Jarrod Chapman was a pillar down back.
There is never a good way for a winning streak to hit the skids. And most often it is not anticipated.
As Scott Holbrook and the Lifenet A-Reserves targeted a fifth successive premiership there was a degree of confidence they could get the job done, particularly in the knowledge that they had been 10-goal victors over Curtin University-Wesley a couple of weeks earlier.
But Holbrook knew it was not a done deal; that winning every game on the way to the Grand Final accounted for little and that it would come down to the day.
He was acutely aware that 12 months earlier the roles were reversed, with North Beach going in as overwhelming under-dogs and then coming away with the flag. He steeled his players in the need to play at their best and that Wesley would be a dangerous foe.
As it transpired the Beach found it difficult to play at their optimum, losing in a similar fashion to the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade a week earlier in the preliminary final against Kingsway. They owned the territory battle for most of the game, held their opponents scoreless for half of it, but simply could not hit the scoreboard themselves.
The backline was sublime, but transition into the attacking 50 was sloppy and connection with the forwards non-existent. The result was a heart-breaking loss, 4.3 (27) to 3.5 (23).
The backlines of both teams were on top, with the Beach defensive effort led resolutely by the experienced heads of Ben Sweeny and Jarrod Chapman while Matt Raynor, Jack Merson and Jackson Martino also stood up.
Another outstanding finals effort by Tim Edwards.
Through the midfield, wingman Tim Edwards was exceptional working hard both ways while Josh Stott had his moments on the wing and later in the ruck as Holbrook tried to generate some match winning run.
Ruckman Josh Chapman also worked hard and was influential, especially in the early part, while Ben Johnson worked hard in the forward line and Nathan Adler kicked two of his team’s three goals.
Shannon Lucassen and James Canty provided run and spark, but it was a day when things just did not get going. And having failed to capitalise on the share of the ball they owned the door was ajar at three-quarter time.
The Beach had led all day and were 10 points in front at the last change, but Wesley-Curtin were kicking with the aid of a significant breeze. They kicked three of their four goals in the final quarter and the Beach could not find a way through.
Significantly, the Curtin-Wesley A-Grade team, also strong winners in the qualifying and second semi-finals also looked flat in the grand final as Kingsway won for the first time in their history.
Curtin-Wesley 0.0 1.3 1.3 4.3 27
North Beach 0.2 1.3 3.5 3.5 23
Goals – North Beach: Adler 2; Edwards.
Best – North Beach: Edwards, Jarrod Chapman, Sweeny, Raynor, Stott, Johnson.
The toughest call coaches at any level have to make is the one informing an individual they won’t be taking the field in a Grand Final.
There is no easy way to deliver that message. It is gut-wrenching no matter how many times you’ve had to do it.
Last night at Charles Riley Reserve Lifenet A-Reserves coach Scott Holbrook and his cohort sat down to select the team for tomorrow’s Grand Final against Curtin University-Wesley at Steel Blue Oval. You didn’t need to be sitting around the white board to understand the depth of that discussion.
They knew that no matter how hard they tried, 25 simply would not go into the 22 positions available.
This situation is not foreign to Holbrook. He has guided his team to the last six Grand Finals at this level, winning four in succession. There are always players who are desperately unlucky and informing a couple of loyal soldiers they had not made the cut, carried with it a heavy burden and an equally heavy heart.
Football is an emotional game and personal connection within the group is generally the cornerstone of success. Without unity it is rare to triumph and it has been a key to this team over several years.
Of course, they will come together as one tomorrow unified in their quest to achieve a rare feat of five on the trot. That would be some accomplishment, given the seasonal turn-over of players.
There are the stalwarts who are old hands at this premiership caper – the likes of captain Nic Bowe, defender Ben Sweeny, midfielders Tim Edwards, Adam Swain, powerhouse Jarrod Chapman and forwards Jordan Webster and Ben Johnson – but there are also a few “newbies’ in this line-up.
Shannon Lucassen, a pacy and talented young wingman who had a taste of senior football this year is still in his teens, Kade McKenzie and James Canty are also new to the club this year while Jack Merson, Jackson Martino, Caolan O’Connell and Matt Raynor have risen from the colts.
This an exciting group that has further under-pinned the unprecedented and unmatched depth at the club.
They play in a Grand Final a week after the Hybrid Linings C5-Grade and the Beast Carpet Cleaning C5-Reserves claimed premierships. Sadly, the fifth grade could not mirror the success and were denied a flag last Saturday.
