|FF||Nick Burgin (NOBS)||Aaron Cloke (Oak)||Anthony Folino (HR)|
|HF||Jarrod Egglestone (TP)||Jarrod Bannister (TP)||Jeremy Simon (Orm)|
|C||Brock Egglestone (TP)||James Musster (PA)||Travis Hine (Orm)|
|HB||Dean Calcedo (PB)||Blair Atkins (Orm)||Brinley Duggan (Kew)|
|FB||Harry Crisp (HR)||Cormac Cashin (WB)||John Stocker (PA)|
|Fol:||Brett Dickinson (PA)||Christian Carnovale (HR) – C||Sean Calcedo (PB)|
|I/C||James Hunt (Oak)||Tom Buckley (Orm)||Jake Lever (Orm)|
|Josh Pavlou (HR)|
|Coach||Chris Moore (Oakleigh)|
Motivation fuelled by nine seasons without a flag, coupled with desire for retribution following last year’s straight-sets exit, has propelled Ormond to the title of Division 1 premiers for 2018. Only headed twice in this epic battle at Trevor Barker Oval – very early and very late – the Monders needed steely resolve and a bit of magic from hero and GF Medallist Max Kennedy to overcome the desperate charge of the Rovers.
Befitting the occasion and the high stakes, the opening session was played with unerring intensity, dominated by stoppages and almost bereft of free-flowing passages. The Rovers opened the scoring with a fine left foot snap in their first foray forward, following what was a scrappy period where most of the action occurred around the boundary between the two fifty-metre arcs. After the ten minute mark, Ormond managed to get the ball more regularly into their forward half, and made more of their chances with goals at 14, 21 and 23 minutes. It was then Hampton’s turn to attack incessantly during time-on, but their inability to manufacture clear shots at the target left Ormond with an 11 point buffer at the first break.
The Monders took only two minutes to open up the first decisive gap of the game in the second quarter, but Hampton replied soon after. With the crowd (which included an interested onlooker in Max Gawn) swelling and the arena bathed in sunshine, the play also began to open up a bit, although scoring was still at a premium. An undisciplined act from an Ormond defender gifted Ben Kneebush a 25 metre penalty and unmissable goal at the 15 minute mark, and the difference was back to six points. Majors to the Monders at 22 and 32 minutes re-established the 17 point buffer.
Fifty seconds in to the third term and Ormond skipped away again, when a pinpoint pass from Max Kennedy found a teammate near the goal square. The game reverted to a hard but high tempo slog for the next ten minutes, before Kennedy earned a free and slotted a beautiful drop punt from tight in the pocket. At this stage the lead had reached an ominous 30 points, and Hampton had it all to do. At 21 minutes they clawed one back, followed by another sixty seconds later. So the quarter ended where it started, the margin still at 17 points.
No one needed to remind the Rovers that they had to come out all guns blazing in the fourth and final quarter of Division 1 football for 2018, and they had reduced the deficit to two goals by the three minute mark. The man who invented the word frenzy may very well have had this kind of scenario in mind, so relentlessly did Hampton attack, and the game was being acted out almost exclusively in their forward half. A set shot from Danny Corp brought them back within three points, and the crowd erupted when Ant Folino dribbled one through from close range to give Rovers the lead with half the quarter to play. When Folino was tackled high straight in front six minutes later, the subsequent goal had taken Hampton to an unlikely 10-point lead, and they were on a roll.
But just like the tide ebbs and flows, Ormond lifted and began to find some run. They had conceded 4.3 without reply, but on their next run forward, Kennedy roved and snapped accurately. Two minutes later at the other end, an attempted “Daicos” from Folino agonisingly shaved the post, and Hampton led by 5.
At 27 minutes in, enter the man of the moment. Running along the boundary and on his wrong foot, Max Kennedy conjured up a right foot banana to wrestle back a solitary point lead for the Monders. When a difficult long range attempt at the other end could only muster a behind, things were all tied up with surely only a few minutes left.
An errant clearing kick from Hampton’s back pocket landed at a contest, then a couple of handballs later the ball was in the arms of Sam Mason, who sent it long towards the goalsquare, where Blair Atkins stood firm to take the contested mark dead in front – game, set and match.
Just for that last quarter alone, this should go down as one of the great Grand Finals. The relentless comeback from Hampton, then the turnaround from Ormond, sparked by a five-goal hero, to snatch it back again. A large and vociferous crowd, who saw a truly great player in Blair Atkins appropriately kick the winning goal. Kyle Pinto, Liam McCartney, Ben Kneebush and Josh Broadley were heroic for Hampton, yet in the end Ormond had so many contributors other than the two mentioned above. The VAFA could not have hoped for a better showcase for our great game, one which the upcoming Premier Section showdowns will find hard to trump.