Captain Michael Sharkey, pictured with Joel Westblade and Jake Sheppard, hoists the trophy
On a wet and wild Saturday afternoon at Homebush, Sutho’s second-grade men’s team out-gritted a determined Ryde to take the 2020 Championship 2-1.
Ryde goaled first, but we equalised thanks to Michael Sharkey and drew ahead 2-1 with a power shot from Mason Neale. Ryde would have nightmares over Sutho goalie Damon Arapa’s shutting down their penalty stroke.
The match concluded an unprecedented COVID-19-haunted season for our club.
But five of our men’s teams made preliminary finals, with seconds going out to take the grand final honours; Sutho’s first Sydney Women’s Hockey League team was undefeated major and minor title winners in their first year; while four of five Sutho junior teams won premierships they contested (and in one grand final it was Sutho v. Sutho).
So, whatever 2021 throws at us, we got plenty of experience in dealing with adversity this year.
Thank you, thank you
Thank you to all our fantastic coaches, managers and players (who drew the short straw) who contributed match reports. And, of course, to the tireless Rory Staples, Anna Domrow and Tony O’Leary for the pictures that added so much to the match reports each week.
Now, over to our Second Grade Correspondent for his final report of 2020. Wade in, champ:
On a wet and windy Saturday, our 2nd-grade team faced off against fierce rivals, Ryde, in the season-defining match, the grand final. After our narrow, yet solid performance in the semi-finals against Moorebank, our team knew we were in for an entirely different challenge this week.
Our game plan was to play wide through our wing-halves and engage our attacking mids up the sidelines. This was a strategy we didn’t precisely follow to a T. Conforming to Ryde’s style of hockey (playing through the centre of the pitch) we were exposed early on, and from a swift counter-attack, Ryde managed to slot away an early goal.
In the second period, we aimed to refocus our efforts on our game plan and strengthen defensively. From winning our contests and determination in defence all over the pitch, we started to find our groove in this highly competitive match. Mounting attacking pressure throughout this quarter, we quickly managed to sneak in the equalising goal, expertly converted by our equal leading goal scorer and captain extraordinaire.
Momentum was well and truly with our team, as we forced Ryde onto the back foot. Finally, through our dominance and pressure, we scored the go-ahead goal to take the lead. A goal we will certainly never stop hearing about and will re-watch over and over again (mainly because the forward who did score, has saved numerous copies of the footage and will send it to our team for years to come). But what a goal it was, after eliminating three defenders and powering home a tomahawk between the keeper’s legs.
Holding a narrow lead into the fourth and final period of the match, Ryde played higher and far more aggressively; in our faces and trying to force the error, and that they did.
Off a short corner, their shot – which appeared to be missing the goal altogether – struck one of our defenders’ body, and a questionable penalty stroke was awarded. Justice prevailed, however, as the penalty shot thundered into the post and was saved by our ever-vigilant goalkeeper to spoil Ryde’s best chance of saving the match.
As the siren sounded, jubilation and relief swept over our team, as we had finally won a championship, for many of our teammates, their first men’s title.
As a team, we want to thank everyone who came to support us in the wet weather on Saturday and also a thank you to Grant & Donk for coaching this year and also Tony for managing again.
Goals: Michael Sharkey and Mason Neale 1 each.
Diva Tribute Corner
And, of course, no 2nd-grade report is complete without a diva tribute. Totally unlike the boat, our champs didn’t sink – and every Sutho fan hopes they will go on and on and on. Maybe a bit like Mason and his goal.