Saints break drought

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Nangwarry is back on the winner’s list after the football club’s A Grade side celebrated its first win in eight years on Saturday afternoon.

Emotions ran high and there was not a dry eye on the oval as supporters and players ran onto the field to congratulate the team and celebrate a long-awaited victory.

Nangwarry A Grade coach Luke Thomson said the emotional win was a pure relief and felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders as the players sung the team song for the first time in eight years out on the oval.

“The excitement and the joy was pretty evident, all the boys were up and about, we sang it a couple of times and really just embraced it,” he said.

“For half a dozen of those boys, they have been there a long time and have not sung it in the last eight years and some have not sung it at all, so we made sure we sang it loud and proud.

“It was my best sporting moment. I have played in a grand final and what-not and I’d put this up there as number one.”

Thomson said he had a feeling about this game as it had panned out differently to the matches earlier in the season where the Saints side had come up short.

“We were up from quarter time and that was sort of it from there, which we have not done this year,’ he said.

“We have either come out and got in front in the first quarter and then fell behind in the second or the third and then obviously went on to lose.

“So that was the first time where we have actually had a lead at quarter time and then maintained it from then on.

“Tantanoola took it right up to us and got that lead back down to within a goal, but as long as we maintained that lead we were still pretty confident.

“So we went in at every break with a one or two goal lead which ended up being the result.”

Thomson said he was nervous in the final quarter, particularly when Tantanoola had a late shot at goal which would have put them in front if they were successful.

“It was stressful, obviously, being that tight with that long to go but we knew we could control the game with only three or four minutes left,” he said.

“We went to our plan on what to do with three or four minutes to go and it panned out.

“We’d gotten close in three or four games this year already, so it’s good just to get the monkey off the back.”

Nangwarry Football Club president Shane Ploenges said he was also nervous for the team during the final quarter.

“I was goal umpiring, so when they got back within four points I thought ‘oh no, not again’,” Ploenges said.

“But when Joshy Weedon kicked that last goal on the siren, I thought that was enough to get us over the line,”

Reportedly, the siren blew three times because no-one heard it due to the crowd and players cheering and celebrating the big final goal.

Ploenges said hearing the team sing the song was a special moment and they all sung with gusto.

“Just the euphoria, everyone running out on the ground there was just so much emotion, plenty of tears, lots of happy, joyous people,” he said.

Thomson and assistant coach Shane ‘Tassie’ Raymond recruited strongly over the past two years and the latter said the win was confirmation they made the right choice to play for Nangwarry.

“To walk into a club presenting a young team and oozing culture combined with the determination to learn and will to win, there is no better scenario from a coaching point of view and I am truly grateful for that,” Raymond said.

Ploenges said the club had come a long way and had turned itself around in the last 12 months.

“There’s a bit of depth there now,” he said.

“The reserves are pushing for a spot in finals, getting five wins and they had not been winning too many games either.

“The junior colts are also getting a few wins, we are just lacking a few numbers in the senior colts at present.”

Thomson said the win took more than just the 21 footy players, but also the support staff, coaching staff and community support.

“It takes the full 40 guys that we have between the A Grade and the B Grade, plus our senior colts as well that have been stepping up,” he said.

“We have had probably nearly 30 guys through the A Grade team and at one point or another through the year they have made that team better,”

The club has endured a lot over the past eight years, with not only the win-less streak but also the clubrooms burning down in 2019 with the rebuild officially opened this year, while COVID-19 also took its toll on the Saints.

“Over the years we have had a number of people that have come and said they’ll play a year or two years with us and then they just keep coming back,” Ploenges said.

“That’s why it was so crucial over these last eight years we just did not pack it in and just say it was too hard, we had to keep going, which was a credit to everyone involved.

“It’s been such a long period and there’s been some loyal people that have really stuck it out and done it hard.”

Both Ploenges and Thomson said they never doubted the Nangwarry A Grade side would get a win this season.

“I think what probably gave me a good indication that it was going to happen was the three or four close games and the way we have gone about our footy when we have been behind, it showed signs that we were going in the right direction,” Thomson said.

“For me it was a shock beating Tantanoola because they’ve been trending in the right direction as well and they have got a lot of good players in their team, so any week that we would have won it was going to be a surprise.

“We’re not resting at one, hopefully now we have got a taste at winning it’ll make a few of those closer games easier to get over the hump.”

“I was pretty confident they were going to get one, Luke’s got a great bunch of kids around him now, with Shane helping him out,” Ploenges said.

“A lot of people that were passionate about making sure that we get that one win and everyone’s done a lot of hard work.

“They’re really bonding together as not just teammates but mates as well, it’s a pretty special group they’re building I think.”

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