COBDEN and Koroit have become familiar finals foes on the netball court in past seasons but Saturday’s preliminary final will leave one club ecstatic and the other deeply disappointed.
The two clubs will meet at Reid Oval at 1.20pm in the penultimate game of the season desparate to keep their premiership dreams alive, with both clubs having previously featured against each in the 2018 and 2019 grand finals.
However, this year, the victorious club will progress onto the decider where they will meet South Warrnambool, which booked its spot with a triumph over the Bombers last weekend.
Saturday’s contest is expected to be a close affair, with both sides claiming a win apiece in the home and away series earlier this year.
Cobden shooter Molly Hutt said her side was eager to bounce back quickly from its semi-final defeat and give itself a chance at claiming long-awaited glory.
“It was obviously disappointing last Saturday but we can’t be too disappointed because it was such a great game,” she said.
“We’re raring to go this week. We are itching to get it (a premiership). We’ve been so close in other years and missed out so we’re very determined to get it this year.
“We’re going to give it all we got and hopefully we can finally bring it home.”
The Saints progressed following a narrow win over North Warrnambool in the other semi-final, a triumph goal attack Bella Baker said gave Koroit belief.
But she added the Saints would need to keep its focus against the Bombers and not get sucked into playing away from its strengths if it wanted to win a shot at a third successive flag.
“It’s more of a mental game for us we think,” Baker said.
“We can do it physically but it’s about taking our time and doing the small things like defending over the ball.
“It’s the small goals throughout the game that we’re aiming (to hit) and that’s why I think we can win, by being steady and playing our game.
“It’s just the little one percenters…that can win us a turnover or get us a goal potentially.”
Kylie Grayland can’t recall a time she didn’t play netball for the Koroit Football
And that’s not just because she has what she terms, ‘the worst memory ever’.
It’s also because it was around 28 years – and more than 350 games ago – that the
locally-born-and-bred pocket rocket first stepped on the court for her beloved Saints.
“I’ve just been playing as long as I can remember,” the 42-year-old mother of two
said this week, when pressed to name the year she first represented her hometown
This weekend, Koroit celebrates Kylie’s 350 senior grade netball game in the red,
white and black – a Saints record on the netball court. The game count was
achieved over almost three decades of netball at Victoria Park, with just two years
spent playing for Old Collegians in 2014 and 2015.
Kylie’s impressive game tally – which spans stints in all senior grades – Open,
Division 1, 2 and even the odd Division 3 appearance – doesn’t take into account the
many junior games a young Kylie also played.
“I started playing for Koroit when I was young, around 11 years old… I think it was in
the stadium, which is now our HPC (High Performance Centre)… that could even be
wrong… it’s so long ago. I just remember that I’ve always played there, and I have
just always loved it.”
Growing up around the corner from the Saints’ Victoria Park home, the highly-
competitive fitness fanatic said heading over to play netball with her friends was a
childhood thrill that never really subsided.
“My favourite thing about it is still playing with my friends,” she explained. “It’s
because my family is there and my friends are there, and the people around the club.
I love it.”
Hers has been a decorated career; on a team front, Kylie was a member of the
Saints first-ever A Grade netball premiership flag in 2001. She has two Division 2
premiership medallions (2012 and 2018) and four Runner Up momentos (2013,
2015, 2017 and 2019.)
Individual accolades have been even more prolific; Kylie’s name graces the
Hampden Football Netball League’s Division 2 Best and Fairest cup on no less than
six occasions (2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2017 and 2019), and the league’s Division 1
award in 2010.
Then there’s the multitude of Club awards that also carry her name – which
everyone agrees are too multiple to keep track of.
Today, Kylie and Division 1 netballer Emily Batt are the only two members of the
Saints’ 2001 ground breaking A grade netball squad that saw the start of the Club’s
dominance of the HFNL netball ranks who still play. Although that year’s Premiership
photo includes several other stalwarts who Kylie credits with having the greatest
influence on her career at Victoria Park.
“Kate Dobson and Stacey O’Sullivan played in that side, and have coached me the
whole way through, as long as I can remember. And they still do!” she confessed this
week. “Kate Foster and Danielle McInerney as well… I have always felt I could go to
them any time for help and advice.”
It’s this support around the Club that Kylie proclaims to be the Saints’ greatest
strength. “The people. The support. I’ve done other jobs around the Club (canteen
coordinator, coaching across junior and senior grades and on the club’s events
committee) and the Committee are always supportive. Always finding a way to help
you make things happen.
“It’s like a family.”
As for the ‘r’ word, Kylie admits she flirted with the idea of retirement prior to
COVID… but that her signature never-say-die attitude was spurring her on now the
pandemic had ended. “No way was I letting COVID send me to retirement!” she
declared. “The ultimate aim is to win a flag… maybe then I’ll retire. Retire on the best
kind of high.”
Saints President Stephen Hoy said club members like Kylie were the backbone of country clubs. “It’s years like this year that you realise how lucky we are to have players and volunteers as loyal as Kylie has been over the years,” he said.