MARK Phillips will have the neutral football fan on his side today — he’s played 336 games and not one has been a grand final.
His 337th could deliver a Warrnambool and District league premiership, 21 years after he first pulled on a Dennington jumper.
The Dogs take on Kolora-Noorat in the reserves grand final at Reid Oval and Phillips hopes his long wait for a flag ends today.
“We’ve been close a few times. There has been a few times we’ve had preliminary finals that we’ve nearly got in,” he said. “But the top-three has been tight and we’ve been the ones that have missed out.
“There was a stage it didn’t look like it would ever happen but the last three years have felt like we’re building towards something … the general depth at the club.
“With Darcy (Lewis) at the top and the recruiting, that builds the strength of the club overall and that helps the reserves.”
Phillips, 37, started his career at Port Fairy but shifted to Dennington in 1992, the club being on his way home from Brauer College.
He hasn’t had a reason to leave since, but more pertinently has had several reasons to stay.
“You get in there, get established and there are good people at the footy club. You just don’t think of leaving,” he said.
Should Dennington upset Kolora-Noorat, Phillips said the premiership would be for the club stalwarts and the community.
“It’d be awesome (for me) but it’d be awesome for the whole Dennington community and the footy club and all the people that have been there all that time,” he said.
“There are a lot of people who have been there for years washing dishes, cooking tea and serving behind the bar.
“The people making the banners as well. The whole footy club is starved of success at the moment.”
Dennington coach Joel Barclay said Phillips, “one of the good guys in footy”, was deserving of a premiership.
He said the Dogs had lost their three matches against the Power — by 80 points, two points and 61 points.
“We’ve got a lot of quick blokes and we’re pretty even all over the ground,” he said.
“We haven’t got a lot of blokes who are standouts but they’ve all got senior experience.”
Kolora-Noorat coach Josh Dillon said the Power had lost the past three reserves grand finals, an obvious source of motivation today.
Dillon was unfazed the side would be without Sam Elford, Dominic Kenna and Joe O’Sullivan, who have played too many senior games to qualify.
“It is a bit of a loss but we haven’t had them all year. We’ve got to where we are with the lads that have come back in anyway,” he said.
Dillon said the Power had an even side, with few standout players.
“Our strength is just teamwork. We’ve got 21 blokes out there wanting to have a go,” he said.
“We’re basic reserves footballers who have a go.”