A DRAMATIC week at Darley ended in a stunning upset as the Devils left Clarke Oval with a four-point win against Sunbury in Ballarat Football League.
Had a player vote gone differently in the Darley clubrooms on Thursday night, the match might not even have gone ahead.
But the drama would prove to be anything but a distraction for Darley, which jumped Sunbury with a seven goals to zero first quarter and held on to win 9.16 (70) to 10.6 (66).
Click on the image below for our gallery of the big game.
Darley's players had been incensed by a five-week suspension given to defender Drew Edwards by the BFL tribunal during the week, perceiving the harshness of the penalty to be inconsistent with penalties for similar charges for players at other clubs.
Edwards was reported for rough conduct for making contact with the head of Ballarat player Jayden Cordy.
Cordy suffered a dislocated jaw.
"We were hoping it would unify the group, and give them some motivation because they felt he'd [Edwards] been hardly done by," Darley coach Rod McPherson said. "We had a pretty intense few hours in the club on Thursday night. People in the media might think it was a beat-up, but I can assure you it wasn't.
"The players were very, very strong in their resolve about making a stand and not playing."
After the initial Darley onslaught, Sunbury kicked ﬁve goals in the second quarter while keeping the Devils goalless, although Darley still had a 16-point lead at half-time.
In the third quarter, Sunbury closed the margin to 13 points at the ﬁnal change.
Sunbury was still pressing in the ﬁnal quarter, with a further three goals to one to narrow the margin to less than a kick, before time ran out with the ball in the Lions' forward half.
"We played really strong footy," McPherson said.
"We were really good around the clearances again - our tackles and the things that we pride ourselves on."
- with Gav McGrath & Katie Henderson, Ballarat Courier