Eleven-year losing streak ends

Amid scenes of extraordinary jubilation and celebration, the young Tigers defeated fourth-placed Riddell on Friday night. Photo courtesy Lancefield Football Netball Club

Exactly 11 years ago, or precisely 4017 days, Lancefield Under 19 footballers won their last match … with the losing drought finally broken on Friday night.

Amid scenes of extraordinary jubilation and celebration, the young Tigers defeated fourth-placed Riddell 7.13 (55) to 5.1 (31).

Is this the longest drought in Australian Rules football was the question being tossed around? Probably not, but it’s a hell of a long time to remain winless.

It’s been a tumultuous period for the Lancefield Tigers, with the senior side still winless this season after going down by two and three points in their last two outings … and having respected senior coach Tim Bannan resign immediately after the agonising loss to Woodend-Hesket on June 29.

The Under 19s have also had a series of heartbreaking defeats this season.

These setbacks were largely forgotten though when the final siren sounded on Friday night.

Wild celebrations erupted from the players who had worked so hard, and from the large pro-Lancefield crowd.

Prophetically, LFNC social media had earlier spruiked “Tigers on fire tonight” and “Let’s pull together and cheer our boys home”.

Since the last historic win on July 6, 2013 – actually a draw with the scores 5.8 to 5.8 against Wallan – Lancefield has gone entire seasons without a victory.

There were forfeits when numbers fell away, or when numbers dwindled and the team had to be withdrawn. Then there were seasons wiped out by pandemics.

But the spirit was strong to chase that elusive win.

Only one player from the 2013 match is still playing. John Morgan celebrated his 250th game with the Tigers earlier this year, and was on hand on Friday night to see the historic performance.

The young Tigers are coached by local Jason Tully, with Danny O’Meara his assistant. Both are premiership players.

“We made the boys a big focus all week. The seniors had the bye and they really got behind them at training knowing they were looking to break the drought.

“VFL legend Todd Viney came down to speak to all the players during the week, and he had so many important things to say from his experience about adversity and the great thrill that comes from overcoming it,” Tully said.

What about the team’s prospects gong forward?

“We’re really excited about the future. While it’s an Under 19s competition, quite a few of our boys are from the Under 17s team, which folded due to low numbers, so we can only get better.

“Then again, they probably said the same thing 11 years ago. Hopefully we don’t have to wait so long next time,” Tully added.

Lancefield hosts another big Friday night this week when the women’s team, in their first-ever season, take on traditional rivals Romsey at 7pm.