K rock Football

Tigers heed Riccardi’s message

A pensive Peter Riccardi during Bannockburn’s six-point win over Thomson. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

PETER Riccardi spoke for less than a minute at three-quarter time.

Despite Bannockburn sitting level with Thomson at the final chance, the Tigers’ coach wasn’t interested in baffling his players with how they were going cause one of the GDFL’s biggest grand final boilovers.

Instead, he played on their emotions, urging them to “etch their names in Bannockburn Football Club history”.

Less than 30 minutes later they had, holding off Thomson for a six-point win and ending a 16-year premiership drought.

“Just suck whatever you’ve got up in your guts and spit it out on the footy field,” Riccardi said post-game. “It was fantastic.

“I thought for three quarters we were the better side; they kicked six goals in that second quarter and three for the rest of the game.

“I thought our backline held up really well.

“But, we had a plan in place, and for three quarters, we executed it.”

Finishing second following the home-and-away season, Bannockburn narrowly defeated Werribee Centrals in the qualifying final before being held to its lowest score of the season by Thomson in the second semi-final.

The Tigers bounced back against the Centurions in the preliminary final to earn a crack at the reigning premier.

Riccardi says playing every week of the finals series may have worked in his team’s favour.

“It keeps that continuity,” he said.

“Our plan was to win the first weeks and have the prelim off. Last time (2016), when we won the second-semi, we had a bye, won the second semi, had a bye, there’s just no continuity in your footy.

“What I wanted, in a perfect world, was to have that week off and freshen everyone up before the grand final.

“It wasn’t to be, but, look, we came out with the chocolates.”

For Riccardi, it’s his first taste of senior premiership success.

He fell short in three AFL Grand Finals as a player with Geelong, while his first trip to a GDFL decider as coach of Bannockburn in 2016 came up empty-handed.

“I’m the happiest bloke out here,” Riccardi said. “Not just for myself, but for all these guys.

“We started in November and we’re third-tier local country footy club.

“But we knew it was going to take a long, long process to win this today.

“And it fantastic that the (A-Grade) girls won the netball as well.”

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