GV Giants stun EMUs under lights for Buck McPhee Memorial Cup

Star performer: GV Giants’ Ian Maiden was a standout at the weekend. Photo by Aydin Payne

Footy for fun is the mantra of Masters football, but the June 25 twilight clash between the Goulburn Valley Giants and the Echuca Moama United EMUs had extra meaning.

The GV Giants, 11.6 (72), were too strong for Echuca Moama, 2.6 (18), in the first David ‘Buck’ McPhee Memorial Cup contest of the season for the local rivals, in front of a crowd of around 60 at Kialla Park.

David Tate, who passed away earlier this month, played for the GV Giants in 2021-22 and was respectfully remembered by family, friends and participants before the game.

Conditions were heavy and chilly on Saturday night, yet the energetic Giants booted five goals in the first quarter, then three more to lead the goalless EMUs by 49 points at the main break.

With eight individual goalkickers in the first half, the home team was well in control. Sporting a headband and mullet, David Davis was one of several strong marking targets.

Davis kicked truly in the first term and set up several other scorers. Giants coach James Longley, wearing his own headband, celebrated his second quarter goal with two backflips and a faceplant.

The forwards were guaranteed excellent supply by one of the best GV midfields of the COVID-19 era.

With 2021 Giants MVP Shaun Robbins alongside Ian Maiden, Steve Tate, and Longley in the centre square, the ball moved with speed and precise disposal via foot in spite of the slippery conditions.

Troy Watts and Tyler Stevens added dash on the wings, Tim Keenan and Adrian Lakeman roamed the flanks, with Duane Farrant and Sam Parker (making his debut for the Giants) in support.

The two senior members of Saturday’s GV team also showed the way.

Les Cohen snapped truly with flair in the second term. Andrew Bock’s late-game second, third and fourth efforts to lock the ball in the forward line, when the result was beyond doubt, highlighted the spirit of the Giants.

Justin Voss worked hard in the ruck for the visitors before resting up forward, where he found a challenging backline unit led by Freddy Estrada, Dan Cullen and Craig Wheaton for the Giants. It was only after Estrada was moved forward in the final term that Jeff Abela and Jarrod Johnson split the big sticks for the EMUs.

The scoreboard belied the skill and effort of the visitors. Robert O’Connor led a highly competitive Echuca Moama midfield, with good support from Troy Arlow and Jeff Abela among others.

Jake Thurston and Steve Tate provided targets up forward for GV after the main break. In-form sharpshooter Steve Tate showed his poise and class both on and off-field in memory of his late brother. Tate was the night’s leading goalkicker. His third goal came after a sliding mark and strong lead from the goal square, as he was spotted up by Ian Maiden who had marked within range on the forward flank. Fittingly, it was the final goal of the match.

After a game played in good spirit, several moving after-match speeches capped off a significant day for both teams and all in attendance.

All smiles: David Davis (chair, Buck McPhee Scholarship Committee), Troy Ramsey (president, Echuca Moama United), Justin Voss (2022 Buck McPhee Scholarship recipient), Dan Cullen (president, GV Giants).

The second annual Buck McPhee Scholarship was awarded to Justin Voss, the popular Echuca Moama United ruckman and Masters football stalwart. Buck McPhee was pivotal to the foundation and culture of both the Giants and the EMUs. The scholarship furthers participation in Masters football by awarding the recipient a pair of football boots, who is selected by a GV Giants sub-committee.

Two ‘Spirit of the Masters’ mugs were awarded by the opposing teams to Ian Maiden (Giants) and Robert O’Connor (EMUs). Maiden has impressed all observers in his debut season for the GV Giants and revealed he had set himself for a big game. O’Connor was the clear standout player for the visitors.

The game

GV Giants 5.1, 8.4, 10.4, 11.6 (72) defeated Echuca-Moama United 0.3, 0.3, 0.5, 2.6 (18)

GOALS: GV Giants: Steve Tate 3, Shaun Robbins, Adrian Lakeman, David Davis, Troy Watts, James Longley, Ian Maiden, Les Cohen, Jake Thurston. Echuca Moama: Jeff Abela, Jarrod Johnson.