A decorated football history

A decorated football history

Orbost Snowy will host football and netball premiership reunions at its round 17 East Gippsland Football Netball League clash with Lakes Entrance on Saturday, August 10.

There will be afternoon tea at half time of seniors and a main meal and stories of yesteryear after the game.

The club will celebrate Orbost senior flags from 1969, 1979, 1998 and 1999, Snowy Rovers “A” and “B” grade netball premierships from 1999 as well as the Orbost reserves 1969 flag.

Anyone involved with any of those teams is invited to attend the reunion.

Snowy Rovers 1999 “A” grade netball premiership coach, Kristin Lawrence, fondly remembers her side’s thrilling win over Lucknow. Scores were level at 32 goals each at the end of regular time before the Rovers won 36-34. The “B” graders defeated Bairnsdale 29-25.

“It was so different back then compared to now in the netball. We just had so much fun playing. Everyone just got out there and enjoyed it,” she said.

“In 1999 I helped coach the “A” graders, but we don’t think the “B” graders had a coach. They did it by themselves. It was a great bunch of girls and we were just fortunate enough to have everything go our way.

“We actually drew at the end of full time. We had time on at each end and then it was a draw again. Then we had a time on again at each end and it was another draw.

“After three draws the first team to lead by two goals would win and we got over the line. It was so close. To win a grand final is amazing, but to win it like that was unbelievable.”

Kristin said times had changed since the turn of the millennia.

“Back then you didn’t train or anything it was so different. It wasn’t as serious and it was a lot of fun,” she said.

“We just had fun playing. Netball had only been going in the area for a short time, maybe four or five years.

“The courts weren’t at the footy. You had to go to a primary school or somewhere where there is a netball court. During the season you didn’t have as many people coming to watch you play compared to now. You would sort of go off and play and then come back and watch the football.”

At Lochiel Park, Kristin looks forward to spinning a few yarns and catching up with old friends.

“I am really looking forward to it. I hope most people can make it home for the reunion,” she said.

“There is always other things on that people have commitments to, but hopefully they all get back and support the club.

“We had some really great players. Kirsty Herbert played in the grand final 20 years ago and is still playing. She won the grand final in 2017 with Orbost Snowy. She is probably fitter now than what she was back when she played.”

The reunion will also celebrate Orbost’s dominant times in the late ‘70s and ‘90s.

Following the success of their seniors and reserves in 1969, the Busters went on to win the 1979 grand final. They would win it all again in 1998 when Peter Jenkins steered the side past Lakes Entrance before earning back-to-back flags the following year as the Michael Turner-led team once more defeated the Seagulls.

“Orbost won the previous year. I came back to the club after being out of footy for a little bit. I took the reigns of a team that had just won the flag so anything less than a flag would have been a seen as a failure,” Turner said.

“We had lost a few players from the year before, but we had a few young ones come through and some come back to the club after they hadn’t played in a little while.

“We finished second on the ladder to Lakes Entrance and then beat them in the second semi before a convincing win in the grand final on what was a gloomy day.

“It was the first season that Bairnsdale was back in the league and they were a very good side.

“They played in the first semi final against Wy Yung and lost, putting them out of the finals. At the start of the year we saw them as our biggest challenge. In the end we convincingly won.”

The Busters started well, but started to slow down mid season before storming home to the flag.

“There were a lot of highlights. We won the first few games and in round three we bet Bairnsdale up at Orbost. We got a few injured during the middle of the year and lost a few on the trot,” Michael said.

“Our biggest asset was that we were really fit. Peter Seal came from the Ovens and Murray Football League and was the assistant coach. He was a fitness fanatic and we also had a never-say-die attitude.

“Peter Farley won the league best and fairest that year as well in a tie with Brett Walker, of Lindenow.”

The memories of the 1999 flag will stick with Michael forever.

“We had some really good leaders like Russell Christy and Rod and Glen Bills,” he said. “It was really significant the premiership because I played with Russell in the 1981 flag when he was 17 and I would have been 20. He was the president at the time and got me on board to coach. “That doesn’t happen every day. He won the medal for best player in the grand final in 1999 as well.

“It was also significant because my father (Brian) coached at the club for 28 years and won nine premierships. To win one as well is really satisfying on a personal note.

“When you coach a premiership there isn’t a day that doesn’t go by where a thought creeps into your head about how the boys are going and some of the highlights of that year.”

Like Kristin, Michael is looking forward to catching up with old friends.

“It’d be good to have a lot of people there. I haven’t seen a couple of the boys in a while,” he said.

“I caught up with one of the young guys I hadn’t seen in 20 years at the Cairns Ironman the other day. It was great to catch up with him.

“Hopefully there is a big turnout. Most of the boys are still in the local area.”

IMAGE: Orbost Snowy will pay homage to football and netball premierships including the 1999 senior triumph at its round 17 East Gippsland Football Netball League clash with Lakes Entrance on Saturday, August 10. (PS)