Great effort a recipe for success
Great effort. It’s the gospel according to Ross Lyon.
The Freo senior coach is a firm believer that the road to ‘greatness’ must be paved with great effort, and last Friday night against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium, he got it in truckloads from his troops.
There were contributions left, right, centre and in the stands from those wearing purple, some as discernable as Dennis Cometti’s voice, others not so transparent.
Most lucid was Stephen Hill.
Shut down in the first half by Saint Clinton Jones, as he had been so often in the past, Hill could have been forgiven for thinking this was one ghost that wasn’t going away.
So, in the second half, with the game on a knife-edge, Hill decided to run away.
Run away from his opponent with the footy in hand, that is.
Time and time again, the 21-year-old willed himself towards the contest, swooped on the ball, and pressed GO.
He was the most visibly influential player on the ground, either by setting up goals to Jack Anthony and Clancee Pearce through sublime, defence-piercing passes, or beginning a scoring chain from the half-back line with scything runs.
Zac Clarke was another to shine on the big stage.
You know you’ve done something good when Bruce McAvaney gives you the “special” treatment, and Clarke’s third-quarter goal, when he took on Jason Blake and blasted the ball through the big sticks from 50m, was just that.
At quarter-time the wince on Michael Barlow’s face gave an indication of the effort he was giving. He looked like he’d just finished the New York Marathon.
But he just kept going and going, continually diving into packs, digging out the ball and off-loading right until the final siren. His 30-possessions were inspirational to his teammates and a sign the midfielder is approaching his best form.
Then there are the players that don’t make the highlight reel, the ones that do their job with little fanfare.
Take Adam McPhee, who blanketed the much shorter Stephen Milne, a thorn in Freo’s side over recent fixtures between the teams.
Or Ryan Crowley, who probably followed Nick Dal Santo home after the game, such was his determination to stop the star Saint from having an impact.
Dal Santo ended up with only 18 possessions and a goal, while Crowley had 15 and a goal himself in a big match-up win for the visitors.
The stats sheet will show Chris Mayne kicked two goals, which is a fair return from a forward. What it won’t show is the role he played in shutting down Sam Fisher, who St Kilda look to go through at every opportunity coming out of defence.
Lyon asked Mayne to make his opponent accountable, and the young Freo forward did as his coach wanted and limited Fisher to just 17 disposals.
The contributors were everywhere on Friday night.
From the last line of defence, where Luke McPharlin had Nick Riewoldt’s number again, to Jack Anthony’s two crucial third-quarter goals, and in the stands, where the heavily outnumbered Freo supporters sounded more like 10,000 throughout the evening.
It was a team giving the great effort required every time a ball is bounced in anger if it is to achieve the sustained success it seeks.