After their finals campaign went awry last year, Tea Tree Gully Football Club has rebounded strongly this year, looking to right the wrongs of 2015.
The Gullies suffered the ignominy of a straight sets exit from last season’s division one finals.
Despite securing the minor premiership after leading the ladder since round 10, Tea Tree Gully were unceremoniously dumped from the finals series after an 89-point loss to Goodwood Saints in the semi-final, and then a heartbreaking loss to Payneham Norwood Union in the preliminary final.
The Gullies had comfortably accounted for Goodwood twice during the regular season, both times by 33-points in identical score lines, whilst also scoring a hard-fought eight-point win over Payneham just two rounds prior to the finals.
Although the team suffered what stalwart Adam Maschotta described as “unforeseeable” injuries, the lacklustre finals display was still mystifying given their rapid ascension and valiant finals campaigns of the previous two seasons.
Having had the off-season to mull over their finals collapse, the Gullies have rebounded strongly this season under coach Mitch Sandery, finishing second in division one behind newcomers Prince Alfred Old Collegians, who have recruited well.
Whilst such a dispiriting climax would haunt lesser clubs, the Gullies have banished the ghosts of last year and approach this finals series having won eight of their last nine games, a testament to the resilience and unity throughout the club.
Just like seasons past, a dynamic balance between offence and defence has been paramount to the team’s success, keeping opponents below 65 points on 10 occasions, whilst scoring over 90 points 11 times.
Promisingly, some of Tea Tree Gully’s best wins have come on the eve of finals, most notably in a 20-point win over last season’s grand finalists Payneham Norwood Union where the Gullies opened up a 41-point lead at the first break.
A 64-point win over fellow finals contender Rostrevor, instilled further confidence among the playing group that they can make amends for last season, with spearhead Trent Melville kicking 10 goals in the comprehensive victory.
Key forward Melville will be integral to the club’s finals chances after leading the league for goalkicking with 66 majors, whilst the duo of Alex Mckay and Joshua Hand have been immense in dictating the play from the midfield.
With a qualifying final against Payneham Norwood Union fast approaching, the club is determined to make amends for last season, and armed with a healthy playing group fuelled by the memories of 2015, a premiership would be the perfect remedy for the heartbreak of the past.
Written by Sean Nunan