No, I'm not having delusions. I realise that Essendon are out of the 2004 AFL premiership after their appalling effort against Geelong on Saturday night.
The North Shore Bombers are the Sydney AFL premiers for 2004 after winning the grand final at Henson Park yesterday. They received the Bill Hart Cup after defeating the St George Crows 10-11 (71) to 7-4 (46) in front of about 1000 or so people (including Di, Adara and myself... and Bartholomew, no photos alas due to battery problems).
The Crows, and I have trouble recalling the legend of "St George and the Crow", led at half-time after a low-scoring first quarter, but the Bombers stormed ahead after the long break and held on in the final quarter. It was their first flag since 2001 despite being runners-up in each of the last two grand finals.
This year is, in fact, the centenary of North Shore's first premiership win, beating Balmain in the 1904 final. North Shore were known as the Bears until beginning their affiliation with Essendon. This year was their tenth flag in a season in which they only lost two games.
Best on ground in the grand final was the Bombers' Daniel McPherson, who played 111 games for the Swans between 1994 and 2003.
The Bombers also won the reserve grade grand final, beating the Pennant Hills Demons. The official program for grand final day lists among the Bombers reserve grade squad in the number 57 jumper, one Pat Rafter. He played a couple of games earlier in the season in the seconds.
After his performance at Flushing Meadow this morning, maybe the Bombers could find a place for Lleyton Hewitt next year.
I watched the third quarter of North Shore's major semi-final win over the Uni of NSW/Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs at Henson Park a fortnight ago while walking Bartholomew. As it happens, it was the winning quarter. Last week's preliminary final between the Bulldogs and St George was played in astonishing conditions with two hailstorms during the game (no I wasn't there, but the Fox Footy Channel showed highlights later in the week).
The unofficial Sydney Swans fansite, redandwhiteonline.com, has photos of the hailstorm at Henson Park during the preliminary final.
Highlights of the Bombers-Crows grand final will be shown on Fox Footy NSW on Friday September 17 from 8.30pm.
Looking at Essendon's other affiliates: the Bendigo Bombers made the finals in the VFL but were eliminated by Tasmania in the first week. Tassie's ambitions of their first Victorian flag came to an end yesterday when they lost to Sandringham, who will meet Port Melbourne in the grand final next Sunday. The Redland Bombers finished seventh in the ten-team AFL Queensland, while the Lauderdale Bombers won just four games and finished second-last in the Tasmanian Southern Football League.
Looking at some other aussie rules results over the past couple of weeks, the Wollongong Lions won the euphemistically-titled First Division of the Sydney AFL when they beat Sydney University on Saturday. In the Victorian Women's Football League, the St Albans Spurs 6-9 (45) beat Melbourne University 1-7 (13) in the grand final at te Ted Whitten for their first flag. (Spare a thought for the East Geelong Eagles whose winless season in Division One ended with a for/against percentage of 7.52%.) St Kilda won the VWFL Division Two, and Berwick Division Three.
Papua New Guinea, and the University Bulldogs completed an undefeated season on September 4 when they defeated Wests 13-14 (92) to 4-4 (28) in the National Capital Rules Football grand final.
The BARFL (as in "barfl of drunken aussie expats") grand final on August 21 saw the West London Wildcats defeat the Wimbledon Hawks 14-12 (96) to 5-2 (32). In Scotland, the SARFL is a three-team competition, and they timed their grand final to coincide with the Edinburgh fringe festival. The Edinburgh Old Town Bloods beat the Glasgow Sharks in a close battle 24-25 (169) to 2-4 (16). And the wooden spooners? The Edinburgh University Body Snatchers.