Laurie in AFLW national team

DENMARK footballer Parris Laurie has earned a spot in the AFLW 2020 Team of the Year after a standout season in the ruck with the West Coast Eagles.

Part of the Eagles’ inaugural AFLW team, Laurie averaged 18 hit-outs, nine disposals, two marks and nearly three tackles per game.

The 25-year-old was twice nominated in the AFLW team of the week, including a commanding Round 2 performance against Fremantle where she finished with 27 hit-outs.

The personal accolade is a shining light in an otherwise difficult season for the first-year Eagles who only managed one win from six games and finished bottom of conference B.

West Coast were on the receiving end of some ugly thrashings in their debut AFLW season, going down by 45-points in the Round 2 derby against Fremantle and suffering a 59-point thumping in Round 5 against Melbourne.

While the results look bad on paper, Laurie said the season had been an invaluable learning experience for the young Eagles team.

“This year was about setting the foundations and learning to play with one another and learning the standards we need to play at,” she said.

“It was more about our improvement each week. We definitely progressed as the season went on and started to play out games much better towards the end.”

Even amongst the big losses, Laurie said a tight group of players had enjoyed a ‘special’ season together.

“Even if you are the new team and you don’t have the highest of expectations, we still definitely felt the losses,” she said.

“But being a close group, we were all smiles when we got back to training on Mondays and were looking forward to the next game.”

Persistence paid off in Round 4 when the Eagles made history with their first ever AFLW win.

The nail-biting four-point win at Leederville Oval against the Western Bulldogs was a memorable moment for Laurie, who was named amongst the Eagles’ best players for the day.

“It’s definitely my favourite win to date,” Laurie said.

“Everyone was on top of the world, it was an awesome feeling and I’ll never forget it.”

The 2020 season is Laurie’s second year playing AFLW having made her debut for Fremantle in 2019.

Laurie was selected by the Dockers with pick 49 in the national draft and she played eight games last year before crossing to the Eagles.

Having access to a full-time ruck coach at West Coast was a big part of the decision, according to Laurie.

“Knowing that I would have a full-time ruck coach going across to the Eagles was big for me,” she said.

“I’m not as tall in comparison to other rucks, so I really need some tricks up my sleeve in order to beat them.

“Freo couldn’t offer that. It was a hard decision, but I haven’t looked back.”

The 178cm ruck said it had been a privilege to be involved in the Eagles inaugural team.

But she would have liked to have played a full season so the side could continue its development.

Last month AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan made the decision to cancel the 2020 AFLW competition without a premier.

The home and away season had finished two games early to fast track a finals competition, but only got one week in before the series came to a grinding halt because of COVID-19 measures.

Fremantle, Carlton, North Melbourne and Melbourne had progressed to the preliminary finals, but those games will never be played.

With the AFL facing a dire financial position, there has been talk the women’s season might not go ahead in 2021, but Laurie said she was trying to remain optimistic.

“I know teams are go-ng through some hard times financially and are having to let people go, so it’s a possibility, but fingers crossed for now,” she said.

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Salmon comps postponed

THE inaugural Albany Salmon Slam and Albany Salmon Spectacular have been postponed until next year.

Despite moving to an app-based competition to encourage social distancing, Recfishwest Operations Manager Leyland Campbell said competition organisers would follow the Federal Government’s latest COVID-19 advice and instead, work to make the 2021 event bigger and better.

“The latest advice from Government has been very clear advising people to only venture out of their homes if completely necessary,” he said.

“On this basis we think postponing the Slam is the right thing to do.

“Fishing will have a huge role to play post COVID-19 in boosting our community’s mental health and wellbeing and rebuilding the regional economy.

“We will continue to work in the background on developing initiatives and programs that will make fishing even better for West Aussies in recovering from this crisis on the other side.”

Regional travel restrictions in effect now also furthered Recfishwest’s decision to cancel.

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Railways in seventh heaven

RAILWAYS were crowned Albany and Districts Cricket Association (ADCA) A-Grade champions for the seventh successive season in what must be one of the most dominant runs of any team in WA cricketing history.

The Tigers clinched the premiership in bizarre circumstances after the ADCA was last week forced to suspend all its grand final play-offs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

ADCA’s executive committee had to vote which teams, if any, would take home some silverware for 2019-20, and unanimously decided each side which made it to the grand final first would win the flag.

If a cricket final ends up getting washed out, the first team through to that game is generally declared the winner, and the ADCA used that reasoning to reach its decision.

