Weekly Times |THORPDALE Football Club is in the hunt for its first finals appearance in seven seasons in what has been a tragic year for the tiny Gippsland community.
The Blues, who last played finals in 2010, are on top of the Mid Gippsland league ladder with a 6-1 record.
The top five teams will play finals and already Thorpdale has opened a three-win buffer between it and Morwell East, which sits in sixth but is the only team to beat Thorpdale so far.
“We won a couple of early games by small margins, but they got a bit of confidence up,” club president Kelly Durkin said. “We’ve played seven (of the other teams) and two more to go before we hit the halfway mark.
“We should play finals hopefully and see where it goes from there.”
Durkin was 11 when Thorpdale last won a premiership, in 1985.
“We’re all sick of hearing about past glories, we want to know about tomorrow,” he said.
“We need to make some of our own history ... Thorpdale needs a bit of success and we’ve been through a rough time the last couple of months.”
The township was left devastated by a fire in April which destroyed the local pub and killed publican John Bantock.
Thorpdale Football Club members had been at the hotel two nights earlier celebrating a Round 1 win by five points against Mirboo North.
Durkin described Bantock as “much-loved”.
“We’ve had a terribly sad time to start the season, the community, and what tragedy does is it brings people closer together,” Durkin said.
The weekend after the pub fire Thorpdale recorded a two-point win against reigning premier Newborough, which coach Nick Brown said was the best win so far this season.
In his second year as playing coach, Brown said being able to play a “relatively settled side most weeks was paying dividends”.
“I’d like to think our best footy stacks up against the best sides,” he said.
“We still haven’t played Yallourn North and they made last year’s grand final, so they’re obviously a good side.
“It will be interesting in the second half of the year when we go around and play everyone again, but I think we’re playing pretty reasonable footy at the moment, so I’d like to think it will stack up when it counts.”
This week’s game is against Yarragon.