With the Club only forming in 2017 and having just four seasons on the paddock, the Murrumbateman Eagles defied all odds last weekend to claim the Club’s first ever premiership.

Murrumbateman were crowned premiers of the AFL Canberra Fourth Grade Men’s competition in a hard-fought and physical contest, defeating the Yass Roos 7.5.47 to 4.3.27 at Phillip Oval on Saturday afternoon.

However, the 20-point victory wasn’t all plain sailing for the men in blue, gold and white, with the Eagles trailing by 5 points heading into the quarter time break.

The Eagles steadied the ship in the second term, piling on three goals to one and recorded the highest scoring quarter on the day, taking an eight-point lead into the main break. 

The Battle of the Barton proved to be a toughly fought affair, with players from both sides bringing a high and physical intensity.

Brent Ford kicks long

Both Yass Valley sides came out after the break with a point to prove, each wanting to get one up on their neighbouring rivals, and despite Murrumbateman finishing on top of the ladder and claiming the competition’s 2022 minor premiership, Yass were the only side to defeat the Eagles in the home and away season.

The Roos kicked 1.2 to 1.1 in the premiership quarter and reduced the margin to just seven points at the final change. 

The Roos charged out of the middle at the start of the fourth quarter when Fraser Cloney thumped a flying shot from 50 out; however, his kick was offline and didn’t register a score.

Tom Lemmon

Yass’ hopes of a comeback were soon hindered just after when Harrison Kimball was stretchered off the ground and didn’t return following a large clash in the middle.

Murrumbateman Eagles captain/coach Brent Fraser had the chance to put his side two goals up shortly after, although his set shot from 45 metres out was touched on the line.

After a goalless stalemate for the first 17-minutes of the last quarter, the Eagles finally broke the Roos back when Jordan Flanagan slotted one through the middle while on the run and gave Murrumbateman a 14-point lead.

As the game slipped away from Yass’ reach, the game’s physicality stepped up another gear, with a series of fracases and heavy bumps off the ball. 

After marking a ball straight in front with only seconds remaining, Samuel Ryan-Baker received a 50-metre penalty after being pushed in the back cynically late and was marched to the goal line by the umpire, where he slotted the goal after the final siren to record a 20-point win for the Eagles. 

Rex Stacey

A strong contingent of Eagles supporters who had made the trip into Canberra for the game were at fever pitch when the final siren sounded, with Eagles coaches, officials and fans all storming the ground at full-time. 

Murrumbateman’s Mark Graeme was adjudged best on ground in the Grand Final during the cup and medal presentation following the game.

Jake Prince wins a hit out

Murrumbateman Eagles Club President Andy Ingold and Captain/Coach Brent Fraser were both thrilled with the result when interviewed following the presentation.

“It means a lot to win the premiership. It has been building. Out at Murrumbateman we’ve got a community-based club,” Fraser said.

“We faced our challenges, but we’ve grown. Today is obviously a big reward, not only for us as a playing group but for the whole Club and everyone involved, sponsors, supporters and our families.”

With Yass leading at quarter-time, Fraser was confident that his boys were going to respond in the second quarter. 

Brent Fraser kicks a goal.

“As we’ve learned from our previous games against them, they’ve always been close. They’re a quality and physical side and we knew we had to stick with them, otherwise they could have blown the game away,” Fraser continued.

“To our credit, we did that. We used the ball really well and it progressed well after quarter-time.”

With both sides neck and neck at half-time, Fraser had a stirring address for his Eagles troops.

“I said ‘we’re 44 minutes away from the end of our season, so we have to dig deep’,” Fraser said.

“We had to dig deep and stick to what we know. We had to keep it simple and obviously tighten up a little bit and not give them that sort of leeway to run because they’re a quality outfit.”

During the stoppage of play early in the fourth quarter following the injury to Kimball, Fraser had to make sure his side didn’t take the foot off the throat.

“As a group we know when there’s an interruption, it can really cause a momentum swing. We had to be on our game and stay tight because they’re a side that can really put on a couple really quickly and turn the game. My old legs just didn’t have it for the shot at goal, but we were good enough to get the win.

Murrumbateman President Andy Ingold said he was taken aback with the huge number of supporters gathering around the quarter and half-time huddles and then again during the celebrations at full-time.

“The support out there at the huddles was unbelievable. I haven’t seen a crowd that big around our huddle ever. The community got right behind us, and it helped us,” Ingold said.

Brent Ford

“Hats off to [Brent] Fraser and the entire playing group. That community feeling really boosted us today. You can see it right now amongst everyone here with smiles and support. It’s absolutely put the icing on the cake of what has already been a special day.”

The whole Eagles side went back to the Murrumbateman Country Inn to celebrate on Saturday, where festivities went long into the night.

“We’re going to head back to Murrumbateman to the pub who are one of our major sponsors. When you win a GF, you’re going to celebrate with a big night,” Fraser said. 

Well done to the Eagles on a fantastic campaign and bringing home the premiership cup!

Tim Warren