Opinion: stick your asterick, if Peel Thunder win WAFL grand final it’s the least their fans deserve

Blair Bell celebrates a goal against South Fremantle with teammate Shane Yarran.
Blair Bell celebrates a goal against South Fremantle with teammate Shane Yarran.

IT IS the ultimate Cinderella story.

Peel Thunder, the kid in the playground that has been picked on, beaten up and told not to bother for most of its life is making its maiden grand final appearance on Sunday.

It does so against one of the most revered and polished WAFL sides in living memory, a team hunting its third flag in as many years, the Subiaco Lions.

Time for people to jump on the Thunder bandwagon?

No one likes a team that is too successful, do they? (I’m looking at you Hawthorn)

Three premierships in a three-year period is about two too many in my book.

One is impressive, two on the trot is pushing the bounds of good taste but three? Now you are just showing off.

However, unbelievably, the football public is split 50/50 on this one.

That is because people say Peel are not really Peel anymore, and on the surface they have a point.

In the past two weeks, 17 Dockers have lined up for the Thunder but zero are Peel products.

Matt de Boer, one of Peel’s best this season, hails from Claremont; young gun Connor Blakely from Swan Districts.

Alex Silvagni comes to Peel all the way from Victoria.

Three players who played in Sunday’s preliminary final win over South Fremantle hail from the Peel region or its catchment area, namely Rory O’Brien, Blair Bell and Brayden Lawler.

But what about coach Cam Shepherd? Or former president-come-chief executive John Ditchburn?

Shepherd is a former premiership player with Claremont, and he was appointed in 2012, two years before the alignment took hold.

Players have come and gone, but he remained, determined for success.

Ditchburn has been involved with the Thunder since 2003, and speaking to him after Sunday’s win, you could feel just how much the Peel Thunder Football Club means to him.

Asked about his thoughts, his voice quavered and he spoke about the pride he had in not just the players but also the community; the people who have sat at Rushton Park in pouring rain and watched the Thunder get rolled week in, week out for close to 17 years.

Now is the time for those fans, from the loud ones to the quiet ones, the young to the old; after so long, finally, we have something to cheer about.

Someone told me if Peel win on Sunday, there will always be an asterisk next to the year 2016 and that may be the case for some, but I do not care.

This club, like all clubs, is not just about the players.

It is about the staff who work towards the holy grail, the fans who shout themselves hoarse and the volunteers who bleed teal, navy and white.

For those people, the alignment does not change a thing.

So guess what?

If Peel win on Sunday, I, like many others, will tell you where you can stick your asterisk.