|Brad Carver and Matthew Smith|
By Wade Gleeson
AFTER being 44 points down mid-way through the second term against Lindisfarne in the SFL grand final on Saturday, the New Norfolk seniors looked dead and buried or in other words, gone for all money! There seemed no hope of a comeback for the team that had lost only two games for the season.
By half-time the deficit had been reduced to 24 points, but the Eagles were still nowhere near their best. Coaching staff David Adams, Dale Fenton, David Maddox and coach Matthew Smith kept their cool and went about masterminding one of the greatest come backs in grand final history. They spoke with the backmen, the onballers and the forwards at length, some one on one.
In the third term the Eagles turned the tables, applying the pressure on the Two Blues time and again. By three-quarter-time the margin had been cut to just eight points. Matthew Smith gathered his charges for his last speech as coach and what a speech it was. Smith spoke of the self-belief that was back within the group. He brought the supporters into play, gathering them around the players and asking them for a big effort also.
Smith's last words of advice to his players, which will long be remembered by many, was simply "Let's make this the greatest grand final comeback of all time". The rest is history. The Eagles did the impossible. The scenes after the game were amazing with many New Norfolk supporters spilling onto the ground to join the celebrations. The Eagles had landed! The club has now won 24 senior premierships since it formed way back in 1878.
Lindisfarne 7.2 9.5 10.6 11.7 (73)
GOALS - New Norfolk: B. Booth 2, P. Jelkic 2, M. Thompson 2, J. Hayden, B. Carver, S. Hall, R. Belcher; Lindisfarne: G. Fitzgibbon 3, J. Marriott 2, D. Crawford 2, S. Proctor, M. Allison, M. Clark, S. Hobden.
BEST - New Norfolk: B. Carver, B. Wardlaw, J. Hall, S. Bonnitcha, R. Heron, R. Belcher; Lindisfarne: J. Myers, J. Ford, S. Proctor, N. Braslin, D. Clark, D. Flood.