Camperdown’s Leigh van den Berghe flies high for the mark in front of Panmure’s Brandon Cole in Saturday’s HFNL pre-season competition. Winning South Warrnambool coach Matthew Peake with the pre-season competition trophy.
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Panmure’s Shamus O’Beirne tackles Camperdown’s Hayden Mitchell.

SOUTH Warrnambool may have won its second consecutive Hampden league football pre-season competition last Saturday but rivals expect a tight season.

Warrnambool coach Scott Carter said he left Saturday’s lightning premiership of matches at Port Fairy’s Gardens Oval with one key point.

“A very even competition,” he said.

“At this early stage it is a very even competition and it will probably come down to who brings their A-grade game on the day and who has a bit of luck with injuries.” He said the Blues had emerged without injuries from their two matches and he was pleased with the form of West Gambier recruit Kayne O’Brien in defence and Sale midfielder Harry Cross.

Koroit coach Chris McLaren said his Saints had turned in pleasing performances in winning both preliminary games.

He was a little disappointed they had missed qualifying for the final.

“It would have been nice to play in it but may be not after such a big break,” he said.

Camperdown coach Bernard Moloney, who had warmed up his team for the final only to miss out after South Colac kicked a goal in the last 60 seconds of the final game, said he was thrilled with the Magpies’ undefeated showing.

“I was happy with how we went and our intensity was really good,” he said.

“You always want to play in a final and it would have been good to test ourselves against South Warrnambool. South are reinventing themselves with a new list and it would have been good to get a good look at them.”

Moloney said the Magpies had taken a lot of positives out of their two matches and expected a tight race for the top five this season.

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BUSINESSES looking to turn social media traffic into shop customer traffic can attend a free seminar in Warrnambool tonight.
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SmartSaver Deals, a business using smartphone apps to advertise special promotions, is hosting the free introduction to social and mobile media marketing for small businesses at The Loft.

At least 70 people from a range of Warrnambool businesses are attending, from pharmacies and accountants to clothing retailers.

Warrnambool Smart Mobile Media consultant Catherine Williams said the seminar would teach tips and tricks on engaging more with consumers.

“We want to get other businesses involved in utilising Facebook and social media to complement their other advertising, so they’re engaging with potential customers in more relaxed way,” she said.

“It’s not always about sell, sell, sell.

“This event is for people who haven’t used social media at all, or for people using it and already doing well.

“There’s always more to learn.”

Rather than shifting their business online, she said Warrnambool shop owners could use social media to bring customers through the door.

“When searching for products, it’s a way to have an active presence online and direct customers through their doors,” she said.

“Facebook is a good way to do that without spending a fortune on a static website where you can’t interact with people.

“Opportunity is where the eyes are and the eyes are either on Facebook or on the mobile phone.”

Further seminars targeting Portland and Hamilton businesses will follow in late May.

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A CONTENTIOUS proposal for more parking bays on Warrnambool’s Raglan Parade centre median strips has been raised again by city councillors Jennifer Lowe and Peter Hulin, who claim the CBD is disadvantaged by parking constraints.
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With council elections seven months away they have revived the concept, which has been raised before by councillors and business groups without being adopted.

They have also suggested hundreds of new parking bays could be created using residential nature strips near the city centre.

“We want a can-do attitude within council,” they said.

“Parking is the most commonly-raised complaint among residents we speak with.

“We believe there should be more free parking spaces on the CBD fringe, which would get workers’ cars out of the centre streets and free up these areas for shoppers.

“With appropriate landscaping, Raglan Parade can still retain its green look without being turned into concrete pads.”

VicRoads has again indicated it would probably not be in favour of the proposal because of safety concerns and the city council said the issue would be covered in its soon-to-be-released city structure plan draft.

However, councillors Lowe and Hulin believe the parade median strips can be changed without increasing safety risks or adding big cost burdens onto ratepayers.

“If Raglan Parade traffic between Banyan and Henna streets is slowed down, more people will go into the CBD,” they said.

“It will also give somewhere for tourists to park on their way through.

“The design could steer pedestrians to cross the road at traffic lights rather than mid-block.”

The councillors claim there would be minimal cost in redesigning Raglan Parade and residential nature strips for parking.

“It’s a very cost-effective way of handling the problem and frees up council finances for bigger projects,” they said.

“There would need to be time limits outside businesses and permits for residents in those areas.” Council indicated the structure plan would be released within weeks and address parking issues.

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ROSE Witney spent about six months last year couch surfing from one friend’s home to another.
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The 19-year-old now rents a unit and wants to help address homelessness in Warrnambool.

