What a day at Riddell!

On reflection: Macedon coach Al Meldrum and Riddell counterpart Justin Belleville could still look happy after the impact of the unexpected draw sank in.

The Riddell versus Macedon senior football match on Saturday was touted as the Match of the Day in the RDFNL’s opening round, and it more than lived up to expectations.
A near overflow crowd packed in, and got more than their money’s worth as these two close rivals fought out a low-scoring contest that ended up in a thrilling draw – 8.11 to 8.11.
The big plus was the emphasis on mental health awareness with the Puka Up Cup serving as a reminder that suicides can be prevented simply through conversation and awareness. These two clubs have been to the forefront in this field since 2018.
The loss of young players Tanner Bell (Riddell) and Lachie Jorgensen (Macedon) sent shock waves through both clubs and the wider community.
It was appropriate that Darren Bell (Riddell co-president) and Melanie Jorgensen made the medal presentations to the best players after the main football match.
Riddell reclaimed the Puka Up Cup with two wins in football, two in netball, and a draw.
Before the senior match, a circle of players, officials and umpires gathered on the oval to observe a minute’s silence in reflection on the lives of the two departed players.
The message about suicide awareness was also emphasised at the half-time luncheon.
The main football match opened with a new-look Riddell combination scoring a goal through talented recruit Trent Stead (ex-Sunbury).
Macedon settled down, and managed to regain some poise and level the scores by quarter time.
The crowd was enthralled as the battle for supremacy ebbed and flowed, with scores close at half time and level at the last break.
Match winners can stand up under pressure, and it was Macedon’s versatile Jason Cooke and the Bombers’ key forward Ben Sonaghan who showed their class when it mattered.
Two goals from Cooke put the Cats 13 points up, but Riddell was not done.
Sonaghan took the mark of the match, and kicked truly, and with the clock ticking down led at full speed to the flank, then kicked straight again to tie the scores.
Both sides were desperate, but the bell sounded with the ball trapped near the boundary line.
Some players and spectators were almost nonplussed, but it seemed a fair result.
“It’s a bit of a hollow feeling, but our intent was there all day,” Macedon coach Al Meldrum said in commending his players on their effort.
Equally, Riddell coach Chris Meacham was pleased with the late fightback and the feeling that the side with so many new players will blend well together as the season progresses.
Woodend-Hesket battled hard at Diggers Rest, but the home side kicked six goals straight in the second half to thwart the Hawks.
Romsey, without some prime movers including Jayden Caruna and Jack O’Sullivan, struggled against a rampant Wallan — now boosted with the return of former Bowen Medal winner Jesse Davies.
Melton Centrals began 2019 with a rush, and did the same thing with Western Rams (formerly known as Rockbank).

Medal winners (from left): Macedon’s Andrew Dick and Katie Clarke, and Riddell captain Matt Panuccio who also accepted the Puka Up Cup.

Silent observance: The significant gathering on the Riddell oval before the main match.

The scoreboard doesn’t lie, even if it was out of action for a while.