FIGHTING cramps and unusually warm weather, Warrnambool celebrated its second Hampden league premiership in three years at Reid Oval on Saturday.
In harsh late-afternoon sunshine, weary Blues players barely broke into a trot as they set off on a victory lap with the most sought-after piece of silverware in the south-west.
Their 37-point triumph, their 13th in a row against Cobden in the past five seasons, was achieved in front of the biggest Hampden league grand final crowd since thousands squeezed into the Friendly Societies’ Park to watch the Bombers defeat Port Fairy in 1997.
The Saints’ six-goal win against the Blues elevated them to the most successful side in the competition’s 25-year history behind South Warrnambool’s four victories in a row between 1987 and 1990.
Hampden league chief executive officer Mike Farrow said Saturday’s big crowd had ensured record gate takings.
The exact amount was unlikely to be tallied until tomorrow but the league is expecting a record finals series before the competition undergoes its biggest change in 51 years. The Victorian Country Football League is expected to make an announcement this week, possibly as early as today, that Portland and a merged Hamilton entity will join the league next year.
Not since Koroit and Coragulac were admitted to the league in 1961 has it attracted two new teams in the same season.