KOROIT coach Jacqui Bowman has six premiership medals from 10 grand final appearances with Warrnambool but says today’s A grade showdown between the competition’s powerhouses has no added meaning.
Bowman, who was a permanent fixture in the Blues midcourt for 16 seasons, left Reid Oval after she won her third league best-and-fairest award in 2010.
She was a non-playing coach last year at Koroit but today returns to the heat of a grand final against her old side and some former teammates. Bowman is not the only former Blue playing with Koroit. Captain Stacey O’Sullivan, key defenders Emily Batt and Holly Greene, teenager Bridie Harman and injured goal attack Marissa Chapman all had stints at Warrnambool.
The defection of Bowman and Chapman was reportedly because of tensions at various levels within the club during an ill-fated 2010 season when the Blues, under first-year coach Lorraine English, failed to succeed.
On the flipside, Warrnambool goal attack/wing attack Sarah Hearn is a former premiership player with Koroit. While the coaches are playing it down, the personal subplots are inescapable today.
Add to the mix a fierce rivalry that has developed on the court between the two clubs with them sharing the past 13 A grade premierships and you have all the ingredients for a feisty premiership decider.
Not according to Bowman. “It’s just another game between two clubs,” she said.
“After the game it might bring out a bit of emotion but it’s two clubs playing against each other.”
English, who is entering her final match in charge of the Blues, said there was no added spice between the sides, other than both were chasing the ultimate prize.
Warrnambool co-captain Emma O’Keeffe said many of the players on the court today were close off it.
“We are still pretty good friends,” she said.
“There is a bit of rivalry, especially with them leaving, but they had their own reasons.”
O’Keeffe, who became the senior player in the side after the departures, said she was disappointed they had left but had enjoyed taking on added responsibilities as a leader.
“It would be nice if we could come away with a win,” she said.
O’Keeffe, who has played for Warrnambool since she was “14 or 15” has played in four winning A grade premierships.
The athletic defender said her side’s improvement this season after missing the finals last year, capped by last week’s overtime win against minor premier Camperdown, had ensured 2012 would be memorable.
“I enjoy it when there is no bitchiness, I’m just there to play sport. We’ve got such a close-knit team, it’s such a good group.”