BARNAWARTHA centreman Matt McNamara says the fear of letting down teammates has been the driving force behind the Tigers’ charge into Saturday’s grand final at Sandy Creek.
With only three players — Danny Demarte, Tom Anson and Jacob Moloney — not coming through the Tallangatta and District league club’s junior ranks, McNamara said he had never played in a team with a stronger bond.
“That‘s why we are going well,” McNamara said yesterday.
“We all know each other really well and don’t want to let each other down.
“I think that’s the main reason why we have got through to the grand final from where we were.”
The McNamaras are one of many families with strong ties to Barnawartha.
While Matt, 24, and his older brother Kyle, 27, will take the field against Mitta United this weekend, their mother, Michelle, will cook tea for the players after training at Barnawartha tonight, like she has for the past five or so years.
And their father, Ken, won’t be far away either, helping out with whatever needs to be done.
Michelle and Ken’s other son, James, played in the Tigers’ last premiership in 2002, in his first season of senior football, when it broke one of country football’s longest droughts.
Coach Mark Sarau said the McNamaras had been a key factor in the club’s late season form which saw it sneak into fifth spot before claiming the scalps of Kiewa-Sandy Creek, Thurgoona and Dederang-Mount Beauty during the finals.
“They are a quality family,” Sarau said.
“Matt is a real competitor and Kyle has been good as well after getting over his shoulder problems.
“We spoke to James about coming back this year too which would have been great but it didn’t quite work out.”
Matt considers himself fortunate to be playing against Mitta United this weekend with the fierce midfielder only returning to the region mid-season after spending 18 months in Queensland.
“It’s worked out well,” he said,
“We have been playing some good football for a while now, but Mitta is going to be tough on Saturday.”