Latest News Fairytale finish presents for the loyal Leith Teakle
Fairytale finish presents for the loyal Leith Teakle
Posted on 20/09/2012
By Chris Pike
IT took 164 games with East Fremantle for Leith Teakle to play in a finals victory and now the last game of his tremendous career with the Sharks will be Sunday's grand final against Claremont and there's no more deserving player to get the chance to shine on the big stage.
Teakle began his league career with East Fremantle in 2003 after coming through Brigades in Geraldton and then spending a year at Collingwood.
With the Sharks having recorded 29 premierships including one in 1998 and then a grand final appearance in 2000 and another final in 2002, Teakle had every right to expect he would have plenty of chances to take part in success as well.
However, the running half-back who has turned himself into a goal kicking half-forward late in his career never even considered not sticking it out during the tough times with the Sharks.
That has included the only two wooden spoons in the club's history and a finals drought of eight years before the first semi-final loss to East Perth in 2010.
Even his first final that year ended heartbreakingly and then so did the end of 2011 when the Sharks lost their last two games to Subiaco and South Fremantle to miss finals.
It seemed that team success was always going to elude Teakle despite his strong commitment for a decade to East Fremantle, but he refused to give up.
Even this year he had to fight hard to prove his fitness and form to coach Steve Malaxos to earn his spot back in the league side late in the year, but he has done that over the last month and now will play in a grand final in the final match of his career with a potential fairytale on the horizon.
"I will be mad to say it's not a dream come true to now be in a grand final, because it is. I couldn’t ask for anything more. We've got an opportunity and haven’t won it yet, but we have got the chance at least," Teakle said.
"It's a really good feeling, but I don’t really know how to explain it right now. We were just making sure we took it one week at a time and if it happened, it happened and now it has. Now we can talk about a grand final, which is going to be excellent.
"It hasn’t really sunk in yet to be honest, I guess it will during the week when there's a bit of a build-up. I suppose we have to try to take it a day at a time, and really just focus on the game and not get ahead of ourselves, or think about the result until it's done."
Considering Teakle played 137 games before a finals appearance in his eighth season, nobody could have excused him for thinking he was destined to be part of an era at East Fremantle where any sort of success never was even at its fingertips.
However, his strength of character and conviction that the club would eventually get there didn’t waiver and now he's obviously delighted to have stuck it out.
"Probably when we didn’t win that final a couple of years ago and then missed the finals last year I thought I might not get the chance," he said.
"I thought we were good enough to make it last year but we missed out and I was going to give it away then, but there was enough signs to think that it might be worthwhile going around again. I don’t know what I would be thinking now if I didn’t make that decision.
"It definitely played on my mind a lot if I had gone through what I have at the club and then didn’t get the opportunity to play in a grand final, but the support from Steve Malaxos and the leadership group has been outstanding. They've basically helped me to get right and tick all the boxes to make sure I was up and about if the time came."
The 29-year-old played the first five games of the 2012 season before hurting a hamstring and Malaxos made him earn his place back in the team.
He played eight reserves games and had to prove his form and fitness, but did that and came back in for the Round 23 win over East Perth, then was tremendous with four goals in Round 24 against Peel and also kicked three in the first semi-final win over East Perth.
That was the first finals victory of his career in his 164th game and he was never under any illusions how hard he was going to have to work to earn a spot back in the team.
"He told me right from the start that he wasn’t going to play me unless my hammy was right. I knew that I had to play at least four games of ressies and he wasn’t going to play me before that no matter how well I played," Teakle said.
"Unfortunately on the fourth game I hurt the hammy slightly again so I had to play another two back there and then the opportunity came up. Hopefully I've taken it and can look forward to this week."
Teakle doesn’t think anything special has changed in 2012 to take East Fremantle to a grand final, but Malaxos just has put in place a clear and successful game plan.
Combine that with a strong experienced group including Mark McGough, Luke Weller, Rob Young, Steven Dodd, Rory O'Brien and Richard Hadley, plus a good group of emerging players and AFL-listed performers and the Sharks have a terrific mix.
"He has got a clear game plan and he doesn’t go away from that. The boys know the game plan and it is fairly basic, but we stick to it and it works. This year especially all of our older and experienced players haven’t been injured too much," he said.
"We've had a pretty experienced team on the park all year and our ressies have been good all year as well. Competition for spots is red hot and that pushes everyone along. Everyone wants to play and if you play well, you can't get dropped."
As for last Sunday's preliminary final win over Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval, East Fremantle controlled most of the game to win by 27 points, but it certainly could have been more had it not been for the kicking of 13.23.
Brock O'Brien was the worst offender with 2.7 while Teakle added three behinds and Weller completely missed scoring from three shots in virtually the same spot. That was the only part of the game that the Sharks perhaps have to improve for the grand final.
"I think we controlled the game from the start when we were going against the breeze and managed to come into quarter-time in front. That was a big confidence boost and we were pretty inaccurate really so that could have been our downfall, but we were good enough to overcome that," he said.
"I've always thought that I was a reasonable kick and from a personal point of view I have been pretty inaccurate lately. That's not something that I want to do or that the team as a whole wants to do, but I suppose if we are having scoring shots it's better than not. Eventually we are going to put them through."
Remarkably, Sunday will be the first time that Teakle has played on Patersons Stadium since a loss to East Perth in Round 5, 2003.
It will be just the second league game he has played at the Subiaco venue so he's looking forward to a light run on the ground on Thursday in preparation for the biggest, and last, game of his career.
"Hopefully we will go and have a look at Subi Oval on Thursday, and finish with a light run on Saturday morning. We won't train hard, but just make sure we keep touching the footies," Teakle said.
"You don’t want to think of what if, but you can only win if you are in the grand final and we are there now. We will just take it a day at a time from here. Last time I played there was when East Perth used it as their home ground so it's been a long time."
Jun. 02, 2013
The first weekend in June means only one thing in WA footy. It's the Foundation Derby: East Fremantle vs South Fremantle, and this year it's at East Fremantle Oval on SUNDAY 2nd June. We've moved from our usual Monday slot to avoid clashing with the Dockers/West Coast game, so now you have the next day off to recover.
It will be a festival atmosphere at East Fremantle Oval, with plenty of fun for the whole family including jumping castles, face painting and match day giveaways. Join the party after the game in the main social hall.
It's $15 for Adults and kids are free, so you'll struggle to find a better value day out anywhere in Perth. You can bring your own food and picnic blanket, or take advantage of our additional food and drink facilities. Just remember there's no BYO alcohol.
To experience the Foundation Derby in style, book a ticket for our President's Function, or VIP marquees.
The East Fremantle Football Club President invites you to join us for the President's Lunch on Sunday 2nd June. Following the function you will have the best seat in the house to watch East Fremantle play South Fremantle in the Foundation Derby. This is always a highlight of the WAFL calendar, so be sure to get your ticket early to avoid disappointment.
Your ticket includes
- Sit down lunch.
- Beer, Wine and Soft Drinks, including for 45 minutes after the final siren.
- Ground Entry.
- Legend's Lounge Access, including VIP seating to watch the match.
- Afternoon tea.
- Entertainment, including post match band.
- Football Budget.
Our VIP Marquees are suitable for large groups: groups of 20+ will receive their own private marquee.
Your ticket includes:
- 4 hours drinks package, including beer, wine & soft drinks, from a VIP bar
- Exclusive marquee access
- Ground entry
- Entertainment, including post match band
- Football Budget
*Catering options are available at additional cost
There are 3 ways to book:
Click here for all upcoming events.