Round 18: West Coburg at Coburg City Oval
A dead rubber can always be hard to get up for, but in the last game of the year we had a reason to finish off the season well with three of our favourite players lacing up their boots for the last time in their long careers. Daniel Harris, Craig Anderson and Paul Bunn have become absolute favourites among the Pascoe Vale family, and as a group we wanted to give them the send off they deserve.
West Coburg, fighting off relegation, had everything to play for and came out firing, kicking the first four goals of the game and quickly gaining momentum. We looked flat footed and took us longer than we would have liked to get into gear. It was the last gamers - Craig Anderson and Paul Bunn - leading from the front who did not leave any stone unturned. Craig, like he has his whole career, worked tirelessly from stoppage to link up and help create our first goal for the game. From there we turned the game our way and and kicked the next five goals to finish the quarter in front.
In the second quarter we had most of the play with Michael Ross showing his class moving the ball down the field. Another of our last gamers, Daniel Harris, was extremely busy but just wasn’t able to finish off his hard work, and, along with the other forwards, we didn’t convert in front of goals. We came in at half time in front but needed to finish off our hard work.
Our defensive pressure from our forward fifty needed to lift as West Coburg were able to move the ball to freely down the ground. We had turned around a sloppy start but had to re-group again and get ready to play the final hour of football for 2018.
We knew that West Coburg would come out and give one last attack and that's what they did. Their mids were willing to get their hands dirty and won the ball at the contest. The defence was coming under a barrage of attacks and unfortunately the West Coburg group was growing in confidence and finishing off their hard work. On the other hand, we couldn’t convert again and our inaccuracy in front of goal was taking away any confidence that the group had.
Three quarter time and only 3 points in the game, we were at a cross roads: one path was to sign off for the year and allow West Coburg to get their first scalp and first win since round 5; the other was to go out swinging finishing off our year well giving our three guys the send off they deserve.
The break came at a great time, with a chance for the team to realign our minds with the task ahead. Our mids regained the momentum and quickly showed a determination to finish off the season on a good note. The quarter was played predominantly in our forward half and with that came an opportunity to get our three retiring players on the end of some ball movement and kicking a few celebratory goals. I loved seeing the team rally to help their teammates finish the game off on a high.
Paul Bunn, a defender, found himself sitting deep inside the forward 50 and after a couple of opportunities finally got one, with the whole group swarming to celebrate. Craig Anderson found himself free inside 50 and after a few attempts steered one through and again had his teammates around him in congratulations. Daniel Harris couldn’t seem to split the middle but it wasn’t through lack of trying finishing with six points so effectively he got his final goal.
We managed to keep West Coburg scoreless in the final quarter to come away with a 44 point victory.
Shaking the oppositions’ hands and grouping up as we walked towards the rooms brought a strange mix of emotions. There was the rush a celebration of a win but with it the finality of knowing we weren’t playing finals. We were also celebrating the great careers of three of our mates, but as we chairing off the three retirees, we knew this was the final time we would all walk off together. To Daniel Harris, Craig Anderson and Paul Bunn: we thank you for your efforts, putting body on the line and buying into the Panther way, you will be sorely missed and not just on game day. We would like to wish you and your family’s all the best with everything you do in the future!
And the 2018 season ends....
Looking back at the year we had our opportunities to be in the finals series with the tight losses to Aberfeldie and Marby early in the year proving to be vital games for our season.
All our stats had us in third spot but unfortunately the win-loss ratio did not and we missed by one game. In a standard of competition so tight as the EFDL, it shows that we can only rely on what is in our control to be standing there in the top four come finals.
Although disappointing to again miss out on finals, the group has improved in the right direction. It took a little while for us all to click with a fairly big list of new inclusions, but it happened. Injuries played a factor in the season and our depth was tested, which definitely showed why it's important to keep looking at our younger talent coming through. We know our best can compete with the top sides and present them with a challenge but we must find that consistency to become a top side.
The Reserves side had it most successful year since 2010 finishing 9 and 9 and if it wasn’t for depletion due to injuries to the senior side they could have finished even better.
Thanks to all the coaching staff for what they have done this year: working tirelessly to help improve this group of players and, although we didn’t get the end result we planned for, I definitely feel we are heading in the right direction.
To the volunteers well done and thank you for everything you have done for the playing group and the club this season. Without you all we wouldn’t have the opportunity to put on the jumper week in week out.
Finally to the supporters thank you for your constant support. While there will be disappointment that there are no finals but i can guarantee we all want to achieve the ultimate prize and will work even harder to keep on improving to get this side where it should be in 2019.
Final Score: West Coburg 9.7-61 | Pascoe Vale 15.15-105
Goal Kickers: M. Watson 5, G. Urquhart 2, J. Polizzi 2, M. Ross 2, L. Foster, B. Ross, C. Anderson, P. Bunn
Best Players: M. Ross, M. Watson, C. Anderson, D. Harris, P. Bunn, S. Caruso