It meant Railways’ gritty 16-run finals victory over Manypeaks the week earlier proved to be an early season decider, with the Tigers the first team through to the big dance.

Manypeaks were able to reach the grand final themselves the long way round but will now never find out if they would have been good enough to dethrone the reigning premiers in a do-or-die clash.

Manypeaks A-grade captain Aran Tilbury said it was a fair result, however, with the ADCA having little choice but to award Railways the premiership.

Tilbury said his team were initially disappointed with the decision to cancel the grand final and had wanted to play but understood ADCA were only following directives from the Western Australian Cricket Association.

Cricket Australia and the WACA decided last week it would suspend all cricket competitions until further notice.

Railways A-grade captain Nathan Crudeli said it wasn’t how any team wanted to finish a season but praised the ADCA for taking a safety-first approach.

“They chose to protect players and the wider community which I think they should be commended,” he said.

“We all love cricket, and it’s disappointing we couldn’t play, but there are a few things that are a little more important right now.”

In light of everything going on around them, Crudeli said the premiership triumph hadn’t sunk in yet, with the team holding a “very low-key” celebration on the weekend.

“It’s obviously a pretty different feeling,” he said.

“But everyone should hold their heads high because it was a pretty massive effort to come from where we were and to finish the way we did.”

Crudeli said the Tigers didn’t have to carry any passengers this year with a number of players stepping up their game to the next level.

“There’s a few boys that we needed to step up and play probably more pivotal roles than they have in the past and they took that opportunity,” he said.

“Aiden Dallimore batting at three all year in A-grade was massive.

“Coen Marwick has got to be mentioned for his season with the bat and ball.”

In a scintillating season where Marwick won the ACDA player of the year award, the all-rounder averaged over 46 with the bat and took a wicket every 26 balls.

Dallimore was recognised as the best under-21 player in the competition, with an impressive performance behind the stumps complementing a 24.27 run batting average.

Going where no other A-grade Albany cricket team has gone before, Crudeli said the seven-premiership dynasty was an extraordinary run.

“It’s pretty special what the young team have been able to do this year,” he said.

“It’s some sort of record, surely.”

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Railways scoreless, Royals take top spot

DURING a highly anticipated top-of-table clash, Royals showed their class with a grinding seven-point win over Railways at Centennial Stadium on Friday night, in what could be the last round of fixtures for the season.

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the West Australian Football Commission has suspended all football activities until at least May 31, which is more than a month after the GSFLW Grand Final was supposed to be played.

If the 2020 season is abandoned, the result could have handed Royals this year’s premiership.

Last year’s premiers secured their sixth win of 2020, moving to first on the GSFLW ladder ahead of second-placed Tigers.

Only percentage separates the two sides.

Scoring was a premium in miserably wet conditions under lights on Friday night, with much of the game played between the forward-50 arcs.

For the first time this year Railways were held scoreless as a determined Royals outfit pressured their opposition out of the contest.

Rain poured down at Centennial Stadium in the first half, with players regularly opting to soccer the ball forward when a slippery pill hit the deck.

While both teams struggled to hit the scoreboard, there was no doubting the effort from both sides in a ferocious game where big tackles were a highlight.

The only score up until three-quarter time was a Lions behind, and it was anyone’s match at that stage.

Henrietta Lilford broke the deadlock in the final term, kicking the first major of the game to send Royals seven points clear, and the Tigers were unable to respond with a score of their own.

While the match was far from a spectator’s dream, the 1.1 (7) to 0.0 (0) win is an invaluable four points for Royals considering the football suspension.

Over at Sounness Park in Denmark, Mount Barker posted their first ever win in the GSFLW with a six-point victory over Denmark-Walpole.

It had so far been a tough first-season for the last- placed Bulls, but their 4.2 (26) to 3.2 (20) triumph will no doubt give them confidence they can come back stronger in 2021.

Mount Barker led their opponents at every break and kicked two goals in

the final term to secure a deserved result.

In the second game of a double header at Centennial Stadium, Albany Sharks moved to outright third on the ladder with an impressive 16-point win over North Albany.

Competition leading goal scorer Stephanie Grant took her season tally to 10 goals for the season, while Emily Lawrence scored the other major for the Sharks.

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Cricket finals called off

RAILWAYS will find out tomorrow if they have won their seventh consecutive Albany A-Grade Cricket premiership after Saturday’s Grand Final was cancelled due to the coronavirus threat.

The Albany and Districts Cricket Association (ADCA) Executive Committee cancelled all grand final games this weekend in a meeting on Tuesday night.

