'The best country footy I've ever seen': A decade on from Waroona's miracle season

The Peel Football and Netball League has never seen another team quite like the 2010 Waroona Demons.

Coming off a drought-breaking premiership the year prior, there was a buzz at Parnell Street that hadn't quite been seen since the pre-Peel Football League days of the late 80s.

It was an air of confidence. After years of hunting that maiden PFL premiership, the Demons had finally become the hunted.

Basically, it was a matter of 'catch us if you can'

Waroona 2010 reserves coach Matt Templeton

Finally, other clubs were going to have to make plans for when they would inevitably face their most southern neighbours in the finals, and all roads to a premiership ran through Waroona.

Unfortunately, for those opposing clubs, none of those roads were open in 2010.

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Pre-season: 2010

Having rightfully celebrated their way through the summer months, the Demons hit the pre-season training track with a reloaded outfit ready to uphold their place on the throne.

Ben Matthews-Herald, Alan Wilson, Ben Wright and a few other talented names had come to join a club that had retained essentially all of their premiership players from the year before.

Paul Pannell coaching in 2010. Photo: Mandurah Mail.

Paul Pannell coaching in 2010. Photo: Mandurah Mail.

Current league coach Matt Templeton was coaching the reserves at the time, and remembers licking his lips at the selection smorgasbord he had on offer.

"Basically, it was a matter of 'catch us if you can'," he said.

"It was the Waroona dynasty at the absolute peak of its power."

Spearheaded by coach Paul Pannell, captain Adam Clancy and some star locals like Mat Thomas and Courtney Lakay, the side was always going to be hard to beat.

Little did opposing clubs know it would be downright impossible to best this team.

Off and running

"We opened the year with a few good wins and by the time we looked up things were just rolling," Templeton said.

"It was just such a talented team. As the ressies coach I had about 10 guys playing for me every week that were easily league footballers at any other club."

The challengers continued to come forth and Waroona continued to send them back beaten and bruised.

Baldivis, who finished third on the ladder that season, managed to give them their biggest scare but a missed opportunity that sailed into the post with roughly 20 seconds left in the game saw their chance to pip the powerhouse go begging.

In the end the Demons would canter into the finals atop the table with a clean 18-0 record, a feat that hasn't been achieved ever since.

"I think the biggest pressure the boys faced was internal, not external," Templeton said.

"They knew they could beat anyone, but Paul (Pannell) did an amazing job of keeping them driven and keeping them on their toes.

"The players knew that if they were in the 22, they could win a flag, but if you weren't pulling your weight there was 10 guys snapping at your heels ready to take your spot."

Flying into finals

After relaxing through a well-earned week off, Pannell and his side charged into their first post-season match: a semi-final clash with the second-placed Mandurah Mustangs.

Now the Mustangs had put together an admirable 15-3 season, and any other year might have made a splash, but no one was beating this Demons side.

Waroona eventually won the match by a modest six goals... they weren't quite so kind in a fortnight's time, though.

The two met again in the grand final just two weeks later, and this time it was a genuine demolition job.

"I remember I was helping Paul (Pannell) out on the sidelines that day, doing opposition match-ups," Templeton said.

"About 10 minutes into the game I looked at him and said 'I don't think I need to do this anymore'.

"The team was just in total control. Mandurah got the first clearance and went forward, but our boys got control, took it down the other end and scored the first goal.

"From there it was already over."

Coach Paul Pannell and captain Adam Clancy hoist the premiership trophy. Photo: Mandurah Mail.

Coach Paul Pannell and captain Adam Clancy hoist the premiership trophy. Photo: Mandurah Mail.

Waroona would run the game out 20.18 (138) to 7.2 (44) winners, the second largest winning margin in the league's grand final history, with Matthews-Herald taking best afield honours.

It was a pristine end to a perfect season. Pannell and his Demons wrapped up the year with 20 wins, zero losses, and back-to-back premierships.

The cream of the crop

Templeton, who went on to coach Pinjarra's league outfit to a premiership against Waroona in 2013, said he has never seen country footy played at that level since.

"It was the best country footy I've ever seen," he said.

"It's hard to put into words how well-run, well-drilled and talented that team was.

"I went on to coach Pinjarra and it took us two years of planning and playing out of our minds just to beat them."