As the crowds started to gather around 4:30pm on Saturday evening at a breezy West Wanderers field, Toowoomba, a moment of reflection was called for by Goondiwindi Soccer Roos’ coach, Steve Roberts.
He wanted them to understand the achievements of the season thus far and how they should be proud just to make the grand final, but he also challenged them to go one step further, and make history.
Never before had a Goondiwindi soccer team reached a grand final let alone won one. With popularity for the world sport growing increasingly in our fine town, this would help springboard that and show the juniors where they can aim for.
With more than 300 juniors registered for the Roos, the senior men's team was resurrected last year, after a 10 year hiatus, to offer a route for those wanting to progress from junior football into the men's league.
But back to some history making. The Roos and their counterparts Gatton Redbacks took to the field.
The Gatton following outnumbered the Roos thanks to them competing in the ladies’ final prior to the men's match.. But the Roos crowd was loud and supportive and considering the 219km trip, they were in abundance.
The referee blew his whistle and the game commenced. Gatton, with a young and athletic line up, took control and instantly put the pressure on Goondiwindi. The Roos have traditionally been slow starters all season and the grand final was no different. After withstanding the early pressure the Roos made inroads.A neat bit of passing between the midfield three of Todd Adanski, Tom Gilbert and Steve Roberts saw Matt Gore receive the ball in space but his shot was saved well by the Gatton goalkeeper.
The introduction of European export Marco Backhaus added energy and strength to the attack. Now the Roos were in control and looked dangerous. With 26 minutes played Backhaus fed T. Gilbert who's pass looked slightly over hit but persistence from winger Dan Gilbert forced the Gatton keeper to ricochet his clearance off Dan, the ball ending up in the back of the net - 1-0 to the Roos.
Looking to extend their lead Goondiwindi pushed bodies forward for a corner. The ball broke loose and Gatton counter-attacked. A shot on goal saw a deflection off Scott Leadbetter, and with keeper Sam Jessen already committed to the initial shot, the ball trickled over the line and into the goal. Despair, 1-1.
All of a sudden the composed and in-control Gundy team looked shaken up. Arguing between players and rushed passed saw Gatton break again, some wonderful work down the right wing saw a cut back and shot which beat Jessen, however Steve Dreier was there to deny a 2-1 lead to the opposition.
That was enough of a warning for the Roos. Captain Jon Synnott, rallied his troops and got them setup again - the tricky Backhaus was causing problems for the Redbacks and oat the 39 minute minute, a pass to Roberts saw the latter send through Andrew Spowart, who after a heavy first touch managed to poke the ball home with his weaker left foot. 2-1 at the break.
The second half got underway and after what was a frenetic first half, their was a air of calm about both teams. The high intensity in which both teams played in the first 45 had taken its toll and both teams look slightly fatigued but less nervous.
Inevitably the later the game wore on the more Gatton pushed men forward, trying to force home an equaliser. But Gundy were digging deep and weren't going to let this opportunity to make history slip through their grasp without a fight. The epitome of that spirit was shown when the Gatton striker looked to be through on goal and within shooting distance but an industrious T.Gilbert put on the burners and forced a corner kick.
From the resulting corner the cross was headed out to a Gatton shirt who superbly struck a shot towards the top corner. With a penalty box full of bodies and visibility poor, Jessen flung himself at the last second to again deny an equaliser.
Entering into the last ten Goondiwindi made their final substitutions and managed to gain a corner. Not over committing to the attack, only three players were in the box. A lofted ball in saw Gatton clear it out but only to the superb T Gilbert who leapt, heading the ball back into the path of Roberts who turned and slotted it home to make it 3-1 with six minutes to go. The elation on the Goondiwindi faces was a picture.
Gatton looked deflated and demoralised. They tried to conjure some more attacks but they knew the game was out of their grasp with the Roos boys pumping out their chests and winning every single ball, before the referee put the whistle to his lips.
Scenes on the pitch, off the pitch and towards the bench where the team held senior squad member Glen Gilbert on top of their shoulders. With their jobs done, there was one last thing to do with Roberts gathering together his men in a huddle and after some passionate words the team broke out into their victory song - which was so loud their were reports of it being heard down Marshall Street.
All in all a great end to a season where team spirit has been key along that Gundy fight and passion which we all love. UP THE ROOS.