It was a golden day for Across The Waves in the Football Wide Bay Men’s grand finals, with their Premier League and Reserves sides both completing season clean sweeps of season silverware with victories over United Park Eagles (UPE) 3-0 and Bingera 2-0 respectively at Martens Oval.
UPE however clinched back-to-back Premier Women’s Grand Final titles, prevailing 5-4 against Kawungan Sandy Straits (KSS) Jets after scores were locked together at 1-1 at full-time and remained deadlocked without any addition to the score in extra-time.
Waves had lost the past two Premier Men’s grand finals since life-time club champion John Brillante returned to the coaching helm in 2019, going down to Bingera 2-1, and UPE 4-3 last year after having led 3-1 early in the second half.
But after a season in which they progressed to the fifth round of the Nation-wide FFA Cup, won the Hitz FM 93.9 Football Bundaberg 1st Division Men’s Cup final against Bingera (in a penalty shoot-out after the match finished in a 2-2 draw at the end of extra-time), and white-washed Fraser Flames 4-0 in the Qualifying Final, they were expected to win, and while UPE served it up to them, there was no denying Waves this time.
Men’s Premier League Golden Boot winner Nykodah Smith drew first blood with his 50th goal of the season in the blue riband competition in the 40th minute, before Corey Leggett extended their lead 13 minutes into the second stanza, and Luke Handley put the icing on the cake in the 87th minute.
Every one of their players played their part brilliantly, but fill-in captain and centre-fullback Hayden Lobegeier took out the Player of the Grand Final, after stepping up to lead the side in the Qualifying and Grand Finals after season captain Callum Hillier was unfortunately suspended.
John Brillante, who later took out the Premier League Men’s Coach of the Year, was lavish in praise of all his players.
“We had to do it without our captain (Callum) for 2 games but Loby (Hayden) stepped up – he has always been captain when Callum has been unavailable, and he is a good story – he got caught up in the Covid lockdown and missed crucial games prior to semis, and at that stage, he was concerned that as the team played well without him, he mightn’t even get his position back,” John said.
“But with players available to play, he got his spot back and, in a fairytale, he got to be captain and becomes Man of the Match. – he genuinely was going to be not playing – I said he might have to wait his turn again, but we had a couple of injuries and so he forced his way back into his spot.
“The Man of the Match could have been given to a number of players, but he had a fantastic game lead-up 2 weeks before against Flames – in his first game as captain, he stepped up – as a captain he has a different personality to Callum, who is very vocal, but Loby more lets his football do the talking and he led from the front that game, and carried it through.”
Nykodah Smith later received the Premier League Men’s Player of the Year, while their custodian Sam Collinson shared the Goalkeeper of the Year award with Fraser Flames’ Jarryd Wynn.
“Nykodah has been unbelievable – I don’t think scoring 50 goals has ever been done before by a First Division striker in Bundaberg, and when you add in his (Hitz FM) Cup and FFA Cup goals, he would have scored in the vicinity of 60 for the season – all up we scored around 120 goals and he scored half of them in his first season for us,” John said.
“He was a Bundaberg junior, but he had been playing for Brothers in Toowoomba, but he came back to town to help his dad with work as a concreter, and he looked at a couple of different clubs but he believed we had a good squad mentality and camaraderie, and he fit in perfectly – he had some big days of hard work and couldn’t always train as much as he would have liked, but he is just amazing.
“I would also like to mention Luke Vincent – he had an outstanding season as right fullback and wing back in our formation – he was also a bit of motivation for us as he is moving to Brisbane next year – he has been with the club every year since under-6, and we talked about that – Luke got very emotional, and it was good to give him something to take away.
“Simon Quik, a central defender, was another who had an outstanding season – he’s only 17 and was a Waves local who went to Wide Bay Buccaneers for 3 years in under-14, 15 and 16, but he came back to us and was consistent week in week out.
“For my son Jack, he’s probably going to retire, and it was probably his last grand final with the club – he also started in under-6 but with work away and travel, he has missed a few seasons, but he’s had a good 20 years, but he’s 30 now and work and family are taking over.
