By Tania Phillips
IT was almost the season that never happened for Stanthorpe United Men’s premier league soccer team but with a little help their friends it might just be a season they never forget.
The team, which has travelled thousands of kilometres on a bus this year to play without one home game, is set play off in the grand final of the Toowoomba Premier League competition on Sunday in Toowoomba. It’s a competition they expected to be playing in at the start of the year and United director of coaching Steve McEvoy says it’s one they might just win when they take on new arch-rivals Willowburn at the historic Toowomba Sportsground on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s an unbelievable achievement what they’ve done,” Mr McEvoy said.
“The competition in Toowoomba started around March but we were having meetings with the local Football Stanthorpe competition here and for one reason or another we had about three meetings with them and they decided not to proceed with a competition this year. We already had some blokes training here so I rang up the Toowoomba Zone chairman and had a discussion with him about the possibility of putting teams from here into the competition because I knew there were others keen to play competitive football. It was an opportunity to get them together and have a game. The zone chairman did say yes but when I spoke to him first one of the conditions was that we wouldn’t be playing any home games. My background’s also rugby league administration – I know what Toowoomba’s like, they don’t like travelling outside Toowoomba we had to sweeten the deal to allow us in.”
After being allowed into the competition the club had to appoint a coach and see what interest they had in the men’s, ladies and Colts.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t get the ladies together, they weren’t keen to travel to Toowoomba every week,” he said.
“We had about half a dozen young 17-year-olds who were keen and we knew there were half a dozen or so at Warwick so we combined with them and they play under the Warwick Wolves banner – we have two coaches from Stanthorpe who go up every weekend and take them to Toowoomba.
“With the men Brad Rub was appointed to coach – he took over from me this year – he said look we’re keen we’ll hunt round the District and we’ll get players from all the different club’s that we can. We got a squad of about 15 together.”
The team – made up primarily of United and Ballandean players had a pretty rocky start, winning the first one and then losing the next two.
“Reality started to jump in but my view was that those three games were really the pre-season for us – those guys had never actually played before, they didn’t know each other’s names,” he said.
“Once they got those three games under the belt they started to gel and went on a winning streak of seven games straight and went from one of the bottom sides to the top of the ladder within weeks and have been there ever since.”
The team will play off on Sunday afternoon for the big title which will be livestreamed on the club’s facebook site while their sister team the Warwick Wolves Youth side will also play a grand final on Saturday. Mens and Women’s sides from Warwick have also made grand finals in Toowoomba this year too.