There was plenty of joy for Craigieburn as it celebrated its first win in Essendon District Football League since winning the division 1 premiership in 2016.
After a premier division season without a win, the Eagles returned to division 1 and entered the season as an unknown.
Eagles coach Peter Bugden said he didn’t know what to expect heading into round one against Hillside.
“We had nine new players yesterday. Lance Whitnall has done a great job with the recruiting.
“There was a lot of uncertainty with a large number of new guys and five under-19s in the side.
“We were unsure with what we would get.”
Speaking the next day, Bugden was still smiling as the Eagles kicked six goals in the last quarter to seal the 14.12 (96)-9.6 (60) win.
He said there were a few nerves at three quarter time, when they led by just one point.
“The place was pretty pumped,” he said.
“It was so hard when we went up and lost so many good players. It’s hard if you go up and not have the players who want to play at that level
“We took our medicine and now we’re back.
“Being able to sing the song for the first time in a year and being able to look people in the eye after a win, we were rapt.”
Bugden said it was some of the guys who had stuck around during the hard times that had starred in the win.
He said former captain Brent Gordon, who kicked three goals, was best on ground.
“He captained for four years and the pressure is now off him,” Bugden said. “He was determined to have a good game. The biggest contributors were the guys who played last year. The new guys all played their roles.”
New captain Christian McErlain was also named among the best, while Glenn Robertson kicked three goals.
Bugden said the win gave them some confidence and it showed they won’t be easy beats this season.
“I would be lying if I didn’t say that everyone’s aim was to play finals,” he said.
“Until we play about six games and the ladder starts to take shape, it’s hard to lower or lift expectations.
“We have a point to prove … with the squad we have, we think we will be competitive.
“Was it emotion or a co-ordinated effort? We’ll find out soon.”
The Eagles this week face East Keilor.
In other division 1 matches, Westmeadows smashed Jacana under lights on Friday night and Tullamarine was too good for Oak Park.
In premier division, Greenvale made it two from two.
In division 2, Roxburgh Park upset Coburg Districts.