By Glenn Sullivan
• Part two
WONTHAGGI Blues had been triumphant in the second semi but then Rovers hit back in an exciting first 1971 grand final.
As the siren sounded, the grand final was drawn! Blues 9.12 to Rovers 10.6.
Ruckman “Pud” Fraser had been suspended so it was up to veteran Laurie Huther, who had retired early in the season and been coaxed back before finals, to carry the big man burden for Blues.
The champion ruckman was outstanding.
Blues centreman “Titch” Loughran took control of the midfield and Blues tore Rovers apart to set up a big half time lead.
The game looked over and Blues supporters were preparing to celebrate.
Poor discipline by Blues, however, let Rovers back into the game and at the final change Blues led by only 11 points.
Blues dominated in the final quarter with winners all over the ground, but they couldn’t kick goals.
They peppered away for 2.7 but it was enough for Blues to record back-to-back premierships.
Blues had won 11.15 to 9.9.
Laurie Huther finished the game with a broken arm, playing out the game in a bit of pain!
Best for Blues had been Loughran, Rod Farrell, Graeme Fraser, “Dickie” Williams and Ken Robinson.
Tom Gannon summed up the Wonthaggi Blues in the Wonthaggi Sentinel: “Wonthaggi is the most dedicated side in the comp. They eat, sleep and drink Wonthaggi; and have supreme confidence. They’re almost as good as their supporters claim! They are the Collingwood of the competition; tough in the face of adversity – Fraser’s suspension – they lift themselves. They’re also loaded with talent. They can claim the best full back, chb, centreman, chf, hf flanker, winger, half-back flankers and the best rover in the league. With a line-up like that, who needs a ruckman? Even their retired players are so good they can pull 32-year-old Laurie Huther off a tractor, and win.”
On September 7, 1991, almost 20 years to the day after the first drawn Bass Valley grand final, Blues and Phillip Island players walked off the ground after an epic contest but with no result. Wonthaggi Blues 18.10 had drawn with Phillip Island 17.16.
The replay would be the last time the legendary Trevor Pugh would coach Wonthaggi Blues. It would also be the last time that his brother Gwyn would don the navy blue number 16 after 331 games for Blues.
Blues looked like running away early, but it wasn’t to be.
This game was another thriller, a classic Bass Valley grand final.
There were some great battles going on – Isbister and Vernon in the middle, Chambers (c.h.b.) and Niven and the ruck duel between Sheil and Patching.
Blues had lost Rob Williams at the tribunal with the Island losing Mark Christopher.
Steve Coldabella was on top and 38-year-old Rob Gilliland was a rock in defence.
“Gwyn Pugh was gaining many possessions and his delivery of the ball to his team-mates was a delight to watch.”
At half time the Island led 7.5 to 6.10.
The third term was a fierce battle.
Tackling was strong with two sides desperate to win going hard at the ball.
Blues took the lead in the final quarter, but Phillip Island pegged it back.
As the siren sounded, Blues were up by five points to win yet another Bass Valley flag in an absolute epic game.
The final scores were Blues 13.14 to Phillip Island 12.15.
Glenn Sullivan, of Wonthaggi, is currently writing the History of the Wonthaggi Blues FC, his third local history book. The history will run from 1950 through to 2004. If you have a story to share or would like to follow progress, go to facebook.com/BlueBoys.