Aaron Bruce with former Manuka Football Club player Jacko Pini and the Neil Conlan Trophy. Eastlake will be holding a premiership anniversary weekend to celebrate their three-peat from 1973-75. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Eastlake's glory days of the '70s might seem a long way for their current NEAFL side sitting second last on the ladder, but Demons stalwart Jack Pini is hoping the 40th reunion of their "threepeat" might inspire them to victory over rivals Belconnen at Manuka Oval on Saturday.
The Demons are celebrating their 1973-75 premierships this weekend and have all but one or two players from the era coming along.
Pini coached the Manuka reserves to a premiership over Eastlake in 1974 - the two clubs then merged in 1991 - and he still watches the club he joined in 1946 play almost every weekend.
He's got two grandsons playing there and is about to add a grandson-in-law when Demons utility Aaron Bruce marries his granddaughter in October.
Pini played and coached in "about 22 or 23 premierships" and he also coached the ACT's Teal Cup side.
He thinks the structure of the NEAFL makes it hard for Eastlake's part-timers to compete against full-time AFL footballers, but with "four or five good players" the Demons could become competitive again.
Pini's hoping Saturday's reunion would provide a spark for them to get just their second win of the season.
"We're going to be hoping to [inspire them on Saturday]," he said. "Over the years we've had some good battles with Belconnen.
"They've had their eras of successes when we've been runners-up, but now we're about on a par again - at the wrong end [of the ladder]."
The Demons haven't been helped by injuries to senior players this season, with Mitch Frail (foot), John van Meurs (knee), Chris Robinson (foot), Chad Gibson (calf), Xavier McMahon (knee) and Aaron Wiles (hamstring) spending large chunks of time on the sideline.
Bruce has been accustomed to playing in finals and pushing for premierships in recent years, making the current season an unusual experience, but it's one he's enjoying nonetheless with a lot of young players coming through the ranks.
"We'd like to do well to honour the past players, but it's more about generating from within a bit of spark to put a more complete performance together," Bruce said.
"[Belconnen are] easily the most comparable team us in the league currently. They've had their own injuries to senior players and [are] starting to get a few back now, so we'll be going out there to try and get the second win on the board this week."
Friday: Drinks at Eastlake from 6.30pm.
Saturday: Eastlake v Belconnen at Manuka, 2pm.
Dinner at Eastlake from 7pm.