Boots off, suits on.
After a dominant 2017, Stuart Turner defined season #BM2018 by an unparalleled consistency which saw him cap off a sensational East Coast Eagles Club Champion Night at the Homebush Novotel, by claiming back-to-back Peter Physick Medals.
It was also a night where we said goodbye to arguably the clubs greatest son in 4-time Premiership player captain Jon Vlatko, who hung up the boots once and for all. We would all like to thank Jon for the hard work he has put in to get the club to where it is today and on a personal note I would like to thank Jon for all his guidance and support both on and off the field, we look forward to seeing him on the hill next year.
210 players, coaches, devoted club supporters and sponsors packed the Novotel, breaking the record for biggest club champion night attendance proving the vibe around the football club is growing rapidly, and only promises to raise a bar or two in upcoming seasons which sees 2019 pre-season begin in just a handful of days.
Also, it was announced that our major sponsor Kanebridge will be with us for a further 10 years, a huge win for the club and reason enough to celebrate.
From the highs of 2 newly inducted life members to the East Coast Eagles ranks, to the laughs of DJ Dimery and the lows of Jimmy Regan winning the 3 grand Joker Poker jackpot.
Let’s run through the Club Champion Night that was in BM2018………….
The night began with Peter Physick pointing out that the Royals Harry and Meghan were close by and on their way.
They didn’t show, but we didn’t need them because we had East Coast footballing royalty throughout the room, two men especially who took their rightful places in the East Coast Eagles Life Member ranks.
Garry Bailey and Ron Heathcote both bleed Blue and Gold, and have for a very long time.
They would do anything for the club, for anyone in it, you only have to ask.
Ronny ‘THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN TONGS’ Heathcote is a crown jewel of our football club, with the best BBQ in town his devotion to the Eagles in second to none, he barely misses a home game and will always be a celebrated figure at Kanebridge.
As for Garry Bailey, it challenges me to put a label on his role at the club. Because every Saturday I always catch an eye of him doing everything and anything around the ground. Whether that be umpire escort, timekeeping, helping on team benches.
Garry has forged his legacy as an icon of the club through his commitment and passion to do whatever needs to be done to make the club the best it can be, and he doesn’t want any recognition, so humble he is.
He loves the club so dearly saying during his speech, how lucky we all are to be playing at this great club.
A huge role model for me and many others at East Coast. Good on yah mate, can’t wait to see you around next season.
We commended our Divvy 2 side next, proud to say the team made astronomical progression this season with a new coach, new motivation and new creedo ‘MAKE DIV 2 GREAT AGAIN’. Finishing 9th with 4 wins does not sound like much, but it is an impressive improvement for a side who have struggled in recent years. New Coach Michael Lambert rewarded the hard work of first year workhorses Darren Mahenthirarajah and Troy Jones along with returning Ruckman Dave Taylor with team awards. 2017 Best and Fairest Ben King continued his strong form with a Runner-Up gong, whilst Mitch Thompson graciously accepted Angus Hay’s Best and Fairest for Division Two in Season 2018. Congrats of a big year fellas.
The Women’s team acheived so much in BM2018, falling short in the Preliminary Final but it would be remiss of us not to celebrate everything they brought to the football club in BM2018. Em Goodsir picked up more silverware, winning her first club Best and Fairest after previously being awarded the James Medal for best player in the Women’s Division One League. Her midfield partner in crime Ally Dallaway continues to develop as a leader on and off the field, winning Runner-Up, as Ruckman Courtney Torpy won Most Improved, and Jessica and Chloe won Coach’s award and Player’s Player respectively, honours that sure began a strong night for the women in the Arndt Family. You shined bright this year EAGALS, and already have the hunger to go one better next season.
The Under 19s had both strong and dull patches this year, inconsistencies costing them a finals berth. Yet, plenty of future club superstars emerged this season, none more so than in Trevor Hangan Medalist winner, speedy sensation Bailey Sims. Ryan Van Vliet finished a huge three season stint with the 19s as Runner-Up, a ripe reward for the key intercept marker. Youngster Keegan Brady put together a marvellous season once moved to the backline, and was a deserving Most Consistent award recipient. Elsewhere, Adam Mrazek picked up Most Improved and Josh Large won Players’ Player. Get to PreSeason boys, we can go far in 2019 if we believe in each other.
