By Terry Wilson
Surfers Paradise coach Brad Moore teared-up noticeably as he addressed his battered troops after the Demons surged into their first grand final in 15 years on Saturday.
So proud was Moore of the heroics of his players that he choked up a couple of times in the dressing sheds after the Demons downed Brisbane rivals Morningside by 15.9 (99) to 9.7 (63) in the preliminary final at Sir Bruce Small Park.
The victory pushed Surfers into their first grand final since they lost the AFLSQ Division 1 decider against Strathpine in 2004.
And it gives the Demons a shot at their first premiership since 1998 when they take on Gold Coast rivals Palm Beach Currumbin in the grand final at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.
Ironically the last time the Demons became premiers was after they beat PBC by two points in a gripping GCAFL season finale at Sir Bruce Small Park – but more about that during the week.
It was little wonder that Moore struggled to control his emotions because it was clear how much the win meant to the club, and himself, to be able to eliminate the Panthers from the title race so convincingly.
It was three seasons ago, when Moore agreed to take over as head coach, that a plan was put in place to get the Demons up among the power clubs of the QAFL.
“There has been a lot of work since I came to the club three years ago to put belief and faith into the playing group,” Surfers coach Brad Moore said post-match.
“As you know we have a lot of home-grown players in our senior side, most who have come through the juniors.
“That’s why I took on the job because it was about developing a side and now I couldn’t be prouder.
“No matter what happens next week this is a massive day for the footy club.
“We’re not going to get nervous about it. We’re going to lap it all up and embrace it all.”
The Surfers dressing shed was packed to the rafters as Moore delivered his post-match speech. The atmosphere was electric as fans joined in to soak up the atmosphere.
Now comes the hard part because the Demons players were a sore and sorry looking group as a number of them were put on ice.
There are definite worries for the Demons.
Firstly captain Brody Haberfield was put on report after a second-quarter clash with Panther Eddie Mallan.
But the team captain was also hobbling with a lower leg injury and completed the match stationed at full-forward.
Also set for intense rehab work to be ready for the GF are small forward Noa Corbett (lower abdominal issue), Josh Matulis (breathing issues after a heavy rib knock) and Cassidy Haberfield (hamstring tightness).
But there will surely also be others who book appointments with the club physio this week.
It was a red-letter day for the Green brothers Dan and Matt after what was a bruising physical examination against the Panthers.
Playing his farewell match at Small Park after announcing his retirement at season’s end, burly spearhead Dan kicked 6.2 and was simply unstoppable for the disappointing Panthers defenders.
And brother Matt, filling in as ruckman once again, was outstanding, clearly best on ground as he took it right up to the much-heralded Morningside ruck pair of Peter Mollison and Brad Hodge.
“Their makeshift ruckman Matt Green, he has played a fair game,” was the comment of Morningside coach Clint Watts afterwards.
Defenders Nick Scott and Jack Taylor, midfielders Harrison Fraser, Jack Yelland and Matulis – the list of good Demons goes on and on.
It was not the same in the Morningside camp who had few players to compete to expectations.
Youngsters Ethan Hunt and Lachlan Russ gave their all, Redland-listed pair Sam Godfrey and Ryan Dadds worked hard to stem the tide but, as Watts said, the Panthers were surprisingly flat for what was a big occasion.
A dominance in the air was expected of Morningside. The opposite happened as their smaller opponents took control.
“We’ve been outmarked badly once this year, against Broadbeach, but that was a clinic today,” said Watts.
“Our game’s all about trying to get the ball on the ground but we were outmarked everywhere. They did a number on us there.”
Watts also agreed that an issue, all season, has been an inability to get the ball into the scoring zone, then to convert.
The Panthers have fallen down in this department too many times this season and it was evident again that scoring firepower is lacking.
“It is just a flat way to finish,” said Watts.
“There is a lot to like about our team but there are obviously some holes to fill.”
Watts watched the previous weekend’s QFA Division 1 grand final between Noosa and Maroochydore and is set to chase a number of players from premiers Noosa who impressed him.