LOVE ’em or hate ’em, you have to admire Warrnambool.
The Blues claimed their second Hampden league premiership in three years on Saturday with an emphatic 37-point win over Cobden in front of one of the biggest crowds in 15 years.
It was the club’s fifth consecutive grand final appearance, which has only been bettered in the past 65 years by Terang making seven in a row between 1976 and 1982. Warrnambool’s run is the third best streak by a club in the league’s 82-year history. Warrnambool qualified for eight in a row between 1935 and 1947 in a period which included no matches for five years during World War II.
Warrnambool’s strike rate in the past five seasons is also impressive. The Blues have won 76 and drawn one from 107 matches.
They won 13 of their past 15 matches this season. In 2010 they lost just three games and a draw while this season they lost four.
That translates to 33 wins, one draw and seven losses for an 80 per cent winning strike rate in those premiership years.
Blues coach Scott Carter said his club’s feat in making five grand finals had largely gone unnoticed. Six players have played in all five.
“We have a fair few detractors,” Carter said as his players started their victory lap in the late afternoon sun at Reid Oval.
“A lot of people like to throw knives at us but it’s probably time a few people gave us credit. Five grand finals in succession, two out of three flags, home-grown talent — it’s been a fantastic achievement.”
The club has now won 24 flags.
Across at the netball courts, Koroit grabbed a slice of history with its third consecutive victory in the A grade grand final with a six-goal triumph over Warrnambool. The Saints are just one premiership away from equalling South Warrnambool’s four in a row between 1987-1990. It was the 14th consecutive year either Koroit (seven) or Warrnambool (seven) had won the A grade flag.
Terang Mortlake’s under 18 football side also entered the record books, coming from fourth to win the flag.
It was the third year in a row where a side had come from the elimination final to make the grand final but the first by a side to win it.
Camperdown’s reserves grand final triumph came at the expense of North Warrnambool Eagles, which had qualified for a football grand final for the first time.
The league is today expected to confirm Saturday’s massive crowd at Reid Oval generated a record gate.
For volume, it would have drawn comparisons with the 1997 grand final between Cobden and Port Fairy at Friendly Societies’ Park.