From the Ballarat Courier
Reported by Melanie Whelan
Full article - Ballarat Courier
BELIEF: Roosters captain Shaune Moloney reflects on the 2008 VFL premiership cup. The club went on to win the next two in an historic three-peat.
THIS was a huge risk but on this night, almost 10 years ago, players were ready. They believed.
North Ballarat Roosters defied the odds and claimed the club’s first Victorian Football League premiership.
This was a country football team taking on the state’s best, cohesively working in players from a partial AFL alliance with North Melbourne and proving what many had thought was unlikely.
A decade on, Ballarat needs to decide, as a football community and a city, whether it can take the risk to believe again.
The VFL grand final is on Sunday afternoon. This is the first season in 22 years Ballarat has not been prepared to put a team out on the park to watch what might be possible for our region’s most promising players.
We can pretend like it does not greatly matter – we’ve got quality leagues and a good senior Ballarat Football League flag showdown set for Saturday.
But it is not really a challenge anymore. We are comfortable and our best players are pretty comfortable.
There is still a VFL flavour about the BFL but this influence on the grassroots game will fade.
The Roosters offered a clear pathway for players in western Victoria and for other country footballers, who preferred the regional lifestyle and what Ballarat had to offer. This was particularly in being a place to study at university and play state league football without having to be based in Melbourne.
This was the pathway that has produced AFL talent like Hawthorn triple premiership midfielder Isaac Smith who, 10 years ago, was happily on his way to winning a flag with Redan in a quality Ballarat Football League final.
Redan encouraged Smith to take a leap of faith and try VFL about midway through the next season.
Or, like Sydney Swan Dean Towers, a Colac boy who was studying teaching at University of Ballarat. Towers won the Fothergill-Round Medal as VFL’s best under-23 player in 2012, then drafted a month later.
The pathway is about more than producing draftees.
Grand final night, a Friday in 2008, the Roosters were in uncharted territory.
They had been in VFL grand finals before – this was their third – but this was something different. This night was the first VFL grand final under lights, the first at the Docklands stadium, the first in a double-header with TAC Cup under-18s and it turned out to be the first in a premiership trilogy.
REPRESENT: The Roosters, pictured running out for the VFL grand final as defending premier a year later, put Ballarat football on the sporting map.
This was the first time a group of predominantly Ballarat players put our region’s football on the map.
Success in the VFL was viewed a driving force in bringing AFL to Ballarat by visionaries like Ken Eyers. The North Ballarat Hall of Famer and BFL past president was instrumental in taking the dominant BFL club into the VFL in 1996.
- PRESS BOX: Vital to know where our road to AFL starts
To start again from scratch will be incredibly tough. The VFL is fast-changing, big money is involved, but we have done it before on a far-from-easy road.
This is not about asking for the Roosters back. This is about challenging Ballarat and the wider western Victorian football community to be prepared to take a risk. The rewards on our football fields for trying are worth it.
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