A man holds a football while standing in a grandstand.

The former AFL star takes Australia’s “worst football team” to their first grand finale

In a country sport filled with heartache and battle, the Albany Sharks are a standout.

The club only won two solo matches from 2008 to 2021.

But then former AFL star Brett Peake donned a teal guernsey and took the field.

He led the young team with his seniority and experience, leading them to their first big final showdown.

Peake, son of Geelong and East Fremantle legend Brian, was gathering in the Pilbara region of Western Australia after a successful career with the Fremantle Dockers and St Kilda when he met a friend at the pub.

A football player catches a ball in front of a player from another team.
Peake takes a mark during his 43 games with St Kilda.(Martin Philbey: AAP)

“It’s really a bit random how I ended up here, a teammate of mine who I was playing football against at WAFL level says, ‘You want to go play football in Albany,'” he said.

“The next minute I got a call from the Albany Sharks Footy Club and said yes, let’s do it a little … and [see] if I can help a club that has struggled: 12 years and only two victories “.

Peake packed up with his family and they moved to WA’s south coast with their trailer.

COVID had pulled his family away from their original plan to travel to Australia.

A man sits on a bench next to a soccer ball.
Brett Peake says he knew playing for the sharks in war would be a long game.(ABC Great Southern: Briana Fiore)

And now they can’t see themselves moving anywhere else, which is good news for the Sharks.

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“We just fell in love with the place, the footy club and the people around it,” he said.

“We couldn’t travel [during COVID]and now we call it home and to be honest I can’t really see us leave anytime soon, I see us settling here and living here potentially forever and a day. “

The “worst” team?

The Sharks entered the Great Southern Football League in 2008, but players sang the team’s song only twice over the next decade.

Peake arrived last year as the club began to take shape, closing the season with a record seven wins.

A first taste of success followed, with the team reaching the final for the first time.

“It was great, but that first final was like winning a grand final, but the week after we were presented quite convincingly by the Railways,” he said.

Now they face a rematch with Railways as the underdog in a historic showdown at Collingwood Park this Sunday.

“There is no excessive excitement, some of the kids have really come forward and are enjoying football and we are playing as a team,” said Peake.

“I love being the underdog and we are really excited to be the first Sharks team to reach the grand finale and do something that has never been done before.”

While Peake’s spectacular season forward – including a 13-goal tally against Denmark-Walpole – will earn him a lot of attention, he said he’s focused on the squad’s young players and taking them to their first premiership.

“Once you reach the grand finale, it won’t be there next week,” he said.

“We are ready, it’s time to go”.

A man stands on a football field while being interviewed.
Jamie Ram is looking forward to the grand finale.(ABC Great Southern: Briana Fiore)

The effort of the team of hopes will be rewarded

Sharks League manager Jamie Ram said the team put a lot of effort into it.

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