CHELSEA is back on top of the MPNFL heap after withstanding a late Mt Eliza surge to win the Peninsula league grand final by 22 points at Frankston Park on Sunday.
The scrap for the premiership cup went deep into the final quarter before Chelsea was able to celebrate its first top grade flag in sixteen years. The Seagulls won 10.18 (78) to 8.8 (56).
The win also provided a fairytale end to a wonderful career for champion rover Brett Bowey, 37, who retired after the game. He was awarded the VCFL medal for Best-on-Ground.
Perched on a seat behind the boundary fence, Chelsea coach Tim Scott-Branagan roared himself hoarse in the tense final minutes after Mt Eliza closed to within seven points after booting the first three goals of the last term.
The Redlegs, hunting back-to-back flags, were finishing with a strong breeze, and it looked like they might get up. But goals into the teeth of a fierce wind by Lachlan Oakley and Taylor Irish clinched it for Chelsea.
The final siren triggered high emotions in Scott-Branagan who has experienced highs and lows this season, including a serious neck injury while playing back in July.
It was a dirty day of weather, with rain and wind, but the sun shone brightly on the Seagulls when the siren sounded.
Besieged by club mates, Scott-Branagan was overcome. He’d delivered Chelsea a premiership in his third season at the helm. Quickly on the scene was Mt Eliza coach Paul Hopgood to offer his congratulations. Then, wiping away tears, Scott-Branagan gathered himself and spoke.
“I’ve believed in these blokes from the start,” he said. “They’ve shown a lot of character. It’s all about the players.”
He said this premiership was “very close” to being the most important achievement in his football career.
“Given the circumstances … I  played in a premiership at Sandringham very early in my career and didn’t appreciate how hard they are to get, so it’s right up there.” he said.
Scott-Branagan then headed on to the huddle on the ground. It was buzzing. The Chelsea mob hoisted champion Brett Bowey high in the air.
Torrential rain fell early in the game, but Chelsea, after winning the toss and kicking with the wind, handled the conditions better to kick the first four goals of the game. The Seagulls were 27 points ahead after Brett Bowey’s goal to start the second quarter.
But soon after Chelsea was a man down when Justin Crough was sent off after a mid-ground scrap with rival ruckman Chris Edgar, who also left the field with a bloodied lip. Mt Eliza trimmed the margin to nine points by half time.
Chelsea looked like running away with it in the third, but a gallant Mt Eliza refused to buckle.
A Mt Eliza trifecta of goals - by Matt Dunne, Carl Lombardini and Chris Sullivan in the first 16 minutes of the final term brought the game to life. But Chelsea again answered.
Scott-Branagan praised Joey Garner, who sizzled in the middle, Joel Connelly up forward, Dave Goodall down the back, Lachlan Oakley through the midfield, Jason Bristow and Sam Radford.

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