The O’Rourke Realty A-Grade were also within a kick of being on the main stage tomorrow, but alas they couldn’t find their best at the clutch moments.
The A-Reserves were unbeaten through the course of the season and then crushed Wesley convincingly in the second semi-final. They understand better than most that what has gone before is meaningless because 12 months ago they suffered a horrible belting from the same opponent in the second semi-final. Fourteen days later they claimed an unlikely triumph with a remarkable form reversal.
The club will be broadly represented around Bassendean tomorrow, bringing their voices as North Beach searches for a classical last hurrah to the 2021 campaign.
North Beach v Curtin University-Wesley, Steel Blue Oval, 12.15pm
Coach Jack Flynn and captain Joel Brown after claiming the C5-Reserves premiership.
Familiarity, the proverb suggests, breeds contempt. That might be the case in a broad brush application, but in a football sense it could not be further from the truth.
Particularly with the rivalry that has been built between North Beach and Curtin University-Wesley in the C5-Resereves in recent seasons.
They have created the strongest of rivalries, acquired a deep respect and understanding of each other and that knowledge was used to good effect when the Beast Carpet Cleaning C5-Reserves completed a stellar season with a premiership.
The North Beach fourth grade team led from start to finish on the way to an emphatic 32-point victory – 10.9 (69) to 5.7 (37).
In a rematch of last year’s Grand Final and the third consecutive time that North Beach had clashed with Wesley at the pointy end of this season, both teams had a strong insight into the other’s methodology.
The Beach went in with two changes, with key defender Liam Vardy and key forward Brendan Collins both returning from injury. It was obvious before the game that a lot of the younger players were nervous but the older heads on the team helped settle their nerves.
The game began with intensity expected with a flag on the line, both teams attacking the ball ferociously, and bodies were flying everywhere. Wesley Curtin had two very good intercept players being their ruckman and their CHB who had hurt North Beach throughout the year.
The Beach adjusted, were clinical with their ball movement, resisting the temptation of bombing it long, avoiding the two big Wesley Curtin players and getting a crumbing goal at full forward thanks to wingman Reef Samuels who was outstanding on the day.
The first half was relatively tight on the scoreboard, but throughout the second quarter North Beach began to dominate the game, without capitalising on the scoreboard. At the start of the second half captain Joel Brown implored his teammates to “do something they had never done” in the second half.
He led by example at the first centre clearance taking three running bounces through the middle of the ground and kicking the ball inside 50. Tully Wickstein then also took the game into his own hands kicking three goals in the second half to help put the game out of reach for Wesley.
David Purser was brilliant through the middle and was ably assisted by ruckman Ryan Clapham who did not rest all day. Nic Baroni once again had a great game playing as a lockdown defender on a very dangerous opponent. Isaac Seidner and Ben McAulliffe were also strong contributors.
This was a terrific win by a team who was on top of the ladder since round two. Throughout the year over 40 players represented the club in this team and they all played a major part in the premiership.
Best Carpet Cleaning C5-Reserves
North Beach 3.1 6.4 9.6 10.9 69
Curtin-Wesley 2.2 4.2 4.5 5.7 37
Goals – North Beach: Wickstein 4; Samuels, Rollo, Ryan, B Collins. Seidner, Dunjey.
Best – North Beach: Brown, Wickstein, Samuels, Purser, Clapham, Baroni, Seidner, McAuliffe.
Best on ground – Tully Wickstein
As if winning a premiership was not motivation enough.
As the Hybrid Linings C5-Grade lined up for the national anthem ahead of their grand final showdown, they could have glanced down their line of teammates to the end of the queue. There, in his wheelchair, sat Glen Hinkley.
The man who has coached this team for the last six years has had a particularly testing time in the last six weeks. Scans after a seemingly innocuous tumble at training revealed a more sinister issue, requiring surgical intervention to a hip problem.
He was unable to coach for a number of weeks, calling on club legend Bill Duckworth to fill the void, and this was his return game. Duckworth, who took the thirds to consecutive grand finals in 2014-15 after his decorated A-Grade career, was there in support as the club’s third grade outfit chased an elusive flag.
The challenge for the lower grades, which complicates the matter of converting opportunities during a finals series, is that the opposition can sometimes appear like chameleons.
They may wear the same colours, but the faces can change markedly as players move up and down according to the fortunes of their more senior teams.
