By Lance Jenkinson
With his team putting the finishing touches on a glorious grand final day experience, Glen Orden coach Phil Crea turned to the section of supporters decked out in brown and gold, stretched out his arms, clenched his fists, pumped the air in delight and let out an almighty roar.
The emotions of 24 months of blood, sweat and tears that it took for the Hawks to go from a club in oblivion to a premiership winner in the Western Region Football League division 3 came out in that joyous moment.
The Hawks sealed the flag with a 26-point win over the much-fancied Albanvale in the grand final at the VU Whitten Oval on Saturday.
Crea allowed himself the chance to enjoy the final five minutes of what is a most stressful day for coaches.
“It’s been a big journey for a couple of years,” he said.
“What we’ve been through, the challenges, the last five minutes of the game, I just wanted to enjoy every minute of it.”
This time two years ago, Glen Orden did not have a senior men’s football team.
The 2017 season will be a hole in the Hawks record books because of a mass exodus of players prior to that season.
The biggest challenge for Glen Orden was getting back on the park because often clubs are unable to find a way back from such a predicament.
The Hawks found a way, installing Crea as coach and beginning the journey back to the top of division 3.
“It’s a credit to these blokes,” Crea said.
“They put up their hand to get the club back up and running.
“I hope, after this premiership, they make this place home now.”
Glen Orden only won three games in 2018, but that was to be expected because of its limited preparation.
Coming into 2019, Crea told everyone who would listen that he had assembled a finals-quality team.
The Hawks played like one from the outset, winning their first eight games of the season and setting the standard in the league.
Two flat patches – back-to-back losses in rounds nine and 10 and then a three-game losing streak between rounds 15 and 17 – had some people doubting if Glen Orden could re-capture its early-season form, but it did so in a big way during a flawless finals series.
The key to Glen Orden’s three consecutive finals wins was getting back to team instructions and plans that had served them so well during their high points.
“We had that little lapse during the year, but come finals time, we spoke about sticking to our structures and sticking with what works for us, and they did that,” Crea said.
“I thought the way we used the ball was great.
“Everyone played their role today and that’s how you win flags.”
Crea concedes Glen Orden was not perfect.
Two yellow cards – picked up for ill-disciplined acts in the third quarter for Jhoshuar Dean and Soni Rainbow – were disappointing.
It was in those moments, when the Hawks were down a man on the field, that each player stepped up to fill the void.
“A couple of ill-disciplined things might have cost us a bit,” Crea said. “That’s something as a club that we need to work on and get better.
“To win finals and grand finals, you’ve got to show character, and I thought the boys did after we got those yellow cards.”
Glen Orden’s Marc Yates claimed the medal for best-on-ground.
Yates has been inspirational for the Hawks all season.
“He’s provided that leadership, the love for the club and how much the club means to him has rubbed off on the new blokes,” Crea said.
“He’s unlucky not to be the centre half-back in the team of the year.”
Dylan Di Genova and Henoch Kebede were the outstanding big men on the ground for Glen Orden. Dillon Hinge was the best forward on the ground with three goals and provided a presence.
Crea praised the efforts of the whole Hawks backline. “All year, our backline haven’t conceded a big score,” he said.
“They work so well down there together.”
Crea confirmed that Glen Orden will accept promotion to division 2 next season.
“We’re going to embrace going up a division,” he said.