Eagles erase the anguish of 2005 defeat
From the agony of defeat in 2005 to the ecstasy of glory in 2006, Antimo Iannella reflects on the
West Coast Eagles’ hunger to return home with the trophy.
For 12 long months, West Coast has suffered the pain of agonising grand final disappointment. It’s an ache
that has lingered in the belly of every Eagles player and official, as well as their legion of passionate
The anguish of heartbreaking defeat is akin to an open wound that simply won’t heal. The hurt doesn’t go
away but rather, it endures, as a constant reminder of what could have been.
Spurred on by that dramatic four-point loss in last season’s decider, the Eagles resolved to improve and go
one step better. You could see it in the eyes of each and every player in blue and yellow on Saturday; the
steel, the quiet, intense determination.
There was no way the pride of Western Australia was returning home empty-handed this time.
With the premiership on the line in that frantic last quarter, heroes abounded for the Coasters. Beau
Waters and Andrew Embley covered themselves in glory, going back into the great unknown to take marks of
significant courage and importance.
Former Hawk Daniel Chick once again proved his worth with a vital late smother, which led to an Adam Hunter
goal and a decisive seven-point gap that the Swans would not be able to bridge.
There was courage of a different kind from young half-back Waters and inspirational captain Chris Judd.
Shoulder injuries had threatened to derail the West Coast express with the finish line in sight, but the pair
taped up their sore joints and powered through the final term, demonstrating the level of commitment required
The spine-tingling contest enhanced no bigger reputation than that of Eagles’ mentor John Worsfold. A
dual-premiership winning skipper, subtlety was never Worsfold’s specialty as a player and he has been roundly
criticised for his unwavering approach in the box.
But on this day he would throw caution to the wind, seeking to unnerve the most settled of Sydney line-ups
with a series of moves straight out of the Malcolm Blight coaching manual.
He repeatedly switched his wildcard Hunter between the backlines and the attacking half, employed David
Wirrpanda as a spare man in front of the dangerous Barry Hall and engineered it so that his free-running
midfield was kicking into an open forward zone- a complete reversal of recent clashes between the two
It seems the cagey Worsfold saved his best hand for last.
All season the Eagles had worked hard to rectify the weaknesses exploited by the Swans in the 2005 finale;
most notably, the lack of attacking fire power that left Judd’s Norm Smith Medal-winning performance
Where Michael Gardiner failed last year, cult figure Quinten Lynch would succeed, booting three precious
majors to give West Coast the viable goal square target they desperately needed. His tally was matched by the
side’s good luck charm, Ashley Hansen, who made amends for prior letdowns with a major contribution as part of
an amazing, unblemished 2006.
And while injury played a key role in denying the Eagles a third flag 12 months ago, now there was nothing
stopping the dynamic Daniel Kerr from having a big say in the Cup’s destination.
The Eagles’ slippery no. 4 cast aside doubts over his dodgy calf with a commanding display in the second
half, joining best-on-ground Embley and ruckman Dean Cox as the influential men behind the victory.
There’s a fine line separating triumph and failure, with the difference between pain and pleasure only
magnified by the magnificent stage that is the MCG on Grand Final day. No one would understand that better
than the boys from the West, and they illustrated how the agony of defeat can also be the catalyst for the
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