History-making grand finals
The South West football community was left stunned on grand final day in 2012, as Busselton and the Collie Eagles played out a draw.
History shows us the Magpies went on to win the replay a week later, but when do both coaches feel the premiership was won and lost?
The build up
Heading into the finals series, the Collie Eagles were the side to beat.
Possessing a formidable attacking philosophy, Brett Earl’s side finished on top of the ladder with a 15-3 record.
The Eagles had managed to defeat Busselton twice during the season, but Magpies coach Darian Cheffers was not overly concerned with both defeats, as he believes the team grew from each performance.
In the second sem-final at Hands Oval, the Eagles were irrepressible in the first term and led 7.2 (44) to 0.1 (1) at quarter time.
Adding another three goals in the second quarter before the Magpies managed to hit the scoreboard, the Eagles appeared to have one foot in the decider.
However, the Pies finished with a full head of steam, booting 11 of the last 15 goals in the 14.8 (92) to 11.9 (75) loss.
Both Earl and Cheffers agree this quarter-and-a-half ultimately decided their respective destinies for the rest of the finals series.
“That quarter in the second semifinal was the thing which popped us,” Earl said.
“Some heads became too big and perhaps some of them thought we would have a week’s rest, go straight into the grand final and win it.”
Cheffers feels the Eagles were a “bogey” side for his team throughout the year as their game plan and match-ups worked well against them.
“During the season we thought we were competitive but unlucky to get done by them,” he said.
“When you travel to Collie, it is always a hard slog, no matter where they are on the ladder.
“But in the second semi-final, they played an outstanding first quarter and we were diabolical.
“We never thought they were better than us — it is just things did not quite go right for whatever reason.”
Despite the semifinal loss, Cheffers’ Magpies were full of momentum from their revival and qualified for the grand final after defeating Bunbury by 15 points in the preliminary final.
With a solid contingent of colts-aged players in their grand final squad, the Magpies remained in touch of the minor premiers all day and finally took the lead with three minutes left to play.
Moments later, Magpies co-captain James Price conceded a costly 50m penalty, which was converted easily by Matt Michael.
Both Earl and Cheffers still recall the eerie feeling of the 10.8 (68) to 9.14 (68) result post-game, although Cheffers quickly found a way to turn it into a positive for his side — given they had trailed at all changes.
“We thought we may have to play five minutes each way as we did not know what the rules were,” Cheffers said.
“But when they alerted us to the replay, I just remember calling the boys in and telling them to put their disappointment to the side as it was a terrific effort.
“I told them there were only a few players who got to play in a grand final, let alone win one, and here we are, playing two in one year.”
Although the Eagles led at quarter-time, their ascendancy quickly faded away as the Magpies booted five unanswered goals in the second term.
Critically, the Eagles were restricted to a solitary behind in the second and fourth terms.
Earl believes the ghosts from the second semifinal ultimately lingered and came back to haunt his side, although he praised how the Magpies went about their business.
“The mindset after that second semi, even at training ... I remember coming back home and telling my wife that I was struggling to get their headspace right,” he said.
“I thought we had done well to get away with a draw because ‘Cheff’ and his coaching group did a great job.”
Cheffers believes the amount of talent within the squad was a real asset for the club in future seasons, while despite the 2012 loss, Earl looks back at his time with the Eagles as one of the happiest periods of his footballing life.
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