Season 2017 drew to subdued close for our senior team after a pedestrian victory over close neighbours East Ringwood at Mullum Reserve on Saturday.  The game never reached any great heights, being played as a dour scrap for the majority of the day.  The win was our 6th in a row to finish the season, a nice effort but was also an unpleasant reminder of what we could have done and where we could have been with some more concerted efforts in the first 12 rounds.   The game also marked the end of coach Denis Knight’s tenure at Norwood after 5 quality years of service, Denis advising President Mark Etherington of his resignation on the Thursday before the game.

Norwood kicked downhill away from Mullum Rd in the first quarter and we were quickly away with a running goal to Joel Narburgs, returning to the team after injury and a stint in the 2s.  He was set free by a neat handball from Rej after a strong rebound 50 from Pearso. From the bounce Rej won a clearance and scrubbed one forward where Trent Shinners attacked it hard, allowing Blair Hudson to run on to it, sell a nice dummy and slot from 30m East Ringwood replied with two of their own as the game became an arm wrestle, neither side able to transition the ball with precision into the F50 in order to make scoring opportunities.  20 mins in Darin Stewart – also returning after injury and a brief stint  in the 2s – marked strongly and sent one through from 25m and this was followed by a Dean Poynton goal which gave us an unconvincing 11 point lead at QT, 4.0 – 2.1

Early in the 2nd Stewart marked at the top of the goal square but somehow missed, however from the kick-in Skave threw himself at a wayward short pass to get a hand on it and force a turnover, Alex Calder sending the ball back in where Hudson marked and goalled from close range.  Thoughts of us running away with the game emerged, but didn’t last long as East Ringwood proceeded to dominate for the rest of the quarter, kicking 3 unanswered goals to draw within a couple of points. Late on Lochie showed his class with a running goal to see us go to HT with a slender 8 point lead, 6.3 – 5.1

Trent Shinners started the 3rd quarter with a typically accurate set shot from 30 after getting good service from Jordan Gysberts.    East Ringwood replied and then mid-quarter Fingers added his 2nd, followed soon after by a strong contested mark and goal from Pearso as we stretched the lead to 18 points.  Around about this time we spotted Justin Gould, injured early in the first quarter in his last game for the club, walking gingerly out of the rooms in his civvies, his day, and career, done for Norwood, not ending in the fashion he or we would have liked. At 3/T we held a significant but certainly not insurmountable 17 point lead 9.4 – 6.5.

In his last 3/4T address to the club Denis was as measured and focused as he would have been in his first.  No histrionics, just quiet reinforcement of the values and methodologies which he had instilled in the club for the previous 5 years.  We gave up the first goal, but after the game meandered for the next 10 or so minutes Stewart marked at half-forward and wheeled inboard straight away, spotting Rej up 40m from goal.  Rej’s set shot hit the mark and from then on the game was not in doubt.  Jake Christie added a goal at the 15 minute mark and then with the siren about to go Jesse Newman drifted forward and found a stray kick landing in his arms.  With no-one around and only 20m from goal Jesse put the goal goggles on and headed for the big pay day.  There was a Joe-the Goose handball on but Newmo was having none of it, storming into the square and scoring just a split-second before he would have been run down.  The siren rang at this moment, the entire team getting around Jesse to celebrate.

Final scores Norwood 12.8.80(Fingers2, Hudson 2, Narburgs, Stewart, Lochie, Shinners, Pearso, Rej, Christie, Newman)   def. East Ringwood 8.7.55

Best on the day was Michael Pearson with a very polished performance across half-back and through the middle.  Rej and Fingers were also excellent in the middle, while Shinners was our best forward, perhaps reveling in the focus on him given the absence of Aver (Foot) and Leroy(Suspension) up forward  Gibbo also played his best game for the year for us at half-back.

So a largely unfulfilled season comes to an end at Norwood, though our Development team and Colts live to fight on in finals this week, good luck to them.  Congrats to Leroy on winning the competition goal-kicking for the 3rd time with 70 goals, a terrific effort.  Congrats also to Justin Gould on a fabulous career at Norwood which spanned 5 seasons and incorporated the ground-breaking 2014 premiership, plus a team of the decade nomination.

And finally, a huge thank-you to departing coach Denis Knight, a man of few words and even fewer emotions, for the professionalism and winning culture which you brought to Norwood in 2013.  You were always generous with your time talking to this correspondent and his mates post-match, despite our occasional over-refreshed state.  Your calm and steely resolve shone through during your tenure, and was never more evident than during finals campaigns, where you were at your best.  Your five years at Norwood produced an amazing win loss record of 67 wins 29 losses at the remarkable strike rate of 68% highlighted by the dominant premiership win of 2014.  Well done Denis, a huge part of Norwood history owes a large amount to you.

That’s it for 2017, and as the Two Ronnies used to say, its goodnight from me and it was certainly good Knight from him.  See you next year.

Go Wooders