Gray’s 200th capped with massive win

June 19, 2017

Stanhope coach Brenton Gray and son Bodhi are chaired from the ground by Tom Hepburn and Jayden Exell after the Lions' win against Undera.

Brenton Gray hoped he would not have to play his 200th senior game on Saturday.

The Stanhope coach was banking on recalling star Tom Durward to the Lions’ side for the clash with Undera.

But Durward, a former Goulburn Valley interleague player, did not come up from injury and Gray eventually picked himself to bring up the milestone.

Gray has been an incredible servant of football in the region for more than two decades, winning a best and fairest at Stanhope in 1996, before testing himself in the GVL at Rochester.

After playing about 170 games for the Tigers, including the 1999 premiership, Gray returned to his home club in 2005.

He has ensured he will go down as a legend at Stanhope and the Kyabram District league by adding four more best-and-fairests (2005, 2006, 2008, 2010) to the one he won 21 years ago.

‘‘I’ve had some awesome times at the club, it’s been a big part of my family with Mum and Dad involved before,’’ Gray said.

‘‘My wife (Kerrie) coaches the (A-grade) netball at the club and has for years now and really enjoys it.’’

It is Gray’s fourth season as senior coach after being appointed in November 2013 following Troy Auld’s unexpected resignation.

The Lions have played finals and been major challengers for a flag in all those years, coming closest to winning another premiership in 2015 when they made the grand final, before losing to Merrigum.

But Gray was a key part of Stanhope’s 2007 and 2008 premierships, which stand out as top achievements on the field.

‘‘The club premierships are the highlights, but the people you meet along the way is what it’s all about and it’s just good to catch up with them all,’’ Gray said.

Stanhope was far too strong for Undera, giving Gray a match to remember, winning by 178 points.

Jack Exell booted eight goals for the Lions to take his season tally to 48, while James Fraser, Ryan Emmett, Adam Auld, Tim Somerville and Jesse Olsen were exceptional.

It was tough going for Undera, who sacked coach Peter Cordy during the week, with star Danni Heazlewood taking on the job for the rest of the season.

Keelan Mitchell, Nathan Frizzell, Matt Wishart and Jarrod Zerbato were Undera’s best.

Both clubs formed a guard of honour for Gray after the game, with Jayden Exell and Tom Hepburn chairing their coach from the ground.

Gray’s son Bodhi also came along for the ride.

‘‘He ran out with me through the banner as well and he was still on there when we were about to get started, so he wouldn’t go off the ground,’’ Gray said with a laugh.

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