But the consistency of the Hybrid Linings C5-Grade remained true and culminated with an emotional and precious flag.
For the last eight years they have been in contention and it was not until last Saturday that Hinkley and his charges broke through for a well-deserved premiership courtesy of a 25-point victory over Trinity Aquinas – winning 10.6 (66) to 6.5 (41).
From the first bounce down, the midfields of both North Beach and Trinity Aquinas went head to head and the intensity and physicality did not waiver for the four quarters.
The difference being the capacity of the Beach midfield being able to step up a gear at vital stages and take control of the game.
The backline was superb, again allowing the opposition to score just six goals for the game. Matt Holden was dominant across half back in the first half until getting concussed while taking a courageous mark running back with the flight of the ball. Shane Duckworth and Riley Hinkley were too good for the TA key forwards while Matt Seaton mopped up everything at ground level.
Up forward, the Cameron brothers almost outscored TA themselves with five goals between them while Jordan Brooks and Nathan Torre worked hard for four quarters to provide targets.
However, it was the North Beach engine room that ultimately determined the result. Tom De Courtenay was magnificent in the ruck and was the best big man on the ground. His ruckwork gave Matt Irvine and Nick Marsh the opportunity to set up attacking forays while Jayden Black and Alex Thomson won clearances all over the ground with their insatiable appetite for the hard ball.
The wide open spaces of Gosnells Oval complemented the running capacity of the classy Nic Wells, who won best on ground honours, Brayden Quinn and the ever-inspiring captain, Craig Hall.
North Beach 2.3 5.5 7.5 10.6 66
Trinity Aquinas 2.1 2.1 4.5 6.5 41
Goals – North Beach: M Cameron 3; J Cameron 2; Brooks, Irvine, Quinn, Torre, N Wells.
Best – North Beach: N Wells, De Courtenay, Irvine, Marsh, Quinn, Holden.
Best on ground: Nic Wells
Glen Hinkley…will be on hand for the Hybrid Linings C5-Grade grand final at Gosnells.
Trying not to think about it. Every time the mind wanders and casts forward to the weekend’s footy it brings on the onset of a gut churn, tingles from feet to head.
We’ve arrived at the pointy end where one of two emotions will sweep through the bodies of the North Beach faithful. It will be ecstasy or devastation. Nothing in between. And it will be like a tsunami.
As the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade prepares for a preliminary final against Kingsway, three other teams will battle for the ultimate prize in their respective grades – a pennant. It’s hard to imagine why a small, triangular piece of cloth that has been screen printed with the word ‘Premiers” can mean so much.
But it does. Right now it’s everything. It will, should it be secured, become a charred mass in the middle of Charles Riley Reserve as is North Beach tradition on Saturday night. For now though it is a cherished and oft-elusive prize.
That post premiership action belies how precious that little flag is, but it is symbolic. Possibly signifying the release of pent-up stress. Right now, no one wants that piece of material more than those who will this weekend wear the distinctive red and yellow colours of our club.
When players embark on pre-season training – some with varying levels of commitment – this is the end goal; the opportunity to be the best in their competition. And now it is well and truly within reach.
Across the board they are all worthy of success. But we all know you don’t always get what you deserve. Especially in this game.
That’s why players will struggle to sleep tonight. Whether they are in the Beyond Tools E2-Grade grand final against Lynwood Ferndale or the A-Grade knockout final against Kingsway, to the individuals it means as much.
It is an opportunity to capitalise on at least six months of hard work. In many instances, it’s years of dedication – even a whole career of amateur football which can be vindicated on one afternoon. That’s why the butterflies flutter in the belly. Why your body tingles for them.
The sight of Glen Hinkley sitting in a wheelchair on the concourse at training last night, did nothing to quell emotions. After major surgery a month ago, he was there watching his team’s final training session of the year.
He’ll be there at Gosnells Oval tomorrow as the Hybrid Linings C5-Grade seek to capitalise on a near-perfect season against Trinity-Aquinas. North Beach legend Bill Duckworth, who steered the helm with Hinks laid up, will be there too.
It’s hard to imagine more committed North Beach people.
The pre-cursor to the C5-Grade is the Beast Carpet Cleaning C5-Reserves, who will confront Curtin University-Wesley. Coach Jack Flynn is considerably younger than those who have directed the third grade to the grand final, but is no less passionate.
