After finishing top of the table, Gembrook Cockatoo won the Premiership, defeating Seville 14.11 95 to 10.12 72.
Infront of a huge crowd Gembrook Cockatoo were too strong for Seville in a game that had plenty of action and standout players. The first half was a real arm wrestle and so was the start of the third quarter, however Gembrook Cockatoo were better at making the most of their opportunities and quickly built a lead and found themselves 36 points up late in the game. Seville weren’t going to die wondering though and mustered up three consecutive goals.
The damage was already done, and Gembrook Cockatoo found themselves Division 1 Premiers.
Josh Tilly, who was BOG found plenty of the ball, amassing 34 disposals and used it efficiently. Michael Firrito bagged four goals, three of which were in the second half, at crucial stages in the game. Aaron Firrito was huge in the first half, setting up plenty of scoring launches. Brayden Weller across the wing and half back flank was superb, intercepting and providing plenty of run. Myles Wareham and Matt Templeton both kicked three goals and looked lively. Unfortunately, the skipper Colin Bastow came off the field with a suspected knee injury, following a nasty contest. Bastow prior to this was busy and kicked a goal.
Their most immediate matchup before the Grand Final was in the Qualifying Final where Seville won by 21.
Before this though, Gembrook won by 26 in R18, one point in R11 and Seville smashed Gembrook Cockatoo in R4 by 75 points.
Although they finished first on the ladder, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Brookers as they won one of their first three games, including the hammering at the hands of Seville. After six games they had only won three, with two losses and a draw (against Berwick Springs).
From there, Gembrook Cockatoo went on to win 11 of the last 12 games.
They were a prolific scoring team, hitting the 100 goal mark on 10 occasions. This had them the second highest scoring team of the season, averaging 99 points a game while conceding 68 points per game.
Whilst Seville held the advantage in some stats, Gembrook Cockatoo had more contested disposals 99.8 per game (11.8 more than Seville) and contested marks 15.1 per game (2.9 more than Seville).
The Brookers were choc-a-block full of talent with stars across every line on the field.
Myles Wareham booted an impressive 71 goals for the year. On four occasions Wareham bagged 5+ goals and 11 times 4+. His most prolific game was in Round 2 against Belgrave where his 7 goals helped the Brookers to a 20 goal victory.
Michael Firrito, former North Melbourne defender, booted 52 goals from his 16 games and was impressive across the ground.
Jay Verhagen had a fantastic season, notching up 47 goals, whilst Matt Templeton found the goals 13 times from only eight games.
Other standouts were Josh Tilly (BOG in GF), Aaron Firrito, Brayden Weller, Damien Volta and Liam Henzen.
The Brookers were heavily represented in Team of the Year and rightfully so.
Weller (HBF), Tilly (Wing), Verhagen (HFF), Wareham (FF) and Aaron Firrito (I/C) all made team of the year. Michael Firrito didn’t happen to make Team of the Year, however he made the Premier Data Team of the Year, following a phenomenal season.
Gembrook Cockatoo loom as a serious threat again 2023 and should be pushing for finals still following the promotion to Premier Division.
Being a relatively young team asides from a few players, holds the Brookers in good stead in the future.
“The whole angle will be keeping our list together and adding a couple. Because we’re so young we’re going to see improvement still,” Coller said.
The Reserves also won the flag, holding off a fast finishing Berwick Springs by seven points.
For much of the contest Gembrook Cockatoo were in control and looked like they would skip away to an easy win at stages. Berwick Springs didn’t give up and fought back hard late, but credit to Gembrook Cockatoo for getting the job done. This came after Berwick Springs were held to just five goals at 3QT and found themselves four goals down. The Brookers conceded four goals to one in the last quarter but ultimately the damage was done as they held on to win the flag.
Mitchell Brown was crucial with three goals, whilst there were six single goal kickers for the Brookers.
Benjamin Schultze, Marley Appleyard, Christopher Bourne, Jake O’Sullivan, Luke Coad and Jesse Pantorno all had standout games.
Brown kicked 23 goals for the season from just nine games and Luke Waddell was next with 19 goals from 19 games.
Throughout the season Connor Moore, Reece Pepi (a goal per game) and William Burchill (also a goal a game) were a few more standout players. Jake O’Sullivan and Jesse Busacca also had solid season.
“To win one flag for the club is awesome but to win two on the same day is unbelievable,” Brookers coach Senior Coach Brad Coller said.
Winning the Premiership in both the Seniors and the Reserves is a sensational result for the club as attention turns to 2023.
In A Grade, Gembrook Cockatoo finished sixth with 4 wins and 14 losses.
The ladder didn’t do the Brookers much justice as they were more competitive than what it showed.
Some highlights for the season were defeating Healesville by 15 in Round 5 39-24, coming really close to Yarra Glen (4th) in Round 6 who finished, thanks to some strong shooting thanks to Chelsea Ingram (22) and Rebecca Christie (17). They drew with Emerald (3rd in Round 10), once again showing they can match it with good teams.
Round 14 against Berwick Springs saw an emphatic 40-22 victory.
And although Round 18 didn’t produce a win, the Brookers pushed Seville, leading by five at Half-Time and trailing by one at 3QT. They didn’t hold unfortunately but it showed once again they can match it with the best, with Seville being the eventual Premiers.
Goal Shooter Chelsea Ingram had a nice year shooting 297 goals (seventh in the league), whilst Goal Attack Rebecca Christie scored 196 of her own.
There were a handful of other standout players. Ashlee Bowden was strong in GD/GK which reflected in her being recognised for Goal Defence in team of the year, who was complimented well by Alexis Bell. Aimee Harkin was dominant through the centre of the court who combined well with Laura Christie. Brooke Munnerley and Paige Ladner also had strong years.
Team defence is something Gembrook Cockatoo will want to improve on for next season, conceding 43 points per game in 2022. Coach Shanae Ingram highlighted consistency as the main scope for improvement, “Our main focus for next year will be consistency and basic execution. When we are good we’re really good, however we need to ensure we’re bringing our best week in and week out. That’s starting with the basics,” Ingram said.
This is an accurate reflection given there were many games where the Brookers were in the game until late in the third quarter and the fact that they were able to match it for even longer than this against quality teams.
“We really want to be competitive next season. My expectations of the girls is to push themselves to produce the best netball they possibly can and the results will come,” said Ingram.
For 2023, the Brookers have a few players returning, whilst they will miss a couple due to a few players travelling.
The B grade team finished 5th, whilst the C grade team made the Grand Final after a great season, going down to Seville 36-29, after finishing 2nd with a record of 13-5.
Their D grade team finished third with 9 wins, 2 draws and 7 losses and lost the Semi Final by 1 to Berwick Springs.
Overall as a club, Gembrook Cockatoo had a fantastic year with the two football Premierships and two Netball finals appearances, including a Grand Final in C Grade.
Written by Jordan Peeler