Dingley are premiers once again after trumping Mordialloc by 41 points in Sunday’s Division 1 Senior Grand Final at a wind-swept Springvale Reserve.
In doing so, the Dingoes have cemented their status as the greatest SFNL team of the modern era as they became the first side since powerhouse Balwyn in 2000 – and just the second in the League’s 25-year history – to claim a premiership three-peat.
And it was an incredibly proud moment for best mates Jackson Peet and Travis La Rocca, as the former Dingley juniors held aloft the premiership cup on the dais as senior co-captains. The pair assumed the mantle from the now-retired Tony Lavars at the end of last season.
The win marked a stunning turnaround for the club, given they were soundly thrashed by the Bloods to the tune of 62 points in the Second Semi Final just a fortnight earlier.
And Coach Shane Morwood was in no doubt as to where Sunday’s victory rates among his premiership triumvirate.
“Definitely (the best win of the three). Every Grand Final is special, and obviously when you win it, but I think to achieve what they did today and the way they did it today is probably even more powerful,” Morwood said following his side’s historic victory.
“It’s been a tough season, a tough year… We lost our way late in the season, we had a few players out injured which probably didn’t help, but their mindset is always the key and I think after the loss here two weeks ago against Mordialloc, they’ve been able to actually respond to that and show what they can do.
“It’s an amazing feeling, I think it’s starting to sink in. The radio boys asked me before, ‘How do you feel?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know. I’ve got to pinch myself really’.”
An incredibly strong westerly gale not only ensured that goals would near impossibly to come by at the pavilion end of the ground, but that the contest would be a low-scoring and scrappy affair for much of the day.
Mordialloc skipper Todd Bastion received an early leg up when he won the toss elected to kick with the wind advantage to the Springvale Road end. It was a decision that paid early dividends with star midfielder Daniel Nicholls sending home the first major of the day from 50m out just two minutes in.
When Bastion goalled from a free kick 60m out at the 19-minute mark, the Bloods had four on the board, and after keeping Dingley scoreless for the term, they enjoyed a 26-point buffer at the first change.
Unfortunately, the Bastion major would be Mordialloc’s last for the afternoon as Dingley took control of the contest through sheer grit and determination.
The Dingoes added three goals in the second term to get back within a kick at the long break, before stamping their authority on the contest with a magnificent defensive effort in the premiership quarter.
Not only did they keep the Bloods scoreless with the strong wind, but Cal McQueen’s major 12 minutes in – the only goal at the western end of the ground all afternoon – gave Dingley the lead for the first time in the match.
By three quarter time, there was just one point in it, and the majority of the near 5000-strong crowd knew the Dingoes already had one hand on the cup.
The final term was merely a victory march for the Dingoes as they booted six goals, including three from the lethal boot of Dan Farmer, to put the exclamation mark on a wonderful Grand Final performance.
The victory was the fairy tale swansong for long-serving ruckman Chris Morgan, who celebrated his 200th and final game for the Dingoes with his third premiership.
While Morgan had told the coaching group of his intention to retire at season’s end some weeks prior, his teammates were none the wiser until Morwood made mention of it at his three quarter time.
Veteran Ryan Stewart also hung up his boots with contentment, having played an integral role in the last two Dingoes premierships since crossing over to the Den from Chelsea Seagulls.
Big Danny Ades was a pillar of strength all afternoon and was justly rewarded for his sterling efforts with this year’s Meneilly Medal for best afield.
Travis La Rocca was simply superb in defence, particularly in the third term, while up forward Dan Farmer finished with a game-high four majors.
Troy MacKenzie was declared fit to play after passing a fitness test on his knee on Friday night, and repaid the selectors’ faith with a dominant display in the ruck in tandem with the retiring Morgan.
Josh Ferguson won plenty of the footy through the midfield and Matt Morwood capped a terrific day out with the final goal of the match from inside the centre square.
Unfortunately, four-quarter contributors were fewer for Mordialloc, with Bastion, Chris Brooking, and Jordan Derbyshire among those to stand up around the contests.
Jayden Gregory fought valiantly in the back half and Tom McMahon worked tirelessly in the ruck, but there would be no denying Dingley the ultimate prize.
Goals: Daniel Farmer 4, Cal McQueen 2, Danny Ades, Josh Pickford, Matt Morwood, Kristen Feehan
Best: Danny Ades, Travis La Rocca, Troy MacKenzie, Matt Morwood, Chris Morgan, Josh Ferguson
Goals: Todd Bastion, Daniel Nicholls, Nathan Evan, Tom McMahon
Best: Chris Booking, Jayden Gregory, Todd Bastion, Tom McMahon, David Marguglio, Jordan Derbyshire