TWENTY years ago Minyip-Murtoa capped off a memorable three-year period.
In 1998, the Burras clinched a Wimmera Football League three-peat after defeating St Michael's in the grand final at City Oval in Horsham.
Paul Baker was playing coach of the Burras in 1998 and remembered a very wet day of football.
“It wasn’t much of a day. It was fairly wintery and wet and it probably played to our advantage,” he said.
“I don’t think we had beaten them at all during the year. It came down to the grand final and we were probably a bit older than they were. We had some experienced guys like Rob Caris and Bruce Petering and I think the conditions favoured us.”
Baker said the game was tough but the Burras finished on top with the final score 10.10 (70) to 6.10 (46).
“If my recollection serves I think they would have been the favourites,” he said.
“I think we got out of the blocks pretty well at the start of the game and then it rained on and off. It was one of those hard slogs at City Oval. I just recall a lot of our bigger-bodied guys were pretty good.
“Matty Hopkins, Leigh Funcke, there were some pretty good footballers. Even older guys like Tony Lloyd and Harvey Lang – fellas like that in their mid-30s – were really strong.”
For a merger club, Baker said the three premierships served to unite the towns of Minyip and Murtoa.
The club has not won a senior flag since.
“I played for Murtoa originally and all of the Minyip guys of that era were great when we amalgamated,” he said.
“We were massive arch rivals back in the day so I couldn’t believe we merged but to have that success after we did was fantastic. To win three in a row back then was a pretty good achievement and I think our reserves back then were pretty good too.
“The club had not long formed the merger so it was a pretty good time for both towns. They had come from both football clubs on the brink of falling away to merging. To win three in a row, everything was pretty buoyant around the place back then.”
Baker only coached the Burras in 1998 and said there was a great atmosphere during the grand final.
“John Harvey coached the first two and then I came in for the 1998 season. I only coached that one year and most guys played in all three,” he said.
“We were fortunate back then to have a strong following and so did St Michael’s. They were recently just out of the Horsham District league so they were pretty keen to do well in the Wimmera league and had a good following.”
In July of this year, most members from the Burras’ ‘98 premiership returned to Minyip for a reunion.
Baker, who moved to Perth shortly after the ‘98 grand final, said it was a great chance to remember a special time.
“I landed in Perth in November of 1998 and have been here since,” he said.
“I went home for the reunion more than a month ago and it was good after 20 years. We have all aged a fair bit and there were only about three or four who couldn’t make it.”