THE Limestone Coast has been flooded with grand finals in recent weeks in various codes, but on Sunday many eyes were on the SANFL grand final at Adelaide Oval.
Glenelg broke a 33-year drought to claim the premiership victory over Port Adelaide to the tune of 28 points.
The Tigers’ list included many players from the South East region, including Lucindale’s Will Gould and Brad McCarthy, Kybybolite’s Andrew Bradley, former Mount Burr player Brad Agnew and North Gambier’s and Brad Close.
The Magpies were also well represented from the region, with Padthaway’s Tobin Cox, Kybybolite’s Jack Trengove and Naracoorte’s Cam Sutcliffe.
For Close his game included 17 disposals – 13 hand balls and four kicks – three marks, two inside-50s, six tackles and an early goal.
In just his second year at Glenelg, Close was rightly pleased to have claimed the premiership and contribute to the drought-breaking victory.
“It was an amazing day,” he told The Border Watch this week.
“It is one of those feelings … you just can’t get any better.
“After Glenelg waiting 33 years for a flag, it was a great result.
“There were some pretty big celebrations, with a fair few people back at the club after the game.
“It was good to see plenty of black and yellow out and about.
“After 33 years there were a fair few people who hadn’t seen a premiership, so it meant a lot to them.”
On the day Close had to contend with the obvious nerves, along with a crowd of 40,000 at the Adelaide Oval.
However, he said he simply concentrated on the job at hand, with an early goal the ideal start.
“Having 40,000 people at the grand final was something I had to adjust to,” Close said.
“On the day I just went out and played footy – it was just a great day with my mates.
“The crowd was great but I don’t think it affected me at all.
“It was nice to hit the scoreboard in the first quarter – it is always good to know you have impacted the game and contributed to the win.”
Close is found with a couple of mates he met through university and said it was nice to share the moment with them on the lap of honour, especially with the history behind the trophy he had in his possession at the time.
“There is a fair bit of history reading through all the premierships on the trophy,” he said.
“It is good to add one for the Glenelg footy club.”
While it has certainly been a whirlwind ride for the young star, Close said the achievement was now starting to set in.
“There have been lots of celebrations, but at the West End Brewery, seeing the Tiger stripes going up on the chimney, you start to realise how big our achievement was,” he said.
“We have lost a few grand finals to Port Adelaide over the years so it means a lot to knock off the rivals and have us on top of the chimney.”
Close said he had family up in Adelaide for the grand final and was pleased to be able to share the success with them.
“I had a lot of family up on the weekend and I think my old man was more nervous than I was heading into the game,” he said.
“It was great to share the win with him.
“I have been flooded with messages from plenty of people from back home which has been nice.”
Of course Close was well aware of the success of the North Gambier Tigers the week before in the Western Border Football League grand final.
“That was the first step last week,” he said.
“It was good to see the Tigers back on top where they should be.
“I was hoping that flowed through with us – it is the year of the Tiger as we have been saying.”
Close said it was a big step up to league football after playing a major role at North Gambier prior to heading up to Adelaide.
He said the competition throughout the season was tough, with plenty of AFL-standard players in the mix.
He earned a regular spot in the roster after a good back end to 2018 and seems set to continue from here.
Close generally starts on the half forward flank, but said his coach is confident for him to run through the midfield or along the wing.
At 21 years of age there is plenty of time for him to impact the competition, with a versatile game which seems to suit the Tigers.
“Last year I wasn’t so confident how I was going to go,” Close said.
“With a good finish to last year and having a good chat to Mark Stone our coach, he was confident I could step up and be a regular player this year.
“I found a way to play my role and stay in the side and I think my footy just got better from there.”