Together with her dad, Ricky Witney, Tarren Spinks and Jai Whitehead, a group of volunteers called Evolution 1 has been born.

Ms Witney said couch surfing staying temporarily with friends, perhaps for only one night was something a lot of her friends had experienced because of the difficulty in getting rental accommodation.

“It sucked. You find yourself in a situation where you’re not sure if you can stay the night,” she said.

“You don’t want to overstay your welcome at people’s houses. You do what you can to pay them.

“I applied for a lot of places but it wasn’t until my parents went guarantor and that’s probably the only reason I got this place.”

Ms Witney said when she approached local organisations for help she found her situation was not a high enough priority.

“I wasn’t a mother with children needing somewhere to stay and I could sleep on someone’s couch,” she said.

“I had somewhere to crash so they could let me go again for another night.”

Evolution 1 has been meeting since August last year and is still in its infancy. It has brought a caravan which could eventually be used for transitional housing.

Mr Witney is the group’s chairman. He said its members want to learn what role they can play and will attend a homelessness forum on Thursday night.

“I’ve had kids couch surf at my place,” he said.

“The idea came about through what we’ve seen. We want to do up this caravan and hopefully it can be used for transitional housing. It’s to get them off the street.

“We’ve got a bus we want to do up and it can be used to get people to work or appointments. We’re going to start applying for grants. We want to learn from others at the forum.

“Our charter is to assist people in the community to lead better lives.

“This isn’t about a free ride. We want to help them help themselves.

“We can’t change the world but we can do our little bit.

“There is hope for plenty of other kids out there.”

The forum starts at 6pm at the Archie Graham Community Centre in Timor Street and will include a panel comprising members of state, regional and local welfare organisations.

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Australian Ballet dance presenter Alex McKinnon shows grade 6 pupil Monique English, 11, and grade 5 pupil Garrin Williamson, 10, how its done. WARRNAMBOOL East Primary School has formed a junior dance troupe following a visit from The Australian Ballet.
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But there was surprisingly little talk of first, second or third positions, arabesques and pli s. Pupils instead learned how to use their bodies to create shapes and fill the space around them as part of the Melbourne-based company’s Out There tour.

Tour manager Donna Cusack said the pupils had been responding “wonderfully” to the dance movement workshops.

“They participate regardless of any pre-determined skill it’s all-inclusive,” she said.

“It is to raise awareness of dance as both a physical and expressive activity.”

The program’s dance education ensemble made up of Alex McKinnon, Abigail Oleivero, Hannah Beer and Chris Ead took six morning workshops for pupils in grades one to six in preparation for an afternoon presentation to the school.

Since the pilot sessions in 2006, Out There has given more than 40,000 children a chance to experience dance, visiting Warrnambnool East for the first time in 2008.

“It has been a full-time part of the Australian Ballet’s education program since 2010,” Mrs Cusack said.

The nationwide initiative spent a week visiting schools around the region including Port Fairy Consolidated, Woolsthorpe and Koroit and District.

“In 2012 we’ll hit every state and territory in Australia,” Mrs Cusack said. “We began here, our first stop was Warrnambool (district).”

Mrs Cusack said the workshops surprised many of the pupils, particularly the boys.

“Many come out saying ‘That’s not what I thought it would be like’,” she said.

“It was more fun or harder than they were expecting.

“There has been a real sense of enjoyment and discipline here a curiosity we don’t normally see in the metro schools.”

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MORE than 18,000 small businesses in the south-west will benefit from the federal government’s new mining tax, Treasurer Wayne Swan has claimed.
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Mr Swan has started promoting the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) to regional Australia after legislation passed through Federal Parliament last week.

He claimed 18,900 small businesses in Wannon would receive major tax breaks, while a further 18,200 would gain similar benefits in neighbouring Corangamite.

However, the Coalition labelled the MRRT as ineffective and claimed it would instead drag the country deeper into deficit.

Mr Swan said local workers and small businesses in Wannon would get a fairer share from the mining boom thanks to the MRRT.

He said the new tax would lead to higher retirement savings for south-west workers and tax relief for small businesses

“People in Wannon know how important the mining industry is, but they also know that we can only dig up and sell the resources once,” Mr Swan said.

“The Gillard government believes all Australians should share in the benefits of the mining boom, not just a fortunate few.”

Member for Wannon Dan Tehan said the figures just did not add up.

“The problem with the mining tax is that the revenue does not cover the expenditure that goes with it,” he said.

