By Justin Flynn
Ocean Grove’s chance for a Bellarine Football League premiership rests with regional Victoria being lifted of its lockdown restrictions and coach Pete Davey said his side is ready to go at a moment’s notice.
The season was halted before the semi-finals with two huge matches – Torquay versus Modewarre and Barwon Heads versus Ocean Grove – waiting to be played when and if restrictions are lifted.
AFL Barwon announced that all finals would continue as normal providing they could be played on or before September 18.
If government restrictions are lifted by September 25, then the competition would go straight to a Torquay versus Modewarre grand final.
“Aside from the disappointment of having the semi-final postponed, our guys have taken the break in a really positive manner,” Davey said.
“They have been working hard on maintaining their fitness and there has been some quality banter being thrown around in our communication groups which helps to keep spirits up and everyone engaged.
“They have been following a conditioning program that Dean Casamento has drawn up which incorporates the types of repeat efforts that the boys would typically undertake in a match setting.
“They are logging what they’re doing and posting their results depending on what activity is scheduled for that day. While there is no substitute for match fitness, we’ve got a senior finals squad of 28 players who are in excellent shape and ready to go.”
The Barwon Heads versus Ocean Grove semi-final is one of the most anticipated games in recent memory.
The fierce rivalry between these two towns, separated only by a bridge, is one of the most intense in country footy.
“We are ready to go if and when we are given the green light,” Davey said.
“The roadmap that AFL Barwon released a couple of weeks ago has certainly brightened the spirits of everybody and we’re just hopeful that regional restrictions are eased and we can get straight into it.
“We are prepared to play on 24 hour’s notice but that’s out of our hands unfortunately.”
Davey said the playing group had remained committed if the opportunity to play arises.
“It’s been challenging,” he said.
“Players look to us [coaches] for direction but we’re searching for that as well. All we can really do is try to remain positive but in reality, we’re just navigating the ups and downs of this period as best we can ourselves with our own families.
“There is a high level of trust and care amongst our group which has allowed all of us to just be us, that is certainly helping everyone at the club get through what has been, and still is, a mentally exhausting period.”
Davey said he would obviously be disappointed if the semi-finals couldn’t be played, but supported AFL Barwon’s Return to Play proposal.
“There needs to be a grand final, that’s how our game is decided and while it would be disappointing for both us and Barwon Heads to be eliminated while we’re both essentially a live chance, our club supports the league’s roadmap and their effort to get some finality on the year,” he said.