PREMIERSHIP players in the foundations of East Point want to remind the Kangaroos there is a wealth of experience behind them. They know all too well on grand final day, someone has to get the medals – and the thrill of earning one never leaves you.
For all long ongoing work in bringing these rival camps together, East Ballarat and Golden Point premiership players say the club has never felt closer as one that it does now.
Bulldogs and Rice Eaters legends say the time is right for the Kangaroos to forge their own identity, 17 years after amalgamation. There is one key missing element – a Ballarat Football League senior flag.
It has been 31 years since Golden Point coach Terry McGuane held the cup aloft, defeating Ballarat by 18 points. McGuane’s players keenly felt missed opportunity in the grand final a year earlier and knuckled down from the season’s outset.
Rice eater Peter Kiel won the Henderson Medal that year, succeeding teammate Carl Symons who was also in strong form and had earned Victorian Country Football League selection.
Symons was also on fire after being omitted from the team mid-season for disciplinary reasons after missing a training session. The Rice Eaters meant business.
“It’s a different ball game now but I would tell the team you still don’t get second chances,” McGuane said. “It has been 17 years for East Point to have not reached the ultimate chance and put the club back on the map.”
Not long after the 1987 win, rival East Ballarat hit a prime period. Clubs shared Eastern Oval but felt poles apart.
Bulldogs premiership players Matt Stevens and Scott O’Donohue are involved in coaching East Point juniors now. For so long each club retained its own junior arm, but Stevens and O’Donohue said a concerted effort to bring senior and juniors together as Kangaroos was telling in the club’s on-field success – the Roos won two junior premierships last week – and in a stronger club culture.
Stevens said the senior squad reminded him a lot of the Bulldogs’ glory days from 1989 to 1993.
“There is a strong vibe among the group, they’ve got that connection,” Stevens said. “That’s what we had in ‘93 when we won the premiership. Our group loved being together.”
East Ballarat’s last premiership remains one of the most epic wins in BFL history. The Bulldogs ended a 50-game North Balllarat winning streak in an incredible upset.
Stevens and O’Donohue said all week it felt like whole of Ballarat, excepting the North, was on their side.
Coached by Gary Odgers, the Bulldogs prevailed by 30 points. Odgers, who spent seven years with St Kilda, was originally from Golden Point and was at the Bulldogs’ helm for what was one of the biggest country football rivalries with North Ballarat.
“It’s time for East Point to build an identity now. It’s just their time,” Stevens said. “They have the ability and passion for their mates – now it’s up to them to take that next step.”
Police prepare for big crowds at Mars for premiership deciders
Inspector Cornwill said police were preparing for a big crowd and, while they were not anticipating trouble, urged football goers to have a good, safe time.
"We will certainly be conducting both breath and drug tests before and after the game at various locations throughout the region to make sure motorists are not driving under impairment,” Inspector Cornwill said.
Action starts with 19/under netball from 9am with first bounce for under-18.5 football at 9.20am. Senior football final is 2.30pm and A-grade netball at 3.15pm.
Free parking is available along Creswick Road and at Northern number two oval.
There is no parking around the stadium, on Ballarat Showgrounds or in North Ballarat Sports Club car park.
There will be a section by the main gates for disabled parking.
Patrons can enter the stadium from the Creswick Road or netball court gates from 7.30am.
Have you signed up to The Courier's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.