Part four - 1982
After the success of our breakthrough season of 1981, you may think the pressure would be on to repeat our premiership feat. I can honestly say that confidence and belief in ourselves was the driving force for the season ahead and not any pressure from coach Younger or the club. We were a very close group who socialised and had fun outside of football. We were committed to our training to the point where you almost needed to be in hospital to miss training. Anyone who was injured and couldn't train was still expected to attend training and watch his mates go around. This became the norm for many years at the club. I would rate 1982 and 83 as the most dominant years of our five year reign as Premiers. Both years we won every trophy on offer. The Presidents Cup, The Jack Kuder Memorial Trophy, The Castlemaine Shield, The Minor Premiership and The Premiership. In '82 we were undefeated (20 games) heading into the last fixture against bottom side Ferny Grove at our proud homeground at Gilbert Park. Going through the motions we cruised to a 21-9 lead well into the second half and looked all set for a clean sweep of the 21 rounds. Now Ferny Grove were a mighty tough bunch who spent a fair amount of the game trying to knock our heads off. Sensing these tactics weren't working, they started to throw the ball around. We became powerless to stop them and they got us 22-21 on the bell. It was their Grand Final and bragging rights of knocking off the undefeated Premiers. We weren't knowingly complacent that day, but it was the best thing to happen to us heading into the finals. We swept aside our semi-final opponent to go straight into the Grand Final and waited to see who our opponent would be. They would be Hansen's, again. Not content with their their high profile Grade players from '81, Johnny Smith brought in a very talented halfback from Valleys and a speedy winger from Norths to deal with us. The game was played at Newman Oval again and coach Younger didn't need to ask last years question of who has played in a Grand Final. Regardless of the work put in all year, the one constant of every Grand Final I played was that I felt spent after ten minutes of the first half. This is due to a combination of Adrenaline and nervous energy which some people deal with and come out the other side, and some don't. Our supreme fitness at the end of all of our Grand Finals was telling every year.
This game was the fastest football match I can remember playing in for Normanby. The scoreline of 22-10 would suggest it was a comfortable win but it was anything but. Both teams attacked from start to finish without let up. The game went from one end of the field to the other and only great defence from both teams prevented a blowout of the scores. By halftime we were leading 10-3 (three point tries in those days and fair dinkum energy sapping scrums). Larry Corbo and Doug Tester scored first half tries with ever reliable Ian Dobbs landing both conversions. The second half was more of the same with exhilarating attack and backs to the wall defence. Glen Mays and Doug Tester would score our two second half tries with Dobbsy adding the extra's. The thrill of the win was no less than the year before and to see the elation on our supporters faces was something we were very proud of. We weren't just playing for us but the whole club. Another big week was to follow with Sunday night celebrations at the club, 10-10 at the Normanby Hotel on the Monday and several more days of drinking and reliving memories. Oh, I almost forgot, we were the lead story on Nine's 6 o'clock news sports segment again.
Normanby 22 (Doug Tester 2, Larry Corbo, Glen Mays tries, Ian Dobbs 5 goals) def Hansens 10.
Scoresheet 1981 Grand Final Normanby 12 (Wayne Thomsen, Brian Donnelly tries, Ian Dobbs 3 goals) def Hansens 5.
By Brian Donnelly.