It is clear for all to see that St Albans is the big improver in the Western Region Football League division 1 this season.
Under new coach Perry Meka, the Saints have already exceeded the four wins they achieved last season, with 10 rounds still to play.
What was not clear until last weekend was how much the Saints have improved.
St Albans inflicted a shock 34-point win over six-time defending premiers Deer Park at John McLeod Reserve on Saturday to signal its intent to turn from also-ran to genuine finals’ contender this season.
Meka could see all the good that St Albans was doing in the previous seven weeks.
However, until the win over Deer Park, there would always be doubters, but they are slowly falling away.
“I put it to the boys, it’s time to step up and beat a side above us and we did that,” Meka said. “They’re the benchmark side, no doubt.
“They’ve been good for so long and they’re still good again this year.
“It was great, a really good win for our club, a fantastic day.”
St Albans went to the three-quarter time huddle with a handy 26-point lead.
As expected, the Saints came under threat in the last quarter, but they found a way to steady the ship and power to the finish line.
“They came back at us and two things could’ve happened, we could’ve got overrun and lost the game or we could’ve fell in and won the game, but we didn’t, we came back at them again, tweaked a few things and ended up kicking the last three goals,” Meka said.
David Kovacevic was enormous for St Albans in the ruck.
A tireless Kovacevic rucked one-out against a three-pronged Deer Park ruck unit.
“He was on another level,” Meka said.
“I’ve coached footy for a long time and I’ve never seen one ruckman take on three for the day and didn’t change, and he was unbelievable.
“In the last quarter, when they got a couple of centre clearances, he just took control in there and got a few extra stoppages and got momentum back our way.”
Jack Sims was inspirational for St Albans.
He played a good old fashioned captain’s game to lead the way for the Saints.
Shylo Smith had the ball on a string in the middle and Tim Jenkins capped a fine performance with a game-high four goals.
A turning point in the game was three quick goals in the third quarter from Adem Asani, which turned the momentum into St Albans’ favour.
Given the enormity of the victory, Meka allowed his players to enjoy it on Saturday night, but there was no dodging the Sunday morning recovery session with such a big test coming up against top-of-the-ladder Altona at Kings Park Reserve on Saturday.
“It’s a step in the right direction for our footy club and the boys need to soak it in and enjoy it and then reset at recovery,” Meka said.
St Albans has moved above Deer Park on the ladder into fourth spot on percentage.
Both sides are 5-3 after eight rounds.
Elsewhere in division 1, Sunshine Kangaroos went down by 32 points to Hoppers Crossing, Caroline Springs could not match Werribee Districts in a 78-point loss and Albion lost the top-versus-bottom battle by 178 points.
In division 3, Albanvale pummelled Sunshine Heights by 81 points and Daniel Bartolo capped a best-on-ground performance with four goals.
Braybrook had a thrilling three-point win over Tarneit with Paul Cutajar-Milosev booting a bag of six goals, while North Sunshine was competitive before going down to Laverton by 30 points.