“That puts the budget further into deficit and that is not good for Australia or the south-west.”

Corangamite MP Darren Cheeseman said milk processors, abattoirs and a host of retail businesses would benefit from reductions in company tax. He said the Coalition’s failure to back the MRRT reform was a slap in the face to small businesses, which will gain tax concessions from the new measures.

The MRRT is on track to be introduced in July, with a levy of 30 per cent on “super profits” applied to the mining of iron ore and coal.

Mining magnates including Clive Palmer and Andrew Forrest have publicly opposed the MRRT, claiming the tax will stifle prosperity in the mineral resource-rich states of Queensland and Western Australia.

Mr Swan said the MRRT would boost superannuation from nine per cent to 12 per cent for 38,800 south-west workers, which was projected to provide a 30-year-old worker on average full-time earnings with well over $100,000 in extra retirement savings.

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Actress Barbara Farrell portrayed Colgate spokeswoman Mrs Marsh. TO paraphrase a rather obnoxious television commercial: pester power — does it actually work?
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Some out there in the world of marketing believe that if they can annoy you enough, then eventually you will cave in and buy their product.

Repetition of the same phrases. Monosyllabic jingles. Constant phone calls from international call centres.

All use the same method of rubbing you up the wrong way in the hope that pester power will persuade you to tear down your defences and give in to the message.

For me, it has the opposite effect. Whenever a television commercial, pamphleteer or call-centre telephonist starts to badger me, I actively go out of my way to avoid their product.

Taking a stand against pester power, if you will.

Only recently, I went supermarket shopping and was bailed up by a Greenpeace activist. I gave a polite “no thanks” and headed off but it made me reflect on the strike-rate of similar marketing campaigns.

It must work. Otherwise they wouldn’t bother showing up.

Head to any shopping centre and there’s every chance you’ll see a bloke in a cartoon tie trying to promote a line of credit cards/ life insurance/ herbal laxative.

I was once stopped in a Melbourne shopping centre by a salesman trying to sell air from an “oxygen bar”. For those unacquainted with this latest retail phenomenon, customers are given the opportunity to purchase oxygen and inhale it through tubes from a space-age desk.

If you think I’m pulling your leg, just remember that people have been buying bottled water for years when the stuff comes for free out of the tap. The only hitch is that the art of irritation is so effective. Maybe I’m in a minority but years of evidence suggests that the louder, bolder, brasher and downright annoying the advertisement is, the greater the likelihood of commercial success.

While we’ve seen a litany of bloody annoying 30-second ads during the past few decades, one figure stands out as the harbinger for the present approach to small screen success.

Actress Barbara Farrell (pictured) portrayed Colgate spokeswoman “Mrs Marsh” for more than a decade. At the time, her chalk-in-blue-ink was pilloried by comedians and her catch-cry “It really gets in” grated on viewers.

Surprisingly, a quick glance of internet sites now shows that the ad has found a special place in the collective memory of the Australian public. Maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder.

The same recipe was applied to a recent Coles ad for the supermarket’s beef products. A worse-for-wear Normie Rowe and “celebrity chef” Curtis Stone (is it just me, or does any chef who appears on television suddenly turn into a celebrity?) belted out Rowe’s old cover of Shakin’ All Over in a deliberately off-tempo way.

Maybe the tune wasn’t successful but the public response to it certainly was.

As Rowe told News Limited this month: “I’d be glad to have a payday like that once a week, it’d be delightful.”

“It sold more meat products for Coles than in Coles’ history over that four-week period it was on air.

“It did its job.” It certainly did. The same method has been employed by Harvey Norman for more than a decade.

A yelling voice-over artist shouts about a Westinghouse fridge being “234 months interest free” and a rhythmic beat more akin to a jackhammer than actual music blares through the loudspeaker.

So, dejected and defeated, I have to admit that pester power must work.

As Mrs Marsh would say, when it comes to getting a message into the subconscious of your audience, an irritating catchphrase “really gets in”.

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THE death of former Melbourne footballer and Brownlow medallist Jimmy Stynes set off a flood of tears and tributes this week that is rare for a sportsman.
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Perhaps the most touching came from his old teammate Garry Lyon on The Footy Show.

With great humility and honesty, he explained how he hadn’t thought much of Stynes when they first met at Melbourne FC and that Lyon had failed to grasp Stynes’ approach to both the game of footy and life itself, but inevitably they became best of friends and that Lyon was a better person for knowing the Irish-born ruckman.

