NEVER write off a champion team.
Sunbury’s shock win over Darley on Saturday came as a surprise to many.
Hindsight suggests it was silly to ever write off a team that had been a Ballarat Football League powerhouse for more than a decade, but there were many people, including this reporter, who were guilty of doing just that.
After all, the Eastern Lions (or Cubs as they have affectionately dubbed by coach Rick Horwood), had seven debutantes on Saturday and 15 players with less than 20 games experience under their belts.
Of the 22 playing, just seven took their place in last year’s grand final side.
And with Darley boasting one of the most formidable line-ups in the BFL after a summer dotted with strong recruits, the general consensus in the football world was the Devils would win and win with ease.
Not that Sunbury ever bought into the hype.
Even after falling behind in the last quarter, it would have been easy for the Lions to fall away, but they did exactly the opposite, gritting their teeth to claim a gutsy 14-point victory.
Coach Rick Horwood admitted the fact many people that had written his young side off had actually spurred his side on.
“We’re kind of known as the ‘no-brands’, they’ve got no reputations our guys and probably didn’t have a lot of expectation,” Horwood said.
“You’re always kind of hopeful in round one. I don’t think I was surprised by the win, but I probably didn’t expect us to come out quite like that.
“A lot of people can now see the direction we are trying to take, these kids are the future of the Sunbury Football Club. They’ve got no fear and play with heart.”
The challenge now, for Sunbury, is to maintain the same high level of ferocious football.
Other sides now know they can once again be the genuine threat.
No longer will they be able to be spurred on being virtually written off because, simply, it won’t happen.
“It’s only one game, there is always a lot of enthusiasm in round one, it doesn’t matter who you are,” Horwood said.
“The challenge is to maintain it every week once the season really gets going.”
Sunbury will now have a week off for the Easter break before travelling to Melton South to clash with the Panthers under lights on April 26.