THE GOOD: After an extraordinary home and away season that truly defied the belief of even the most ardent maroon and white fans we finished an incredible 2nd on the table. Added to that was the amazing achievement of being undefeated at home with Fortress Brookie living up to its name. Despite the rd 25 fight night fallout, the semi's loomed with the ideal SFS home game against a non Sydney opponent. A near perfect 2nd half destruction of the Cowboys earned the golden week off, and we jumped into week 3 looking extremely ominous. The Brookie faithful turned up in massive numbers to sing their hearts out, and our emotion charged boys belted the Lockyerless Broncos to set up a mouth watering Grand Final. So there it was with the perfect script in place. Statistically the writing was all over the wall given we finished 8 points higher than the Warriors, won our semis 68-22, had as near full strength team as you could wish for at that stage of a season, had our hero Glenn returning, and above all were simply in the superlative form of our lives with confidence and self belief oozing from every single player. Contrasting with all of that, we were playing a team who in all seriousness, despite the media's desperate attempt to turn them into overnight heros, really only just scraped through the finals. They were totally belted 40-10 in week 1, fell over the line to a choking Tigers at the death of week 2, and out muscled the somewhat lacklustre Storm in week 3. Momentum? Any GF appearance says yes, and beating the Storm certainly deserves high respect and credit, but for mine they'd steered a battered Monaro onto the grid, only to find us already lined up on pole position in a gleaming Ferrari. Another historic Manly premiership was up there in lights for the taking. We just had to continue the self belief and deliver one more time. 1st half: Not surprisingly for a Grand Final, and one featuring two heavy weight packs, the first 20 minutes was a monumentally bruising encounter. We belted them, they belted us, and both sides held stoically firm. Finally the deadlock was broken when George was penalised for a dangerous forearm. Really? Seriously? I've watched the replay about 5 times and I still can't believe his motivation was anything other than bracing the pie shop awning from going through the ANZ turf. But the ref's and the commentators thought it was pure intent to injure, and it handed the Warriors a 2-0 score. A lead they'd not only give up with a few minutes, but in fact never see again. We started coming at them with waves of attack, and the gaps were opening up on both the left and right edges. Our halves were probing and Brett was lurking. A few close calls including an oh so close Hoppa went against us but it felt like a matter of time. Minutes later DCE went to the line and fooled everyone with a split second inside ball to a roaring Brett, who screamed through the gap and blew away the cover defence to score a classic trademark Brett Stewart try. Mr Reliable Jamie made it 6-2. The Warriors kept coming at us, but you just sensed if we could crack them once more before the break it might split the game open. Little did we know how. With just a minute on the clock, and in our 40m zone, Glenn saw a tiny gap out wide and shocked us all with a perfectly weighted tiny grubber across field to Robbo. It was one of those could be disaster moments, but it was pure genius. Our ever alert Robbo pounced on the opportunity and raced 40 metres down the touch line, desperate to get an inside pass to DCE until his collision with a defender took him out of the play (and it was certainly a collision nothing else). A delayed pop up ball to the ever present Matty Ballin saw a 2nd surge for the try line only to be brought down metres short. With the defence in tatters, DCE surged again and despite having an unmarked Brett on his left hip he dummied and crashed over for one of the great Grand Final tries, and a 12-2 score that shattered the Warriors. 2nd half: Again it was clearly going to be a punishing beginning. The Warriors threw everything at us again, but Foran and DCE had that irresistible look they get when it's time to seize a game by the throat. DCE pounded the ball deep on 5th tackle kicks, and Foran began to probe more and more in attack. Despite a heavy knock Watmough never took a backwards step, time and again making mac truck runs up the guts. Kitey, Joe, George, Vic, in fact our whole pack weighed in with constant work rates. Glenn and Jamie Lyon both so calm, measured, and seemingly indestructible. Sensing his moment Foran toed the perfect grubber into the in goal and poor old Inu looked up and spilled it clean with the ball bobbling tantalisingly for Foran to get downward pressure and send the Warriors home on the plane. It looked like a try, it felt like a try, it seemed like a try, but no the video ref said there was separation and no try. The Manly fans groaned in agony but there was an air of not if but when about another try would come. More blood inducing defence ensured. Matai and Lyon were both playing with stitched up eye gashes, but the hits only seemed to make us stronger. The Warriors were finally starting to tire, and the mistakes starting creeping in. Sensing another big moment Foran this time put in a perfect cross field floater which the aerial expert Jamie Lyon batted back into play, the ball falling into DCE's ever present arms who set up for Hoppa for the corner. Just as the miraculous cover defence seemed to have the flying Hoppa smothered, he produced a behind the back inside flick pass for the ages which shot back like a tracer bullet into Glenn Stewarts arms for a try that caused a roar heard all the way back to Brookie. 