By Gary Stocks
There will be no prize, no physical reward for victory against Kalamunda tomorrow. Just the honour and the glory.
If the O’Rourke Realty North Beach A-Grade team can execute another victory, it will take the club to nine wins and nine losses for the season. It will ensure the club finishes sixth, effectively the best team outside the finals series.
That would be a fair achievement for a team that stared down the barrel of relegation for much of the season. Not that it was the forefront of mind, but it was gnawing away at the sub-conscious and was always there.
“A not on my watch” kind of defiance permeated through the senior squad. The coaches didn’t want that ignominy and neither did the players.
The coaching handbook dissuades the use of negative influences as a motivator, so it has never been mentioned during the run home. But make no mistake there was an acute awareness of the consequences of insufficient victories.
In the end, the Beach could be a little unlucky not to be playing finals, but that’s a broader discussion for another day about the integrity of the competition and what happens to this “amateur” league going forward.
Let’s not get distracted right now, as the Beach focuses on the final game of the season and prepares to meet Kalamunda at Ray Owen Reserve, with the Cougars also having plenty of motivation to win this clash.
They are on the brink of relegation and must win to be any chance of remaining in A-Grade. They are in ninth position on five wins, the same as North Fremantle, although the Maggies hold a 16 percent advantage over the Hills-based club.
It is also understood that long-serving Kalamunda coach Gary Armstrong could step aside post-match – regardless of the outcome.
North Beach will need to ignore the peripheral issues and focus on the process of playing their best football, which is the primary motivation. The Beach has triumphed in five of their last seven matches and included in that streak have been wins against finalists Fremantle CBC, Wesley Curtin and Kelmscott.
In the main it has been a successful year because it is has been the birth of a new era.
So many of those multiple A-Grade winning premiership stars have slipped into “past player” mode, this has been a virtual new team. A team based on youth and one very much committed to creating its own destiny. Its own identity.
That has been achieved regardless of what happens tomorrow. David Hynes and his coaches, captain Beau Witheridge and his leadership group, have been committed for the long haul and they should take a degree of satisfaction from what has been achieved.
There is no question the experience has tested their vision and commitment to the long term, but they should now feel validated. They hung fat, stuck with the program and this is the result.
But rather than being the end, this is merely the beginning. It is the end of the 2015 season, but it should be the catalyst for what lies ahead.
If proof is needed that North Beach is the sleeping giant, pushing arms into the air and yawning as it awakens and takes aim at the next phase, simply have a look at the other grades.
All other teams, with the exception of the Express Bins E1-Grade, will play finals. And the common denominator within those teams who will represent the Beach in the coming weeks, is depth of youth in every team.
Clearly, it goes without saying with respect to the two colts teams. But they are also, in the main, younger than their opponents. The club has a policy that developing youngsters should play senior football in the year they turn 20.
That provides the mutual benefit of exposing youngsters to senior football, but also creating a pathway for local kids’ progression from junior football into community football. Most other clubs play their 20-year-olds in the colts, but the Beach has still qualified in the top three in both grades. It’s a remarkable achievement by all involved.
The Credent Financial Services A-Reserves, the Cabling Network Solutions D1-Grade and the Hybrid Linings D1-Reserves, have also earned the double chance in finals.
The A-Reserves will finish second when they wind up the preliminaries against Kalamunda today, while the thirds and fourths will take advantage of having this week off before launching into the finals assault next Saturday.
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade
Kalamunda v North Beach, Ray Owen Oval, 2.30pm
Credent Financial Services A-Reserves
Kalamunda v North Beach, Ray Owen Oval, 12.35pm
Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts
Kalamunda v North Beach, Ray Owen Oval, 10.40am
Cabling Network Solutions D1-Grade
North Beach – Bye
Hybrid Linings D1-Reserves
North Beach – Bye
Red Hill Brett Jones Colts
North Beach – Bye