Well hello everyone and thanks for stopping by to my review of the Div14 Ds season. Obviously the season was ended prematurely by COVID, but we played every team once before that happened so I’ve got plenty to get stuck into, much like a Jonah Musitano tackle.
I entered the season full of positivity after a busy transfer window. While we’d lost a few of our stars from 2020, we’d added some promising newbies, retained our core, and somehow managed to keep and add a bunch of Rangers of very high ability. With James Cardall as manager beside me and Carl Austin as captain (even though he was actually serving a suspension due to a red card at the end of the 2020 season), we were the real life Sam Allardyce, Sammy Lee and Kevin Nolan.
Dave Cherrie returned between the sticks, with a defence of Matthew, Jonah, Shaun, Steve and James. In the midfield, we welcomed back Luke alongside stalwart Tom D, Sean, Ed, the Lane Cove Iniesta – David Bertran and, for some reason, me. And in our attacking places we were blessed with talent, with Josh, Enrico, Nathan and Dutch Dave. What could possibly go wrong?
Cut to two minutes into our first game against new team Leichhardt Saints at Blick Oval. Their winger has the ball and there’s no danger at all. He lumps a cross into the box which looks like it’s going to end up in Punchbowl. It drops into the top corner. Oh dear.
Three minutes later, Dutch Dave sprints down the wing, attempts a Cruyff turn, and ruptures his ACL. Season over. Oh dear. (Dave we love you!)
All I’ll say is thank goodness I was there. For the third season in a row I scored the first goal of the team’s season, starting the fightback and eventually we secured a well deserved 4-1 win to get us off to a cracking start. What. A. Hero. Special shout out to Ed for trying really really hard to miss the final goal despite two open goals before finally slotting it away.
A couple of routine 2-0 wins against eventual strugglers Cooks River Titans and Strathfield B followed, but there were harder tests to come. Next up, Burwood – a team that had easily beaten us in pre-season. It was a game of two halves. 1-0 up at half time thanks to a poacher’s finish from Nathan, we were pegged back by a second half onslaught. A tactical masterclass saw Josh deployed into central midfield and it was that move that paid off, with an exceptional through ball for Enrico in the final seconds. Rico finished with the confidence he showed all season. A 2-1 win and four wins from four!
Couple of mentions here. Firstly for Luke. The opposition seemed to confuse his head with the football, landing Luke in hospital. Matthew cracked a rib in the same game and couldn’t sneeze for three months. The injuries were piling up!
Up next, Strathfield C where we ground out a 0-0 draw thanks to an immense backline effort from Shaun, Jonah, Steve and Cardall and a truly spectacular flying save from Cherrie. After that it was back to winning ways against Enfield with another of our customary 2-0 wins. Rico and Nathan on the scoresheet again and they were turning into the modern day Yorke and Cole and a highlight with their right back asking ‘who’s that new Rangers team who are top of the league and flying?’ Spoiler alert, it was us.
But not for long…
Derby day was up next. Rangers Cs vs Rangers Ds. The one we’d all been waiting for. Blick Grandstand was packed. There were at least 15 spectators. You could cut the tension with a knife and we were all set up for an epic. Unfortunately that’s not how it worked out. We were 4-1 down and a man down after half an hour, with a screamer each from Josh and Enrico being bright spots in an eventual 2-5 loss.
From there, the floodgates opened with four more losses in a row which we don’t need to go into too much detail about, other than to say that we’ve now lost to Strathfield A by an aggregate of 30-2 in the last two seasons. They probably shouldn’t be in our league, but hey, who’s counting?!
There were bright sparks in our losses against Ashfield and particularly Enfield A, who we really should have beaten, although Nathan did score an absolute worldie. I still fancied our chances of making finals after finishing fifth as the season split, but thanks to COVID and that damn limo driver, we’ll never know.
I’d like to end with a couple of thanks. Firstly to the team, for bearing with me in a first season of coaching and putting up with some very average training sessions. Secondly to Josh and Sean for supporting me in those training sessions and running some – they take a lot of planning and it’s much appreciated. To Luke, Matthew and Dutch Dave who showed up every week despite being injured to cheer us on. That’s what it’s all about. Finally to James and Carl for your support throughout as manager and captain respectively. You both did more than you give yourself credit for.
So all in all, a season that showed a lot of promise that was probably hamstrung a little by injuries. On to the next one!
Top scorer – Enrico Biviano, Nathan McDonald (5 each)