2014/15 Sixths Premiership
by Brett Curran
The Mighty Fighting Flag
The perfect way to end an unblemished season. Premiers and Champions is the only appropriate sobriquet to describe the Mighty Fighting Sixths in season 2014/15. Both finals proved atypical in that we had coasted through this year completely dominating our opponents. But having been challenged in the semi and prevailing, we faced an even sterner test in the grannie.
We were without the great Tong, Normie Wright, who had to miss his chance because of work on the second day but he came down to support on the Saturday and has well earned his medallion for his years of service and humour.
Above: The triumphant team: L-R. Back - Dean Jukic, Mark Gauci, Brett Curran, Sean O'Kane, John Talone, Peter O'Kane, Dean Lawson. Front - Kevin Gardiner, Sam Carbone, Paul Edwards and Paul Hobbs.
The Skipper, our fearless Mark Gauci, lost the toss and we were inserted, in what seemed a strange decision by West Coburg on a hot, blustery day that suited batting. We were in trouble early, when John "Odie" Talone copped a harsh call and given out LBW.
Above left: The Moment! The Final Wicket! The West Coburg bat is left mid-pitch with one of the stumps out of the ground. Peter and bowler Sean 0'Kane run in at left to keeper Paul Hobbs, while Dean Lawson and Paul Edwards move in.
This bought Sean O'Kane to the crease. It would appear that he didn't have his usual pre-innings heave and he was remarkably calm as he went out to bat. He and the Possum, Dean Lawson put on 59 against some tight bowling and looked to have the game well under control. Possum batted well for 22 with 5 boundaries, until he lifted one to mid off and was caught.
At right: The players are all in together for the Premiership huddle, as umpire Peter Gould returns the cartwheeled stump.
The Skipper strode to the crease and again batted with confidence and class. His 29 included 3 fours and 2 sixes. As with many of his innings it was a shock when he went out skying one to deep long off. SOK and Gauch added 86 vital runs and we were still well placed to make more than 300.
We then had some what of a collapse. We lost the Surgeon (Sam Carbone), SOK, Hazard (Dean Jukic), POK (Peter O'Kane) and the Keeper from Prague (Paul Hobbs) in quick succession to be 8 for 220.
At left: Coming off the ground in triumph: From left Brett Curran, Mark Gauci, Dean Jukic, John Talone, Sean O'Kane, Dean Lawson, Peter O'Kane, Paul Edwards, Paul Hobbs and Kevin Gardiner.
However, Sean made a classic Premiership ton. He batted with resolve and brutality to smite 11 fours and 8 towering sixes. His six over cover to one of the longest boundaries at Ormond was one for the ages. His hundred came before tea at his usual breakneck speed and contained the usual fortune of 2 dropped catches. His innings deserved to be rewarded with a premiership medallion but 220 was not going to be enough.
At right: The tireless Peter O'Kane sends down another delivery into the wind. Sam Carbone is ready for a catch.
Paul Edwards, who got his chance because of Normie missing out, played another great innings. Eddo's 59 ensured that we had a decent total to defend. When he came to the crease to replace Juka, he assumed that fighting spirit that Hazard displayed the week before. We were 179 when he came in, and when he was out to an even more dodgy LBW we were 263 and in a competitive position.
Along the way he shared a 43 run partnership with your correspondent as we rekindled the old days in Ballaarat when we were both a little quicker and I had much more hair.
Left: The Premiers celebrate with players who have been part of their journey to the flag. From left: Ashley Harry, Alan Harry, Darren Nagle, Sandro Capocchi, Joe Ansaldo, John Talone, Paul Edwards, Brett Curran, Mark Madden, Kevin Gardiner, Sean O'Kane, John Roberts, Steve Radford, Dean Jukic, Ian Wenlock, Mark Gauci and Paul Hobbs. Front: Dean Lawson and Peter O'Kane.
Our total of 263 was not what we should've made with the talent in our batting, but was runs on the board. We had 10 overs to bowl at them before stumps and those proved to be our worst for the year. West Coburg's openers piled on 60 runs as we bowled a series of full tosses and short balls and did not even have one appeal or chance. We were strangely flat as if everyone was regretting their dismissal and worrying about a loss.
We arrived Sunday, full of collective resolve to atone for the lacklustre end to the last session. We needed to bowl tightly and in partnerships to build pressure.
At right: Sam Carbone has now won three Ralph Barron Shield medallions - in 2009/10 when playing for Buckley Park AGAINST Moonee Valley, and with us in 2013/14 and 2014/15. Sam's shown here with North West legend Ralph Barron, who presented the medallions on each occasion.
