C-Section title as special as the AFL Premiership for Luke Beveridge

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LUKE BEVERIDGE will have his name etched in the history of Australian rules football forever. 

In the AFL, he is the coach who brought the Premiership to the Western Bulldogs in 2016 for the first time since 1954. 

In the VAFA, he remains the only coach to take a team through the Premier grades in three consecutive years to three straight premierships. St Bede’s Mentone/Tigers were in C-Section in 2005 when ‘Bevo’ joined the club. 

Now in a position to hold both titles, Beveridge puts the 2006 C-Section Premiership as one of the “most amazing, incredible days” of his coaching career. 

During that year of 2006, the Tigers had an all-conquering year during the home and away season. 

The finals series however was a different story. An upset victory by Ajax saw the Tigers head to a Preliminary Final against the Parkdale Vultures with no guarantees of a Grand Final berth and promotion into B-Section. 

Speaking on the latest edition of VAFA Legends, Beveridge recalls the week leading up to the 2006 Preliminary Final as one of the most stressful weeks of his footballing life.

“I must admit, I’ve never felt as much pressure ever in my coaching days than I did in the week leading up to the Preliminary Final.” 

“We’d gone undefeated, beaten in the second semi by 7 points and here we’re a chance to get nothing. Finish third, and not even go up to B-Section”

“Which would have been a tragedy for everything that had happened during that year.”

I was working in La Trobe St, I was walking the streets and stewing over moves, I felt like I needed to do everything, so it was such a relief at the end of that Preliminary Final” Beveridge recalled. 

After falling short to Ajax in the first semi-final, the Tigers comfortably accounted for the Vultures securing a spot in the Grand Final and promotion into B-Section. 

Grand Final day though, in front of a capacity crowd at Trevor Barker Oval again saw Ajax get the jump on SBMT and race out to a 47-point lead, before one of the greatest VAFA Grand Final comebacks ever happened. 

Known for his themes, and his willingness to flip the magnets. Beveridge charged from the ground at half-time as the side reset at the main change to mount the comeback. 

An incredibly talented team came back at the Jackers and closed within a point before Ajax pulled the margin back out to 17 points. 

One last comeback saw the match winning goal kicked with only 2 minutes left in the game, perhaps poetic the goal was kicked by the only other living Western Bulldogs premiership coach, Paul Groves. 

10 years on from 2006, Beveridge would guide the Western Bulldogs through the most incredible AFL finals campaign in 2016, taking them to the promised land for the first time in 62 years. 

Whilst the day, and the moment itself was an incredible achievement for all football fans, Beveridge has the C-Section Premiership in 2006 on level pegging. 

“The day was just extraordinary. (21.12.138 def Ajax 21.11.137) I remember looking at the scoreboard thinking gee I hope no one mucked this up.” Beveridge recalled. 

“(It had) Everything for the purists, the 47-point margin that we had to chip away at, losing James Tyquin to a send-off rule.. When it was all pear-shaped and me running off the ground trying to spin the magnets” he continued

“At the end of that game and the moments afterwards they’ve probably been the most amazing, almost superseding what the Dogs did in 2016.” 

“It was just an incredible day when you consider our reserves and under 19’s won the flag as well, suffice to say it was a reasonable night at the football club.”

The Tigers would beat University Blacks in B-Section in 2007 by 13 points, before comfortably accounting for Collegians in 2008 to complete the treble. A period of time that’s never been seen prior to St Bede’s Mentone did so, and never been seen since.