Blighty breaks flag drought

By Jamie Lowe

In the blistering Berrigan sun, Blighty’s reserves put in a premiership-winning performance to match the conditions — shining bright and hot.

A first-half barrage carried the Redeyes to a huge advantage against Waaia, taking a 51 point lead into the main break of the Picola & District League decider.

Blighty resisted an early Bombers charge in the third term to go on and win by an impressive 65 points, breaking a 19 year football premiership drought for the club.

The Redeyes were an unstoppable force with 10 goals to two in the first half, slicing and dicing their way through the Bomber defence with their forwards able to reap the rewards.

Waaia did lift, looking a different side after the half-time break with a much sturdier attack on the ball netting it the quarter’s first three goals, before Redeye Ash Bain steadied his side with a goal from the goal square from a silly downfield free kick.

At the quarter’s end, any scoreboard damage had been undone with the margin back to 51 points, with two quick-fire goals to start the final term getting the party started again.

Beau Close was a huge factor with seven majors, including three first quarter goals, while Tyler Amor-Beale was constantly bursting through packs with reckless abandon. It was no wonder he finished the game bloodied and bruised after a head clash in the third term.

But it was midfielder Josh Peers earning the best-on-ground medal, having the ball on a string as well as finishing with two goals in a scintillating performance.

Final score, Blighty 16.10 (106) to Waaia 6.5 (41).

Blighty coach Kyel Bain was ecstatic his side had brought the heat necessary to take care of a more than capable Waaia outfit.

‘‘It’s pretty exciting at the moment. The boys did well; they’ve played pretty good footy for the last month, and I’m just mostly proud really,’’ Bain said.

‘‘I thought we needed to get a good start, Waaia’s been a good side each time we’ve played them.

‘‘We got the start we wanted and we just tried to pressure their ball carriers, I think we did that pretty well.’’

The Redeyes had finished fifth on the ladder, but reeled off four straight wins to lift the trophy, the first football premiership the club has secured since 2000.

Bain paid tribute to his hard-working players, beloved club and tolerating family.

‘‘It’s a great bunch of blokes, it’s my first time at senior level coaching, and it’s enjoyable now,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s great, especially with the drought and no water around, it’s been good to see everyone with smiles on their faces. Everyone’s up and about.

‘‘I’ve got to thank my wife and kids for putting up with me the last month — it’s just been footy, footy, footy.’’

A post-match stoush marred the contest, with a stack of players involved in a physical altercation after the final siren, before the teams were separated after about a two-minute ruckus, allowing Blighty to resume celebrating a ripping win.

Picola & District Football Netball League operations manager Shane Railton said that footage from the scuffle was still being reviewed but could confirm that one report had been made by the on-field umpire on the day, with a Waaia player cited for allegedly striking Tyler Amor-Beale.

It has been a tough time for Blighty’s farming community at it battles with zero water allocation, but on the weekend they were finally given something to smile about.

Club president Michael Norman said the win was not just for the club, but for the community as a whole.

‘‘I’m just so proud of what the boys achieved,’’ he said.

‘‘Obviously we all know how tough things have been and while it doesn’t fix the issue it gets everyone up and about and puts smiles on faces.

‘‘I was there when the club last won a flag in 2000 and they’re hard to come by.

‘‘We may not win another one for a while if ever again, so we’re just so happy that we were able to make the most of our opportunity.

‘‘There’s been a lot of celebrations but the boys are already talking about next year.

‘‘It’s just great to see the positive impact this flag has had on the community.’’