More progress, Grand Final appearance
2007 was a great year for the Tigers both on and off the field, even though both Norths’ Senior teams fell one game short of the Grand Final. 1st Grade’s loss by 5 pts was particularly agonising, but it steeled the players’ resolve to do better in 2008.
Highlights of the season included:
- New Clubhouse fully functioning, with plasma TV, kid’s play area and excellent new Canteen
- Stylish new Honour Boards & the recovery of all our Premiership Flags
- Continued Benny’s Best Cash awards for players
- Tigers’ first ever home Night game at North Dalton Park a huge success
- Highly successful Junior Club (including 3 Premierships) – and being named Club Champions of the League
Reserve Grade, Coached by the irrepressible Busby Schleicher for the 3rd successive year in 2007, opened the season with a 119 pt flogging of Camden. During the season there was another 100 pt victory under lights (v Nowra) as well as big wins v Port and Kiama. For the first time since 1997 Ressies won a semi-final but were out-gunned by nemesis Bomaderry in the prelim.
Andrew Shepherd took out goal scoring honours again, whilst marvel Frank (Tangles) Haggarty was B&F, 14 years after his previous win. Others to play well included Dean Henderson, Shaun Murray, John Connors, Dan Richards, Marty Jansen, Ian (Ginger) Moore, Bruno, Wazza, Frog and Snake.
Steve Slippery Wilson was at the helm for 1st Grade with immediate effects. Up to Round 10 we’d only lost 1 game before a couple of late season losses saw us finish 3rd on the ladder.
A comfortable win in the minor semi was followed by the above-mentioned stumble in the prelim, when a disallowed goal cost us dearly.
The evenness of contributions across the park was reflected in our B&F count where 4 votes separated 7 players.
Jason Lucas prevailed by a vote from Funky, a further vote to Mark Edis and Josh who were closely followed by Nathan England, Peter Burton and Dan Forsyth. The latter player won the Most Courageous Award in an excellent 1st season, whilst Jason Lucas took out Leading goal-kicker from Trent Avery.
Matt Warth, Jason de Bruin, Andrew Hammonds and Ben Paulson (Best back in also his 1st season) were all solid contributors.
Kevin O’Connor shared the Best Clubperson Award with his partner Ange Webster.
You would have got long odds about a Grand Final appearance for Norths 1st Grade after Round 1 of 2008. The 143 pt hiding by Bomaderry on our home ground was our worst loss for 17 years, and it was obvious that something was wrong. In a very rare move for the Tigers, the new Coach was sacked and Jason Lucas took on the role of playing Coach with great success. We bounced back to beat bogey team Kiama, enroute to 13 wins out of 15 games from Round 2 onwards. The sequence included a one goal loss to Bomaderry at their ground, after we led with less than 5 minutes to go.
Bomaderry, undefeated since 2006, nailed us in the major semi too; Norths then having to play in atrocious conditions v Kiama at their ground in the prelim.
As if that wasn’t hard enough, the Grand Final was belatedly changed to Bomaderry’s ground, where, after a close 1st half, we were overrun.
Matt Rush (who broke his arm in the major semi) won the Best & Fairest narrowly from Pat Lindsay, Lewis Wilson being a further vote back. Nick Crean (Best Back), Tim Bignell, Jason Lucas (Best Forward), Peter Burton, Jason de Bruin, Jeff Burton and Mark O’Rourke (Most Courageous) also polled well.
Josh McLarnen was away for a significant part of the year, but had an outstanding Finals series. Matt Lang was good up forward, and both Nathan Hynd and Ben Forsyth continued their improvement in 2008.
For the second successive year, Reserve Grade missed the GF by one game, but were a real force under playing Coach Matt Warth.
The Tiger Ressies won 12 games to finish 2nd on the ladder, highlights included a 20 pt win over Bomaderry in Round 1, followed by a 115 pt massacre of Kiama the next week.
A couple of unlucky breaks (including injury to Warthy) in the major semi saw us go down by 10 pts in a game we could have easily won. Next week, we were defeated in the quagmire by eventual premiers Uni.
Matt Warth was a standout for Best & Fairest, Grant Plecas receiving the Runner Up award. Other notable performers were John Connors (Leading Goal-kicker and Best Forward), Chris Covington (Best Back) and Anthony O’Donoghue (Best Utility). Paul Appleton played a half season in each Grade as did Chook, and they both did so admirably.
Warren Weaver (37 goals and just pipped for leading Goal-kicker), Dean Henderson, Matt Fenby as well as new players Dan Reithmuller and Andre Leslie were good, Tangles put in yet another solid season.
A highlight of Presentation Night was when our faithful servant Bruno Pieri was honoured with the Lee Veech Most Dedicated Person medal, whilst Kevin O’Connor backed up to win the Clubperson of the Year again.
However, an even more significant happening in 2008 was the establishment of an Under 17’s comp in our League, with Norths again going down in the GF to, you guessed it, Bomaderry after we had finished clear first on the final Ladder.
Many of the Under 17’s were blooded into 1st and Reserve Grade throughout the year and performed magnificently. In particular, Bill Parsons Jnr, Jack O’Donoghue, Connor Cleary and Alex Bennett had some fantastic games.
Ben Livermore also showed promise as did Angus Ashton and Josh Leonard.
By season’s end work was underway on improvements to the playing surface of Hollymount Park and there was further good news late in the year with confirmation that full ground lighting would be installed in 2009, hopefully as early as March.
After 34 seasons of Senior Footy, with countless ups and downs, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel…