The Canungra Owls Under 12’s team closed out a highly successful and enjoyable season for the whole club by winning their Grand Final against Southport 2-0 on Saturday 16 October.
Played at Broadbeach Soccer Club against a very strong Southport team who had hit more than 80 goals in their regular season, averaging over four goals a game, our boys put in another superb team performance.
Knowing Southport had only scored in one game against them all season, Canungra started the strongest and got into their stride with some good early passing and possession that set the tone for the game and made it clear to all watching there were no nerves to be found on the field.
Which I’m not sure could be said for the many parents and supporters around the sides.
For a group of young men playing their first season in competitive fixtures, they have excelled in picking up and playing a mature style of football that is well beyond their years.
I wanted my boys to learn to play properly this year rather than just successfully and like on so many other occasions over the season, they were a joy to watch and got everyone involved in the game from the start.
A huge highlight for me as coach this season is how much pressing and pressure every one of our players applies to the opposition.
This pressure and possession from the Owls consistently having the ball in Southport’s half gradually began to turn into better and better chances.
Half chances then became good chances which included a brilliant headed effort from James Dougherty and another with him controlling a ball perfectly with his feet from a great height.
Things were looking good and it resulted in a really confident goal from Will Pickering to open the scoring towards the end of the first half.
Will’s finish was as good as the timing and it lifted the lads to keep playing in the same way.
Southport are a really good team and they were always going to have chances.
Sure enough, throughout the game they tested us by attacking but we have created the tightest defence in the league.
Two equally good keepers in Mitch and Jimmy share halves each match as well as then playing at full back.
Callum Honeycombe and Cooper Power are both such natural defenders and with Jacob Jarvis defending from midfield, no team scores easy goals past them.
This proved the case with the defensive work as good as our attacking.
Mitch in goal pulled off some great saves to keep us ahead at big times. One standout was from a free kick for Southport which will live with me for a long time. Proving that goalies do win matches and at a time that could have changed the game going into half time. Not for the first time “Great Save Mitchy!”
The second half began in a similar manner with Canungra having the lion’s share of the ball.
No player in the league wants to have Jacob hounding and tackling them on the ball and playing alongside Cohen Martin in this game, they both were able to consistently win the ball back around halfway and play in any choice of player to turn defence into attack.
Whether that was through the awesome Ollie Anderson, James, Cooper Crook, Ryder Stevens, Noah Turner or Will just made it all the more difficult for Southport.
Noah loves playing against his former club, having scored two goals previously against them, and watching these boys attack at speed and en masse is something else.
Cohen came to us mid-season and slotted into the culture of the team perfectly.
After scoring a “worldie” from nearly the halfway line in the 5-0 semi’s win against Runaway Bay, he continued his great form with that all important second of the match.
After superb work down the wing from Cooper Crook (he loves the big games), the ball came to Cohen just outside the box and he made no mistake.
Will, who was unplayable at times, also narrowly smashed a rocket of a shot just over the bar to keep up the threat.
Midway through the second half, with the score at 2-0, my boys started to tire.
Ollie, who always gives his maximum until he is spent and then puts his hand up for a rest always helps me know.
I decided to make ‘one or two’ subs to give the lads a rest to counter this.
Throughout the season the whole team have made mistakes, but I top the charts without a doubt, and I picked my moment to drop another absolute beauty.
During a period of dominance from Southport, I substituted Jacob as he was cooked. At the same time Southport somehow scored a goal past the invincible looking Jimmy. A huge thanks to James’ dad for ‘letting us all know’ that it was offside.
The linesperson had also spotted this too and rightly cancelled it out.
Cohen then picked up a knock so yet another call of ‘Sub Ref” from me followed.
I became unsettled to see that out of nowhere Southport began to own the midfield and take over the game.
Attack after attack from them and save after save from the heroic Jimmy in goal became a theme.
Confused as to what was going on I turned to my bench to see both my midfield generals staring back at me and the realisation that it was me costing these fellas the game crushed me.
I’m big enough and old enough to not care in the slightest what other clubs might think of me at any time but letting these lads down would have been a real hard one to take.
To the slight frustration of the Southport coaches (I do have sympathy) but for the benefit of the boys, our midfield was restored.
The game swung back to Canungra and 10 minutes of difficulty suddenly became three minutes to the final whistle.
They deserved it and they won it.
You don’t always get both at the same time in life, so a great day.
The celebrations began and I am still smiling weeks later.
Southport coaches gave the team some very kind words on coming up against them through the season too and I have lost count of the times someone has taken me aside on game days to say how well my boys play the game but also how well my boys conduct themselves too.
This is other clubs saying this I may add. Our kids are class acts. Every player has had their period of self-doubt this year but the only important thing is they all came through it stronger together and finished with belief in themselves and each other.
Special mentions must go to:
Ryder for being my one player who plays in any position asked of him and plays them all well. Scores big goals, runs miles and defends like a demon.
Ollie for scoring direct from a corner on purpose.
Jacob playing in his first season of football ever and doing all the unseen work that every team needs but doesn’t always get. I saw it mate!
Cohen for looking like he has known us all his life.
James for scoring against a big team in the biggest game (tick that box) and was also awarded the Man of the Match for the final by the Gold Coast Officials.
The season has gone on longer than my write up (just) so credit for the commitment and the family support.
The team started with a 5-0 loss away to Runaway Bay on the first game of the season, never conceded more than two goals again in any game, played some beautiful football and ended beating Runaway Bay 5-0 in the Semi Finals before winning the Grand Final a week later.
I am immensely proud of them.
If you see them around our great town, pat them on the back, they are amazingly good blokes.
Big thanks to all who made the journey to the final and cheered them on.
The boys were buzzing from it. I love stories within the story and how good is Cindi Dare giving up even more of her private time to invest yet again in some of her student’s lives?
What a lady and quality asset to the town and our kids we have in her.
Huge thank you to Kelley Pickering this season as our Manager. She has organised everything for everyone and was a deserved winner of the Club Person of the Year award.
I could talk all day long about how good Canungra is and the people within it.
I’ve lived and gone to heaven moving here. The soccer club has really established its identity again over the last couple of years and that is all down to the leadership of President Cam Mansfield.
As a boy who played junior footy himself here and now as a man who has grown this club into a real place to belong, I’m inspired by what he and his family group are building right now.
He’s a proper person running a proper club for us all.
A certain Bren Dalby returning hasn’t done any harm either it must be said.
It’s a special time to be an Owl right now and if you want to buy into this spirit, grow it and are smart enough to not want to change it, sign yourself up next year.