A decade that had everything

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

What a decade it was for the Deniliquin Rams in the Murray Football League.

The 2010s kicked off with the Rams finishing sixth on the ladder, before being eliminated in the first round of finals by eventual premier Moama.

It also saw the emergence of gun onballer Sam Lloyd as a prominent member of the forward half, kicking 110 goals for the season.

The following year was arguably one of the club’s most memorable in its history, with the young Rams finishing second on the ladder.

They took full advantage of the strong season, overcoming minor premier Cobram in both the qualifying and grand final to claim their 14th MFL premiership in one of the greatest grand finals in recent memory.

With key players leaving and club legends retiring, the Rams started to slide down the ladder in 2012, finishing ninth.

Deni bounced back in 2013 and 2014, with a sixth place finish and elimination final appearance in both years, however they were unable to advance further on both occasions.

The Rams struggled from this point, finishing 10th in 2015 and 2016 before an eighth place finish in 2017.

The 2018 season saw the Murray League become a 15 club league, with the Rams struggling to adjust and finishing the year with the wooden spoon.

Deni closed out the decade showing some potential of a rise back up the ladder, with the 2019 season including a five game winning streak early in the year.

The Rams however were only able to claim one more win for the season to finish 11th on the ladder.

Reflecting back on a 10 year span that had it all, the club put together its Rams team of the decade, with players needing to have played at least 30 games at senior level for the

club during the 2010s to qualify.

The team is as follows:

B: Jack Tyndall, Dan Jordan, Sean Moodie

HB: John Anstee, Rob Resuggan, Oliver Draffin

C: Brett Napier, Tim Holobowski, Nick Howe.

HF: Ash Morris, Todd Gallagher, Josh Whelan

F: Leigh Marshall, Sam Lloyd, Jack Lloyd

R: Anthony Bull, Troy Bartlett (c), Rick Gittens

Interchange: Chris O’Connor, Jayden Pitts, Geoff McCallum

Coach: Gary Parsons

Profiles for those selected in the side are as follows:

Jack Tyndall: A consistent performer in the first half of the decade despite his young years. Sure hands and sounds skills, and capable of shutting down opponents with his taunting tactics. Will be best remembered for charging from the back pocket and kicking the goal to put the Rams in front deep in the last quarter of the 2011 premiership win.

Dan Jordan: Another one of the Rams’ 2011 flag young guns who became one of the most important components of the side in the early part of the decade. Excellent closing speed, strong overhead and rarely beaten. Equally as valuable when thrown into the ruck with a high leap and big engine.

Sean Moodie:  200-gamer who made his name as a hard nut in the Rams’ 2001-04 ‘four-peat’. By the next decade Moodie wasn’t the player he once was but was still one of the first picked from 2010-2012. He played in the 2011 flag side and his influence that year cannot be denied, especially when it came to clearing a path for the side’s class onballers. Uncompromising in any position on the field and also a ball winner.

John Anstee: Arguably the competition’s best defender since joining the club in 2017. Has held the club’s backline together in some lean years with his high-flying marking and spoiling ability. Represented the Murray League the past three seasons and rarely beaten at any level. A class act who makes the game look easy. A beautiful field kick completes the package.

Rob Resuggan: Held the title of the competition’s leading defender for several seasons and was a key member of the 2011 flag side, taking down the league’s best forwards that year. Was in his twilight years by this decade but was still a star of the side and one of the first picked each week. Kept Cobram coach Rob Osborne goalless in the 2011 decider. Strong mark, long kick and never gave opponent an inch.

Oliver Draffin: Young star of the 2011 flag side with a deadly accurate kick and wonderful hands off the back flank. Went on to become a beautifully balanced centreman in the middle part of the decade, claiming a best and fairest in 2014 and 2016. Injuries cruelled his career in the latter part of the decade but will be remembered as a high possession, natural ball winner who rarely missed a target by foot, either side of the body.

Brett Napier: Had two highly productive years (2010-2011) during his only noted stint away from his beloved Blighty footy club. Balanced and pacey small man with a deadly left boot and a key member of the 2011 flag alongside his cousin Leigh Marshall. Kicked the sealing and final goal in the memorable decider against Cobram. Was well respected by his peers for his attack on the ball.

Tim Holobowski: Class act and clear ball winner through the centre corridor. Accurate by hand and foot with a good footy brain and ability to read the play. Was a key to the 2011 premiership, adding that success to his flags in 2003 and 2004 as a teenager. Claimed the club best and fairest in 2010 (as well as 2008).

