By Michael Doran
To break a drought is one thing, but to do it by 96 points against highly-fancied opponents is a premiership deluge.
That’s what Yarra Junction did in taking out the AFL Yarra Ranges Division 2 flag on Sunday 23 September against minor premiers Seville, 20.17.137 to 6.5.41.
Yarra Junction Football and Netball Club president Tony Aulich said the breakthrough win was a testament to captain-coach John Holmes’ leadership.
“He is the best leader I have seen in my 10 years at the club,” Aulich said.
“He is an outstanding on-field leader and is really astute in everything he does, both on and off the field.”
The team won just five games and finished seventh last year, and the rise to premiers is reward for the work done following Holmes’ appointment at the end of the 2016 season.
The president said Holmes had welded the players into a very competitive unit able to withstand all the pressure of the finals series.
“Our strength is that he has built a team that has no passengers and doesn’t rely on just a few stars,” Aulich said.
“The team is so tight with each other and John had them peaking at just the right time, we were simply too good for the opposition.”
Despite going in as underdogs, the Eagles effectively killed off the game by half-time with a 49-point lead that ballooned to 96 points at the final siren.
Yarra Junction’s Troy Armstrong was awarded the best on ground medal and teammate Tyson Wheeler topped the scoring with five goals.
Ten of the Junction players managed to score goals in a genuine team effort.
After the game, the players returned to their rooms to be presented to about 200 supporters and get the celebrations underway.
“This premiership will generate a lot of interest in the club and the wider community as well,’ Aulich said.
“We have over 160 people playing competitive sport in the football and netball teams and it just connects so many people in the local community.
“A premiership generates a lot of interest and helps get sponsors and people involved in what we are doing.”
With the reserve team finishing on top of the ladder and narrowly losing the preliminary final, the talent within the club bodes well for next year.
The club fields five netball sides and re-started a junior football club this year, which will expand to two teams next season.
With the help of its major sponsor, Bendigo Community Bank, the club is adding new change facilities near the netball courts and an office to the main building.
“We have a great belief in community values and the part a club like ours can play in connecting people, apprenticeships and job opportunities for young people and being a focal point for locals” Aulich said.
“I am so proud of our coach and players and we can’t wait to do it again next year.”
See page 25 for more AFL Yarra Ranges action.