Mateship the Key to 2006 Premiership

This weekend the Box Hill Hawks are hosting the 10-year reunion of the Reserve Grade 2006 Premiership. In the club’s first-ever Reserves Grand Final win, Box Hill conquered the undefeated Williamstown by 12-points.

Finishing 4th on the ladder in 2006 with 14 wins and 8 losses, the Hawks were not expected to go deep into September, or ultimately win the Premiership.

This week, in anticipation of the 2006 Reserves Premiership reunion, caught up with premiership star Troy Armstrong.

“I think now in hindsight ten years on, it was one of the best things of all time. We definitely weren’t expected to win; we weren’t even really expected to get to the Grand Final either. I think we came from fourth so we just snuck in the finals, but that was it and there was no stopping us once we got there.”

“Williamstown even had a couple of Collingwood boys playing but we had sat down a week before the final and asked ourselves whether we wanted any of the Hawthorn boys to play and as a group we decided we wanted to go just as Box Hill boys. After already beating us mid-season and with no Hawthorn boys playing the expectation was low.”

“We were ahead from the start of the match and it was a cold, wet, windy day; everyone was sitting under cover and it was just a shocking day for football but everything just worked. As soon as we hit the finals everything just worked from there on in. It was unexpected but it was brilliant.”

Besides a junior Grand Final at U16s level, the 2006 Premiership was the first and only one at senior level for Armstrong, made even more special because of the bonds he made with teammates throughout the season.

“I think the Box Hill win was so good because we did everything together. Yes we trained three nights a week together but we spent all Saturday nights together and we had dinner together during the week.”

“We were just a really close bunch of boys and I think it just meant a lot more to me, compared to U16s when you think you’ll win another 15 of them. Coming up to a VFL level it was a fantastic feeling.”

“The best part about playing with Box Hill was the club itself. Just the atmosphere of the place – it was really like a local footy club and that’s why I think we were so successful and why we’re all still so close today.”

For Armstrong, fellow Box Hill Premiership player John Holmes was more than just a teammate. After growing up together in the Yarra Valley and playing the majority of their footy together, Armstrong and Holmes remain best friends even to this day.

“We grew up next door to each other – we even have photos of us in nappies together at the age of two. We played all our junior footy together, went through Ranges together, and then he went to Box Hill and as he is a year older I came to the club the year after.”

“I now speak to Holmes pretty much every second day and I’m still pretty close with some of the other Box Hill boys as well. It’s not unusual for us all to see each other three to four times a year. We still catch up for a beer or dinner and everyone’s got kids now so there’s always a kid’s birthday or another wedding. That’s just carried on all the way through the years and it’s been great.”

Reflecting on his journey through football, it is the connections he has made with the various clubs he has played for that makes footy such a significant and meaningful part of Armstrong’s life.

“The biggest thing that footy has taught me in life is just that the relationships and bonds you make with people are worth their weight in gold. That’s the best thing I’ve got out of football – my relationships with mates.”

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