By Todd Whelan
Never-say-die Darley has come from the clouds to pinch its third BFNL Premiership in a one-point thriller over North Ballarat at City Oval last Saturday.
Devils utility Billy Myers became the hero after slotting his second goal in the 31st minute of the last quarter to put the Devils in front with just seconds remaining.
While there were plenty of superlatives flying around in the aftermath best describing the nature of the ‘steal’, jubilation (Darley) and heartbreak (North Ballarat) were the overwhelming constants.
North Ballarat were brave, and for many the best side on the day, leading for all bar four minutes of the second term and the handful of dying seconds post the Myers sealer.
Experienced Roosters coach Brendan McCartney had his young group en pointe, coming oh so close pulling off what would have been a deserving win. The Roosters hunted in numbers with great effect and finished the game ahead in most key KPIs but not the one that mattered most, the scoreboard.
Devils coach Dan Jordan conceded North Ballarat held the advantage over his boys who were aiming to end their season with a tenth straight win.
“I thought you (North Ballarat) outplayed us today,” Jordan said.
The Roosters led by as much as 26 points early in the third quarter and just how the Devils were able to get out of their dire situation would still have most of the footy public baffled.
It was arguably the best performance by the Roosters for the season, despite the loss. However, the Devils had to do plenty right to win the game with every bit of time, score, and momentum seemingly against.
Shane Page and Duncan Cadman were a pillar of strength, with their courage, rebound, second and third efforts helping change the narrative and keep the dream alive.
A four goal to one final term, capped by the icy vein finish of Myers, would see the Devils storm home to win by the barest of margins in a BFNL Grand Final finish for the ages.
For all of Jordan’s football successes predominantly on-field, strangely it was the 42-year-old’s first flag involvement since his 2002 stint with VAFA club St Bernard’s. Drought over.
More broadly, it was the Devils’ third BFNL Premiership since 2015 and first since 2017. The crowning achievement is just reward for a season rendered ‘complicated’, given their entire first half season was played ‘away’ due to an elongated completion of their new $5M facility.
The Devils’ hardworking faithful will duly celebrate for as long as they see fit, a memory now etched in Black and White folklore. ‘Redemption complete’.
North Ballarat, while every bit brave, are left reeling in the space of contemplation, filtering what could have been.
Darley 11.5-71 def North Ballarat 10.10-70