Long way to the top for Caroline Springs

Caroline Springs coach Scott Korczynskii takes delight in getting his hands on the premiership cup. Picture Luke Hemer

It was a slow climb to the top of the mountain for Caroline Springs in WRFL’s division 2.

The Lakers struggled early as an expansion club but showed gradual improvement each season to suggest it was a venture destined to succeed.

For a club that entered the finals in third position, faced cut-throat games all post-season and had never tasted victory in a finals series let alone walk away with a flag, this will be viewed as a rapid ascent for the Lakers to get their hands on that elusive premiership cup for the first time.

“We’ve grown every year. We’ve taken the steps and haven’t taken the elevator,” Lakers football manager Marc Raak told Star Weekly.

“We were on the end of some beltings early on – 200-point losses and so forth – but you forget about them when you win a premiership.”

Caroline Springs never hid its ambitions.

The Lakers made a number of key recruiting moves in the off-season, including snapping up Brian Lake hot on the heels of an AFL premiership with Hawthorn.

Caroline Springs players celebrate after the win during the WRFL Div 2 Grand Final. Picture Luke Hemer
Caroline Springs players celebrate after the win during the WRFL Div 2 Grand Final. Picture Luke Hemer

Lake was unveiled with fanfare at a local shopping centre. It was a partnership that has worked out brilliantly for both Lake and the club, and it looks set to continue next season.

Lake is strongly favouring a return to Caroline Springs for its first season in division 1, and he could bring with him great mate and former Western Bulldogs teammate Adam Cooney, who announced his retirement at Essendon recently.

“He’s [Lake] indicated to me that he’s going around again,” Raak said. “The good news is we also may get Adam Cooney to play a handful of games. He’s shown a bit of interest in playing with Brian as they’re close mates. I’m not saying it’s done, but we’re in negotiations with him.”

Faced with incredibly tough opposition in minor premiers North Footscray and second-ranked Yarraville-Seddon, it was always going to be one hell of a fight for Caroline Springs to get their hands on the holy grail. Those three stand-out teams played musical chairs at the top of the ladder for most of the season, but something just clicked into place for Caroline Springs at the right time.

The Lakers were one of the hottest teams in the competition for the second half of the season, but a 61-point belting from North Footscray in round 17 brought them back to earth with a thud and cast doubts in external minds over their validity as a premiership contender.

That setback seemed to spur the Lakers, who drew a line in the sand from that point on, proceeded to whack Glen Orden by 120 points and built some momentum before the finals.

They accepted their home-and-away ceiling would be third spot and were not intimidated about having to go through three sudden- death games in the finals to get coach Scott Korczynski and captain Chris Bestall to stand on the premiership dais. “We actually started to believe about six or seven weeks ago that we had a real crack at winning this,” Raak said.

In post-game speeches, both Korczynski and president Dean Ellis spoke of Caroline Springs being written off in the weeks leading up to the finals, almost taking satisfaction in proving the doubters wrong.

It could be Ellis’s last go around as president of Caroline Springs. It would be an incredible way for the inaugural president to go out, having led the club to promotion to the top flight for the first time.

For more pictures of Sunday’s game, CLICK HERE