THERE’S something about the players at the Nar Nar Goon Football Club that almost can’t be measured. It’s a spirit that anyone who dons the famous blue and white jumper embodies – whether they’ve been at the club all their lives, or just a few short months.
Earlier today (Saturday) at Beswick Street in Garfield, the Savs recorded one of their most famous recent wins – in an elimination final against a Neerim Neerim South side that many predicted would pose the biggest challenge to premiership favourites Cora Lynn and Bunyip.
It was just two short weeks ago when, at Neerim South, the Cats surged ahead of the Goon in the second half to win by 28 points. They seemingly had all the answers. They seemingly had the Goon’s measure.
But Kris Fletcher’s side – made up of a combination of favourite sons, exciting youngsters, experienced veterans, and newcomers from other clubs hell-bent on proving their worth at senior level – went away and did its homework.
In the two weeks since their Round 18 clash, the Goon dissected the video footage and went over it again with a fine-toothed comb. Between the likes of Fletcher, last year’s caretaker coach Chris Jones, 2010 premiership-winning player coach Clint Williams, and Scott Mather, they devised a meticulous plan to take down one of the strongest sides in the competition.
The Goon had the game on its terms from early in the contest, until the very late stages of the last – and yet won by just seven points, 7.4 (46) to 4.15 (39).
Through the level of sheer talent in the Cats lineup, they stood a very real chance of winning the game in the fourth quarter and if they’d have taken their chances in front of goal earlier in the contest they could have won and won well.
But Tyler Payroli’s job at full-back on Chris Redl (three goals), Matt Stevens’ at centre-half forward on Cats playmaker Cal Shiels, the ground level pressure of Bailey Beck and Mitch Virtue, and the midfield grunt work – by committee – of Williams, Josh Grant, Fletcher and Nick Henwood on the Urie brothers – proved every bit the difference. This was one hell of a scrappy contest – make no mistake – but so many finals are. The Goon worked harder, and was more uncompromising for longer.
This was more than a win for the Savs to savour. This was one that affirms their culture – from their youngest member, to their oldest. Their want to work for each other, and sacrifice their own individual games, is a defining strength. Their hardest work is undoubtedly yet to come but they could just be on the verge of something remarkable.
Nar Nar Goon had four footy sides in action at Beswick Street – with the reserves and under-16s also winning their elimination finals.
Click below for a video of Fletcher’s senior side tearing the paint off the walls at Beswick Street with a blistering rendition of their famous club song.