By Gary Stocks
Call it culture. Call it commitment. Call it heart. Call it persistence. Oh hell, let’s just wrap it all up in two words and call it North Beach.
For the second week in succession the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade team found a way through and won another nailbiter, winning by a point against arch rival North Fremantle – 9.9 (63) to 9.8 (62) at Gil Fraser Oval.
In doing so the Beach keeps the dream of playing finals footy alive, but more than that it confirms the path the club has taken in backing the exciting young talent within the club’s ranks and creating the next wave of success.
A host of 20-year-olds – midfielders Joel Brown and Reece Holdman, defender Jack O’Gorman and forward Ryan Ekert – could have been playing in the colts. But they played seniors and contributed significantly in the victory. They provided the legs and the daring when the game was on the line to steer the Beach to a momentous victory.
It was poignant that these emerging youngsters should strut their stuff on a day when so many key figures in the past dynasty of the club ventured into enemy territory to support the club at a time of need. It has been a challenging year in many respects, but the old-timers saluted the next generation who will carry the tradition forward.
After what could only be described as an average first half of football, the Beach recovered, kicked the first three goals of the third quarter and turned an 11-point deficit at the main break into a one-point lead.
The Beach responded to a plea form coach David Hynes for every player to take a bit of inspirational captain Beau Witheridge into the last 50 minutes and they all responded. Witheridge, a heart and soul player, was unavailable because of a family bereavement. He would have been so proud of the way his teammates took that message on board.
In the second half, the game ebbed and flowed and it would be erroneous to not mention the spirit of North Fremantle as well. They were down two players by the third term, one had been red carded early another suffered a match-ending injury. They were brave and kept coming, but it was the Beach who were on the positive side of the ledger when the final siren sounded.
That was possible because of the heroics of Michael Schofield, clearly best-on-ground at full-back, stand-in captain Michael Taylor who led from the front, ruckman Kieren Yakas, who set the momentum in North Beach’s favour with some wonderful work at the centre bounces in the third term.
Nick Reid was sublime in the middle and kicked telling goals, Michael Italiano has taken his game to another level, Lewy Davis was inspirational rebounding from a bone-jarring hit in the second term and the likes of Jamie Sajich, Christian Bottechia, Matt Irvine and Ben Sweeny were important when it really mattered.
O’Gorman was a classic example of what this season has thus far delivered. He played on former Fremantle and St Kilda midfielder Brett Peake and won some important one-on-one battles. He lost as many too, but in terms of his football education, there was no better classroom.
The Credent Financial Services A-Reserves were never under serious threat from the Magpies and produced a mix of clinical, breath-taking team football with some error-filled, calamitous footy as they, at times, over-used the ball.
The net result was a 38-point win and again the exciting young talent elevated to senior ranks this season were among the most impressive.
Tom DeCourtenay, Jarrod Chapman and Liam Spencer were among the prime movers, with Luke Pardini, Trevor Lang, Michael Duckworth and Robbie Scantlebury providing experience and direction as the Beach retained its standing in the top two.
The Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts recovered from a precarious position in the middle of the third quarter to kick the last five goals of the game to grind out a workmanlike victory against North Fremantle.
This game turned on the back of a few undisciplined acts from the Maggies, which gifted two goals to the Beach on the brink of three-quarter time before the class of the Tigers shone through.
Meanwhile, back at Charles Riley Reserve, the Red Hill Brett Jones Colts racked up the points without kicking a ball in anger as Trinity-Aquinas forfeited for the second time in three weeks.
The Hybrid Linings D1-Reserves scored an emphatic 43-point victory over TAs – winning 15.4 (94) to 7.9 (51).
Against quality opposition, it was a classy performance built on the platform of a brilliant second term, where the Beach turned an eight-point deficit at the first break into a 14-point advantage at the half.
Michael Bramley was cast in the role of ruckman and provided a chop-out for Joe Boys, while Ryan Clapham and Cale Potts (five goals) were also important.
The Cabling Network Solutions lost by nine points to the undefeated Trinity Aquinas, but there was much to like about the effort.
Liam Vardy was deployed in defence and did a good job, while Shane Duckworth provided a reliable target up forward, Shaheed Duke and Kahlil Campbell were solid.
The Express Bins E1-Grade found the class of East Fremantle too much to overcome, losing by 86 points. One of the issues for the fifths has been confronting the senior team from other clubs and the Sharks were simply too strong.
The Beach endeavour could not be questioned, they were simply outclassed.
Jordan Dye, Tony Mirable and Collins were rock solid – and coach Novak Smith appreciated the efforts of three colts players who turned up at late notice – but it was beyond the Beach.
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade
North Beach 2.4 3.4 8.5 9.9 63
North Frem. 3.2 5.3 8.4 9.8 62
Goals – North Beach: Griffiths, Reid 2; Bottechia, Cranley, Harvey, Italiano, Yakas.
Best – North Beach: Schofield, Yakas, Reid, Taylor, Bottechia, Lewis, Italiano.
Credent Financial Services A-Reserves
North Beach 4.1 6.4 9.4 12.7 79
North Frem. 1.1 3.3 5.5 6.5 41
Goals – North Beach: Pardini 3; Ingham, Cameron, Quinlan 2; Hack, Spencer, Quinlan.
Best – North Beach: DeCourtenay, Pardini, Spencer, Chapman, Lang, Scantlebury.
Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts
North Beach 1.1 4.3 6.5 9.9 63
North Frem. 3.1 4.3 6.7 6.7 43
Goals – North Beach: Campbell, Gerrand 2; Adler, Borszeky, McAuliffe, Raynor, Swain.
Best – North Beach:
Cabling Network Solutions D1-Grade
Trinity Aquinas def North Beach
Hybrid Linings D1-Reserves
North Beach 1.1 6.2 10.3 15.4 94
Trin Aquinas 2.3 3.6 6.8 7.9 51
Goals – North Beach: Potts 5; Cuzens, McGuire 2; B Boys, Bramley, Callow, O’Brien, Rice, Turner.
Best – North Beach: Bramley, J Boys, Clapham.
Red Hill Brett Jones Colts
North Beach def Trinity Aquinas on forfeit
Express Bins E1-Grade
East Fremantle 6.3 15.3 19.3 22.8 140
North Beach 3.2 5.2 6.8 7.12 54
Goals – North Beach: O Collins 2; Bavcevich, Smith, Hinkley, Padgett, Staniforth.
Best – North Beach: O Collins, Dye, Botica, Mitrable.