The Thomas Seymour-Hill Trophy. Probably the second most coveted prize in Australian football behind the AFL premiership cup. After 23 weeks of home and away footy and three weeks of qualifying matches, it came down to two teams to play off for the gold and the 2008 flag in the last four quarters of professional football in the land.
Welcome to the last Wrap-Up for the year... the 2008 SANFL Grand Final.
They have been in every Grand Final since 2000. Eight appearances on the big stage of AAMI Stadium for six premierships. Their victims -- the Eagles, the Roosters and the Bloods. This season marked their ninth Grand Final appearance in a row and a shot at their seventh premiership flag. Central District have made themselves into a modern day football powerhouse and they've got the firepower to prove it. This year, however, the Bulldogs' "mighty fighting" tag was called into question. Half-way through the season the Dogs were sitting in third position, two wins short of top spot on the league ladder. The Dogs couldn't move too much further, some wins coming from narrow escapes and the intensity that they had been renowned for was sorely lacking. But come finals time, the Bulldogs suddenly awoke from their slumber. Spurred on by bits and pieces of "hate mail" making their way to Elizabeth, the reigning premiers stunned the Double Blues and proceeded to push aside the minor premiers from the Bay.
Speaking of which... lets talk about the opposition. Their last Grand Final appearance was back in 1992 when the whole landscape of football in South Australia was still undergoing a major change after the advent of the Adelaide Football Club. Port Adelaide were the victors of that day and there wasn't much heard of from this side during September since then. It was 1986 when they bagged their last premiership flag, which made number four all up in 88 years of the Glenelg Football Club. This mob has probably one of the most enduring supporters of all despite that fact. This year the Tigers surprised everyone when they finished the home and away season on 16 wins and four losses, beating the Double Blues to the minor premiership. They also bagged a big crowd figure this year, when almost 12,000 people turned out at Challenge Recruitment Oval for what is probably the best match of 2008. Their finals campaign was shaken up harshly by the Bulldogs, but a victory against Sturt in the Preliminary Final put them into their first grand final for 16 years.
Some strong words emanated from the Bay in the week leading up to the big day, something along the lines of "too old, too slow". The first half saw the two teams go almost kick for kick, beginning in the first quarter where the Dogs took the quarter-time lead of one point after kicking 3.2 to the Tigers' 3.1. The Tigers hit the front in the eighth minute of the second term when after a rash of poor shots, Daniel Kirk scored his second goal of the day putting them up by nine points. But the Bulldogs answered with better accuracy on the big sticks, they kicked 2.2 to Glenelg's 1.5 to take a four-point lead at the long break. Matthew Bode, Ty Allen and Adam Fisher were among Glenelg's hardest first half workers. Both sides of the fence were screaming almost equally as loud, Centrals supporters in attendance would have been surprised to not be outnumbering the opposition supporters as they have been for some time. The Snouts Louts and company could be heard loud and clear at every goal.
But the Bulldogs must have just been playing possum. After the half-time caucus in the changerooms, the six-time premiers were almost a different unit and they were ready to tear the Glenelg charges apart. After they bagged two goals early in the quarter, the Dogs restricted Glenelg's score to just 2.1 and smashed home five goals within 15 minutes through Matthew Slade, Daniel Schell, Trent Goodrem and the retiring Luke McCabe, in that order. In addition to four behinds, the Dogs were ahead by 37 points at the end of what is referred to as "The Premiership Quarter". That was rather fitting, seeing as that was the game breaking term that the Dogs needed. The Bays didn't stop trying though, at one stage they were four goals away in the final term. They kicked 4.4, but the Bulldogs' additional 5.3 put the final gap out to seven goals exactly. The Bulldogs etched not only their name on the Thomas Seymour Hill Trophy, but also a place in SANFL history by matching Port Adelaide's record of seven premierships in a decade. As for the jibe from the Tigers camp, a Bulldogs fan shot back... "Too old, too slow, too good."
Sunday October 5
2008 SANFL GRAND FINAL
Central District 17.11 (113)
Glenelg 10.11 (71)
34,128 @ AAMI Stadium
"BUCKETS" TAKES OUT MEDAL
Bulldogs ruckman Jason McKenzie was the Bulldogs standout performer on the day and was awarded the Jack Oatey Medal, edging out the likes of captain Paul Thomas and pocket-rocket Ian Callinan. For the Tigers, Paul Sherwood was named their best afield and the club is hoping to get another season out of him in 2009.
CENTRAL DISTRICT FC -- 2008 SANFL Premiers