Macedon Football Club is the toast of the Riddell District Football League after winning its first premiership in more than 40 years.
It’s been a tough journey for the Cats since their last premiership in 1976, including going into recess for three seasons in the 2000s.
The Cats and the local community that fought to get their football club back up and kicking goals got to see the rewards on Sunday afternoon.
The Cats had been the best side all season, but that mattered little when they faced Rupertswood, which was looking for its first senior premiership since crossing to the RDFL.
It was a hard-fought contest, with neither side able to break away.
But the Cats hit the lead in the third quarter and stayed there, holding off the Sharks for an 11.14 (80)-10.7 (67) win.
For Cats coach Jeff Andrews, there was a sense of relief when that final siren went.
“It’s what you want in a grand final,” he said. “You can win them easy, but to be challenged couldn’t be more pleasing. It’s not all about ability, but a fair bit of character.
“People are crying and people are hugging me … quite a few people here today are from the stint [as coach] I had nearly 20 years ago.
“All those boys came today. They hadn’t been able to do it and had seen the club go into recess, but were be able to taste success today.”
This year’s grand final was one in which both teams had periods of dominance.
Andrews thought his players didn’t make the most of their share of the lead early.
“I think it’s been the story of our year, that we haven’t capitalised,” he said.
“Not making the most of our opportunities or kicking points – we thought we should have been further ahead.
“The boys remarked at half-time that we got happy with ourselves when we got out to about four goals … to their [Rupertswood’s] credit, they turned it on for 15 to 20 minutes of the second quarter.”
After kicking just one of the first five goals, the Sharks hit back late in the second quarter kicking five goals in a row to lead by 10 points at half-time.
The Cats made the most of a slight breeze in the third quarter, scoring the first five goals of the second half.
That meant the Sharks were left to do the chasing. They reduced the margin to 20 points at the last break.
The Cats kicked the first goal of the last quarter, which was a relief for Andrews and the Cats.
“The second half was a bit different,” Andrews said. “We were able to get our game going and get it into our forwards and lock it in there.
“Casey [Summerfield] and Erroll [McConnell] were good in the midfield with enormous pressure on, and we had some pretty good targets today.
“Chris Kilmartin did an enormous job … we got the game on our terms, but we had to earn it.”
Errol McConnell was awarded the Doug McIntyre Medal for best-on-ground as voted by the umpires. He was one of four players the Cats signed in the pre-season.
Those four proved to be the finishing touches to a side already poised for success.
Andrews had high praise for McConnell.
“I reckon we had the toughest player in the competition in Casey Summerfield – and then Errol comes along,” he said. “In the very first quarter of the first game of the year, against Wallan, one of their star recruits went to do a fend off and he brought him down like a lion bringing down a gazelle.
“Pound for pound, he’s the toughest player I’ve seen in the comp.”
Summerfield took home the Victorian Country Football League medal.
Aaron Christensen and Daniel Markworth were other standouts for the Cats.
Andrews, who has coached the club for five years in his second stint as coach, said he was weighing up his coaching future.
“I love the club,” he said. “I’ve had two coaching stints here and I love it. Whatever is best for the club, I’ll do.”
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