The Skip led from the front, opening with POK. His decision to bowl POK into the wind was a tactical master stroke. POK bowled 20 overs on the trot on Sunday to add to his 5 the night before. 25 overs unchanged was a magnificent achievement of fitness and determination - add to that the accuracy and venom and you have a truly remarkable effort. Gauch bowled from the other end and together they built the pressure needed to produce wickets.
The first came from a magnificent piece of fielding from Odie, who ran their dangerous opener out with a direct hit. Pressure them and they panic.
At left: You guessed it! North West legend Ralph Barron presents a Barron Shield premiership medallion to Sam Carbone.
Gauch was bowling with guile and variety and picked up their number three well caught by keeper Honnsie. Pressure rising.
Their young opener had batted very well but was struggling to cope with the tight bowling. POK was rewarded with his wicket when he chased a wide full one and was well caught by the Skip at first slip. It was a vital wicket. Pressure.
Gauch, having had several LBWs turned down, eventually got one for the fourth wicket at 108, and bowled the next in with a beauty to have them 5 for 113. We were now looking well placed. Great bowling and great fielding had put us back in control. West Coburg couldn't handle the pressure.
At right: Our team: From left: Back - Dean Jukic, Mark Gauci, Brett Curran, Sean O'Kane, president Charlie Walker, John Talone, Peter O'Kane and Dean Lawson. Middle - Kevin Gardiner, Sam Carbone, Paul Edwards and Paul Hobbs. Front - our next generation: Max and Luke Talone.
Boom Boom came in and we had a plan. He fired up and started some argy bargy. He got it back in spades after he head butted, albeit softly, the Skip. Everyone gathered, with Odie and Hazard the most fired up. Calm was restored to our side but the batsman went on a slog fest. He smacked 50 in no time, mostly with his eyes closed. One six was in the photo finish at Moonee Valley Race 5.
POK and Gauch never backed down though. The Skip tied him up with clever variation and POK eventually yorked him to smash his castle. The end was in sight.
At this point the Skip decided he and POK deserved a rest. And well they did together - they had bowled 40 overs unchanged from the start of play on Day 2.
At left: Three rascals and absolute legends of the North West. Past Moonee Valley presidents and on-field protagonists Darren Nagle (left) and Sandro Capocchi flank Ralph Barron, who had many a tussle with us at Pascoe Vale Centrals.
In all Gauch bowled 21 overs with 7 maidens to take 3 for 50. He changed the game with good old fashioned tight finals cricket. Pressure. POK was great up at the other end, bowling 27 overs, also with 7 maidens and taking 2 for 85. They won the game for us.
POK was replaced into the wind by SOK. Hereinafter, the northern end of Ormond East will be the O'Kane end. Seano bowled 8 tight overs and picked up the remaining 4 wickets for only 18 runs.
At right: Dean Jukic gets his premiership medal from Ralph Barron, as our captain Mark Gauci looks on.
KG Gardiner and I bowled the remaining overs. KG took 0 for 24 off 5 and I took 0 for 6 off 4. The last wicket was fittingly taken by our man of the match, SOK, bowling their number 11. A Premiership built on pressure.
Our fielding was excellent. You couldn't single anyone out. We weren't blessed with luck either, with many balls hit just wide of fielders.
The leadership was outstanding. The motivation, field placement and determination of the Skip was magnificent. At match report he graciously referred to the MFS as my team. That is not so - it is his. His leadership took us to the next level and we are forever in his debt and this XI will follow him till we finish.
The average age of our side is 45, with POK at 30 reducing that significantly. We can't afford 10 year reunions.
At left: Leadership all round: Past captain Brett Curran gets his premiership medallion from Ralph Barron, as current skipper Mark Gauci looks on.
We were well supported by many. Murray Walker and Matty Thomas scored for us. Bede Gannon, Holty, the Patron and Shicka cooking for us and running the bar. It was great to celebrate with and be watched by many of our old MF colleagues - Spud Nagle, Sambo Capocchi, Leftie Madden, Freak Roberts, Coach Ball, Pigeon Radford, Cougar Harry, Joey Harry, Singlets Wenlock, Damo O'Brien, the Mynong Crescent Express (Sam O'Brien) and Tong Wright all urged us on.
The Patron, Charlie Walker sat there patient and wise waiting for the Premiership. A great season and great result. Well done us.
An Excellent Match report - by the Skip, Brett Curran
***For the after-party photos from the Monday, click HERE
***And for more words of wisdom from Brett Curran on every match during the season, click HERE
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