The Casey Grand Final curse has finally been lifted after a mature effort saw the Demons claim their first VFL premiership since 1999.
It came courtesy of a tough and unwavering match from the second quarter onwards, as the Demons settled after quarter time before toughing the elements to emerge 32-point winners.
The 10 10. (70) to 5.8 (38) win was led by best on ground medal winner and captain Mitch White, who dominated all day to finish with 29 disposals, 13 tackles and nine clearances.
Although the Grand Final was played at Carlton’s Ikon Park, it felt like a normal Casey Fields day as the rain pelted down often throughout the match.
After the rain hit, back-to-back two goal quarters in a low-scoring match proved too much for Southport, as Casey continued grinding its opponent out in front of a buoyant red and blue crowd, opening up a 15-point lead at the final change.
A withering last quarter, with Jake Melksham leading the way with three brilliant goals to give him four on the day, ensured the Demons were home for the first time this century.
Despite Southport getting off to a fast start with three first quarter goals, the opening major to Melksham and a later standing goal from young Taj Woewodin settled the Demons, as they went to the first change just seven points down.
Jake Melksham kicks the first of the VFL Grand Final! pic.twitter.com/GabyXNFRzd— 7AFL (@7AFL) September 18, 2022
Coach Mark Corrigan’s men bucked the trend in the second quarter, adjusting to the wet weather better and keeping the Sharks goalless.
It was led by the midfield, with Kade Chandler (23 disposals, seven tackles, four clearances), Jimmy Munro (21 touches, 17 tackles and a goal) and White winning the contested ball and laying a plethora of tackles to bring Casey back into the contest off sheer effort.
Casey’s defence once again proved how strong it has been in the back half of the season with a great display late in the match, leaking just the two goals after quarter time.
With the back line working well in a fierce second term, Toby Bedford relished the conditions and nailed a set shot to close the margin.
Mitch Brown then brought the crowd to their feet as he struck a tough set shot from the boundary beautifully to give the Demons a one goal lead at the main break.
With the game in the balance in the third term, Jimmy Munro rose to the occasion, breaking the deadlock with a wonderful snap goal, and he celebrated accordingly.
After the Sharks responded late in the term, Bailey Laurie marked well and kicked truly to give Casey a significant edge at the final change.
With the Demons intent on rectifying their previous Grand Final hoodoos, Melksham stepped up to the plate to bury any demons.
He first marked well and flushed a set shot from beyond the arc, before winning a one-on-one in front of goal and snapping through a classy finish on his left to kick Casey clear.
Brown then opportunistically kicked his second goal from a ruck contest halfway through the term to deliver Casey the premiership cup.
Melksham followed up with the sealer after some great efforts from Woewodin and Jacob van Rooyen to cap it off.
CASEY 2.2 4.5 6.8 10.10 (70)
SOUTHPORT 3.3 3.5 4.5 5.8 (38)
GOALS: Melksham 4, Brown 2, Woewodin, Bedford, Munro, Laurie
DISPOSALS: Dunstan 30, White 29, Baker 25, Chandler 23, Munro 21
BEST: White, Chandler, Munro, Melksham, Dunstan, Baker, Grey, Bedford