Jarrod McCluand picked up a surprise consolation to Sunday’s grand final loss to Services Workies.
The South United midfielder scooped the first grade best and fairest with Kiwis’ Antony Doolan. In what was a very tight race, McCluand and Doolan finished two points clear of McCluand’s Souths team-mates Chris Massey and Jeremy Blakely and Workies pair Isaac Farmilo and Ehren Hazell.
It was a measure of Souths’ season that they had three players in the top six, and no-one was more surprised than McCluand to hear his name announced.
“I was shocked,” he said.
He was one of five players remaining from Souths last grand final appearance. McCluand, Massey, Bruce Eather, Neil Wood and Robbie Smith all played in the 2011 decider when they, incidentally, were beaten by Workies.
On Sunday they gave themselves every opportunity to win and led for a majority of the second half.
“We played really well all game. Fitness just let us down towards the end,” McCluand said.
Around 10 to go he sensed they started to get a bit fatigued. They reverted away from using the short passing game that had served them so well and started going “a bit too long”.
In their defence they had had to absorb a barrage of attack from Workies from midway through the half.
But Souths kept repelling them. Keeper James Hindmarsh was key to that. Backing up from the second grade grand final earlier in the day, he was superb after being a late call-up when Darcy Doyle dislocated his knee at training on Thursday night.
“He (Hindmarsh) was unbelievable,” coach Greg Scott said, with Massey also saving a couple on the line.
“We knew the challenge but just came up just short.”
At 3-1 it was starting to cross his mind that “this could happen” and thought if they could have got another one they “had them.”
“Unfortunately a few soft short corners there and they got a sniff,” he said.
He was still very proud.
“All I asked of them at the start of the year was we improved as a squad,” Scott said.
McCluand attributed Scott to one of the reasons for their turnaround. Before this year they hadn’t won a game for 18 months.
“He’s pretty passionate about the game,” he said.
Workies’ Toby Whitten was the second grade best and fairest while Souths Toby Climpson topped the points in third grade.