The Wandsworth Demons won their first AFL London Grand Final since 2003, with a 74-point demolition of the Putney Magpies in front of a large, enthusiastic crowd of over 700 supporters at Barn Elms in Putney on Saturday.
The Demons were in command from the first bounce. In blustery conditions, maintaining possession of the ball with ease, they restricted the Magpies’ penetration beyond midfield.
However the Dees could not make the pressure count on the scoreboard, with only the two goals to show for their early domination.
In the second quarter though, Wandsworth made their command of possession count, piling on three early goals in seven minutes to assert their authority on the game.
Putney then managed to briefly stem the onslaught, posting their first two goals for the game in the space of three minutes, giving them a fighting chance. The Demons responded though and lead by 28-points at half time.
Putney coach Mark Pitura demanded more from his players after the long break, but again the Demons started the quarter the stronger, with Chris Cant and Jeremy Coombes across half forward dominant and Mark Brescacin providing drive from the midfield.
Four unanswered goals by Wandsworth put the game beyond Putney and when Brecacin goaled at the 23 minute-mark to extend the lead to 56-points, the Premiership was all but sealed by the Demons.
The Dees slotted home the first two goals of the fourth quarter which became something of a victory march, their delirious club mates and supporters celebrating every kick, pass and mark from behind goal.
Whilst Putney never gave up, it was the Demons who were left soaking up the atmosphere in the final minutes of a well-deserved Premiership victory 15.15(105) to 4.7(31)
Wandsworth coach Marcus Thomas was full of praise for his squad after the match. “I’ve never, ever seen a Wandsworth team as good as this in all my years at the club,” he said.
He also had special praise for his European players: “You can’t tell the difference between the Aussies and the EU’s in this team”.
Thomas described the feeling of Wandsworth’s first flag in 7 years as “fantastic” adding, “It wasn’t just the quality of players in the team; it’s the people in the club that have won this.”
At the half way point of the season, the Demons had a poor win/loss record which had many questioning their ability to challenge for the flag. But they hit form when it counted. In their minor season ending victory and following semi-final victory, both over the usually dominant West London Wildcats, Wandsworth showed their true credentials.
“The guys stuck together, worked hard and built and built and built to achieve this Grand Final win,” said a jubilant Thomas.
Putney coach Pitura was also full of praise for Wandsworth. “They were too good on the day.”
“We were second to the ball, found wanting at the contest on too many occasions”.
Pitura confessed that the Magpies had effectively had their Grand Final the previous week in their own finals upset victory over the Wildcats.
“We were a bit overawed. It’s hard to come from third with sudden deaths all the way through”.
“It’s been a roller coaster season, we were lucky to finish where we did.”
“We’ve still not won anything as a club but we are getting closer” said Pitura.
In other results, the Shepherd’s Bush Raiders clinched a comprehensive victory over Clapham 12.9(81) to 7.3(45) for their eighth Conference title in nine years. Whilst in the Social league, Ealing were too strong for South London 7.1(43) to 2.5(17).
For full coverage of the 2010 AFL London season, go to www.australiantimes.co.uk/afl-london