STALWART Western Magpie Chris Mihalopoulos is to draw the curtain on his distinguished career when he plays his last game in Saturday’s grand final against Palm Beach-Currumbin.The clash, at Hickey Park, will also be notable for big PBC forward Bryce Perry-Bolt making his farewell appearance.
by Terry Wilson
Gold Coast Bulletin
While Perry-Bolt has been in and out of the side in his first season at Salk Oval injuries have been behind this Mihalopoulos is a legend in Brisbane’s western suburbia.
The nuggety midfielder, now 29, started with the Magpies in the under-13s and has been club captain for the last 10 years.
Mihalopoulos said a new job in real estate, plus an ageing body, led to his decision.
As such, the Magpies are primed to farewell their warrior against a side they are facing up to in a third grade final in six years.
In 2007, PBC thrashed the Magpies by 64 points at Gold Coast Stadium, then the following year it was the Magpies by three points after Luke Scott kicked a goal on the siren.
Ironically, two players who featured prominently in those deciders will be up against each other again.
Current PBC captain Darryn Dyson was named Ray Poulter Medal for best on ground in the 2007 decider and Jim Rozynski was similarly awarded after the 2008 grand final.
But back to the present and the Magpies deserve favouritism after two wins (by 29 points at Salk Oval and by 15 points at Chelmer) in the preliminary rounds, then especially after a 68-point win in the second semi-final.
To be fair to PBC, they lost ruckmen Michael I’Anson (shoulder) and Aaron Lohrey (fractured eye socket) in the first 10 minutes of that match and simply ran out of legs after half-time.
“There are a lot of different ways to look at that match,” coach Daryn Cresswell said.
“We were two key ruckmen down after 10 minutes, but we hung in there to half-time. After that, as anyone will tell you, we ran out of legs.
“We’ve been thereabouts with them (the Magpies) all season, but haven’t maintained intensity.
“We believe if we’re at our best we can give them a really good run for their money.”
Somehow, I’Anson has been passed fit after intensive therapy on his dislocated shoulder and is one of two changes to the PBC side that eliminated Noosa last weekend.
Also in is central defender Chris Williams as the Lions dropped Bryce Dyer and Matt Dwyer.
The Magpies have only one change to the side that beat PBC a fortnight ago.
Ruckman Dylan McDonald has been selected to replace midfielder Richard Wenham.
“We knew the day after the game he would not be playing,” coach Peter McClennan said.
The inclusion of McDonald gives the Magpies plenty of height to support Hayden Thick and Dominic Beer in the ruck as well as forwards Gerard Moore and Alex Dickfos.
The height factor will stretch the Lions, although McClennan feels the main worry for his players is who to go to when they take the ball into their attacking zone.
With Anthony Corrie, Dickfos, Moore, Greg Lavey and Matt Thompson as possible targets, there should not be any shortage of attacking avenues for the minor premiers.
“The way we look at it it that we call them our forward seven, so the midfielders have to make decisions on who to go to,” he said.
“It all depends on how well it comes off and the challenge is who they go to.”
McClennan has no doubt the midfield battle will determine the winners and that Palm Beach will start aggressively.
“We expect Palmy to be very physical,” he said. “They did that in the first half last time, but we played to a structure and fitness kicked in.
“But for sure they’re going to be pretty passionate, they’ll be wanting to come back.”
McClennan described having to play only two games in four weeks as “a mental thing”.
“We think we’re the best and the fittest in the competition, so it all comes down to the mental approach and the will to win.”
|Palm Beach Currumbin