This Season was a magnificent season for the Hampton Rovers U13 Div 2 team – culminating in a Premiership that seemed impossible at the half way point of the season.
This year our Div 2 team started the season as an amalgamation of boys from our 3 U12 teams of the previous year. A number of the boys did not know one another and many had never played football together before.
This was reflected in our start to the season – after winning the first game, we promptly then lost the next 5 games and, after 6 rounds, were last on the ladder. At this stage, finals seemed an impossibility and the coaching staff were, at this point, somewhat resigned to using the remainder of the season as a development year with the view of having a real tilt at Div 2 finals in 2015. We knew the talent was there, but the boys were simply not quite gelling at this stage of the season..
Fortunately, someone forgot to tell the boys that – they continued to grit their teeth, work hard and, suddenly, the switch was flicked in Round 7, we started to win, momentum was gathered, belief and confidence grew – and we stormed home to win 7 of the last 8 home and away matches and make the finals.
All credit to the boys for this turnaround and they really should be congratulated for their efforts this season. They were an absolute pleasure to coach and I have enormous admiration and respect for all of them. They listened, they learned, they were good-humoured and enthusiastic and they gelled and improved dramatically as a team over the course of the season.
By the end of the season, their belief and confidence in each other and their refusal to yield and their sheer will to win was awe-inspiring.
The final series for the U13 Div 2 team was both dramatic and fantastic. The Semi-Final against Mordi-Brae was an absolutely wonderful win. Down and seemingly out for 3 quarters, the boys refused to give in, gradually, gradually fought their way back into the game and finished with a rush to draw level with 52 seconds left and then hit the front, by a point, for the first time in the game with 22 seconds remaining to record a miracle, brave, gutsy, heart-stopping win! This team simply refused to believe that it could not win and somehow found a way to do that.
The Grand Final was a magnificent effort. Up by a point at half time, against a skilful and determined opponent in St Pauls, they re-grouped and came out to play disciplined, determined team football in the second half to record a 5 goal win and achieve a thoroughly deserved premiership.
It really was a fairytale end to the season. The really pleasing part was that all 21 boys contributed to the win – at some point, each of them did something to help the team and contribute to the win. As was spoken about before the game, each of them “seized the moment” and played their part in the win.
During the course of the season, we were well served by our:
Backs: Christian Gaerndts, Liam Kenny, Marcus White, Michael Benvenuto, Callum Charlton, Josh Snowsill, Tom Goldsmith, Jake Mongey
Centres/Onballers: Will Bullock, Chris Perkins, Oscar Buscombe, Austin Parker, Max Hanna, Huntar Pace, Hamish Styring
Forwards: Tim Syme, Michael Garbelotto, Tom Maginness, Louis McAsey, Ben Marron, Anakin Williams.
Our team was also incredibly fortunate to have a cohesive, committed and talented group of people to support them off-field and I would really like to thank Mario Snowsill, Murray Bullock, Miranda Marron and Mil Hanna for their contributions. In particular, we had 2 calm and wonderful Team Managers in Adam White and Brendan Kenny and 2 dedicated and supportive Assistant Coaches – the wizard of the white board, Pat Maginness, and the heartbeat of the team, Marty Charlton. I would sincerely like to thank all of them for their efforts and support.
I would also like to thank all our parents, family and friends who supported the boys, in fantastic numbers, over the course of the season. One of the memories that will remain with me was the unbridled joy of not just the boys, but also our parents, grandparents, family and friends after the Semi-Final and Grand Final wins.
The last words go to the boys – from a personal perspective, it has been a pleasure and an honour to coach, and get to know, this group of boys over the past 2 years. The really exciting thing is the upside in this team. They have played a total of 16 games together and they can develop into a great team, and should really look forward to season 2015.
A final congratulations to the boys on their Premiership season – a great and enjoyable year that we will all remember – the lows, the highs, but most of all the incredible achievement and success of a wonderful group of 12 and 13 year old boys.