By Mitch Guy
FISH Creek has been crowned the Alberton FNL 2016 premiers after a 17-point win against Inverloch-Kongwak in front of a huge crowd at Meeniyan.
In the club’s 125th year, coach Greg ‘Reggie’ Hoskin and his 21 players have delivered the proud club with the Kangaroos’ first premiership since the 2000-2002 three-peat.
The Kangaroos have now won an incredible 34 senior premierships, 18 of which have come since joining the Alberton League in 1953.
Known as a ‘small town with a big heart’, the description couldn’t ring any truer at Meeniyan on Saturday, with a sea of red and white running onto the ground after the match to celebrate the win.
Although the match wasn’t aesthetically pleasing with just 10 goals kicked and turnovers galore by both sides, Fish Creek simply had all the answers to any Inverloch-Kongwak advances and were deserving winners.
For a man who grew up at the footy club and played in the 2002 premiership, Reggie’s return as senior coach this year has been an incredible journey.
Reflecting after the match, he said the club has had a super year.
“It’s the footy club’s 125th year anniversary so there’ve been a couple of really good functions and a lot of people have come back to the footy club,” he said.
“There’s just been a real buzz around the whole place the whole year. The Thirds and Fourths obviously made the granny and the Fourths won the flag, while the twos were much better this year so there’s been an unbelievable feeling around the whole year.
“This has been a massive dream for me. I won a flag in 2002, but definitely coaching this one means more to me than the one I played in.”
With a nucleus of local talent that saw the Kangaroos reach last year’s grand final before being overpowered by Dalyston, the team lifted this season, losing just two games and advancing straight to the grand final after its semi-final win.
The side has been boosted by the inclusion of league best and fairest winner Tom Cameron, key big man Matthew Taylor, wiry defender Jack Hayes and silky midfielder/forward Paul Tolongs, who Reggie taught at McKinnon Secondary College.
Their mate Matt Kreymborg also came along for the ride and played for the Kangaroos when not chosen to play in the Sandringham VFL side.
Kreymborg has proven to be a step above as the best player in the competition and Saturday was no different as he tore up grand final day in a best on ground performance.
These classy recruits have added another dimension to an already impressive line-up, with a balanced combination of imports and local names.
The Park name is synonymous with the Fish Creek Football Club and on Saturday, captain Callan led the new generation alongside brothers Gareth and Ethan, and cousin Bailey Harfield-Park.
The McGannons are another prominent Fish Creek family who produced two more premiership stars, with Matthew returning from Gippsland Power duties to add run and carry and Ryan playing a key role off half back.
Jake Buckland is another player with a rich family history at the club and Lachie Pratt has risen through the junior ranks, showing loyalty to the club with over 100 senior games.
The move by Ash Snooks, Justin Smith and Todd Mackie from nearby local clubs to Fish Creek has paid off, with the trio now premiership players.
Ruckman Travis Manne has been a fine servant for the club over many years and has formed the backbone of the side alongside Trevor Hooker and Brent Cooper, while journeyman Andrew Seccull and Tom Fusinato have added class to the side in recent years.
Coach Hoskin paid tribute to his winning team, who have proven to be real professionals.
“Logistically we’ve got a lot of blokes all over the place so we have to travel to train and things like that,” he said.
“They’ve all bought in to everything we’ve wanted to do and I couldn’t ask for more. They’re a super committed bunch of boys.
“Assistant coaches Barry McGannon and Kevin Barnes are my two main men. Kevin was coach last year and he stayed around.
“They’ve both provided unbelievable support. Barry has been a bit of a mentor of mine forever and to have him there was really good.”
For the most successful club in Alberton history, it was fitting that the Kangaroos triumphed in the last grand final of the league’s current 12-team structure, before the league becomes a seven-team competition next season.
Full coverage from the Alberton grand final day in this weeks edition of the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times
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