Less touching was Jason Akermanis’ summation of Stynes on a Queensland radio station. Akermanis has since apologised and explained what he meant to say when he described the late Demon as “a nasty man in his day” and questioned whether he deserved a state funeral.

“My comments in regard to Jim have been taken entirely out of context,” Akermanis said in his apology.

Sorry, Aker, but they weren’t taken out of context — you may have worded your own words poorly, but they weren’t taken out of context. There’s a big difference.

But I’m not here to Aker-bash. What is interesting though is the age-old taboo regarding speaking ill of the dead.

The backlash against Akermanis was not about whether he really thought such things about Stynes or whether they were true or not, but instead focused on an indignant rage that trumpeted “You can’t say that about someone who’s just died!”.

Why can’t you? Why isn’t someone allowed to say such things after someone has died if you’re allowed to say them while the person is alive?

Is it purely because the person is no longer there to defend themselves?

Or does respect for the dead overwhelm free speech?

Or do a person’s flaws simply evaporate in death? Are all sins forgiven in the act of dying?

Obviously it’s a sensitive time, so is it best to adhere to the grandmotherly advice that if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all?

Akermanis doesn’t deserve applause for his comments, nor do I agree with him, but perhaps it boils down to an ideal attributed to Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

The Chaser got in all sorts of trouble with their Eulogy Song back in 2007, which asked similar questions while taking satirical swipes at the likes of Steve Irwin, Peter Brock and Princess Diana. Of course, they took it to absurd extremes (which is where part of the humour lies).

But at the heart of that ire-raising ditty was a kernel of truth — the foibles and follies of people are forgotten as soon as they shuffle off this mortal coil.

Take Whitney Houston for instance.

Two years ago, when she toured Australia, fans stormed out of her concerts, demanded their money back, and labelled her washed up. Gossip mags got plenty of mileage out of calling her a drug addict and an irresponsible parent.

As soon as she died, that all disappeared into the background.

Ditto for Amy Winehouse. While plenty of obituaries mentioned both singers’ struggles, the issues went from headline to footnote. And let’s not even mention Michael Jackson’s dark past.

Death has a habit of making heroes and heroines out of all but the worst kind.

We didn’t look for Hitler’s good side or Saddam Hussein’s, I suppose, although I’m pretty sure gangland criminal Carl Williams became a “loving father and husband” in the end.

But why is it that we can fearlessly tell the truth about a person when they are alive, but we are expected to change our opinions of them in death?

Akermanis, in his typically idiotic and unsophisticated way, was simply trying to be honest.

He chose the wrong bloke at the wrong time, but at least he was was brave enough to be honest.

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MICHAEL Murphy couldn’t have scripted his final game of competitive cricket any better.
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The 49-year-old, playing alongside old mates Dale Mitchell, Dave Ryan and Gary Stonehouse, took 6-24 off 24 overs, including 14 maidens, as Brierly Christ Church claimed its first premiership in 28 years.

The Bulls, dismissed for just 85 on Saturday, yesterday tore through Russells Creek for 60 to snare the division three flag and spark raucous celebrations.

Murphy, Mitchell and Ryan all played in the Bulls’ 1983-84 A reserve premiership side and they knew they all wouldn’t get a chance to play in another, with Murphy announcing his intention to end his career after more than 370 games with the club.

“It was fantastic,” Murphy said of the win.

“I’m just really happy it was with Mitch, Dave and Stoney, it’s great for them and great for the club.”

Stonehouse, who captained the side, paid tribute to Murphy, who bowled 20 consecutive overs yesterday despite his “buggered” knees.

“It’s a great way to send him into retirement,” Stonehouse said.

He said the victory would give the Bulls impetus for next season.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Stonehouse said of the triumph.

“It’s 28 years. There are a lot of people who have worked hard to get us here. It’s been 28 years of hard work.”

Stonehouse said the Bulls, who struggled to win just one game in division one during the season, had a bright future with a lot of youngsters in the side yesterday.

“There are four older blokes and 12 under 23. It’s a great platform for the future,” he said.

Stonehouse said he feared his side’s effort with the bat on Saturday had left it 20 runs short. But after reducing Creek to 3-26 at stumps on the first day, he said the Bulls were “quitely confident” they could defend the score if they bowled well early.

Despite dismissing Creek for 60, Brierly had to bat out a nervous 90 minutes to ensure victory, making 1-53 with Ryan (15 not out) and Stonehouse (21 not out) sharing an unbeaten 43-run stand for the second wicket.

