The Avon Football Association may have fallen to the South West Football League in Sunday’s Landmark Country Football Championships division one final, but it can no doubt hold its head high after an admirable performance saw the league back to a position of strength in the tournament.
It’s been some years since Avon was considered a force at the carnival, but this season’s team saw the AFA back to its old self as it garnered the respect of fellow country leagues around the state after making it to the final match-up of division one.
It all started on a rollercoaster day one, which saw the side cruise past the Upper Great Southern Football League before taking a loss at the hands of the eventual premiers the South West.
James Venturini was outstanding in the opening match, stamping his authority as one of the carnival’s best forwards with three goals to his name.
His efforts spearheaded the win against the Upper Great Southern, along with James Turner’s spectacular outing as they conquered the Rams 4.7 (31) to 7.6 (48).
But they ran into a roadblock against the South West in game two, going down 6.3 (39) to 9.4 (58) with Leigh Kohlmann’s five-goal haul proving too much for the Avon defenders to handle.
The loss left the boys hanging in the balance somewhat after day one, but they showed on day two that they meant business about finishing with a grand final berth.
Marcus Ruggiero and Harry Sinclair each got on the board with a pair of goals in their first game for the day against the Great Northern Football League, while Alex Moreno led from the front as the Avon boys dealt the GNFL crew a 23-point drubbing, doubling their score in a statement win.
But it wasn’t until their final game of the round-robin fixture that the side’s grand final aspirations became a reality.
Taking on the reigning premiers Peel, who had taken wins in the previous two finals, Avon was relentless in the must-win game that had a grand final spot up for grabs.
This time James Venturini booted a pair of goals, while Ruggiero made his impact known as the squad dismantled a team touted to make the final once again with a 5.9 (39) to 3.3 (21) victory.
Unfortunately, the Avon squad was no match for a merciless South West in Sunday’s final, going down 9.6 (60) to 3.4 (22) in what was a gallant yet fruitless effort.
But the competition wasn’t without accolades as Moreno, Turner and Alistair Smith all made the all-star team.
Funnily enough, it was an opposing coach that summed up Avon’s campaign the best, with the South West’s Jamie Nani complementing the side.
“You’ve got Avon back to a position of strength in this carnival and that’s how it should be,” he said after their final.
AFA teams can now look forward to returning to action this coming weekend.