Golden Grove after a dominant season, put in a brilliant final term to defeat a gallant Flinders Park who made a charge at the Kookaburras in the third term
By Ben Lennon
Golden Grove v Flinders Park – Norwood Oval After a goal from Joel Horskins after the siren gave Golden Grove a dramatic victory in the reserves, the stage was set at Norwood Oval for a cracker of a division three grand final. The oval was packed full of supporters predominantly from either of the two sides due to the double header so the atmosphere was electric after the national anthem heading into the first bounce. Two sides that, for the past few years, will have been kicking themselves for not going that step further and attaining promotion, ironically enough managed to make it to the big dance in the one year that promotion wasn’t on offer, at least not yet. Voluntary relegation could potentially be on the cards for Glenunga if they elect to step down from division two after losing every game this year, however with nothing set in stone, the reds and the ‘burras were set to fight it out for premiership glory which is more than enough motivation, I’m sure. A tricky one to predict, Flinders Park went into the game undefeated since round three but Golden Grove had the advantage of having a week off after finishing top and dealing with North Haven in the qualifying final. The first quarter was an even, tense affair that saw Flinders Park go into quarter time with a slender lead, but both sides would have been content with how the game was playing out. Luke Barmby started off what would become a brilliant game with a number of touches and a goal and the second quarter belonged to the top side who managed to kick six goals to Flinders Parks two. Michael Walters (no, not that one) booted four first half majors on his way to six for the game and at the half time interval, Golden Grove had the lead by 20 points. They added to that early in the third, but it was all Flinders Park for the rest of the quarter as the Reds strung together four unanswered goals. By the end of the quarter, the Golden Grove lead had been cut to just eight points and the game was wide open for anyone that wanted to take it. It was Golden Grove who had the guts to grab the opportunity with both hands, coming out of the final break and kicking two goals inside the first five minutes, blowing the margin back out to 20 points, albeit with plenty of time on the clock. The next ten minutes were an arm wrestle but Grove managed to add another goal and Flinders Park had no answer, unable to hit the scoreboard in the last quarter. The final siren sounded and the Golden Grove supporters in the pocket erupted and the celebrations ensued. The Kookaburras were the best team all year and showed that week in week out. They only lost one game throughout the campaign and at the end of the day just had too much for a gallant Flinders Park side who gave themselves every chance in this game. That third quarter spell where they were on top looked like it might be the catalyst for an upset but it was not to be as Golden Grove ran out worthy winners. Michael Walters, who finished with six goals and was a threat all day long, was presented with the medal for best on ground and rightly so, however Luke Barmby couldn’t have played a better game. The ex-Central Districts midfielder was everyone for Golden Grove and racked up plenty of touches, barely putting a foot wrong. Jake Pitman was also influential as the hard-nosed midfielder was a thorn in the side of the reds all day. Luke Trenorden and Jay Hansen managed six majors between them as the tall targets up forward for Flinders Park whilst Ethan Abbott was judged to be their best player. The final margin was five goals in favour of the Kookaburras in a game that certainly seemed closer than that but a fantastic, professional display in the last quarter killed the game after Flinders Park were on the charge in the third. It has been a topsy turvy year in division three and by the looks of things I expect next year to be no different. Flinders can hold their heads high, fighting back from 0-3 to make it all the way to the grand final however Golden Grove were a class above for the entire season and flexed their muscle on grand final day to be crowned worthy Division Three premiers.