The second week of finals in Premier C had promised a thrilling showdown, with a coveted Grand Final spot at stake in the preliminary final.
All roads led to Trevor Barker Oval on a Sunday afternoon, where Old Camberwell and the Parkdale Vultures were poised for a high-stakes battle. The loser faced the unfortunate end of their season, while the victor would earn the privilege of advancing to the big dance to play against Old Ivanhoe.
Both teams had exceptional form entering the finals, with Old Camberwell claiming the top position on the ladder and the Vultures securing a spot in the top four after losing just one game since Round 10.
Speaking of the Vultures’ sole loss, it had occurred against Old Camberwell in the final round of the season. Although the outcome didn’t affect the ladder standings, it didn’t deter either team from giving it their all in a fiercely contested match.
After the first week of finals, there was a sense that Parkdale might have an edge over Old Camberwell, as the Vultures were dominant against a formidable PEGS side, winning by 15 points and avoiding elimination. In contrast, Old Camberwell had missed the opportunity to secure a grand final berth and a week off, falling short by 19 points to Old Ivanhoe in a tightly contested match.
With these narratives in mind, both teams entered the preliminary final on Sunday, fully prepared for the battle ahead.
The opening quarter saw Parkdale picking up where they left off the previous week, kicking five goals to the Wellers two. This propelled them to a 21-point lead at the first break. However, the wind played a significant role in their impressive start, and they needed to be cautious as a classy Old Camberwell team was about to benefit from the wind in the subsequent quarter.
The second quarter turned out to be low scoring but witnessed Old Camberwell narrowing the margin. They scored two unanswered goals, heading into the main break trailing by just four points. Old Camberwell, though dominant, was left frustrated after missing several opportunities, recording six behinds in the quarter.
The premiership quarter, as many would call it, proved to be the turning point. Despite battling against the wind, Old Camberwell managed to slot three goals, while Parkdale scored two. This gave Old Camberwell a three-point lead heading into the final quarter.
The last quarter remained low scoring, but it was dominated by Old Camberwell. They limited Parkdale to a single point while adding two goals of their own, securing a thrilling and well-deserved spot in the grand final.
Riley Verbi emerged as the only multiple-goal scorer for Old Camberwell, showcasing the team’s depth with eight different goal kickers.
The result marked the end of a remarkable season for Parkdale, who defied expectations and made an impressive run into September, coming agonisingly close to the grand final. Despite falling short, they deserve credit for their 2023 campaign and will undoubtedly be eager to go one step further in 2024.
For Old Camberwell, the journey continues as they prepare to face Old Ivanhoe once more in a rematch of the qualifying final.
Old Ivanhoe’s journey to the Grand Final is commendable, particularly for a team that spent much of the season outside the top two. In contrast, Old Camberwell consistently hovered near the top of the ladder and asserted their dominance in the second half of the competition.
All eyes will be fixed on Trevor Barker Oval on Saturday afternoon as an epic grand final showdown unfolds, ultimately crowning the premier, in what has been a sensational 2023 season in the Premier C Men’s competition.