Was this the best team to never do it?
A HISTORICALLY dominant regular season preceded an underwhelming straight sets finals exit for the 2008 Whitsunday Brahmans.
It was a stunning series of events that few saw coming, least of all the men at the helm.
A team boasting future Queensland Cup names the likes of Sam Gardel, Grant Cooke, Regan Hyde and Adam and Darcy Wright put on points for fun that season.
The club was undefeated at home across its top three grades and just like that, Les Stagg Oval became a fortress.
The Brahmans lost just two games prior to the post-season – both, quizzically, to lowly Norths. They secured the club’s first A-Grade minor premiership with two rounds to spare and appeared destined to add a maiden premiership to the Les Stagg Oval trophy cabinet.
“We were all fairly young, loved playing footy and having a good time doing it. It was a great year,” former skipper Matt Temby recalled.
“But when it comes to semis you’ve got to lift another gear and we just didn’t.”
Temby, who retired from A-Grade footy at the end of last season, said the Brahmans’ issue was not complacency. They had played in enough close games that season to know the premiership would not be a cakewalk.
But when the finals blowtorch was applied, the young Brahmans struggled to handle the heat.
“It’s definitely painful to look back on. I will always count it as a missed opportunity. But in saying that, you have to be good enough to take those opportunities,” Temby said.
Former team manager Ben Fraser suggested the Brahmans were victims of their own efficiency.
“We hadn’t been tested much that year. When we found ourselves behind (in finals) we didn’t know how to come back from there. We’d always been the frontrunners,” Fraser said.
Without star centre Adam Wright and Paul Bowman medallist Dan Hilly in the number one, the Brahmans also entered the finals undermanned.
Against a Wests side they had twice beaten during the season, Temby’s men were clinically dispatched, 38-10, and the Tigers went straight through to the grand final.
The next week against reigning premiers Brothers, a halftime stalemate became a full-time statement victory to the Brethren.
They would go on to defeat Wests in a grand final thriller a week later, while the Brahmans were left to rue what could have been.
“You get to that stage after the year we’d had and you think you’re in with a good chance. To go out in straight sets was gutting,” Temby said.
Though in hindsight, it was not an entirely wasted season for the Brahmans.
After a poor showing the previous year, the proud Proserpine club enjoyed a winning resurgence in 2008 and carried that momentum through to the end of the decade and into the next.
“I don’t think there’s been too many years since then (the Brahmans) have missed the semis,” Temby said.
“I like to think we turned it around.”
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