Gulls soar over Stars in 2003 premiership victory

Warragul captain and coach Ash Green celebrates the 2003 premiership win, holding the cup aloft with president Bob Baldry.

Warragul captain and coach Ash Green celebrates the 2003 premiership win, holding the cup aloft with president Bob Baldry.

In 2002, Warragul were looking on track to breaking their 18 year premiership drought, only to fall short by a couple of goals to ROC in a heartbreaking loss. Then, 2003 rolled around.
Warragul were looking to make another charge towards September and had retained and built on their talented list, one that was a mix of experience and youth, led by captain and coach, Ash Green.
“We were really fortunate to have the players we did,” Green said. “Players like Ryan Flack, Justin Cant and Nick Edney just to name a few, they were a really talented group that season,” he said.
Green himself could have been the most talented of the lot, however. At just 16 he found himself being selected by Essendon with the 19th pick in the 1989 VFL/AFL draft before moving on to Brisbane until 1993, before playing state football in South Australia.
In 1998, he decided to return to his home club of Warragul, before taking the reigns as coach from Steve Hodge in 2001. When Nick Edney and goal kicking machine Paul Whelan had joined Warragul after winning the 1999 EDFL flag with Neerim South, it further bolstered the Gulls side. Add the likes of Xavier Gargan and brothers Robert and Danny Murphy, the side was primed and ready for another tilt at the flag.
As the year progressed, it was clear Warragul was once again one of the premier sides in the then West Gippsland competition.
Their biggest rival was a surprise to some, however. The then little township of Garfield, who were battling the Gulls for top spot were looking to be a thorn in the Gulls’ premiership aspirations.
A thorn they would be. The two teams would meet three times in the next five weeks.
After Warragul came away 15-point victors just two weeks prior, they headed into a qualifying final against the Stars, and were severely beaten by them. Leaving Green to face some harsh realities.
“We were pretty much labelled soft,” he said. “That certainly stung losing that game to them, it meant we lost our double chance and were playing in an elimination final. To our guys credit though, we ate humble pie and came out next week and got on with it,” he added.
The next weekend, led by an inspirational final term from Bradley Nott, Warragul sent ROC tumbling out of the finals, giving themselves a chance to avenge the previous week’s loss against Garfield.

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