After a week of rain and more rain everyone was looking for a little reprieve at Strathalbyn Oval on Saturday for the 2023 Association Round against Southern Football League.
An early start saw the U15 teams and supporters heading into the ground way before the official gate opening time of 7:30am and as this correspondent got to the gate at around 6:50am, the queue was eight or ten cars long and the poor attendant was run off her feet, the EFTPOS machine not turning on and people itching to get their hands on a copy of the Association edition of Fleurieu Footy prior to the first bounce at 8:15.
As the U15 Boys ran onto the field the early sun peeked through the pine trees on the eastern flank of the oval.
Southern started the better of the two, kicking two goals to Great Southern’s one behind in the first quarter.
From then on it was a tight tussle with little or no scoring in the middle two quarters with Southern eventually running out winners by 17 points in a low scoring affair.
It was then the girls turn to take to the park as the U17 Girls headed out to play.
Two years prior at this venue the U17 Girls match was the ‘game of the day’ with free flowing skilful football on display.
This year it was a much tighter affair with Southern showing that they had come to play and now had some experience on the bigger stage under their belts.
A close match ensued for three quarters with only a few points to the favour of Southern at each break the difference.
But this all changed in the last quarter when the Southern girls turned on the afterburner and kicked 4 goals to none to run out comfortable 29 point winners.
The U17.5 Boys match mirrored the U17 Girls – a tight tussle for three quarters before Southern broke away in the last to win reasonably comfortably and retain the Whittlesea Shield in a 17 point victory.
The sun continued to shine as supporters gathered round the BBQ and queued at the canteen while officials and guests enjoyed the Great Southern Football League’s hospitality upstairs in the Long Room, with it’s prime vantage point for the afternoon matches.
The Senior Women’s match saw a Great Southern notch-up their first win of the day as the ladies took their 5th Jan Bache Cup in-a-row to continue their unbeaten run at this level.
The match was a one-sided affair with Great Southern dominating Southern across the ground and keeping them goalless for the whole match.
The Senior Men lined up for the National Anthem to signify the start of the match of the day and what a great sceptical the crowd was witnessing.
Southern kicked away in the first quarter holding Great Southern goalless for the term. However, whatever Coach Gianni Petrucci had to say had the desired effect with Great Southern kicking six in the second term whilst holding Southern to a single goal.
The third quarter was a tight tussle with both sides kicking three goals.
However Southern squandered numerous opportunities to reduce the margin with some wayward kicking infront of goal proving costly.
The last quarter saw both teams kick four goals each, but Great Southern had done enough earlier in the game to retain the Barry Pilmore Cup for another year, winning by 17 points.
Both Southern and Great Southern Senior Side players are invited to participate in the training squads for the Country Championships to be held in the Barossa Valley in early July.
Great Southern Coaches will lead the squads, Gianni Petrucci for the Southern Districts Zone men’s side and Wade Phillips in control of the women’s team, who are looking to back up their 2022 Championship win and by the way they played on Saturday this could easily be on the cards!