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Ben Dobson high-fives teammates after West Warrnambool won the WDCA division one grand final.WEST Warrnambool’s first premiership in 22 years brought tears of joy yesterday after the Panthers produced a stunning performance to defeat minor premier Nestles at Merrivale Recreation Reserve.
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An inspired West dismissed the previously undefeated Nestles for 58 to claim a 73-run victory before tea.

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Moments after a Simon Johnson yorker cannoned into James Dalton’s middle stump to end one of the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association’s longest premiership droughts, there was an emotional outpouring from West players.

Captain Andrew Robb, Johnson, wicketkeeper Luke Gannon and paceman Corey McDonald shed tears as they were mobbed by teammates, friends and family.

For 42-year-old Robb, the final wicket was more of relief than excitement as he tried to temper celebrations, thinking Nestles would want to send them back into bat.

But 90 seconds later when Nestles skipper Brett Eldridge walked on to the ground to shake the hands of the umpires, West’s celebrations resumed.

“Then the excitement hit,” Robb said.

While Robb had time away from the Panthers during the drought, he said the victory capped off the careers of veterans Leigh and Simon Johnson, Gannon and McDonald.

“It’s a long time but now the monkey’s off the back,” he said.

“The next time we win a premiership, it (the last one) is not that far away.

“I’ve played in four losing semi-finals and some grand finals, so it’s not like we haven’t been around the mark.”

Robb said he felt his side was owed a premiership after two years being consigned to runner-up after rain washed out the season-decider when his side was on top.

“At the end of the day we deserved to win with what happened a couple of years ago,” he said.

“I thought it was one that got away. But we’ve worked really hard as a group and trained hard.”

Robb said Leigh Johnson’s unbeaten 57, which earnt him man-of-the-match honours, had been crucial.

But he said the turning point came in the shadows of stumps on Saturday night when Simon Johnson and 15-year-old Will Mills each grabbed a wicket to leave Nestles 2-10 entering yesterday’s final day.

“We didn’t bat well. Our good players got out and Leigh held us together. But the best thing was being forced to bowl (Saturday) night. It was better than us batting for another 30 runs,” Robb said.

The Panthers then grabbed three wickets in the first hour yesterday, including joint cricketer of the year Cameron Williams for two, to have Nestles 5-31. Simon Johnson was brilliant, taking 4-16 off 25 overs, including 15 maidens.

Nestles skipper Brett Eldridge, who started his WDCA career with West, acknowledged his former teammates Robb, the Johnsons and Gannon.

“I know what it means to you,” he said at the presentations.

He said he was disappointed with the result, which ended his side’s undefeated season.

“They just bowled better than us,” he said.

“The game was on our terms. If we had batted our overs and batted well we would win the game, but they put us under pressure.”

He said his young group would bounce back.

He said most of his players had committed for next season.

“The ones who were 50-50 would regard it as a job not done,” he said.

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Major Projects Minister Denis Napthine (left) turns the first sod at the site of new overtaking lanes between Port Fairy and Yambuk, with the help of Moyne Shire mayor Jim Doukas, VicRoads regional director William Tieppo and Hazell Bros manager Mario Aiezza. TWO new Princes Highway passing lanes will be built near Yambuk in a $5.17 million project starting this week.
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Each will be 1.2-kilometres long for east and west-bound traffic on the notoriously-dangerous stretch between Goose Lagoon and Fingerboard Road.

In conjunction with two other passing lanes being constructed near Terang and two more later in the year at a yet-to-be-announced section, motorists will be given long-awaited improvements to the busy highway route west of Colac.

South West Coast MP Denis Napthine and VicRoads regional director William Tieppo officially kick-started the Yambuk project on Friday by turning the first sod with a shovel.

Next week earthmoving equipment and contract crews will start work, which is expected to continue to June.

Improvements will also be made to the intersection of the highway and Fingerboard Road.

“This is a very important route and the new lanes will make a significant improvement to safety between Yambuk and Warrnambool,” Dr Napthine told The Standard.

“There is an average of 26,000 vehicles a day through this area.

“The section has many dips and bends and there are no real safe opportunities to pass slow-moving vehicles.

“Indeed there have been a number of serious and fatal accidents in this area over the years.”

Mr Tieppo said the works would be a significant safety improvement for the busy route for freight, tourists and locals.

Moyne Shire Council mayor Cr Jim Doukas said it was good to see government money going to the western part of the state rather than Gippsland, where there seemed to be numerous road improvements.

According to the principal contractor for the Yambuk project, about 30 jobs will be created.

