By Garry Knox
FORTY years ago, the Loch Football Club came away with an unprecedented win in a fourths finals match against Wonthaggi.
Now, four decades later, a group of now middle aged men recently came together to relive their glorious fairy tale football win.
The year was 1976.
Back then Loch had a butcher, a bank and a pub, and the football club hadn’t won a flag since the glory days of ‘65 and ‘67.
Neighbouring Nyora had reformed and reclaimed some of its territory.
The Bass Valley Wonthaggi District League had done away with the permit system which had previously moderated the dominance of the big towns and gave the little towns like Loch a chance.
And Loch, principally a farming town, was enduring the cattle price crash of the seventies that saw cows sell for as little as $10 each.
But success sometimes pops up in the most unlikely of places.
Earlier in the year the strong Wonthaggi Blues had belted Loch.
Colin Knox remembers the season well.
In that match, Blues 35 goals defeated Loch 3.
Colin was one of many minnows in the team, and remembers Loch’s team being dominated by three or four very good footballers, some honest dour backmen on the backline, and many skinny 11 year-olds wearing prickly woollen football jumpers just like him.
That team and that season has special memories for Colin. Colin and his wife Joanne put the reunion together.
By contrast, it was acknowledged that the Wonthaggi Blues, even though they shared the town with the Rovers, had a team of top age boys.
The Grand Final was a warm Sunday at Inverloch, but the weeks leading up to the Grand Final were epic in itself.
Loch made the final four thanks to a last round win, and a draw between Korumburra and Bass.
Loch beat Rovers in the first semi, then Bena in the Preliminary.
Loch were to play in the grand final against the all-conquering Wonthaggi Blues who hadn’t lost a game for two years.
Loch’s team centred around three key players.
In Colin’s eyes, Will Cochrane, Craig Kerr and Greg Hayes remain large.
All three went on to well-credentialed football careers.
Craig Kerr won the League best and fairest and the goal kicking award that year.
That old fashioned, dour backline consisted of Trevor McCraw, Alan Jackson, Ross Uren, Murray Knox, Robert Cowell, Stuart Mayo and Peter O’Loughlin.
With plenty of determination, and as Paul Hayes would have said “a bit of luck,” plenty of vocal support from the many mothers trying to impersonate Bessie Humphrey on the sidelines, and a rub of Eucalyptus oil or a scrape of the boots from Max Kerr or Barry McCraw, the underdogs got home.
Craig Kerr vividly remembers the dying minutes.
Big Jack Thomas screaming from the boundary; “there’s two minutes to go, there’s two minutes to go.”
That two minutes has lived for 40 years in the memory of Craig and his team.
A narrow five point win to Loch: 6.5. 41 to Wonthaggi Blues 5.6. 36.
Best players mentioned in the following weeks Korumburra Times/ Wonthaggi Sentinel were W Cochrane, G Hayes, R Uren, C Kerr, J Cochrane and R Cowell.
Wonthaggi J Pelicano, R Tiziani, R Hender, W Tuddenham, P Moresco, D Dwyer.