THE Brendan Fevola show came to the Wimmera on Saturday, and the star full-forward did not disappoint a crowd of about 1600 at the Edenhope Showground.
The former AFL star and two-time Coleman medallist put on a show in his one-game cameo for Edenhope-Apsley, booting 12 goals in the club’s round one clash against Noradjuha-Quantong.
Fevola started slowly with just one first-quarter goal, but kicked three in the second and turned it on after the long break to kick four goals in each of the third and fourth quarters.
What had been a reasonably tight contest was broken wide open in the third quarter when Fevola goaled three times in four minutes, drawing cheers from the crowd.
By the last quarter, the game had become incidental to Fevola’s one-man show. He slotted goals from a variety of angles, and was dangerous both in the air and at ground level.
A snap over his left shoulder in the final quarter was just one of the many highlights, as was a soccer off the ground in the goal square in the third.
He engaged with the crowd when the ball was at the other end of the field, even taking a beer offered by one of the spectators after booting his 10th goal.
If not for some errant kicking on Fevola’s part and poor kicks into the forward line, he could have finished with 15 or more.
Another star on the day for the Saints was Bartley Nolan, who found plenty of the football through the middle of the ground along with stalwarts Brent Christie and Dave McLeish.
Brad Couch was one of Noradjuha-Quantong’s best off a back flank, and Jason Kerr fought hard in a midfield that was solidly beaten.
The final score was Edenhope-Apsley 21.14 (140) defeating Noradjuha-Quantong 7.13 (55).
Fevola’s appearance in Saints colours was the brainchild of Neville Forster, a former club president who died in February.
Players on both sides lined up at midfield for a minute’s silence before the match and the Saints wore black armbands in honour of Forster.
Fevola paid tribute to Forster.
He said it was a good day all-round.
“Nev Forster put it all together and obviously couldn’t be with us today, but I think we put on a good day for him,” he said.
“This was his little baby and I think it came together really well. I love coming to play in these one-off games and getting among the locals.
“I play country footy myself for Yarrawonga so I know how great country people are.”
Edenhope-Apsley president Wayne Caldow praised Fevola, saying he had been extremely generous with his time during his visit.
“He was very, very easy to deal with,” he said.
“If you lost him, he was outside playing with the kids or talking to people.
“He was such a willing showman – you couldn’t ask for a better celebrity to come to your club.”
Edenhope-Apsley coach Grant Coxon said his players would benefit from the experience of playing with a former AFL star like Fevola.
He said it was not only Fevola that deserved praise for the win, but each of the 21 players that took the field.
“I had the luxury of playing with Max Rooke and Nigel Lappin when I was at Casterton, but this was just that little bit bigger,” he said.
“The biggest thing I can do and the group can do is to ask him as many questions as we can.
“Looking for other blokes in the forward line was also a conscious focus for us, because trying to be unpredictable is part of our game plan.
“If we’re getting the ball inside 50 that often, you’re going to win plenty of games no matter who is kicking the goals.”
Noradjuha-Quantong coach Jarred Combe said he was happy with the endeavour of his players in the first half, but they were well beaten after the main break.
He said the Bombers had plenty to work on if they hoped to compete with the league’s top sides.
“In the first half we had plenty of opportunities and we probably missed a few scoring chances that might have put us even at half time,” he said.
“We lost Nick Adamson with concussion in the first quarter and then Matt Ward went off halfway through the third quarter, so losing those rotations on a hot day didn’t help.
“Take nothing away from Edenhope-Apsley though because they were great.”
Bombers defender Brady King was given the unenviable task of covering Fevola.
Despite conceding 12 goals, he said he felt he had played well, and would look back fondly on the experience.
“I’m a Carlton man so I loved him anyway, but he’s gone up in my book,” he said.
“It didn’t matter what I did, he’s seen it all before.
“I don’t think anyone has a chance against him, so credit to the other blokes for pushing back and helping me and sitting in front of him.
“I’m proud of the fact that I was there from the first bounce to the final siren on him.”