“Corey Leggett, one of our attacking midfielders, too, had a really outstanding season – he came back to Waves when I came back to coach three years ago, and he has been a very consistent workhorse.
“It was just our time to dominate every team, but the biggest thing for us was that we had a good squad mentality – everyone had to work for their spot because we had a good squad of 18 who could all play Firsts, and when it was your turn on the bench, they would all help the guy in their place.”
Waves also had four players rewarded with places in the Premier League Men’s Team of Season, Sam Collinson, brothers Corey and Dylan Leggett, and Nykodah Smith, while four Flames were also named, Dwayne McInnes, Jarryd Wynn, Jordan Visentin and Liam Brindley.
Three Bingera guns were also included, Joel Haack, Gary O’Donnell, who was just pipped by Nykodah for the Golden Boot, and Joshua Metcalf, while UPE captain Luke Coates and sharpshooter Josh Adcock also made the cut, along with Brothers-Aston Villa’s Lachlan Scarborough.
In the Women’s Premier League, KSS Jets, who had beaten League Champions Sunbury Blues in the Preliminary Finals, looked set for victory until 15-year-old rising multi-talent superstar Lucy Hamilton stepped up to the Plate with a 90th minute equalizer to seal a 1-1 draw.
With no score added in extra-time, the game then went to penalty kicks, and Lucy again calmly slotted her shot to level the ledger at 4-4 after the allotted five shots each.
Then in sudden dearth shots, UPE teenage keeper Ruby Rowlands saved the Jets’ first kick, but the referee ruled that she had moved early, and Mikaela Scholz was allowed to take it again, but she pushed her kick wide.
Meg Freeman then coolly stepped forward and fired the ball past Jets custodian Christy Bryan to clinch victory.
For UPE, who had claimed the First and Second Division Ladies Cups double in May, it completed a hat-trick of Season Grand Final triumphs after beating Bingera 3-0 in the Bundaberg Ladies League Division 1 in 2019 when the Premier League was played as a round-round, finishing mid-season, and again Bingera in the Premier finale 4-1 last year.
But UPE lost their long serving champion goal machine Taryn Gollshewsky to a broken ankle later in June, which was a massive blow, and they eventually wound up third on the ladder behind Sunbury Blues and KSS Jets.
Then in the unusual finals format where all seven teams competed, UPE had the bye in the first round of finals, before having to beat only fourth placed Waves in the Preliminary Finals, while Sunbury did not get a second chance after being beaten by the Jets in the other Match.
Jets’ Elaine Riebe received some consolation when she received the Player of the Final award, but UPE coach Jake Davis said their Players of the Final included Lucy Hamilton, inspirational captain Madison Masterman-Smith, Lilliarna Smith and Renee Simpson.
“Those four were incredible, leading by example for the whole game,” Jake said.
“(Aside from Taryn), Over the season, Lucy and Madison were our most consistent players, and Ruby Rowlands was by far the best keeper, and she had a great season too.”
Ruby Rowlands shared the Goalkeeper of the Year title with Waves veteran and tireless club secretary Renee Bock, while Kirsty Frehmann, of Sunbury Blues, took out the Golden Boot and the Women’s Premier League Player of the Season.
UPE had five players chosen in the Premier League Women’s Team of Season, Ruby, Lucy, Madison, Zali Haster, and Taylor Stumer, while Waves also had five achieve the honour, Renee Bock, Zoe Sobczak, Tayla Zielke, Olivia Zunker and Alex Brunker, together with one other Bundaberg player, Hayley Sparozvich, of Bingera.
Grant Sawtell, who guided Sunbury Blues to the League Championship, before ultimately going down to KSS Jets in the Preliminary Finals, was a deserved Women’s Premier League Coach of the Year.
Seven players were part of UPE’s hat-trick of grand final triumphs over the past three seasons, Madison Masterman-Smith, Lilliarna Smith, Meg Freeman, twins Zali and Lili Haster, Emily Ryan, and Sarah Bretag, while Lucy and Ruby were also part of their 2020 success.
