PANMURE coach Simon O’Keefe says Warrnambool and District league grand final day could be one to remember for the small farming community.
O’Keefe said he had been blown away by the community support for his football side ahead of tomorrow’s blockbuster against Kolora-Noorat.
The first-year mentor has steered an emotionally-driven playing group to within one match of the Bulldogs’ first flag in 10 years.
O’Keefe said Panmure winning the premiership would lift the morale of a town which has faced more than its fair share of adversity in the past 12 months.
The community and club was rocked by the deaths of netballers Caroline and Olivia Wright, who died in a car crash at Penshurst last November.
The 20-year-old twins were the sisters of senior footballer Tom Wright and were well-liked in the town.
“I don’t want to publicise it too much, but the community has been through a fair bit. There’s a bit of grief and sadness,” O’Keefe said.
“Everyone is trying to get a bit of joy around here and so far we have. A premiership, it’d be something really good. It would mean a lot.”
Panmure has kept its cards close to its chest for the grand final, naming a 24-man side with an extended bench.
Tim McPherson, David O’Sullivan and Tommy Jones come into the side which prevailed by two points in a thrilling preliminary final against Dennington.
O’Keefe said McPherson, who has been battling a hamstring injury, was a definite starter. But former J. A. Esam Medal winner Jye Bidmade remains under a cloud with a quad injury.
O’Keefe estimated about 350 people packed the clubrooms last night for tea after the Bulldogs’ final training session.
“Normally the footy clubs are the hubs of the community. Panmure isn’t a big joint. The footy club and the pub are the two main attractions,” he said.
“When the footy is up and going and the netball is up and going, people flock around the club.
“It’s an exciting place to be when that happens.”
O’Keefe said the midfield battle would go a long way to deciding the grand final, a sentiment Kolora-Noorat coach Ben Kenna agreed with.
“Every game of footy starts in the centre,” Kenna said last night.
“We’re confident but we need to play at our best if we’re going to get the win.
“We know that from two weeks ago when we met Panmure, (but) it’ll be a different scenario to then.
“They were below their best and we were keen to come out.”
The Power is unchanged from its second semi-final side.
The club also welcomed a bumper crowd to its Noorat clubrooms for the final Thursday night function of the season.
“The club has got three netball and three football sides in. There are a lot of people involved,” Kenna said.
“It’s good to have more in there, more people involved in that feeling.”