The Reserves led by ‘MOC’ Matt O’Connor, endured a heartbreaking finish to the season bowing out in the first week of finals, but it was one the club is very proud of. The Best and Fairest count provided one of the biggest surprises of the night. Midfielders Dan O’Connor and Marty Karafalis became joint winners on the Billy McLeod Medal, the former becoming a back-to-back medalist. Xander Van Vliet returned after a season off proved he was better for the break, winning Most Consistent. Our Big Buddha Blake Jones won the Coaches Award after an inspiring job as captain for much of the year. Damien Gatte, also returning to the club after an extended layoff finished the year as Players Player. A solid year for the Ressies, but no one is content just yet, big things are a coming.
Before we move to the Peter Physick medal count and Premier Division awards, multiple club awards were again presented to well earning winners.
Firstly, Beth Arndt picked up ClubPerson of the Year joining her daughters as award winners. Beth works tirelessly behind the scenes with husband Dave, to ensure Gameday runs smoothly, and with special dedication as the Womens team’s mother duckling, you would have to look hard to find a figure with more commitment and heart then this East Coast woman.
Rudi Bylsma or as many know him, the Canteen Guru, won Volunteer of the Year. Rudi is a life member who never stops and breathes this footy club. At training before any of the coaches and players to set up the canteen Dim Sims and injury bed, he would travel to the ends of the earth if anyone had a bung ankle and needed taping. Heart and Soul of East Coast, never change Rudi.
Elsewhere, Damien Gatte and Will Cashmore won a golf and rally car trip in the Hunter Valley a popular prize for claiming Eagles Academy Coaches of the Year.
Clubman of the Year had a bit of a difference in BM2018 as Jamiela Kristine deservedly took out the award. Devoted and passionate member of the East Coast family, Jamiela always is willing to put in the hard yards around the club, and has become the EAGALS number one supporter and coaching staff’s right hand woman. Keen to get back on the field in 2019, and we are keen to watch you play once again. Congratulations on the award Jam.
In one of the nights most rewarding moments, Peter Physick swapped the award announcing gig, to humbly accept this years President’s Award. You can look through the record books of East Coast, and there is always a constant. That being the Physick family, led by Peter at the forefront. No matter what it was, no matter the challenge. Peter is always there to get the job done. He is the Patriarch of our great football club, and although he asks no praise he deserves a lifetime supply of it.
Finally, we arrive at the Premier Division Best and Fairest medal count, starting with rookie Daniel Saywell leading after Round 1. He sure got a kick out of that. As the rounds progressed two contenders emerged out of the pack. Trent Stubbs eventually became runner up, falling just short of a 4th Peter Physick Medal. In the end, hard nosed midfielder Stuart Turner won back-to-back medals, accepting the award to a standing ovation. Thanking his teammates, coaches and family, Turner knew how much work went into the season and was privileged to receive the honour once again, although made it known a Premiership is the greatest prize of all, and in 2019 East Coast would be gunning for it. Lewis Waters was rewarded for a consistent first season in first grade, the tenacious backman winning the Rising Star award. Big men Kieran Emery and Jamie Vlatko claimed Most Consistent and Player’s Player respectively, whilst plucky midfielder Brandon Clark took out Lindsay Scown’s coaches award.
Speaking of the head coach, Scown congratulated all teams on their seasons during his speech, and made it known he thoroughly enjoyed his first season at the East Coast helm. However, much like Turner, he asserted that everyone needs to be committed to the cause because you play footy to win Premierships, and that is our biggest ambition in 2019.
So there yah have it, a complete rundown of 2018’s night of nights for the East Coast Eagles.
What a night it was, one I and many others will remember for many years to come.
2 new life members.
Farewelling captain courageous Jon Vlatko
A 10 year sponsorship
Many laughs, many beers, and many deserving and exciting award winners.
It’s been a pleasure in Season BM2018, time to sign off and close the curtain.
But not for long, Pre-Season is coming in hot, time to put the head down and pick the arse up because it’s a big journey
But all for that goal to play on the last day of the season.