The Fitzroy Stars celebrated club icon Lionel Proctor’s 200th game in style following a 13-point victory over Kilmore in their Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 clash at Sir Douglas Nicholls Oval.
It was a tight encounter all afternoon, and despite being unable to kick a goal in the final term, the Stars held on for a 9.10 (64) to 7.9 (51) triumph.
The result sees both teams sitting on three wins. The Stars win moves them to sixth place on the ladder just behind the Blues on percentage.
The milestone man was serviceable on the day, spending time in both the midfield and up forward, and was looked after well with a terrific banner pre-game, before being carried off with both sides forming a guard of honour in front numerous ex-players.
“It was a war of attrition and we had to dig deep to get a result,” Proctor said following the game.
Jai Burns showed his class, as he has all season, while Peter Hood showed desperation to win the ball at times, as well as a high level of skill.
Tyson Pickett and Michael Graham were also solid contributors for the victors, and vice-captain Keith Thomas moved to centre half back for the game and led a match-winning defence.
Kilmore had their chances, but narrowly failed in spoiling the party. They battled hard for all four quarters but were unable to match the standards set by their opposition.
“They took their moments, and we didn’t,” Kilmore coach Paul Derrick said.
Derrick commended the work of Michael Marrett and Leigh Irons. Both players reveled in the conditions with their work under the packs, while Caden Fitzpatrick excelled in the ruck and in defence.
In a hard slog, both teams had periods of dominance and scored unanswered goals. The Blues booted three majors in a row just before the half time break, courtesy of Aaron Speak as well as two goals from the ever-reliable Christopher Barton.
Barton was industrious in the midfield, and his two majors gave his side a nine-point lead, a handy advantage given the conditions.
But a goal by James Dau just before the half time siren made it a three-point game at the main break.
In a seesawing third term, Kilmore were narrowly in front during time on, when Lionel Proctor marked 35 metres out on a 45-degree angle. His shot was true, and the crowd erupted in delight as the hosts hit the front.
Another major by eventual best-on-ground Peter Hood, saw the Stars take an 11-point lead into the last change. Proctor urged his men to go in hard and play as a team at the break.
Things were looking good for the locals as Proctor’s son Jaxon snapped a goal within a minute of the last term to blow the margin out to a game-high 17-points.
The Stars never looked like losing from that point on, although the Blues kept fighting it out every inch of the way. The visitors missed two shots early in the quarter, before the Stars controlled proceedings, as their experienced players slowed the game down with a series of chip passes.
The door could’ve been slammed shut earlier, but the Stars missed a couple of shots to seal the deal.
It gave Kilmore a sniff and after the Blues won a free kick directly in front, Michael Fenech converted, reducing the margin to a tantalising 11-points with five minutes remaining.
But it would prove to be the last major of game as the joyous Fitzroy Stars fans celebrated a famous day for their football club.