ONE of the most talented young footballers in the Horsham District league will take to the big stage in Saturday’s grand final.
Eric Guthrie and his Harrow-Balmoral teammates face off against Southern Mallee Giants in the senior football showdown at Horsham City Oval.
Guthrie, 20, grew up on a farm between Coleraine and Balmoral and played his junior football for Coleraine Football Club.
This is the young onballer’s third year of senior football with the Southern Roos, after previously serving as a top-age player for the Greater Western Victoria Rebels in 2014.
Guthrie played eight games on permit at Harrow-Balmoral when he was 16 and said his choice to move to the Southern Roos permanently was an easy one.
“It’s a good club and … I went to school with some of the fellas here, which made the decision easy,” he said.
Guthrie said the club had enjoyed a successful season.
“We’ve had pretty good numbers at training. I think we hit 50 on the track at one stage. That sort of makes it hard for (coach Paul Cleaver) to pick a team each week,” he said.
“This is the best year we’ve probably had going into the finals series.
“I think it’s all going to pay off in the end – I hope.”
Nick Pekin joined the Southern Roos as an assistant coach at the start of the season and Guthrie said Pekin had played an important role in his and the team’s development.
“He has a lot of little tricks that Paul doesn’t have. He trains the way he plays,” he said.
“I go head-to-head with him a fair bit, which is good – it keeps us on our toes.”
Guthrie started playing in the midfield during his time at Coleraine.
He moved into defence playing for the Rebels and then moved back into the midfield for the Southern Roos.
“It wasn’t too bad (playing in defence). You have to run straight,” Guthrie said.
“You have to be accountable on your opposition because you can’t let them kick goals.”
Guthrie said the team’s style of football had changed considerably since last season.
“The style of footy we play now is a lot more aggressive and fast flowing than relying on possession. We learned you have to bite the bullet a bit more and take the game on. Against the good sides, you have to do that,” he said.
Guthrie has been hitting good form after missing the first half of the season due to injury.
He fractured his kneecap during pre-season while on a water skiing trip with friends.
“It was good to come back (after the injury) and just play the role. It just comes naturally sometimes,” he said.
Guthrie said Cleaver always remained positive and that rubbed off on the team.
“He knows everything about the game, everything about the opposition … there’s not much that gets past Cleaves,” he said.
Guthrie said Southern Mallee Giant Luke Mahony would be one of the biggest challenges facing his team come this weekend.
“He’s a hard nut and he is a very good footballer,” he said.
“He knows where to go so you have to follow him around a bit. You can’t let him off the chain too much.”
Guthrie said he looks forward to the grand final.
“Everyone enjoys a challenge. I think that’s what everyone looks forward to, playing against a good side and getting the best out of each other,” he said.
“Number one goal is to win the flag. Good side, good mates … (there would be) nothing better than winning a premiership with those blokes.”