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Bright future ahead for Wallan’s under 19.5 footballers

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By Colin MacGillivray

While Wallan’s senior and reserves football teams fell just short of their premiership aspirations in 2022, Sunday’s under 19.5 Riddell District grand final victory showed the Magpies have a bright future ahead.

Wallan downed Riddell 14.5 (89) to 9.5 (59) to cap off a year in which the young Magpies lost only three games and finished atop the ladder.

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While Wallan lost its semi-final against the Bombers by 21 points, the team rebounded to win a thrilling preliminary final against Romsey by two points, setting up a rematch with Riddell in the grand final.

Playing in front of a large crowd at Romsey Recreation Reserve on Sunday, the Magpies came out hot, kicking five goals to two in the opening term.

The Bombers refused to wilt, kicking three second-term goals to draw within 10 points at the long break, but Wallan owned the second half on its way to a 30-point victory.

Wallan under 19.5 coach Christian Birch and captain Callum Birch. ​

Brodie Gilchrist, who played 19 games with Wallan’s senior side this season, was named best afield in the grand final, taking home the Noel Rainey Medal.

Alex Crnko was outstanding with five goals, with Marcus Datson kicking three in support.

Other standouts included Brian Lawrence, Spencer Whittingham and Codi Church.

Wallan’s reserves also played in Sunday’s grand final, losing to Diggers Rest 2.4 (16) to 5.8 (38).

It was a disappointing conclusion to a season in which the Magpies lost only one game and claimed the minor premiership, but club president Stephen Shephard said he was proud of Wallan’s efforts across all football grades.

“I want to thank all the supporters who followed us through the finals and the grand finals,” he said.

“We also appreciate all our sponsors who make it possible for us to do what we want to do. It’s a pretty big thing to run a footy club, and without sponsors and a hard-working committee like we have, you can’t do it.

“There’s no doubt there will be bigger and better things in store next year. We know what we need to do.”

Shepherd said Wallan’s under 19.5 premiership was a sign the club was primed to remain a Riddell District league powerhouse.

“They were the side on top all year, and they went right the way through. They were a disciplined crew and a really good bunch of young guys,” he said.

“It’s good for the club, because it gives us a fair bit of depth. They’ve got a brilliant coach who works well with the kids, so it’s a good achievement for the club.”

Shepherd said self-belief was key to the Magpies’ premiership after losing to Riddell in the semi-final.

“Riddell jumped them a little bit in their last game and I think they lost a little bit of belief, but after beating Romsey by a kick in the preliminary final they got the belief back that whether they were in front or behind, they could still win,” he said.

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