“We will use as many local labourers and businesses as we can,” Hazell Bros manager Mario Aiezza said.

“There will be a minimum of 10 jobs directly on site and 20 jobs off site.

“It’s not just about safety, but also boosting the local jobs market.

“Motorists should expect traffic delays.”

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City Memorial Red celebrates winning its fourth of the past six division one grand finals on Saturday.CITY Memorial Red skipper Tim Jackway revealed the Saturday pennant powerhouse was lacking self belief after an uncharacteristic home-and-away season, but the side clicked when it counted most to clinch back-to-back flags.
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City Red rolled arch-rival Warrnambool Gold 95-86 in the season decider at City Memorial Bowls Club on Saturday, which came after minor premier Warrnambool entered the finals series as favourite.

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“We would’ve been the underdogs going into the finals,” Jackway said.

“Our form’s been really topsy-turvy and they belted us twice during the year, but we turned it around in the two finals.”

Jackway partly attributed the momentum swing to City Red holding a couple of team training sessions late in the season, which helped boost morale.

“I think being able to beat Warrnambool in that first final at Dennington gave us the confidence that we could beat them,” he said.

“We had been struggling with self belief this year, so to beat them in that final, then we thought ‘hang on, we’ve got a real chance here’.”

Jackway’s was the decisive rink on Saturday, defeating Brian “Blacky” Lenehan 32-18, while City’s Ray Hoy triumphed over Paul O’Donnell 27-22.

Warrnambool also had two victorious rinks in Kevin Boyd and Neil Crisp, who defeated Peter Pangrazio (25-20) and Kevin McMahon (21-16) respectively.

“It’s always like that in a final, you hardly ever win all four rinks,” Jackway said.

“It’s always the strength of your 16.”

The skipper said City Memorial and Warrnambool had the advantage of boasting more depth than the smaller clubs, which he believed played an important role in City’s 2011-12 premiership.

The side lost three regular players in Bill Tory, Peter Maddern and Wayne Hall late in the season.

“When we had three really good players become unavailable, us bigger clubs have five, six or seven really strong replacements that can come in,” he said.

“Warrnambool Gold are the same.”

City Red’s replacements were Wayne Gleeson, Les Graham and Ron Grant, with the trio holding their own in Saturday’s grand final.

Graham (second) and Grant (lead) were part of Jackway’s rink along with third David Clements, who returned to pennant after about six years off.

“He was a real acquisition for the club,” the skipper said.

“In our game, we kicked away in the middle.

“It was fairly tight but we got a six and a three on consecutive ends to get a bit of momentum.”

Hoy’s rink managed to get the jump on O’Donnell early and Pangrazio trailed Boyd throughout the afternoon, while Jackway praised McMahon’s competitive performance against Crisp.

Warrnambool Gold players stayed at City Memorial Bowls Club for a drink post-match before the back-to-back champions continued their celebrations into the evening.

“We had a few quiet drinks and shared some food,” Jackway said. “It was a really good vibe.”

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Former Warrnambool firefighter Stan Nicol travelled from Queensland to attend an anniversary celebration at the weekend. IT may have been half a century since Stan Nicol was named the first officer-in-charge at the Warrnambool Fire Brigade but no one can question his loyalty.
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The 88-year-old woke at 4am on Saturday to fly from his new home state of Queensland for the station’s 50th anniversary of the integration of career and volunteer staff.

Mr Nicol was one of about 60 current and former members to attend the event, which marked a delayed 50 years since the beginning of paid firefighters at the south-west station.

He and station officer Ern Bromley were the first two Warrnambool firemen to be affected by the statewide decision in 1961.

Senior station officer David Ferguson and career firefighter Darren Brogden organised an afternoon tea at the Princes Highway station followed by a sit-down meal at the Warrnambool Bowls Club.

“There were a few stories told,” Mr Brogden told The Standard yesterday

Mr Brogden said the group enjoyed catching up and reminiscing but was disappointed more of their co-workers had not been able to show. “Most of the people are still employed as firefighters at other stations,” he said.

“In our line of work, with the shift work, it makes it hard for everyone to attend.

“They might be here (in Warrnambool) for one or two years, or six months or even five years before moving on to another station.”

Mr Ferguson highlighted the strong relationships between past and present staff and volunteers.

He said he was pleased to see Clive Rayner, Michael Corbett and Lance Baillie among the group of firefighters who remained active volunteers for the CFA.

The Warrnambool Fire Brigade will celebrate its 150th anniversary next year. It was officially formed in 1863 following several failed attempts.

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