Marrar's Josh Suckling and Jesse Cunningham believe the memory of Graeme Reid will be grand final inspiration

BIG DAY: Marrar backmen Josh Suckling (left) and Jesse Cunningham at training on Thursday night, ahead of Saturday's grand final. Picture: Les Smith
BIG DAY: Marrar backmen Josh Suckling (left) and Jesse Cunningham at training on Thursday night, ahead of Saturday's grand final. Picture: Les Smith

Jesse Cunningham is pumped for his first grand final since he was a 12-year old, particularly after a broken wrist set him back significantly a year ago.

Josh Suckling has been here twice before, with Marrar, for the losses of 2009 and 2010. Injury kept him out in 2011 and for the best part of the next six years.

They’ve taken different journeys to arrive at Saturday’s game against Temora.

But somewhere along the road, their paths crossed. And there, at that intersection, stood Graeme Reid.

At Robertson Oval, Cunningham and the Bombers will remember their former teammate. 

And Josh Suckling will play in the memory of his late cousin.

“It’s still pretty raw nearly a year on, and just last year he was talking about wanting me to come back and play footy with him,” Suckling said.

“That was another reason I came back to play footy here so I’ll definitely be thinking about him. And I’ll be trying to get the win out there for him, for sure.”

The club held a ‘Reidy’s Round’ earlier this year, to raise awareness for mental health.

“I thought Reidy had a big impact on the whole community out there and I know everyone was affected by his loss,” Cunningham said.

“Our team word – ‘Yin’ – originated from Reidy. It’s a word we yell out when the chips are down and we need to tighten up. It’s a word that originated from Reidy and I think it just gives you that extra will to dig in and have a crack.”

The Bombers backmen know they’ll need to dig in against a crack Temora forward line. Suckling said they were disappointed for defender Geoff Spriggs who was unable to recover from a hamstring strain. 

Jesse Cunningham didn't do his wrist any favours playing against CSU last year, but he did a job that helped ensure they'd play finals.

Jesse Cunningham didn't do his wrist any favours playing against CSU last year, but he did a job that helped ensure they'd play finals.

“It’s not good at all,” Suckling said. “He tried to train but he just knew he couldn't get up and he didn’t want to take that risk that if he played for 10 minutes and he went again, he couldn’t live with himself he reckons.”

With Spriggs sidelined, Cunningham remains at full-back.

“Whether it be (Matt) Wallis or (Matt) Harpley down there, it’ll be one of those twin towers and I just hope I can limit their influence,” Cunningham said. 

Cunningham, 21, is in his third year at the club, along with brother Tyler. He was outstanding last week in his ninth senior game since returning from surgery on his wrist.

“I took my time getting back into it but I think I’ve played a few alright games and hopefully it’s another one tomorrow,” he said.

As for Suckling, well, he started the season just hoping to string some games together in reserve grade.

“It’s been a long journey,” he said. “The main goal all year was just getting back to playing some consistent games and now I’m playing a grand final. I wouldn’t have pictured this at all.

“One more game to go and I’ll be a very happy man if we get the job done.”

Suckling’s sister Gab kicked the winning field goal to secure her Wagga Brothers leaguetag team another premiership last Saturday.

He’s hoping it’s his turn this week, to cap a big week for the family. 

And a big week for the extended family.

“I’m sure Reidy will be looking down on us. Hopefully he’ll get the boys over the line.”