ADCA president Terry Eaton said the decision comes after a strong recommendation by Cricket Australia and the Western Australian Cricket Association to cancel all cricket playing and training for the remainder of the 2019/20 season.

“It’s extreme circumstances but the community is bigger than the game of cricket,” he said.

“It’s the only sane and rational response and if you went ahead with the game and something happened, you would always be questioning yourself.

“The decision was made with the safety of all participants, volunteers and the wider community in mind.”

Mr Eaton said the association would be guided by the ADCA by-laws in deciding if premiers are awarded in their respective grades and this decision would be communicated tomorrow.

He said if the game was rained out, Railways would be named premiers but this was an unprecedented situation.

In last week’s games, Railways held on for a gritty 16-run victory over Manypeaks to go straight through to the big dance, meaning Peaks had to do it the hard way in an elimination clash against Royals.

After winning the toss and batting first, Manypeaks posted 8/149 of 48 overs before the heavens opened up and play was eventually called off.

With Manypeaks finishing higher on the ladder than Royals in the regular season, it meant Peaks progressed through to the Grand Final.

It was a harsh way for Royals to finish their season, after a nail-biting three-wicket victory over Collingwood Park on Saturday had them within touching distance of a grand final berth.

Over on Turf C, Manypeaks won the toss and sent Railways into bat under cloudy conditions that would likely favour the bowlers.

And it was a decision that paid off early with Railways openers Coen Marwick and Alan Pietersen both falling cheaply inside the first 15 overs.

It was then up to middle-order pairing Aidan Dallimore and Brendan Crudeli to rebuild the innings, and the duo had to fight hard to keep the scoreboard ticking with Railways finishing on 8/153.

In reply, Manypeaks got off to a disastrous start in their run chase, losing 3/16 inside 12 overs as Railways’ Coen Marwick tore through the top order.

Peaks slumped further to be 7/68 and Railways, holding the upper-hand throughout, put the result to bed in the last over of the game, with the deadly Marwick finishing with 4/15 off 9.1 overs.

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Surf’s on

WHILE countless sporting events around the country were cancelled this week, Boardriders President David Beeck confirmed Albany Boardriders Junior Wavefest would go ahead until Surfing WA said otherwise.

Mr Beeck said any extra precautions would be taken to keep everyone safe on the day, noting that surfers have to keep their distance anyway.

Registration for the grassroots surf comp is now open to those under the age of 18, with a number of age brackets to enter into.

Depending on weather and swell conditions, the event will be held on either April 4 or 5.

To register, visit albanysurf.com

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Veteran saves club

IT WOULD be hard to find someone who’s given as much of their life to table tennis as Albany’s Peter Muller.

Since moving to the Great Southern in 1994, Muller almost single-handedly saved the Albany Table Tennis Club from going under.

As he tells it, there were only about eight players left, the club didn’t have a committee or any money and there were bills to pay.

Fast-forward 26 years and he’s managed a remarkable turnaround, with the club’s Friday social league hosting about 60-70 players each week.

“When I took over the club it was almost extinct, but since then it has grown and grown,” Muller said.

“Now we have 14 tables going.”

Muller has been President of the Albany Table Tennis Club for more than 25 years – a feat recently recognised and celebrated at the club’s AGM.

Even before his time in Albany, the sports fanatic ran his own table tennis club in Perth, where he coached young players and resided as president for 26 years.

But according to Muller, nothing beats the feel of a community sports club in a regional area like Albany where volunteers are more than willing to help out.

“Country people are different; you couldn’t have something like this in the city,” he said.

“It’s like a big family here, everyone gets on well.

“There’s no cliqueness in the club.

“A lot of people say it’s the best club they’ve ever been involved in. There are always new people coming along.”

Muller’s passion for the game goes beyond managerial duties.

The spritely 81-year-old competes in the Over 70s State Championships every year, as well as the Country Championships.

And while he obviously still loves to play table tennis, Muller said he was hopeful someone would eventually step up to the president role.

“I’ve given table tennis my life,” he said.

“I’ve been trying to step down for the last five years, but no one would take the job.

“I am training a vice-president and hopefully he will take over.”

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Tennis club turns 100

DRESSED up in their finest 1920s tennis attire, Tenterden Tennis Club toasted its 100th birthday on Saturday.

Tenterden brought up its century milestone in style with an afternoon of casual social tennis where players sported wooden racquets.

