2000 SANFL Grand Final

By Robert Laidlaw 

"How many premierships have you won?" Now Central District can answer that well-worn taunt with pride, because last Sunday the Bulldogs defeated the Eagles by 22-points to win the clubs first premiership.

The celebrations at Football Park after the game and back at Elizabeth Oval had to be seen to be believed. Hardly any of the spectators left until well after the presentations and the Bulldogs must have set some type of record for the lengthy time it took to run a lap of honour.

Fans, who had tears of disappointment after the 1996 grand final, now had tears of joy. A lot of emotion has been building up over many years and last Sunday it all poured out.

In a tough and hard defensive first half, both teams struggled to score goals, while a 'premiership' third quarter of four goals set up the Doggies win. The Eagles made an early charge in the last quarter with two quick goals but then Central put the shutters up.

James Gowans was presented with the Jack Oatey Medal for best on ground. He said, "It's unbelievable, after six straight senior grand finals, (twin brother) Chris and I have finally played in a premiership team. "I've only been here five minutes, but I know this premiership means everything to the club, we actually have a history now. I don't know what it looked like to the spectators, but it was really hard in tight."

Goals were a premium, with Stuart Dew and Daniel Healy each scoring three goals. Healy thought the midfielders, onballers and defence was great. "It was awesome, a great feeling. People talk about the feeling, but you have to experience it to appreciate it."

Club veteran Brian Haraida played his 200th game on Saturday and stated he could not put the feelings into words at the moment. "I thought the backline was brilliant, everyone did what they had to do, stuck to it and never gave up. They were really resilient today. It should be a public holiday in the Elizabeth area, it is huge, well overdue. It was magnificent winning the premiership in my 200th game. I can not thank my team mates enough."

Nathan Steinberner could have been the unluckiest Bulldog after suffering from appendicitis after the qualifying final, but amazingly recovered in time to take his place in the grand final side. Steiny said, "I was a little flat towards the end of the game from my
operation, with match fitness, but I felt ok and ran the game out all right. When the siren went, I was just looking for Dewey and the guys, it was unreal."

Young rookie Quinton Graham was over the moon. He was enjoying the atmosphere with all the guys, past players and everyone from the club. He said, "I'm just enjoying the moment and looking forward to coming back next year as defending premiers. "The pressure was unbelievable. Every time I got the ball, I thought there was a full scale riot, the crowd was so vocal, it felt like 80,000 people were here today."

Rick Macgowan played a super game but seemed to spend almost as much time on the bench as the field, coming off on numerous occasions with the blood rule. He said, "I copped a couple of high ones and had a bit of a rest, which didn't hurt me. I felt relieved when the siren went, that last quarter seemed to go on forever. I looked at the clock about 15 times and it didn't seem to move. It was tight all over the ground. We played one on one and did not allow them to get any free men."

Retiring captain Danny Hulm thought it was a magnificent result. He said, "The crowd was enormous, with the northern suburbs roaring for us. We were very good in close with our intensity and pressure. We pride ourselves to be the best in close in the competition. That was our game plan today and it worked a treat. It hasn't really sunk in that I've got to leave, but there couldn't be a better way to go out. It also makes it hard to leave. I lost my medal in the after match celebrations, but Craig Cotter found it for

Coach Peter Jonas has created history at Central District with the grand final result. The first coach to take the Bulldogs to the flag! He said, "It feels excellent, very good. I thought we won it in close. Our boys had a real crack. We had to do the job today and the boys did it. I thought all of our boys were fantastic, they just had a go all day, they were great."

Past great and one of Elizabeth's favourite sons, John Platten was pleased his beloved Bulldogs have finally broken the ice for an elusive premiership. He said, "It feels great that Centrals have finally achieved what all the supporters have been waiting 36 years for. It's great for the guys and all the players who have played here over the years. And also for the northern suburbs. I think both sides have been fairly even all year and it got down to the best side on the day and the weeks rest was an advantage."

Long time General Manager Kris Grant was pleased because the club has won some respect for itself and the northern area. He said, "I think that's what it's all about and what's important. We have never been
respected, but I think from here on in we will be."

Club president Les Stevens had his pre-season prophecy of a premiership for the club in 2000 fulfilled. He also was right on his after match prediction that 10,000 people would be celebrating at Elizabeth Oval
later that night.

The scenes back at the club, on the oval, as the players were being presented raised hairs on the back of supporter's necks. The Central's chant reverberated around the ground, and will continue to bounce around in the memory banks of fans for many years to come.

Scores: Central District 8.13 (61) d Eagles 5.9 (38)
Best: J. Gowans, Macgowan, Graham, Healy, Bello, Hopwood, Arnold, Dew, C. Gowans, Steinberner. Goals: Dew 3, Healy 3, Ford, J. Gowans.

Named lineup 10th September 2000:
F: Daniel Hulm (C), Sam McArdle, Marco Bello
HF: Daniel Healy, Kynan Ford, Stuart Dew
C: Michael Stevens, Ricki Macgowan, Danny Stevens
HB: Quinton Graham, Brian Haraida, Heath Hopwood
B: Brent Guerra, Paul Geister, Damian Hicks
Ruck: Radlee Moller, Chris Gowans, James Gowans
Int: Damien Arnold, Nathan Steinberner, Matt Slade

Coach: Peter Jonas
Jack Oatey Medallist: James Gowans

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