In a country sport that has plenty of heartache and battling, the Albany Sharks are a stand-out.
- Albany Sharks to play in first grand final
- The team won two games in 12 years
- AFL star Brett Peake nurtured the young squad
The club won just two solitary games from 2008 to 2021.
But then former AFL star Brett Peake pulled on a teal guernsey and took the field.
He guided the young squad with his seniority and experience, leading them into their very first grand final showdown.
Peake — the son of Geelong and East Fremantle legend Brian — was mustering up in Western Australia’s Pilbara region after a successful career with the Fremantle Dockers and St Kilda when he ran into a mate at the pub.
“It’s really sort of random how I ended up here, a mate of mine that I used to play footy against in WAFL level goes: ‘do you want to go play footy down in Albany’,” he said.
“Next minute I had a phone call from the Albany Sharks Footy Club and I said yeah lets give it a crack … and [see] if I can help out a club that has struggled — 12 years and only winning two games.”
Peake packed up his family and they moved to WA’s south coast in their caravan.
COVID had put his family off their original plan of travelling around Australia.
And now they can’t see themselves moving anywhere else – which is good news for the Sharks.
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“We’ve just fallen in love with the place and the footy club and the people around it,” he said.
“We couldn’t travel [during COVID], and we call it home now and to be honest I can’t really see us leaving anytime soon, I see us settling down here and living here potentially for ever and a day.”
The ‘worst’ team?
The Sharks entered the Great Southern Football League in 2008, but the players only sang the team song twice in the following decade.
Peake arrived last year as the club started to gain form, capping off the season with a record seven wins.
A first taste of success followed, with the team making finals for the first time.
“It was huge, but that first final was like winning a grand final, but we got shown-up quite convincingly by Railways the week after,” he said.
They now face a rematch with Railways as the underdogs in an historic showdown at Collingwood Park this Sunday.
“There’s no over-excitement, some of the young kids have really stepped up and are enjoying their footy and we’re playing as a team,” Peake said.
“I like being the underdog and we’re just really excited that we can be the first Sharks team to make the grand final and do something that’s never been done before.”
While Peake’s spectacular season up forward — including a 13-goal haul against Denmark-Walpole — will earn him plenty of attention, he said he was focused on the side’s young players and getting them through to their maiden premiership.
“Once you make the grand final, there’s no next week,” he said.
“We’re ready for it, it’s go time.”
Hopes team’s effort will be rewarded
Sharks league coach Jamie Ram said the team had put in the hard yards.
“We’ve come a long way, I think we can go very well, anything can happen,” Ram said.
“We’ll give it everything we’ve got.”
Peake said he has enjoyed the rise of the Sharks from the “doldrums” to where they were now.
“It didn’t take me by surprise that when I first came down, I just knew the club was going somewhere, just the young kids’ eagerness to learn,” he said.
“Coming to the end of my time, if I can handball down some knowledge to the young kids hopefully, they can pass it on and pass it on.”
Source: AFL NEWS ABC