After the sun had set, about 120 people attended a celebratory dinner where past and present members shared personal stories about the club.

Located within the Shire of Cranbrook, Tenterden is a charming club surrounded by bushland.

Members meet for social tennis every Saturday, as well as hosting a few tournaments each year.

To mark the occasion, Tenterden Tennis Club President Rowan Bigwood read a poem that took a light-hearted look at its 100-year history.

“As we celebrate 100 I’ve always thought what makes it tick, what makes it great,” he said.

“It’s obvious look around you mate.

“Good job you made it, raise a glass, you deserve it, you made it last.”

The whole club then sang itself a stirring rendition of Happy Birthday and life members John Sprigg, Sue Milne and Bill Waldron cut the centenary cake.

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Mother-daughter rule

LOCAL footy clubs are often seen as one big family, but the Albany Sharks have taken that idea to a whole new level with their women’s team this year.

The Sharks are making it a family affair in more ways than one, with Albany mums Emma Ashton and Lindy Weinert playing Australian Rules in the same team as their daughters.

Ms Ashton steps onto the field each week with her girls Marlee and Cheyenne, while Ms Weinert gets to kick the footy around with daughter Amarlie.

But that’s not all.

The two Sharks mums are also best friends, having met each other in the same hospital when their first children were born.

“It’s a real treat being able to run out with my daughters, my best friend and her daughter as well,” Ms Ashton said.

“It’s pretty special.”

Ms Ashton joined the team to support Marlee’s dream of playing AFLW, and thought it would be a great idea to get her best friend involved too.

Despite never playing organised sport in their lives, both women have fallen in love with the game.

“I wished I started playing years ago,” Ms Weinert said.

“It would have been great to be able to play footy when we were our kids’ age.”

In the Sharks’ third season fielding a women’s team in the Great Southern Football League, Ms Ashton said the club was building a strong culture.

“I haven’t loved being around big groups of women in my life – I’m more of a tomboy – but this bunch of girls are just amazing,” she said.

“It’s a family.”

In a youthful side, Ms Ashton said the team appreciated having a few experienced heads around.

“The girls have commented that they love having the mums in the team because we are the first to know when something is not quite right,” she said.

Albany currently sit third on the GSFLW ladder with three wins and three losses.

They play close rivals North Albany this Friday night at Centennial Oval, where a win will help guarantee them a finals appearance with four rounds to go in the 2020 season.

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Modified Sedans head south

NEXT weekend will see the WA Modified Sedans head to Attwell Park for the sixth and penultimate round of their series, plus Junior Sedans from across the state will travel south for their feature night.

While nominations have just opened for this round of the series, likely to head the list of drivers set to invade the local track is newly crowned State Champion Branden Fraser.

In last year’s corresponding round, Fraser pushed the eventual series champion all the way to finish a very close second, so there is a little bit of unfinished business for him.

After having a number of years off and returning halfway through this season, former State Champion Brendan Selleck from Kalgoorlie came away with his first round win at the last event in Margaret River after starting from pole, and will be wanting to go back-to-back.

Likely to also head to Albany is Paul Stevens who finished on the podium at a club show earlier this season and should be joined by Luke Fraser, Rick Musarra and Kevin Ellement.

On the local front Calon Ball, Sean Theyer and Matt Kata will be strong contenders and will want to keep the round in the Great Southern.

Ball appears to have sorted some issues he had with the car before the last round after he started on the front row in Margaret River to eventually finish third.

Kata, like Selleck, had a number of years off to return last season on a limited schedule but, in the few meetings he has done since his return has shown he and his XF Falcon are a strong pairing.

Another racer who competes on a limited schedule is Sean Theyer, with the Modifieds having just the one club show so far this season.

Theyer made the most of it taking home the win and coupled with his strong performance at the state title, he will be hard to beat.

They are the future of the sport and put on some of the best racing and the Junior Sedans will share the spotlight next weekend.

Jasmin Kennedy who has the most heat (four) and feature (two) wins of any other Junior this season at the Attwell Park track, will be wanting to keep that stat and will be doing her best to keep everyone at bay.

Hope Batchelor, who in the previous season had been racing a Corrolla, moved into a Lancer at the beginning of the season and has started to adapt to the new car and is getting faster each week, taking home the last feature win.

Bryce Fisher is unlucky to have just the two heat and no feature wins as he is always there in contention and, given the right circumstances, next week he will be right there once again.

With just two meetings after this one left in the season, time is running out to see some great, hard and fast racing so make sure you head trackside next weekend.

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