Waves also completed the Reserves Men’s League Championship-Grand Final double with their youthful side defeating Bingera 2-0, after having also won the Bundaberg Second Division Men’s Cup in May against Bargara 5-0.
Goals to two of their many young guns Declan Murphy and Steven Borg were enough to secure a hard-fought victory, but they had many heroes, including Player of the Match Aden Russo, Golden Boot winner Preston Cox, who was also a major part of their United team which notched the Under-16 North League Champions-Grand Final double, and keeper Alec Rohdmann, who kept another clean sheet.
The Waves team included many Players who also played in the Premier League during the season.
Bingera’s Connor Patterson received some consolation when he took out the Reserves Men Goalkeeper of the Year.
UPE also contested the Men’s North Division 1 Cup decider, with their Green team, who had come from fourth position and had knocked out League Champions Waves in a penalty shoot-out in the Preliminary Final, taking on Brothers-Aston Villa.
They took the early lead in the finale with a penalty, but the Villains celebrated a hat-trick of grand final triumphs 3-1 with captain Matt Williams leading from the front, stalwart Chris Norris scoring in the decider for the second year in a row with an equalizer in the 43rd minute, prolific scoring 2020 Golden Boot winner Jesse Sommer giving them the lead with his 16th of the season in the 68th minute, and Jacob Green sealing the result with his strike in the 77th minute.
Villa had also beaten UPE White with an identical scoreline in last year’s Bundaberg Men’s Grand Finale, and Waves 4-3 in the Bundaberg Division 2 Men’s decider in 2019.
Eight players have been part of all three Grand Final successes, Matt Williams, Chris Norris, Jesse Sommer, Cody Tierney, Casey Smith, another young gun Tom Martin, who slotted 12 goals for the season, William Brosnan, and Tyler Gesch, while Luke Dickinson played in 2019 but not last year.
Three other team-mates were also part of their Champion side of 2020, Goal-Keeper Ryan Ward, Josh Carson and Taghi Niari.
Bargara triumphed in the Women’s Division 1 North grand final against League Champions Diggers 1-0 with an early goal to Shakira Damico – her 15th of the season – enough to get their name on the trophy.
Diggers had finished four points clear at the top of the table, while Bargara had finished third a further two points away, but after Shakira had been among their scorers in a 3-0 Elimination Final victory against ATW Development, and Zaire Killen had scored the winner in a 1-0 Preliminary Final dispatch of SC Corinthians, Bargara against dug deep for a famous victory.
The win atoned for their 7-4 defeat at the hands of UPE Black in last year’s Bundaberg Ladies League decider after they had led 3-1 at half-time, following on from a shock 3-2 win over Diggers in the Qualifying Finals
Diggers’ Heidi Walk received consolation when she was awarded as joint-winner of the Sonia Hughes Memorial Golden Boot Award was SC Corinthians’ Kalani Irwin, both with 23.
Congratulations also to Gin Gin on taking out the 2021 Club of the Year (Fair Play).
Premier League Men’s Team of Season: Samuel Collinson (ATW), Dylan Leggett (ATW), Jeremy Bates (Granville), Dwayne McInnes (FF), Lachlan Scarborough (BAV), Cory Leggett (ATW), Joel Haack (Bin), Luke Coates (UPE), Tyson Bedford (Sunbury), Nykodah Smith (ATW), Gary O’Donnell (Bin); Substitutes: Jarryd Wynn (FF), Joshua Metcalf (Bin), Jordan Visentin (FF), Liam Brindley (FF), Joshua Adcock (UPE).
Premier League Women’s Team of Season: Ruby Rowlands (UPE), Zoe Sobczak (ATW), Lucy Hamilton (UPE), Kaitlyn Ryan (Sunbury), Madison Masterman-Smith (UPE), Kirsty Frehmann (Sunbury), Kyleigh Christiansen (Sunbury), Brooke Lewis (KSSJ), Hayley Sparozvich (Bin), Stacey Shore (KSSJ), Tayla Zielke (ATW); Substitutes: Renee Bock (ATW), Olivia Zunker (ATW), Zali Haster (UPE), Alex Brunker (ATW), Taylor Stumer (UPE).
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