Skip to content

Emotions high in Gordon after footy team claims first premiership in 34 years

A country football club has ended a record-breaking 34-year premiership drought in a win that was emotional not just for the players but the entire community.

Gordon Football and Netball Club’s senior team defeated Springbank at Mars Stadium on Saturday.

Player-coach Adam Toohey, whose father played in the last seniors win in 1988, spoke to the ABC during Mad Monday celebrations at a Ballarat pub.

He said the victory was something the players would talk about “forever”.

“I was sick of hearing about everyone since ’88 and thought we need to make our own history,” Toohey told ABC’s Statewide Drive.

“[The game] was pretty crazy — the last quarter was probably as special a time I have ever been involved in.

“The crowd was going nuts.

“They started singing the theme song in the stands.

“You are playing, but you are trying to hold back the tears.”

Gordon Football Club’s Mad Monday celebrations in full swing at a Ballarat pub.(ABC Ballarat: Lexie Jeuniewic)

Yellow and gold balloons and signs are still scattered around Gordon, 25 kilometers from Ballarat, where supporters and volunteers who worked to prevent the club from collapsing 12 years ago are still buzzing.

Club leaders estimate about 400 people joined the celebrations at the Gordon Recreation Reserve on Saturday night, representing close to a third of the town’s population of 1,400.

Many spent the night in swags spread across netball courts, under trees and in the club.

Celebrations and the clean-up continued into Sunday, beginning with a massive breakfast cook-up.

A man and woman holding football scarves.
Adam and Kellee Frazer have been integral to the success of the club.(ABC Ballarat: Rochelle Kirkham)

‘This was our year’

Gordon General Store owner Huey Tran said he sold out of copies of the local paper, which featured a write-up of the game, by midday on Monday.

Club secretary Kellee Frazer cried when talking about what the premiership win meant to the town.

“I am still speechless,” she said.

“I don’t think it has really sunk in yet — it was such a shock.

“We knew if we were going to win a flag this was our year.

“We had come really close over the past few years, but we couldn’t get to play the grand finale because of COVID.”

A sign in yellow and gold reads
The support for the side is evident around Gordon.(ABC Ballarat: Rochelle Kirkham)

Mrs Frazer volunteers about 20 hours of her time a week to the club during the winter and, with her husband, has been a driving force in bringing it back from the brink of collapse in 2010.

“There was a crisis meeting held in the local hall,” club vice-president Adam Frazer said.

“The governing body got involved and put together a strategic plan to pull the club through.

“These days you do hear of country clubs going under.

“For us it was such a big thing for us to think our club might not be there in five years when we want our kids to get involved.”

Mr Frazer said football had been the hub of the community for as long as he could remember and that up to 1,000 people would attend home games.

A man smiles in front of a football oval.
Ross Eastwood has lived in Gordon for almost his entire life.(ABC Ballarat: Rochelle Kirkham)

A team effort

Ross Eastwood, who has lived in Gordon since he was four, is another of the estimated hundreds of volunteers involved with the football and netball club.

He operates the electronic scoreboard at the ground while his wife cooks chips in the canteen from the early hours of the morning on game days.

Mr Eastwood has seen most players move through from juniors to seniors and was close to tears when talking about how the football club brings the town together.

“It wasn’t just the game of football that we won,” he said.

“There is a lot of people who won’t forget this one, that is for sure.

“A lot of people have contributed to this win for a successful club.”

A man has his thumbs up next to a sign that reads,
Long-time supporter Ross Eastwood says this sign represents the spirit of the sporting club and community. (ABC Ballarat: Rochelle Kirkham)

Mr Eastwood said Gordon was known as a family club.

“I think a lot of clubs in the league would like to be like Gordon,” he said.

“We have great volunteers, great players, great support and even better supporters — we never have any trouble.

“The players thoroughly enjoyed the night on Saturday and then the next day picked up rubbish without being asked.”

A man and woman look at each other holding medals and wearing football scarves.
Mick and Therese Winter are long-time Gordon residents. Mick was the best on ground in the last premiership win.(ABC Ballarat: Rochelle Kirkham)

Country football runs through Mick Winter’s blood.

He was named the best player on the ground for Gordon during the last premiership win in 1988.

He spoke of the bond created between players during premiership wins and the joy of being part of a team.

“It would be nice, down the track, if the guys from ’88 and the guys from ’22 could meet together and have a cup of tea and a cream bun and swap a few stories,” he said.

.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.