The Engadine Crusaders 18Bs went down 3-1 in a physical grand final against Marton Hammers, but will have plenty of positives to take from the game and a successful first season together.
Played at Solander Fields next to Remondis Stadium, the pitch was in very poor condition due to wet weather during the week and a heavy downpour earlier in the morning.
The game went ahead after much discussion. And with a history already this year of physical games between the teams that finished 1 and 2 from the regular season, it was bound to be a tough slog in these conditions.
Early goal a tough start
Assistant Coach Ian Grose says the boys were positive but conceded an early goal, which was not the start they wanted.
“Our team arrived early and followed our normal warm up routine to music and the spirits were high.
“Unfortunately we were pinned down in our half of the field from the kick-off, which resulted in several corners and eventually a goal to Marton. It’s not what we wanted after only five minutes but the boys we never give up and had to work hard as they’ve done all season.
Injury lays out our striker
“Mitch Aitken, our super fast centre forward, made a long break outstripping the Marton left back and was heading for goal when the sweeper came across and hit Mitch high with a knee to the face at full speed. Mitch was down and heavily concussed. The sweeper received a yellow card. Mitch was carried off and taken to hospital with serious facial injuries.”
The next 20 or so minutes the boys held Marton to their half and from a beautiful corner Kyle headed the ball into the net. It was 1-1 and despite plenty of pressure the boys just couldn’t find the net again before halftime.
Planning for a strong second half
“At halftime we talked about the incident, we were all shocked and disappointed at what had happened and made a pact to win it for Mitch.
“True to the spirit and bonding of the team throughout the year we had a laugh and kept everything in perspective to gear up for a strong second half. We played with guts, giving 100% effort and played all over the Marton team but the calls weren’t going our way and we couldn’t find the crucial goal.
“After strong defensive efforts by everyone, especially Fatty, Kyle and Hayden, Marton only managed to find the net again with a huge shot from way outside the box that just dipped under the crossbar.
At 2-1, the Crusaders threw everything they had at Marton but couldn’t find the goal to send it to extra time and Marton sealed their victory stealing a late goal to finish the game 3-1.
Well done on a great season
Ian says that the boys can be very proud of their efforts.
“Starting the year with no coach and a team that formed together from several other clubs and had never played before, to bond together as mates to make a very competitive grand final is just amazing! Well done guys.”