OTWAY DISTRICTS footballers have dedicated an emotional win to captain Aaron Mahoney in their first outing since the death of the much-loved leader.
The Demons led from start to finish to defeat Apollo Bay 11.4 (70) to 6.14 (50) at the coastal town to notch up their first victory of 2015, also their first win since May 2014.
Otway’s senior netball team also enjoyed its first win of 2015 on Saturday against Apollo Bay, 42-32, with Mahoney’s partner Emma Craddock part of the team.
Aaron “Bill” Mahoney, 24, died earlier this month after an on-field incident during Otway’s game with Lorne.
Co-coach Ross Panther said his players were determined to win for their captain after another tough week, when players attended Mahoney’s funeral on Thursday.
“I said to the boys beforehand that of all the finals and things like that, it was probably the most important game a lot of guys had played in,” Panther said.
“Everyone was really positive going into it, regardless of the circumstances we thought we were a chance of winning anyway.
“The last game against Lorne we were playing pretty well, we took a bit of confidence from that.”
Mahoney’s older brother Leigh captained the side on Saturday and Panther said he would take on the role for “Bill” for the remainder of the season.
“We thought we better ask him beforehand to make sure he wanted to do it, taking over from Bill,” he said.
“He was the vice captain anyway, but he was keen to step into the spot, and we joked that at least he’s got a better win-loss record than what Bill had as captain.”
Panther said there were emotional scenes after the match for the tight-knit Gellibrand-based club, which had rallied together since Mahoney’s death.
“It’s not very often that I get to give a winner’s speech in the rooms after the game,” he said.
“The rooms were packed, everyone tried to squeeze into the little change rooms to sing the song.
“There were a lot of guys that didn’t know the words too well, but we were lucky to have a few guys to cover for them.”
People can donate to the Aaron Mahoney Appeal by visiting www.aaronmahoney.com.au to support the father of two’s young family.