By Gary Stocks
Excitement. Anxiety. Pride. And a whole range of other emotions have swept across North Beach during this challenging and ultimately successful season.
Not successful in the way that North Beach was through the first decade of the 2000s when a visit to the framers to create another premiership piece was the norm. But successful in another way.
Only one team can win the A-Grade premiership in any given year, so is it possible to call a campaign successful when that pennant doesn’t arrive? You betcha!
A flag is not the sole barometer for success. It’d be nice, but this year it’s simply not going to happen and the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade has had a landmark season. There’s still a couple of games to round it off, but the policy of promoting youth has paid dividends.
By beating Wesley Curtin last week, the club notched its seventh win of the season and guaranteed a place in the A-Grade competition next year. More importantly a platform has been set in place that will see it progress with confidence and emerge soon as a rejuvenated powerhouse.
The Beach will be on-lookers in the finals series because a couple of results last weekend snuffed out any chance and that’s what happens when you leave your fate in the hands of competitors. But this young, exciting team is arguably one of the form toutfits of the competition.
They have won four of their last six games, including victories over three clubs who will play finals – Kelmscott, Wesley-Curtin and Fremantle CBC. As with young teams who take time to adjust to senior tempo, the form had been a little erratic until recently, but now there is genuine belief.
And tomorrow, when the club plays its final home game of the season, against the win-less Mt Lawley, it should notch up its eighth win of the season. Clearly the job is still to be done and they will need to lock down on the task at hand, but with the pressure released by avoiding relegation it will be good to see them just play.
The last game of the year is against Kalamunda up in the hills and that, too, is winnable so there is a chance to finish with a flourish and take genuine momentum into next season.
While the focus is always on the senior team, the other measure of success permeates through the grades. The seniors and the Express Bins E1-Grade will both miss finals, but the other five teams will all represent the club at the sharp end of the season and are all genuine premiership contenders.
The E1-Grade, like the A-Grade, have been competitive all season – often against the senior team from other clubs – but slipped up in a couple of clutch games. It’s a tough gig down there, as tough as any competition in the WAAFL.
The Credent Financial Services A-Reserves are well placed for a finals tilt. They sit second and have a neat blend of experience scattered around some exciting young talent. The senior players have provided terrific on-field direction and those emerging stars will benefit from the year.
They have the capacity to push hard in finals, depending on how the other A-Grade teams fare and who is pushed back to play reserves football.
The Cabling Network Solutions D1-Grade, under the canny direction of Bill Duckworth, are again within reach of a premiership. They are in second position on the ladder and also boast a mix of classy youngsters and smart veterans.
They finish their qualifying campaign against fourth-placed University tomorrow in what will be a perfect pre-cursor to the finals.
The Hybrid Linings D1-Reserves also hold down second place and they play top-of-the-table University and what looms as a thrilling contest. The Scholars will have the bye in first week of finals so will throw everything at this game, while the Beach will be looking to fine tune, without giving too much away to a potential finals foe.
The colts teams have been exceptional all year and both have set up wonderful opportunities.
The Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts have been solid all season and have earned a double chance already. They have played some wonderful team football throughout the year, slipped up a little last week when they did not take their “A” game to Wesley Curtin, but will be focused and committed in the next fortnight.
They had a tough start to the year when out-muscled by University in round one, but have matured and improve greatly since that initiation to 2015.
The Red Hill Brett Jones Colts will be fighting for top spot in the last round against University, with the victor earning a week off.
It has also been a remarkable transformation for the second colts team, given where they were at early in the year. It is an indication of the depth in this squad that both North Beach teams have pushed as high up the ladder as they have, given the club’s policy of steering 20-year-olds, still eligible to play colts, into the senior teams.
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade
North Beach v Mt Lawley, Charles Riley Reserve, 2.30pm
Credent Financial Services A-Reserves
North Beach v Mt Lawley, Charles Riley Reserve, 12.35pm
Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts
North Beach v Mt Lawley, Charles Riley Reserve, 10.40am
Cabling Network Solutions D1-Grade
University v North Beach, McGillivray Oval, 2.30pm
Hybrid Linings D1-Reserves
University v North Beach, McGillivray Oval, 12.35pm
Red Hill Brett Jones Colts
University v North Beach, McGillivray Oval, 10.4am
Express Bins E1-Grade
North Beach v Swan Districts, Aintree Reserve, 2.30pm