Nick Howe: Highly rated internally but often flew under the radar of opposition. Super quick and fearless in a contest. Well at home in the centre, in a back pocket, or on a wing. Played mainly as a dashing back pocket in the 2011 success, taking on the best small forwards in the comp. Won a best and fairest in 2012, highlighting his star quality. One of the club’s most consistent midfielders of this decade and a true clubman.

Ash Morris: The club’s only O’Dwyer Medal winner of the decade, claiming the league’s top honour in 2013 as a 19 year-old. Super quick onballer with the silky skills to match. Would have been a key player in the 2011 premiership but a bad ankle injury in the qualifying final saw him miss. Went on to play VFL for Richmond before returning to the Rams in 2018. Star quality and can break a game open in a quarter of footy.

Todd Gallagher: One of the club’s most consistent performers of the decade – has served as club captain, senior coach and assistant coach and won the 2018 best and fairest. Was a key member of the 2011 side and is the complete package. Can play anywhere on the field but arguably most damaging when forward. Strong hands and capable of turning a match off his own boot.

Josh Whelan: Hard running and roaming forward whose big tank allowed him to win possessions up and down the field at will. Nice set of hands with a good leap and a passion to win in the blue and gold jumper. Another young gun teenage member of the 2011 flag side who rose through the club’s junior ranks. 

Leigh Marshall:  Would be a walk-up start in the Rams’ greatest team of all time if there was one. By this decade Marshall’s best footy was behind him but still had a massive influence in the 2011 flag season before hanging up the boots at the end of 2012. Multiple best and fairest winner in the previous decade and a key member of the club’s 2001-04 flags. The former Sydney Swan was uncompromising and was unstoppable on his day, either in the midfield or up forward. Forward pocket is the place for him in this decade.

Sam Lloyd: The club’s most talented and talked about player of the decade, kicking 110 goals in 2010 before being the driving force behind the 2011 success. He moved into the midfield for 2011, still kicking 55 goals that year alongside brother Jack, to claim joint best and fairest honours with Troy Bartlett. Highly skilled and mercurial forward who can kick goals from almost anywhere. Sublime foot skills and can take a ‘hangar’. Went on to forge a successful AFL career, firstly at Richmond and currently a key member of the Western Bulldogs’ senior team. Still maintains a close bond with the club.

Jack Lloyd: Strong leading forward who could bomb a goal from outside the 50m arc. Great hands and could pull in a pack mark. Key member of the 2011 success, kicking 51 goals for the season. Broke his wrist in the opening quarter of the 2011 grand final but still a memorable day for the key forward. Formed a formidable duo alongside brother Sam.

Anthony Bull: Star ruckman with a big engine and equally big heart. Fearless but highly skilled as well and a great pack mark. Captained the 2011 flag, adding this success to his 2003 and 2004 flags as a teenager. Finished runner-up in the club best and fairest in 2010 as well as the 2011 premiership year. Swapped to defence later in the decade and notched up 200th senior game in 2017.

Troy Bartlett: Fittingly, Bartlett capped off his fifth premiership in 2011 by being named best on ground. He led from the front on the club’s most famous day of the decade, dominating the midfield duels and kicking a 50m goal on the run. Has captained and coached the side this decade and won multiple best and fairests, including two this decade (2011 and 2013). Excellent by hand and foot, runs in straight lines and can split a pack open. Match winner.

Rick Gittens: The club’s most consistent performer this decade and another young star of the 2011 flag side. One of only two to play every season from 2010-2019 – and his record has been impressive, starting on-ball for most of those games and dominating with his quick hands and feet and ability to weave through traffic. Two-time best and fairest in 2014 and 2019, and loves a goal and the odd ‘hangar’. Already played 168 senior games and still plenty of footy left in him.

Chris O’Connor:  Back-up ruckman of the side, O’Connor has been a consistent performer since joining the club in 2014. High leap, big engine and strong ruck skills make him difficult to match up on. Loves a goal when he gets a chance forward.

Jayden Pitts: Along with Gittens, has played every season since 2010. Pitts’ determination and love of the club is unquestionable and has seen him already amass 150 senior games at just 27 years of age. Nice hands, long kick and willing to play anywhere the coach puts him. A great clubman as well.

Geoff McCallum:No-nonsense veteran defender who had a strong season in a back pocket/back flank in the premiership year of 2011. Booming voice and capable of dashing out of defence even in his later years. Knew his role and played it well.

Gary Parsons: Pulled off the unthinkable underdog story with the 2011 triumph, underlining his successes of 2001-04 with a masterstroke coaching performance. Had two stints as coach this decade and always got the best out of his playing group despite not quite having the talent he’d previously enjoyed earlier in his career. Master tactician and motivator.