And they don’t come any more North Beach than Novak “Jesus” Smith. He has been the very definition of a “champion” of the lower grades for many years and he will direct the fifth grade assault at Richard Guelfi Reserve.
Then there is the club’s flag ship team, the A-Grade who must overcome Kingsway to earn a shot at Curtin University-Wesley in the grand final. They know it will not be easy, the two teams have met three times and the Roos have endured in the two most recent encounters.
Over the last few years, the Beach has been consistently in contention and it would be so satisfying to see Shane Paap and a handful of senior players who have committed so much to get over the Kingsway hurdle.
The senior squad has been nothing short of remarkable in the last five years and the Lifenet A-Reserves, under Scott Holbrook, will be in familiar territory next Saturday when they shoot for five successive premierships.
It would be great to have both teams on show at Steel Blue Oval, but there’s still some work to do.
Tomorrow afternoon it will nerve-racking. Hopefully the clubrooms will belt out Queen’s hit ‘We are the Champions’ and ‘Holy Grail’ by Hunters and Collectors on loop in the evening.
And deep into the night!
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade
Kingsway v North Beach, Kingsway Reserve, 2.30pm
Hybrid Linings C5-Grade
North Beach v Trinity Aquinas, Gosnells Oval, 2.30pm
Beast Carpet Cleaning C5-Reserves
North Beach v Curtin University-Wesley, Gosnells Oval, 12.15pm
Beyond Tools E2-Grade
North Beach v Lynwood-Ferndale, Richard Guelfi Reserve, 1.10pm
Dan Leishman provided strong leadership in the A-Grade victory.
A response was required. It came.
After a disappointing qualifying final defeat to Kingsway, the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade team faced a sudden death final against University and knew they would need to step it up.
They did that with an outstanding effort against the Scholars, winning 11.13 (79) to 5.7 (37) to advance to a re-match with Kingsway in this week’s preliminary final, the Roos losing the second semi-final to Curtin University-Wesley.
After falling to defeat in a high octane game against Kingsway, where the ball pinged from end to end with mesmerising efficiency, the Beach needed to produce a game more commensurate with finals footy against University and it came, with the senior players setting the bench mark early in the contest.
Defender Dan Leishman, midfielder Sam Lamont, forward Andrew McGuinness and defender Luke Symonds were all outstanding, enabling the Beach to settle early, establish an early advantage and build on that throughout the contest to ensure they were never under threat.
With x-factor forward Nic Reid also on song, kicking five goals, Dylan Brockbernd playing an important team role and the likes of Steve Mansfield and James Garcia also wielding a strong influence the Beach is now a win away from another Grand Final appearance.
Clearly the last hurdle will take some clearing as Kingsway has won the last two matches between the clubs.
Meanwhile, at South Oval, the Lifenet A-Reserves became the fourth North Beach team to qualify for a Grand Final with a stunning and methodical dissection of Curtin University-Wesley in the second semi-final.
They are shooting for a remarkable fifth consecutive flag at this level, with their entry to the big dance coming after the club’s thirds, fourths and fifths all booked their places in season deciders that will be played on Saturday – a week ahead of the A-Grade’s big day.
Again emphasising the club’s depth, the Beach dominated from the outset in winning 9.10 (64) to 0.5 (5). To hold the opposition goal-less in a back final at their home ground was testimony to the pressure and heat they took to the contest.
Ruckman Josh Chapman and midfielder Nic Bowe, who filled the top two positions on the podium in the A-Reserves voting at the PFL Awards on Monday night, again exerted a strong influence, ensuring a steady flow of opportunity inside the forward half.
Nathan Adler, Nick Wells and Tim Edwards were strong performers and dangerous around goal, while Chris Wells, experienced midfielder Josh Stott and developing defender Jack Merson were also eye-catching in what was a sublime team performance.
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade
North Beach 2.2 6.7 9.8 11.13 79
University 1.2 1.3 4.6 5.7 37
Goals – North Beach: Reid 5; Ekert 2; Brockbernd, Lamont, Leishman, McGuinness.
Best – North Beach: Leishman, Reid, Lamont, McGuinness, Brockbernd, Garcia, Mansfield.
North Beach 1.2 4.6 8.6 9.10 64
Curtin Wesley 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.5 5
Goals – North Beach: Adler, Edwards, N Wells 2; Johnson, Cownie, Bowe.
Best – North Beach: Bowe, Chapman, Stott, N Wells, C Wells, Merson.