Kalgoorlie’s Year 7 and 8 team rose superbly to the big occasion to win this year’s Goldfields Football League premiership against Mines Rovers, after having been “rattled” in the semifinal against the same opposition and just scraping through to the season finale.
Coach David Johnson this week told the Kalgoorlie Miner the players were making kicks and taking marks in the grand final they had not been able to execute at training during the finals series.
“Everyone stood up in the grand final,” he said.
“The kids who had not been expected to take marks under pressure, well they did.
“They were kicking 40m.”
The final score at Digger Daws Oval on August 24 was 9.4 (58) to 4.2 (26), with captain Jude Meyers best-on-ground and kicking two goals, with other major scorers being Jaxon Atthowe (two), William Payne (two), Maveric Gill-Bevin, Jake Tucker, and Kye Johnson.
Mines Rovers’ scorers were Malakai Champion (two), Murray Stubbs, and Joshua Campbell.
Johnson said his players’ performances was in contrast to the semi, when there had been a “massive build-up” of pressure from the club and parents, with the aim of getting the players’ adrenaline up and nerves to drop.
However, he said the strategy did not come off, with the players clearly “rattled”, and winning the match 6.6 (42) to 6.4 (40) with a kick from Kye Johnson — one of three he kicked that day — on the siren.
But Johnson said this experience meant everyone was in the right frame of mind come grand final day.
He said the team was a “diverse” mix of experienced players and children who had not kicked a football since Auskick several years earlier.
Johnson said as the season progressed, the team transitioned from individuals playing at different levels from week to week to a team which jelled into a “fantastic” cohesive unit.
Team member Harley Cullen was named fairest-and-best in the Year 7 and 8 competition, and Johnson said he had a “massive future”.
“He’s quiet and unassuming … he let’s his actions do the talking,” he said.
“He’s a jet on the ground.”
Johnson said Meyers was the opposite of Cullen, being “louder and more vocal”, and was a great leader.
He said both boys benefited by also playing each week in the grade above, Year 9 and 10, against bigger players.
Johnson said they were among 6-8 player who did this, which helped the team go undefeated in the Year 7 and 8 competition.
He said many of the players would still be in the Year 7 and 8 grade next year, while those who moved up to Year 9 and 10 would hopefully make that team “unstoppable” next year.
Johnson said he was personally “humbled” by the performance of his team, grateful for all the support they had received during the year, and thanked the GFL, parents and supporters for a magnificent grand final day.