And so it all ends as it began. On fine winter’s day, in the shadow of the wilds of the Royal National Park, the gallant Crusaders mustered their army (minus Sir Jackson of the Snow Fields via Rio) to make one final attempt at a chance of securing the elusive trophy, to the honour and glory of the mighty maroon soldiers of the county of Preston Park.

With a caravan of lads and lasses amassing to cheer these gallant men, including the fair maiden Lady Jace of the Brunning (AKA – Year 11 Advisor) the strapping lads made their customary pilgrimage to the sidelines to seek the guidance and instruction of their noble sire, Sir Garry (AKA Nick) of the Sideline Quips. Warming up with much enthusiasm and zeal, the now very familiar side stretches in the mermaid position, stingrays and wombats bringing with it the promise of a quest fulfilled.

Taking to the grassy field, the mighty purple soldiers took their battle positions, ready for the whistle. Despite gallantly fighting off an initial onslaught by the Menai marauders, Sir Isaac of the Backfield, in a gritty attempt to defend the honour of the goals, went in with a shoulder, (which the Coffee Wench of a Manager could see no problems with) and attracted a penalty that resulted in an early goal to the opposition. Surprisingly, Sir Tom the Beautiful, our mighty goalie, did not have a hair move out of place on his elegant Gatsby like head in diving for the ball. In a trend that seemed to be creeping in, albeit very slowly, into the team, Sir Josh of the Bolloms, was not to be outdone with his sleek, helmet enhancing hairdo, creating an aerodynamic look that complimented his playing style. With Sir JayMay of the Fro not being tempted to succumb to the barbers scissors, could be seen running anywhere on the field, just from the motion of his locks (some believe his fro could be seen from satellites orbiting the earth).

Sir Ian of the Lets Play all over the Field even if I am the Goalie, had a ripper of a game, running in all directions. Unfortunately despite this and the attempts of the newly ripped and very speedy Sir Cookie, the marauders managed to sink another ball in the net. Sir Alec of the mighty DeGennaro’s was heroic in his defence, whilst Sir Trent of the Treetops (yes he nearly is that tall) used his lankiness to outrun the enemy. Sir Garry the Coach was ably assisted by Sir Tom the Joker, who as usual provided his own brand of coaching from wherever he was situated. With Sir Dom the Naturalist managing to keep his composure despite being in the very wilds of the Royal, (and fortunately there were no visible butterflies in sight), Sir Michael AKA as Angelo or the Rooster making some flying breaks down the sideline, and Sir Danno of the Corbo (who is a particular favourite of the Dame Lilly of the Lollies) and Sir Snowy of the Brandons nobly putting their bodies on the line in an attempt to rebalance the score card. Determined to get the elusive ball in the back of the net, Sir Hayden the Striking Striker with great determination and speed, continued the attack.

Despite this, the half time whistle blew with a scorecard of a disappointing 3-0.

Filled with the words of wisdom from Sir Garry, fuelled by the magical never-ending bucket of lollies, with the promise of a Curly Whirly for a goal scored and more determined than ever just to go out and have fun, the boys took the field, minus Sir Snowy who, as a result of his gutsy efforts, succumbed to the heat and had to be sidelined for the remainder of the match. Sir Kyle of the Sylva Bullet, fresh from his pilgrimage to Rio, and still under the weather, put aside his maladies to don, as we now know for the very last time, the honourable gold goalie jersey to help out his mates. There seemed to be a spectacular burst of energy from the lads, firing up the many supporters, who if judged solely on their cheering, would have won the event on the day.

The lads hit the field with a burst of enthusiasm, determination and energy. It was a sight to behold. The sideline erupted and the chanting continued unabated for the next 45 minutes. Sir Josh of the Bollom bought the crowd to its feet, planting a penalty goal early in the second half squarely in the back of the net. This spurred the boys to begin a huge final onslaught. Sir Mike of the Angelo Clan, also known as Rooster spent most of the second half perfecting his chook run down the sideline. It was due to this continued hen pecking of the sideline that he finally laid a golden egg squarely in the back of the net. It was now 3-2 and the game was on. The spectators unable to contain their excitement tried to carry the boys to victory with their passionate cheering. The final ten minutes were filled with an unabating attack at the goals keeping the sideline was on tenterhooks, but to no avail. The whistle blew and it was all over.

Defeated but not deflated the Mighty Crusaders gathered together to heartily congratulate the Menai Hawks, and graciously thank and cheer the Referee and Linesmen. Flanked by their passionate and loyal supporters, Sir Garry of the Lets Encourage Everyone Despite it All, gave one last discourse and bade the noble warriors farewell for another soccer season. In honour of a job well done, the boys were all knighted with the ceremonial order of the Curly Whirly and stripping down out of their armour (well they did need to return the jerseys to the manager!) they proudly posed bare chested for a final team shot to the delight (they thought) of the crowd.

And so, despite the not so happy result, the fairy tale has ended for another season. The lads were last seen taking off into the sunset down (or up) the Princes Hwy back to their ordinary lives dreaming of the next campaign for the mighty Engadine Crusaders.

The End…….

Not Quite

Well done boys on a season filled with lots of laughs and fun. It is with some pride that Garry and I accepted compliments from your opposing teams about your sportsmanship and sense of the ridiculous. You have been a credit to the club and your families. Looking forward to a great season in 2014.

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