HAMPDEN was good, Ovens and Murray was better.
Simply, Hampden’s best is impressive but Ovens and Murray’s is great.
Hampden’s eight-goal loss at Princes Park yesterday in the fifth-versus-sixth country championships showdown should be seen as a positive for the Bottle Greens.
While those against interleague competition will question the value of participation after such a defeat, it needs to be remembered it was only two years ago that Hampden was uncompetitive in representative footy.
Coach Nick O’Sullivan was given the task of inspiring the league’s best and getting them to commit to the annual showdown.
Not only did he achieve that, but he produced a big win last year that surprised many and earned Hampden a shot at a position in the top three in country Victoria. Yes, had Hampden won yesterday it would have jumped to number three in the rankings.
For significant periods yesterday, the Bottle Greens were more than competitive against their significantly bigger and quicker opponents. Take out the first quarter and Hampden kicked 8.6 to 11.4 in the final three quarters — one less scoring shot than its revered opponent, which two years ago was the state’s number one-ranked league.
It backed up O’Sullivan’s post-game assessment that Hampden’s finishing skills were not in the same league as Ovens and Murray.
There is much work to be done, O’Sullivan said.
Hampden league president Bob Guiney has long said the Bottle Greens’ climb back up the rankings would take time.
“You have to be proud of them, they weren’t disgraced by any means,” he said.