Ainslie’s Aaron Wiles and Nick Paine leave legendary legacy
The words plastered across the banner Ainslie Tricolours captain Aaron Wiles led his teammates through could not have been more fitting.
“This is our legacy” was a sign of things to come for Wiles and his close mate Nick Paine, who are both set to hang up the boots after securing Ainslie an elusive three-peat.
Ainslie claimed their third consecutive premiership with an 11.14 (80) to 6.10 (46) win over the Eastlake Demons in the AFL Canberra grand final at Manuka Oval on Sunday.
Their legacy is three consecutive titles, becoming the first team to achieve the feat since the Sydney Swans won four on the trot from 2005-08.
Their legacy is winning all three senior men’s grades in one day. That legacy is coming back from 0-3 to win the flag without another blemish on their record, all with less wriggle room in the player points cap than their rivals.
Their legacy will see the Tricolours enter football folklore as one of Canberra’s greatest teams.
While Wiles says “you can never get sick of” winning flags, this is the perfect time for him to ride off into the sunset.
“It’s unbelievable, I played 20 years of footy without even winning one and I lost a couple, so to even get one was a blessing for us. To win three on the trot, it will probably be a good way for a few of us to go out I reckon,” Wiles said.
“I think there’s a few of us tossing it up, we’ll see how the next few days go and if it breaks us. We’re getting no quicker, and the kids are quicker, so I think that will be enough for me. There’s no better feeling than this.
“It’s really been a good kick up the bum for the Canberra clubs to develop their own juniors. We’re starting to reap the rewards of some hard work we’ve put into our kids.’
“You don’t become part of the Ainslie family until you win premierships. We’ve introduced a few more boys into the family today which is great.”
Ainslie dominated the early stages to leave punters reaching for the history books to search for the biggest grand final margin, but Demons coach Peter McGrath’s quarter-time message was calm and collected: “take the game on”.
All he wanted was two or three goals by half-time. Liam Lupton delivered their first, Sam De Sousa their second. When Joseph Hancock hit Eastlake’s third, Ainslie realised they had a game on their hands.
So they did what all great teams do and rose to the challenge. Alex Jesaulenko medallist Ben Jamieson continued to fire, Josh Maynard dominated the ruck, Wiles led the midfield with aplomb, and forward trio Salter, Hayden Armstrong and Nick Paine rose above the pack.
Paine now has five premiership medallions to his name and that’s the way it will stay. The powerful forward is happy to hang up the boots after a sparkling career that has been plagued by injuries for the best part of 15 years.
“It’s definitely a good one, this is the fifth time now. This is what you work for,” Paine said.
“It’s too good to go out like this, for my career anyway. It’s been a long one, it’s been hard, and this is a good way to finish.
“Success is bred at the club, it’s been part of the history for so long. It’s our job to carry on that legacy and we were able to carry it on.”