We Are The Champions My Friends
Sunday 21st October 2018 and all football roads led to Valentines Sports Park and the car parks and venue overflowed with the buzz of Grand Finals.
With ESFA having a history making 3 senior teams representing the Association, impeccably timed, one after the other, we could feel the buzz in the air that this feat could and would be achieved.
First up, it was the Dunbar AA Women who were competing in their second Champion of Champions Grand Final against their nemesis Albion Park on the grass pitch used by the likes of Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC Women, along with granted the respect of being provided with a W-League and Womens NPL1 Referee. On paper, Albion Park were the slight favourites, but on the pitch, it was Dunbar who set the pace leading 2 nil at halftime. With Darcy Read and Danielle Morris placing Dunbar in a match winning position, the second half was always going to be nail biting.
Albion Park came out strong and the physicality of the game become apparent to those in the stands. Malin Lilleskare unfortunately copped the brunt of that physicality and was the first Dunbar casualty of the game, assisted off the field for first aid. The lump and marks said it all. We hope she is feeling better today.
With Albion Park scoring, it was up to the Dunbar ladies to keep the attack and defense at equal force. They did!
The final whistle blew and it was 2-1 to Dunbar! The first ESFA Women’s team to ever win two Football NSW Champion of Champions campaigns, ably coached by David “Mini” Buck.
Dunbar Rovers: 1 (GK) TELLSTROM Maja 2 FERRIS Sarah 3 BISLAND Charlotte 4 BIRD Aleshea 5 RYAN Kerrie 6 FERNANDES Francesca 7 LILLESKARE Malin 8 JACQUES Katrina 9 READ Darcey 10 MORRIS Danielle 11 MARSHALL Hayley 12 FREIBAND Mindy 13 LAFFIN Erin 15 BARTLEY Zoe 17 COLAK Anita 22 ALLERDICE Stephanie
It was a precursor, for what we were still unaware, of “yet the celebrations begin”.
What a great start that proved to the afternoon.
Second in play and over to the synthetic pitch, were Dunbar Rovers O35 Men. The gentlemen had successfully won the ESFA League by a large margin and backed that up as ESFA Grand Final Champions.
Looking for their third trophy of the season, the game against Como West, took a while to find its shape for Dunbar, with neither side willing to give any opportunity away early on and some nervous football.
The Dunbar supporters and players kept their faith after a scoreless first half, although there were murmurs amongst the naysayers (obviously not Dunbar supporters), that there was never going to be a goal. Along came Matty Pickover who had scored 4 goals in the semifinal, scoring Dunbar first goal in the 67th minute. Well worth the wait!
The second Dunbar goal with 3 minutes to go till full time, was once again scored by Matty, locking in a certain third victory for 2018 for the O35 Men. The coach Charlie DeSouza, the bench, the players and the spectators, knew this was community football at its best.
With the final score showing 2-0 on the scoreboard and the whistle blown and with no doubt as to who were the better team on the day, the crowd cheered in unison for the second Dunbar and ESFA victory of the day.
A slight unfortunate Football NSW hiccup before presentations could get underway, was settled with a large glass of water and the celebrations began in earnest.
This was the first ever O35 Men victory for an ESFA team.
Dunbar Rovers are now the only ESFA Club to have won five (5) Football NSW Champion of Champions campaigns with AA Men in 2008 and 2014, AA Women in 2016 and 2018 and O35 Men in 2018. Five stars! A rating and an achievement!
Dunbar Rovers: 1 MEYER James, 2 WALL Nathan, 3 KING Derek, 4 DENNIS Greg, 5 POPE David, 6 LARA Adrian, 7 CARSON Malcolm, 8 FEE Daniel, 9 STUBBS Daniel, 10 SATOS Peter, 11 AMATE Christophe, 12 BEDROSSIAN Vahan, 13 STUART Paul, 14 PICKOVER Matthew, 15 BRYAN Gordon, 16 PHILBY Simon, 17 SULEMAN Mubarak, 18 LARA Tyrone
Game three and thanks to the previous game running into penalties, it was a slightly later than 6:30pm kick off time for the lads from Coogee United AA Men (Championship). This certainly didn’t affect the largest crowd of the day at Valentines Sports Park from not thinking this was going to be an historic day for teams from the east.
With the crowd on edge and in fine form from kick off, it didn’t take long for Max Nielson to score Coogee’s first goal. Clinically done by Nielson, this had the crowd eager for more.
West Pymble were not going to make it easy. Nor was the referee, who needed a quick shirt change to ensure he was not mistaken for a Coogee United player. Back on the field in red, it was a case of where were the cards, when cautions were required for players from both teams as the game became faster and with no one not taking their chances. Another quick run back to the change room.
With the West Pymble supporters goading the opposition and the spectators and Coogee United incredibly eager to well and truly seal the deal, the hectic start of the game, saw the second half flow more freely with chances by both teams. In the dying minutes, the tension in the crowd was palatable.
David Poidzimek decided that the Coogee bench, players and supporters be given the opportunity to celebrate early and with only a few minutes to go, it was a second goal to Coogee. The crowd erupted, “You’re not singing, you’re not singing, you’re not singing anymore! “ and there was hardly a murmur from the opposition crowd.
Coogee United had given their absolute all, to be Champion of Champions in 2018, adding that elusive 4th trophy that anyone had yet to achieve in ESFA. Their game play deserved this victory, their discipline and their goal (no pun intended!) deserved me the accolades. Coach James Horan should be more than proud of his team of 18. Post season tournaments are hard fought!
Coogee United AAM (Championship) now have two stars after winning this tournament and thus knowing the feeling, in 2015 under the coaching of now manager, Jimmy Whiteford.
Coogee United: 1 HOWE Fred, 2 CARBERRY Bren, 3 ARTHURS Adam, 4 LYNN Simon, 5 KEATING Brian, 6 HARTLEY Josh, 7 NEILSON Max, 8 MOONEY Craig, 9 CUMMINS Paul, 10 McALPINE Mark, 11 FERNANDEZ BERISSO Carlos, 12 DOLAN Eoin, 13 MUIR David, 14 PODZIMEK David, 15 MURRAY Anthony, 16 GILMARTIN Deklan, 17 MacHATTIE Iain, 18 BUCKLEY Ryan
All in all, Sunday 21st October 2018 was one heck of a day for football in the Eastern Suburbs. If we are being honest, we were proud of three teams reaching the Grand Finals regardless of result, but now those results sweeten the deal like chocolate icing on a cupcake! ESFA were the only Association within Football NSW boundaries, who achieved victory in all its Champion of Champions Grand Finals.
We congratulate everybody who was involved in these campaigns for both Coogee and Dunbar. While taking nothing away, we look forward to more Clubs in both Juniors and Seniors, writing their own chapters in ESFA and Football NSW history, in 2019.
Championes, Championes, Ole, Ole, Ole!