50 years since the closest A Section GF in VAFA history

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Nick Armistead

As the Caulfield Grammarians’ one and only A Section pennant proudly resides in the Glenhuntly Oval rooms, the story of its unlikely and hard-fought path to the club half a century ago lives on in the memories of those lucky enough to be there in 1970.

While the line-up was coached by club champion John Wilson and littered with Team of the Century stars – Greg Tootell, Tony Pyman, Geoff Fox, John Long, Tony Lester, Barry Morphett and John Butcher – the Fields were unable to defeat either Coburg (1st) or Ormond (2nd) in any of their four encounters throughout the home and away fixture. They were an attacking juggernaut and led the competition with 116 points per game but their 96 points against was at least three goals more than the top two sides.

Finishing in third spot on the ladder and facing MHSOB in the elimination final, the Fields found themselves in trouble early and trailed by 17 points at quarter time. Despite inaccuracy in front of goal, Caulfield fought their way back into the match with 13 of the last 19 goals and ran out 37-point winners. G. Atchison was best afield on the back of his five majors.

1st SEMI FINAL 

Caulfield 3.5 8.10 10.15 16.22 (118)
MHSOB 6.4 9.5 10.8 12.9 (81)

CGFC Goals: G. Atchison 5, J. Butcher 3, A. Lester 2, J. Hore 2, J. Long 1, G. Tootell 1, B. Morphet 1, P. McLaughlin 1

CGFC Best: G. Atchison, B. Morphet, P. Pickering, J. Lane, D. Clark, G. Tootell

In their two previous matches that year, Caulfield had lost to Ormond by an average of 16 points. The two margins (18 and 14) did not necessarily do justice to the Monders’ dominance as they hit the scoreboard 70 times to the Fields’ 38 but failed to kick straight on both occasions. The Fields weren’t travelling much better in their preliminary final as they trailed at every break throughout the day and entered the final term four goals down. Much like the previous week, however, a switch was flicked in the final 30 minutes with Anthony Lester inspiring the Fields to six fourth-quarter goals and a thrilling four-point victory. Ormond would go on to win the next three A Section flags.

PRELIMINARY FINAL

Caulfield 1.5 6.10 8.15 14.20 (104)
Ormond 4.4 9.9 12.15 14.16 (100)

CGFC Goals: J. Butcher 3, P. McLaughlin 3, G. Atchison 2, J. Long 1, A. Lester 1, J. Hore 1, R. Allen 1, G. Tootell 1, B. Morphet 1

CGFC Best: A. Lester, J. Hore, R. Allen, J. Lane, J. Long, K. Barker

After coming from behind in their previous two finals, the grand final was a different storyline altogether. Coming up against the minor premiers and 1969 champions, Coburg, the Fields dominated from the outset and led by 39 points at three quarter time. While the Fields arguably put the cue in the rack at that point, the game was far from over as Coburg piled on eight goals to two in a blistering fourth quarter. Again, led by Lester, the Fields managed to hold on in the finals moments for an amazing two-point victory – to this day the closest A Section margin in VAFA history.

GRAND FINAL   

Caulfield 4.7 9.8 12.15 14.18 (102)
Coburg 3.1 5.5 7.6 15.10 (100)

CGFC Goals: G. Atchison 2, J. Butcher 2, A. Lester 2, P. Hore 2, P. McLaughlin 1, L. McNicol 1, J. Lane 1, J. Hore 1, R. Allen 1, B. Morphet 1

CGFC Best: A. Lester, J. Lane, K. Barker, L. McNicol, G. Tootell, B. Morphet

Listen to the story about the premiership and Caulfield’s rich history in this week’s ‘Clubs in Focus’ Podcast with interviews from Geoff Reilley, George Voyage, Peter Small, Julian Dobosz, Irena Malliaras and Tommy Flanagan.

Photo: Caulfield Grammarians