THE celebrations started on the final whistle but Wodonga Diamonds say it is one down and the cup to come.
Diamonds wrapped up the league title with an emphatic 5-1 win over St Pat’s, with the three points giving them an unassailable lead at the top of the table.
The Diamonds, clearly the benchmark team for the competition, led 2-1 at half-time before sealing the contest against Patties.
It is the first championship for the club in more than a decade.
Coach Jimmy Bell paid tribute to his young squad and its dedication.
“I have never seen a senior side that turns up in such numbers night after night and not have a problem — the players are an absolute pleasure,” he said.
“They are a young side, the average age in there is 22. They have another four or five years in them if we don’t lose them to the premier league club next year.
“Now we have two weeks to trial different things, try new combinations, ahead of a new competition for the cup.
“I guess in Australia it’s what you are more familiar with but for me, as an Englishman, that was what we have worked for all year.
“No matter what comes next, this has been our year.”
Captain Dan Millynn sat in the rooms stripping tape from an ankle he injured in the first half and looking towards the top-eight cup play-off.
“We won the cup a few years ago but this is really special,” he said.
“This is a real team effort but we still have a job to do.
“We have two games left and we don’t want to lose focus, don’t want injuries, don’t want to lose.”
Bell said there had been anxious moments.
“We knew what their tactics would be,” he said. “There would be nothing better than the team at the top of the table being knocked off by the side at the other end of the ladder.
“But the boys kept their discipline and, to Patties credit, we did too — at 2-1 at half-time I was more than a little worried.
“It was the first time I didn’t shout in the changing rooms. I just sat down and talked with the boys.
“They knew what was at stake, I didn’t need to rev them up.”