1. TERRIFIC TIGERS
BARNAWARTHA completed a fairytale season when it downed Mitta United by 20 points to claim the Tallangatta and District league premiership at Sandy Creek in September.
The Tigers, who made a rapid charge to the grand final after sitting outside the top-five on the eve of finals, withstood a second-half surge from the league heavyweight to seal their rise from elimination final hopefuls to 2013 premiers in stunning fashion.
The 13.14 (92) to 11.6 (72) victory was the Tigers’ first flag since their maiden premiership in 2002 and capped a memorable first year in charge for Mark Sarau.
“It’s surreal,” Sarau said after the win.
“Even when we won last week it still didn’t seem like we were going to be playing in a grand final.
“Six weeks out from the finals we were sitting eighth and were two games out of the top five but we knew we could get in.
“We just thought we’ve got a chance if we keep working and working and that’s what’s happened.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the boys.”
2. UGLY SCENES
MITTA United’s heated rivalry with Thurgoona reached boiling point in July when a series of ugly brawls erupted during their round 12 encounter.
Umpires threatened to call off the match if it continued in the same manner and a review was subsequently launched into the match in the weeks following.
Fifteen weeks’ worth of suspensions were handed out, including Justin Nelson’s five weeks.
Thurgoona president Tony Way told The Border Mail he was
disappointed with how the match panned out.
“It isn’t a great advertisement for the sport or the league. It wasn’t a game you would like to have your family or kids watching.”
3. TERRY TOASTED
THE tiresome work of Wodonga Saints coach Terry Burgess was rewarded this year when he was named the AFL North East Border Coaches Association’s coach of the year.
Burgess, who has helped turn the struggling Tallangatta and District League club around, was recognised after taking on what the association labelled “one of the region’s most challenging roles”.
But the 1983 Morris medallist played down the significance of his own personal achievement, saying the award was more of a reflection on the club than himself.
“From my point of view, that’s what it shows,” Burgess said.
“It shows we’re making progress and heading in the right direction.
“We just want this club up and about and competitive.”
4. FOR SIMON ...
AN emotional Shane Laracy dedicated Barnawartha’s thrilling 20-point grand final win over Mitta United to his late brother and former teammate Simon.
In one of the more memorable moments of the grand final, Laracy looked skyward and pointed to a tattoo with “Simon” etched on his arm after the final siren before being swamped by hundreds of family, teammates and friends.
Shane said he had been playing for Simon since he died in a workplace accident near Rutherglen in 2009, as had many of his teammates who came through the Tigers’ junior ranks at the same time.
“It means so much,” he said.
“Ever since he passed away I have worn his number, number 19, just for him.
“I have thought about Simon a lot over the past few years and winning today means everything.”
5. CAM'S BARTON
BARNAWARTHA centreman Cameron McNeill capped off his brilliant season for the Tigers by winning his second Barton medal in the lead-up to the grand final.
McNeill stormed to victory in the league’s best and fairest vote count, claiming the award for the second time in the space of six seasons.
McNeill followed up his success in 2008 by polling 25 votes
to edge out high-flying Yackandandah forward Trent Castles and Chiltern utility Jaise Coleman by two.
Coincidentally, McNeill polled the same number of votes to win his previous medal.
6. SWANS NAB DOOLS
CHILTERN landed a massive coup when it unveiled Wodonga Raiders champion midfielder Mark Doolan as part of the Swans’ coaching staff for next season.
Doolan, a five-time best and fairest winner at Birallee Park, signed a three-year deal with the Swans that will see him replace co-coaches Shaun Pritchard and Kirk Wilson for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Doolan, who is recovering from a knee reconstruction, said he was looking forward to helping steer the Swans to their maiden TDFL flag in the coming seasons.
“I hope I can help them achieve that in the next few years, but there is a lot of hard work to be done yet.”
7. DAZ'S DEMOLITION
BOOM forward Darren Bradshaw produced a sensational eight-goal haul to help the Tallangatta and District League demolish old enemy, the Hume league, by 97 points in their interleague encounter in May.
Bradshaw’s masterful performance saw him awarded the VCFL medal for best on ground honours as the Tallangatta league booted 23 goals against their hapless opponents with a final score of 152-55.
8. IT'S A DRAW
IT took a point after the final siren to see Wahgunyah and Chiltern play out arguably the match of the season in round six when they drew in stunning circumstances.
Promising Wahgunyah teenager Brydon Robins kicked a point after the final siren to salvage the draw under immense pressure.
“It’s a bitter sweet feeling I guess,” Chiltern coach Kirk Wilson, pictured, said after the game.
“To be in front with a small amount of time left and let them get a kick inside 50 metres is tough, but these are the guys we are fighting with for a spot in the finals and it’s better to split the points than let them get ahead of us.
“You would rather get two points than none.”
9. BEAUTY, BRADDAS
WHEREVER he goes, he kicks goals, and that didn’t change for former AFL star Daniel Bradshaw at Dederang-Mount Beauty last season.
Bradshaw finished the season with a tally of 110 goals, at an average of more than six a game.
He brought up his century in the Bombers’ big win against Chiltern in round 16.
And he didn’t hesitate when the Bombers asked him to play on again next season.
“It was a pretty easy decision,” Bradshaw said.
“Obviously we have got a pretty good list together that is playing some decent footy.”
10. WHAT UNDERDOGS?
WINNING premierships is tough, but even tougher when the team you beat is looking to become the most successful club in league history.
However, Thurgoona did exactly that when it came from behind to sink TDNA heavyweight Yackandandah in the A-Grade decider.
The Bulldogs were three goals down at the final change but rallied to run out four-goal winners.