Our AA1s Manager and Coach Charlie reviews an exceptional first season in Division 1 for our boys
After a Top-Of-The League performance in Div2 last season, promotion into Div1 had us excited for a new and tough challenge ahead – and boy did all the team deliver an AMAZING season for us! I couldn’t be prouder of them!
We welcomed 5 new players into the squad this season. 4 were drafted up from the Bs + Cs due to outstanding seasons and impressing at trials as well as Daniel Paredes, who has had a terrific first season with us in goal. Duncan was so excited to finally be out of the big bird costume of last season, only to get 1 match (and 1 goal that he made sure we didn’t forget) with us out on the field before going on holiday to the UK and not being able to make it back to Aus – Damn you COVID!
With this, our squad size went down to 14 for the rest of the season, and it took hard work and dedication from the lads to turn out a strong team every week! Special shout outs to Dan W for multiple weekends calling in sick to work, Bagus + Michael driving 5 hours back from Tamworth on a Saturday morning, and also a number of players across the AA9’s + AA13’s for stepping up to help us when we were short on men!
Even with a smaller squad size, a non-existent pre-season and myself being the only player/coach in Div1, we still started off the season so strong. You would not have thought it was our first season playing in this division…
A solid 4-1 win against 10-men Earlwood on our first ever evening match under the lights at the fortress (Blick Oval) ; A slightly unlucky 2-2 draw against Leichhardt Tigers; a no-show 3-0 win walkover against Abbotsford, and a 1-0 loss against Cooks River Titans (our only game all season where we didn’t manage to score at least 1 goal).. This had us sitting in 3rd place place after week 4, 1 point behind Cooks River… Highlights from these matches included back to back MOTM wins from Bagus, Aaron + Duncan’s 1st and only goals of the seasons against Earlwood, and a goal of the season contender from Dan Wilson with a screamer into the top bins against Leichhardt to even up the scores.
Our next 2 games followed a very similar pattern – Scoring first and starting on a roll, dropping our heads and letting them come back to take the lead, before sheer determination and passion drove us to fight back and win in style! We won 4-3 against Ashfield Pirates, and 4-2 against Strathfield. Highlights of these games included 5 goals for Lawrence across both matches (hattrick against Ashfield, and a brace against Strathfield), and the rotating Left-Wing threat of Seb, Philpot, Gabe and myself that neither team could handle!
We were then sitting in 2nd place, 5 points behind Balmain, who we were up against next… Needing to close the gap and keep within touching distance of 1st place, we started amazingly and caught them off guard to take a 2-0 lead within 30 minutes (Another 2 incredible goals from Dan and Lawrence.) Sadly we were unable to close out the win, but a masterclass from Goalie Dan and our Defensive Divas ‘Latoya’, ‘Kelly’ and ‘Beyonce’ (Paul, Dan + Thomas) meant we were able to hold onto a 2-2 draw. These were the only points that Balmain dropped all season, which I take as a great achievement against a team that will no doubt be a strong contender in the BBC Premier Division next season.
Onto the 2nd half of the season – we were back to winning ways and still keeping the pressure on Balmain with a 3-1 win against Earlwood, another 3-1 win against Leichhardt, and a thumping 6-0 win against Abbotsford. My highlight of these matches was for myself and Gus, who came up to help from the Div9’s. Both of us broke our goal droughts and bagged 3 goals and 2 assists between us against Abbotsford. The low-light of these matches has to be Bagus + Thomas in the match against Leichhardt, both going for the same header and Thomas definitely coming off the worse, splitting his head open and ending up in hospital!
The final 4 games of the season included another 2 walkover wins against Cooks River Titans + Strathfield (we must have scared them off!), a very close 3-2 loss against Ashfield, and final 3-1 loss against Balmain, with us already having locked in 1st and 2nd place in the league. Highlights from these has to be Mitch coming back from retirement to play in his first and last match of the season against Balmain, and also Paul stepping up to don the pinks and play in goal with Dan picking up an injury (if you haven’t seen the death drop free kick save from Paul already, please check it out, it’s sickening!)
All in all, what an absolutely amazing result for us to come in runners up for our first season in Division 1! The team played fantastic football week in week out, ground out some crucial wins against tough competition, and deserve every bit of praise for an outstanding season! Being my first season stepping into a coaching role, I couldn’t have asked for a better team to step out onto that field with, they made my job so much easier than I thought it would be! Also a huge shout out to Aaron and Paul for all your help along the way, I couldn’t have done it without you!
I’m already looking forward to next season, when we’ll be winning both the league and the grand finals!