Ex-Freo stalwart calls on country footballers to play representative carnival
Victorious Upper Great Southern playing-coach Paul Duffield has called on country footballers to strive to represent their various leagues at the annual Landmark Country Football Championships.
The retired Fremantle Docker led his side to its 13th division 1 title last Sunday when they upset the previously unbeaten Goldfields by 21 points in the grand final at Claremont Oval.
Duffield also took out the Dick Smith Memorial Award and was named coach of the championships for his work.
It was a pure weight of numbers for Upper Great Southern, which helped them claim the Goldfields 11.8 (74) to 8.5 (53) victory, with the team’s use of 30 players in the grand final helping them to a five-goal to one last term and ultimately the win.
Duffield, who before playing for the Dockers had always dreamed of representing the league at the championships, said the victory would be one of his most cherished football memories.
“It is one of the great heights I have had in footy for quite some time,” he said.
“It holds a very special place in my heart as it is where I started playing my junior footy and very much a part of my story.
“To finish here, today like this, is a very special feeling.”
Upper Great Southern won a classic grand final, which was full of drama as well as twists and turns.
It looked as if they were going to run away with the game at half-time, having kept Goldfields scoreless, but wasted opportunities in front of goal meant they only led by 23 points at the main break.
Goldfields stormed back into the game in the third term with four goals, while holding Upper Great Southern to just a single behind.
But Duffield’s men were not going to be denied their glory, with forward Leroy Jetta booting three final-quarter goals to finish with four and lead them to their first division one title since 2010.
While some leagues struggled to fill teams and were forced to give players to represent the Regional All-Stars, Duffield revealed at one stage he had 45 players vying for a shot at his team.
“There is prestige and for all the clubs involved in it, it is a special thing to do,” he said.
“To wear your representative jumper is a not a right, it is a privilege and that is the culture we are trying to instil into the guys.
“That is why it meant so much to them today.”
Duffield received the Dick Smith Memorial Award for the coach of the championships, a just reward for his team’s success, while youngster Jarrad Doney won the Landmark Medal as the best on ground in the grand final.
South West Football League captain Jace Cormack won back-to-back Jock Coleman medals as the best and fairest for division 1.
Great Northern Football League will return to the top-tier competition next year, having won the division 2 title in a dominant grand final victory over Mortlock.
William Thorne booted five goals for the Great Northern side in their massive 14.6 (90) to 2.5 (17) victory.
Great Norther’s Leighton Bilgin was awarded the Landmark Medal for the best in the grand final, while Ongerup’s Luke Bairstow won the Bud Byfield medal as division 2’s best and fairest.
Former Claremont midfielder Keifer Yu helped the Regional All Stars to their first title, when they won the third-division grand final, 10.7 (67) to 7.6 (48) over Great Southern.
Yu booted three goals and was a handful all day in the midfield in the tight victory, with Regional All Stars running away with the game in the final quarter.
Despite his great game, Yu was beaten by teammate Alex Byrne for the Landmark Medal for the best on ground, while North Midlands’ Joel Leeson was awarded the Jock Beattie Medal for the third division’s best and fairest player.
In the colts, the South West Football League retained their title after a 36-point win over the Great Southern Storm in the grand final at Rushton Park on Saturday.
South West co-captain Jarrad Fazioli put on a fantastic performance to win the Kim “Freddy Curnow” medal as best on ground and help defeat the previously unbeaten Storm, 8.9 (57) to 3.3 (21).
Great Southern’s Poch Amores won the Ken Baxter Medal as the colts’ best and fairest player, while the Clem Bray Rising Star Award went to Jack Hindle from the SWFL.
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