plus one around the stoppages and down back which allows them to slingshot the ball from there,”
“So we just wanted to take away that from them and our boys were clean with their hands considering the conditions.”
Whilst the Doves main hero was dynamic small forward Mitchell Pierce, who kicked four crucial goals in the difficult conditions, Charles praised his back six, who have been strong all season, for their efforts in keeping the Lions at bay.
Only Zac Stewart was able to find the big sticks for Pakenham, despite the Lions having more inside fifties than the boys in Green and Black.
Sam Muirhead, Chad McDonald and Matt Jameson were all standouts down back throughout the game, Muirhead and Jameson in particular taking a number of tough marks as the Lions pushed on gallantly in the early stages of the last quarter.
“Our backline has been the backbone of our team all year, there’s been two or three of them that have played together before this, so they’ve helped teach the structures and have improved as the year’s gone on.”
Doveton’s rise from winless in 2018 to grand finalists in 2019 has been well documented, as has their influx of new players over the off-season. Only a handful of players remain from last season and the club have played almost 50 players in the Senior side in 2019.
Charles praised the group’s ability to buy into their new project and also congratulated the remaining eight players(from 2018) for the way they’ve aided the assimilation of the new players into his system.
“We’ve played 49 players in the seniors this season with injuries, form and so on,”
“Everyone’s really been buying in, there’s probably only eight players that played last year and those guys have been helping the newer players with their structures and the game plan.”
When it comes to the two week build up ahead of his side, Charles has one message, the same message the Doves have had all year – enjoy the good times.
“Just enjoy it – every moment, I want them to celebrate everything.”