Let’s set the scene. It’s the end of the 2021 season, and it’s just been cut short, which means no finals. You’ve finished second on the Division 4 Men’s ladder, by percentage only, and you’ve been winning games by enormous margins, even in your Reserves games, where you’ve finished the year on the top. You get promoted to Division 3 Men’s for 2022 – a whole season is played where you spend most of your time flitting between positions on the ladder until you solidify top spot for the better part of the last eight games.
You win your semi-final and you are straight through to the Grand Final. Your Reserves have just beaten Emmaus St Leo’s by nine points. You face Parkside and win by 12 points.
You are South Melbourne Districts and you are both Division 3 Men’s and Division 3 Men’s Reserves Premiers. There are medallions around your necks and you’re off to Division 2 Men’s next year!
To say this year has been a dream run for the Bloods in an understatement of the largest degree. It took them a while to steady the ship, but it was obvious from the beginning that they had the potential to go deep into the year.
The same could be said for Parkside, who peaked at the right time after a rollercoaster start to the season to hold tight onto fourth spot on the ladder, despite pressure from all sides. A competitive 2021 also saw them lose out on the opportunity to contest at finals, finishing second on the ladder by a sliver of percentage only.
Both teams had something to prove and at Garvey Oval on Saturday, they did just that.
It was a rather low-scoring affair, with only twelve goals kicked between both teams. South Melbourne Districts got off to a fantastic start, limiting Parkside to just two behinds while they kicked 3.3 in the first quarter to take an early buffer into the second term. That lead would prove to be enough in the end, as missed opportunities in front of goal by the Red Devils inevitably kept them out of it.
The second half went rather similarly to the first, with Parkside unable to get going well enough to bridge the gap, and both teams unable to convert inside 50s into majors. The Bloods kicked 3.6 to the Red Devils’ 4.4 in the last two quarters to ultimately keep noses in front for the whole game.
In front of goal for South Melbourne Districts and arguably five of their most important players, George Dixon (3) and, unsurprisingly, Oliver Dufficy (2) were the multiple-goalscorers, while Jamie Brooker and Leigh Sfetkidis also got on the board.
Matthew Holden kicked two for Parkside, as Dominic Douglas (1), Lewis Balcombe (1), and Jack Hamilton (1) filled out the rest of the goalkickers. Hamilton was named best-on, while, Holden, Michael Romano, Simon Mackie, and Benedict Douglas rounded out the list.
Commiserations to Parkside, who admirably fought it out until the final siren, and congratulations to South Melbourne Districts, it appears red and white does look better on you.