The Hampton Rovers Amateur Football Club played champagne football to record a 65 point win against Old Essendon to be ‘C’ grade Premiers and advance into ‘B’ grade.
Going into the game at Elsternwick Park as underdogs, the Rovers had been beaten two times by Old Essendon from the three games during the season. The most recent game was the 2nd Semi-Final, which the Rovers lost by one point.
Expectations were still high and the coaching panel, headed by senior coach Norm Goss, had rearranged the side and developed new strategies, to combat Old Essendon’s prime movers. As with all finals, each contest provided hard, physical clashes with neither side giving any quarter.
The Rovers won the toss and elected to kick with the wind and recorded the first points of the game. It was however, Old Essendon, through Fleming, that kicked the first goal, after a strong mark. The Rovers cleared from the centre, through Anthony Browne, which found Chris Scarlett and Old Essendon gave a 25 metre penalty, which allowed the Rovers to kick their first major. Another point, to Dean Busby, sparked the Rovers again. With Busby giving a quick handball to Drew Anderson, followed by a great mark by Matthew Lawrence, the Rovers then had their second goal on the board.
Not to be outdone, Old Essendon’s runners looked slick and decisive and delivered to Evans, for an easy goal. Old Essendon’s Lutterschmidt got over excited and gave away a free and 25 meters, to allow Brenton Holt to goal, before being disciplined and dragged, by the Old Essendon coach. Anthony Browne nearly pulled in a screamer in the goal square, but a quick steal by Dean Busby guaranteed the Rovers fourth goal for the quarter. Several set shots still missed the big ones, but the Rovers held an 18 point lead going into quarter time. The Rovers have earned a reputation as being persistent tacklers and always presenting a contest. These attributes were needed to stop the fast-running Old Essendon.
With a clearance by Anthony Browne from the centre, it allowed Dean Busby to take a shot at goal. Old Essendon’s ruckman, McPherson, did touch the ball, but he was clearly over the goal line. Both the field and goal umpires debated long and hard for a decision, before the score was disallowed, and a bounce took place. This only inspired the hardworking Rovers to greater efforts and with a rebound from Tony Pucella, allowed full forward, Adam Power, to mark strongly and goal.
For the next 10 minutes, the ball rebounded from each half backline, effectively stopping each forward thrust in its tracks. Both sides used the windy conditions and the safety of the boundary line to great effect. Denver Artz, playing in the centre for the Rovers, was everywhere and his second efforts, were an example to his teammates.
Several points were scored by both sides, before a lightning pass from Luke Holt to Matthew Lawrence, produced another Rovers goal. The Rovers backline, led by Zampaglione, Woods, Fletcher and Wilmott did the rest, shutting down Old Essendons forwards and only conceding one goal with the wind. This gave the Rovers a lead of 23 points, at the main break.
With half time concluded, it was make or break for both sides. Could the Rovers improve their position, or would Old Essendon work themselves into the game. The third quarter opened up brightly for the Rovers with Drew Anderson and young Carr, providing Adam Power with the first major. The Rovers were breaking free from the close checking Old Essendon players and were able to find space on numerous occasions.
Tim Wilmott drifted down from the backline and kicked another for the Rovers. The ‘Chief’, Michael Fletcher, gave a bone jarring bump to the Old Essendon’s Hakim, which stopped the game for 10 minutes. Old Essendon’s fight, also went out of them, at this stage, as the Rovers field play got better and better. Goals to Luke Holt and Adam Power, before a boundary line snap by Old Essendon’s Lutterschmidt, left the Rovers with a 51 point lead at three-quarter time.
For the final quarter, it was a question of how far ahead, as the Old Essendon players, although getting their hands on the ball, were becoming ineffective, due to the constant pressure being applied by the Rovers. Old Essendon managed to kick two goals, but were completely overshadowed by goals to Rovers’ Luke Holt and Denver Artz, followed by a great roving goal, supplied by Matthew McKellar and ‘Sugar’ Healy, which sealed the game and the Premiership for the Hampton Rovers.
HAMPTON ROVERS 4.7 6.9 11.13 16.14 (110)
OLD ESSENDON 2.1 3.4 4.4 6.9 (45)
Goals: A. Power 3, D. Busby 2, L. Holt 2, M. Lawrence 2, S. Anderson, B. Healy, B. Holt, C. Scarlett, M. McKeller, T. Wilmott 1 each.
Best: Artz, Woods, Wilmott, Browne, Martyn, Zampaglione and Fletcher.
The Ritterman Medal awarded to the best player on the field by the umpires was awarded to Michael ‘Chief’ Fletcher.
The Hampton Rovers Committee and Management would like to congratulate all players, Coaches, Supporters, Trainers and Sponsors for contributing to this great result.
Match Report by Barry Bird