Steve Anderson, Breaking the Rovers Premiership drought

Posted on - Latest News, Featured, Podcasts

Hampton Rovers and the Geelong Football Club share an unwanted record. Both clubs have experienced early Premiership success, both clubs have experienced grand final heartache, and both clubs have endured a 44-year premiership drought. 

The football Gods can be kind to some clubs, and cruel to others. Just ask fans of St Kilda. 

When the Rovers won their first and only A-Section pennant in 1951 over Ormond, you would’ve been forgiven for expecting there to be a multitude of success that followed. But, it didn’t come. 

Steve Anderson, games record holder at the Hampton Rovers lived through the weight of expectation on the Rovers when the 1995 VAFA season came around. 

Anderson joined the VAFA Legends podcast, recapping the enormity of the task that was in front of them nearly three decades ago.  

The weight of the VAFA world was on the shoulders of the club, when they faced off against Thomastown for the D-Section flag in 1995.

“It was an amazing time, Chip Le Grand, captain of the time said this is for everyone (who had gone before us).”

“There’d been some really sad stories of Grand Final losses.” Anderson recounted, fully aware of the heartache the club had experienced since the glory of 1951. 

A loss in 1956 by six points, followed by a 15 point loss in 1967, rolled into a three point loss in 1975, and in 1988 by seven points. 

By the time Grand Final day came around, coach of the side Don Scarlett had made the point incessantly in the lead up to the day, the goal for 95 was to add the next pennant to the 51 flag. 

Anderson explained Scarlett would often have unique pre-game themes and messages for the team, his pre-game speeches were something to be remembered by a lot of people. 

Post the Premiership, he took his philosophical messaging, and put it into reality.

“It was a monkey off everyone’s back and the late Don Scarlett actually buried a monkey, after that Grand Final, that’s how much of a hoodoo it was for the older blokes, they really thought they were cursed” recalled Anderson. 

“He was a pure motivator, the first to say that technical side of the game wasn’t his strength, but you would run out of the clubrooms ready to fight a war for him”

“The one that sticks out, the SACO Watch… You’ve got to think outside the square and that’s how the SACO watch was born, he rambled on for about 10 minutes and it wasn’t dropping, we all ran out on that game looking at each other confused and we were down by five goals at quarter time not having an idea what he meant so that’s probably the one that stands out”

Much like Geelong after its own drought-breaking success, the Rovers would follow up the 1995 victory with premierships in 1998, and 2001. In more recent times, 2013 and 2014. 

Despite not reaching the lofty heights of William Buck Premier, the argument can be put to rest that the monkey is certainly off the back.