YOU’VE got to be there to witness these moments when they occur.
Seeing is believing and no amount of words can encapsulate the moment.
Dom Sheed, 40 metres out, on a tight angle with two minutes to play, sinking Collingwood in the 2018 grand final.
Leo Barry in the 2005 AFL grand final.
Now Matt Wilson of Foster is right up there with them.
He’s your Alberton grand final hero of 2019.
Deep into the last quarter of an epic arm-wrestle at Tarwin Lower on Saturday, between Stony Creek and Foster, no one had been able to deliver the coup de grâce.
Neither side had kicked a goal at all in the third quarter, despite Stony having much of the play on their forward line and missing several gold-plated chances… you’ve simply got to take those chances.
It was still five points the difference at the last change.
Shortly after the restart, Foster’s ruckman James Cook helped break the deadlock when he tapped to David Cook on the move, on to another Tiger and then to Tom McGowan who turned nicely on to the right foot and goaled.
Stony Creek, as they had done all day, counter-punched strongly with big Riley Scapin marking the ball in the goal square to make it five points the difference again.
Foster’s Alex Kane missed two very kickable shots, giving the Tigers a seven-point lead but not the decisive break the fans were calling for. Then the play went up and down the ground for about 10 minutes with no result.
It was still anyone’s game. But cometh the hour, cometh the man. Enter Matt Wilson.
With Stony Creek’s very capable backline, led superbly all day by Aiden Paton, seemingly ready to repel another Foster attack, in the blink of an eye, Wilson smothered their clearing kick on the boundary line, gathered the ball in one fluid motion and slotted through one of the best goals you’d ever hope to see in a grand final from 35 metres.
Did you see that!
The match-winning goal started on the half back line where bustling Matt Clark broke a tackle and got clear, as he had done throughout the day.
The bigger Foster bodies and an advantage in experience were telling factors but not by much.
Not to be outdone, Stony Creek worked the ball forward with one their best passages of play for the day to where Jackson Nolan seized his moment and goaled. Seven points again.
There was still time though and Foster’s captain Nathan Grylls was crucial in clearing another promising Stony attack.
Both Foster and Stony took turns to attack but as the seconds ticked away, the seven-point lead became an issue and it was Stony Creek who was running it out of the Foster forward line for one last, desperate attacking move when the siren sounded.
Many of the players on the ground didn’t even hear it initially and kept playing, but the Yellow and Black celebrations spread like an epidemic across the ground and it was finally over.
Players on both sides were utterly exhausted by a battle that was intensely physical and mental more than it was a free-flowing spectacle.
It was some time in fact before the Stony players were able to come over and exchange handshakes in the traditional fashion. But there was respect on both sides.
Minutes after the final siren we asked an elated but drained Foster coach, Brad Rooney, to put it into words.
How did you win it?
“Hell mate, I don’t know. Hard work, I couldn’t tell you, it was hard fought-out.”
Did you ever think you had it?
“I don’t think you ever do. It wouldn’t matter what the score was, no way.”
And what was the critical thing today?
“Probably stopping the best player in the league helped and everyone toughing it out all the way. I think we had 21 contributors today.”
And Stony Creek?
“They were fantastic. To their credit they made us fight it out. There was not much more they could have done without us losing.”
Foster were the favourites on the day and they put their stamp on the contest in the opening minutes with goals to Alex Kane and Darren Granger.
The sun was shining, the wind light and the Tarwin footy ground was in absolutely superb condition. The best it’s ever looked.
Foster was carefully hitting targets while Stony was rebounding out of defence and responding to their opponents, rather than initiating.
A smother by Scapin set the standard for them and Andrew Logan was prominent in defence.
Finally, Stony was on the board through a passage of play started by Jacob Byrnes to Tom Stone, on to Darcy Atkins and then Jayden Nolan for a nice goal and they were on their way.
A late flurry of goals, ominously starting with goal-sensation Kael Bergles, marking on his chest before goaling, and then Paton driving long out of defence before Matija Sigeti capped it off.
The underdogs Stony Creek were in front momentarily and it was “game on”.
Stony’s Kurt Newton fell over coming out of defence and Matt Wilson swooped, earning a free kick and goaling to equalise the scores by quarter time.
There was really nothing in it for the remainder of the day, except during the third quarter when Stony Creek had the momentum.
But two chances to score by Justin Marriott, which would have been reward for effort, went begging, the second in which he sprayed a shot running towards an open goal, and the moment was lost.
It was then a close-fought contest to the final siren with Foster working hard to protect its slender lead.
Final scores Foster 8.7.55 to Stony Creek 7.6.48.
Full football coverage in this weeks edition of the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times.
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