18-2 and a seemingly invincible lead. Could the Warriors muster one last effort? Could they throw caution to the wind and give it everything? Wow they sure could. Their mercurial halfback Johnson decided it was up to him to do a Foran and he began dancing in all directions. Doing his best Benji impression Johnson found an impossible gap to send the enormous frame of Vatuvei over in the corner. The conversion was massive, but Maloney sent it wide and we were still breathing at 18-6. A field goal seemed the next likely play but we never got down there to try for one. The Warriors weren't finished and kept coming and suddenly it was us who looked to be tiring. Sensing it they went wide to the right and broke through an exhausted defence to score yet again for 18-10. If the previous conversion was big this one was absolutely monumental. Every Manly fan held their breath knowing an 18-12 score would have set the game on fire, but again Maloney missed. Nonetheless there were still 10 long minutes on the clock and the Warriors continued to give it all they had. This is where Grand Finals are won or lost, and for us it came down to proving that our season long defensive fortress was going to get us home. With the Warriors attacking our line yet again, and the thought of a nightmare finish rising, Glenn put on a hit so perfectly timed that the ball flew 10 metres backwards for a desperate Lyon to come up with the scramble of the season. Turning points don't get much bigger right there and right then. Now the clock was ours to control and DCE weighed in with more booming deep kicks. We knew where we wanted the Warriors, and the pressure started to tell. Inu's second fumbled spill handed us precious final moments possession. With the Warriors final assault withheld, we sent them staggering back into the trenches, and with minutes to go you could sense the final knock out blow was just waiting to happen. How utterly fitting that our heroic captain should receive a perfect Glenn short pass, and with one last battered summons of energy plant the ball over the line to seal the game and the premiership. With the siren sounding and players and officials prematurely pouring onto the field there was a moment of dismay where Robbo's final prize to kick for goal would be denied. But Archer cleared a path for Robbo to put the ball on the tee and have a shot at history. Without waiting a second Robbo calmly cannoned the ball between the posts like a veteran goal kicker. Brave as the Warriors has been, the 24-10 final scoreline seemed a truthfully far more deserving margin. Fairytale complete. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, 2011 Premiers. Final team performances: Brett: Scored one sensational try and could so easily have scored a couple more - brilliant in every facet - a perfect way to cement redemption - and watch out he'll be even better in 2012 Robbo: The guy who simply never makes a mistake - what a way to go out - the ultimate clubman will be missed so greatly Matai: Passion personified - another superb game to cap off a fantastic season Lyon: Captain courageous - and undoubtedly one of the absolute keys to this premiership Hoppa: What a game - what a season - I'm in disbelief of this Parra news it's a shattering blow Foran: Sterlo said last year he was the best young player in the game - he wasn't wrong - another great performance and a simply stellar season rising to greatness DCE: A truly inspired season culminating in fantastic finals and GF performances - must have only been a shade behind Glenn for the Churchill Medal - a prize he'll surely win one day Joe: What can you say about a guy who should really have been finished years ago - a wonderful story - a fantastic family man - a wonderful team player if ever there was Ballin: Mr unsung workhorse hero - with DCE played every single game in the entire season - and almost without exception incredibly for the full 80 mins each and a million tackles every week Kite: A barnstorming GF performance - and another great season - defied any critic that his best was behind him and deserves to continue his Brookie career Choc: Someone buy Bob Fulton a hundred beers - that early season final warning speech was the ultimate season turner - truly fantastic workhorse and team hero T Rex: Not his most involved day - and still the man we all crave would hit the line with the rig in 5th gear - but a season revelation going from the hot and cold winger to a crack back rower Glenn: The Churchill medal says it all - slammed all the idiots about lacking GF fitness - and cemented his greatness at the club Rodney: Solid as the proverbial defensive rock - and will also be sorely missed Buhrer: Dessie must surely have grander 2012 plans given this talent seemed to be somewhat kept in cotton wool in the last month or so - great things undoubtedly lie ahead Mauro: Did all that was asked and deserves his hard earned premiership ring George: What can you say about our favourite bench man with the pie shop frame? His joy at holding the trophy last night said it all The unlucky guys: Lussick: Perhaps learns a big lesson from Donnybrookvale - but great things also lie ahead Robinson: Solid team performer whenever asked - you don't have success without depth like these guys Kingy: Such a shane to miss the big one - but nothing takes away his premiership co captain title Wolfman: We can all only pray he fully recovers - and with Robbo and Hoppa gone he's now our no 1 winger Oldfield: A true talent who was very much a part of our winning season - like Wolfie an important man in 2012 THE BAD: No Manly games until March. THE UGLY: Nothing ugly about another beautiful premiership. Well that's it folks. A season we could have barely dreamt about. PREMIERS 2011. As Dessie said at Brookie on Mon night, see you all in 2012 to go back to back. NOTE: APOLOGIES FOR THE DELAY POSTING THIS - AFTER DRIVING FROM HOMEBUSH TO BROOKIE ON MONDAY NIGHT I THEN HAD TO BOARD A PLANE ON MON MORNING FOR STH AMERICA ONLY ARRIVING A FEW HOURS AGO - BUT IT WAS A GREAT FLIGHT SPENT WATCHING THE FULL REPLAY ON MY LAPTOP AND WRITING THE FINAL REPORT FOR 2012! CHEERS EVERYONE, THANKS FOR ALL THE POSITIVE FEEDBACK AND AN AWESOME SEASON. CF2 SIGNING OFF.