Best of the best from Great Northern Football League legends

Victor TantiGeraldton Guardian
Percy George, front, celebrates a premiership win in 1996.
Camera IconPercy George, front, celebrates a premiership win in 1996. Credit: Facebook, Facebook/Aboriginal Football: The Indigenous Game

I recently wrote Percy George — who tragically died while playing in a match at Dongara three weeks ago — kicked the best goal I’ve seen in 25 years covering the Great Northern Football League.

George won the ball in a back pocket for Mullewa, zigzagged past defender after defender to the diagonally opposite forward pocket and finally back infield to pot a superb goal.

Most telling goal? Peter Keeffe’s grand final winner for Mullewa against Rovers in 1996.

With the game almost over, the photographer asked me which shelter she should hover by to get snaps of the winning coaching team. I said Rovers as they led and had control.

Then came a smother from Juan Robinson, the best I’ve seen.

The ball got to Keeffe, a J.J. Clune Medal winning ruckman — but never a reliable kick.

He knew seconds remained so he put boot to ball. His shot was going wide but began to curl in.

Was there a breeze above the oval? I don’t know, but the ball changed trajectory and history.

So aside from pics of a happy Mullewa (and coach Alan Kennedy who wasn’t coach when the season started) but thanks to my wrong directive, also of gloomy Rovers coach John Sims.

Best coaching tactic? In 2016, Dave Fiorenza coached Rovers against Brigades.

The Hawks had the better side (and would finish third with Rovers fifth) but Fiorenza felt they were slow to turn and chase.

He ordered his men mostly to kick over the backline and then run hard.

It worked, Brigades was often left flatfooted and Rovers won by three points.

Best mark? Darren Ryan (Liam’s dad, for those who don’t know) regularly flew above packs to hold amazing marks. There were many.

Toughest player? Jim Gray. Nice off the field, but feared and fearless on it.

He came off bleeding badly after an accidental head clash with Greg Hodson during a GNFL City v Country game which was a Country Week trial/warm-up.

Hodson was no softie, but he went to hospital while Gray returned to the fray, head heavily bandaged and still taking on all comers.

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