There haven’t been many club comebacks in the Lower South West Football League’s history as exciting or fast as the Boyup Brook Roos in 2021. After finishing last with just one win in the 2019 season, and missing the 2020 season which was cancelled due to COVID-19, the Roos finished second on the ladder this year and fell 19 points short of the club’s third premiership flag a few weeks ago. Boyup Brook captain Ben Thompson, who has been playing with the club for six years, spoke to the Manjimup-Bridgetown Times about the club’s impressive turnaround. Looking back, Thompson said the 2020 season being cancelled was bittersweet for the Roos who had struggled for numbers in previous years. “I think COVID actually helped us out a bit in that a lot of the young local fellas came back to town,” he said. “The year off brought a lot of people back working either for their families or working locally. “We got a few good recruits as well ... a few top-up players really helped us out this season.” Thompson said bringing in a few new faces, as well as Rhien Lloyd agreeing to coach again, put the team in a good place heading into the 2021 season and they could feel they had something special after a round one win against the Hawks. “I think after the first game, I don’t think we'd beaten Deanmill in eight or so years, to knock them off first round of the season — we felt great,” he said. “We’d trained a bit together but we hadn’t really played together as a complete group and just the way we gelled, I think after that game a lot of us were getting pretty excited. “The year before we hadn’t won ... it’s not a losing culture you develop but the games you play you just try and make the margin less and less even though you know you’re going to get beaten, but I think this year I think we changed it from a losing mentality to a winning mentality. We knew finals would be on the cards but getting to the grand final was something else.” Thompson said despite having moved to Perth and not being able to train with the team until halfway through the year, the team knew what was required of them and could feel the confidence building within the group. “I didn’t actually have to do much, you give them a bit of a pump-up speech before the game but the boys were all very good this year you didn’t have to ask too much of them, they knew what they needed to put in so it was a very easy year to captain. “In years before, you’ve got that core group of players that take a lot on their shoulders in those losing games. “I think that’s why Mckenzi Nix had such a great season because he didn’t have to do everything himself, he knew he could handball it to someone else in the midfield and they could take the game on as well.” The Roos had only narrowly dropped a game to Bridgetown in their first meeting of the season, but got a win against them later in the year, followed by a crucial semifinal victory which put them through to the grand final. Thompson said the team tried to stick to their winning game plan against the Bulldogs for the grand final and simply told the group, who had only a handful of players with experience in the finals, to embrace the moment. “I think there was maybe three or four blokes in the team who had played finals for Boyup so it was a really new experience for us all so we pretty much just told them to soak it in and enjoy playing it,” he said. “It was about playing our own style of footy, all of our players have a unique way of how they play and there’s no point trying to change that.” Reflecting on the grand final, Thompson said he felt the loss could be boiled down to a combination of a few factors. “We felt a little bit flat at the start of the game and I think that was just because we were kicking points instead of goals,” he said. “Losing young Ben Cabassi with the collarbone didn’t help and there was definitely a breeze so we weren’t going for the scoring end in that last quarter but it just felt like we were always second to the ball. “I think we might have run out of legs, those couple of niggling injuries which a couple of our players were holding on to, in the fourth quarter when you get tired they really start hindering how you play. “Going on the last two times (against Bridgetown) I felt we were the fitter side but it didn’t feel the case during the grand final.” Looking ahead to next season, Thompson said the Roos would certainly be looking to repeat their successful run this year. “We’ve always had the core group of players that I can’t see leaving the club and after losing (the grand final) we’re going to be hungry next year,” he said. “No one likes losing and Bridgetown’s a bit of derby for us, there’s always been a good rivalry there, so to lose to them I think will keep a few blokes around the club. “Previous years when you finish bottom of the ladder there isn’t much of an incentive for people to come play for you. “I think this year was the first year we’ve had too many people to choose from in the reserves so the club is up and about and it’s a good feeling.” With a list full of premiership-calibre talent and grand final revenge on their to-do list, the Boyup Brook Roos will be the team to watch in 2022.