September 3, 2018
Barambah and Wests have taken out this year’s local football premierships after both teams narrowly won Saturday’s Grand Finals.
Just one point separated the winners and runner-ups in this year’s Men’s and Women’s Division competitions, and the sizable crowd that turned out to watch them were treated to two tense games where there were no obvious favourites.
Both Grand Final matches had originally been scheduled for Wondai but they were moved to Kingaroy’s Tom Alford Oval last week after officials decided the cold, dry winter had left Wondai’s playing fields in poor shape to host this year’s event.
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In the Women’s Division clash between Panthers and Barambah that started the day, Barambah took the win 3-2 in a see-sawing game that saw Panthers dominate the first half and the Bears tear away to victory in the second.
The Bears drew the day’s first blood when Courtney Thompson shot a rocket into the back of the Panthers nets early in the match.
But the Panthers responded in a spectacular fashion soon afterwards when Karrie Ashby took a free kick from a position near the park’s half-way mark.
Her soaring shot – partly assisted by the windy conditions – sailed right down to the front of Barambah’s goal, then unexpectedly bounced over the keeper’s head and straight into the back of the net.
This brought the score to 1-all, where it stayed until Maxine Evans exploited a hole in the Bears defence 10 minutes later to sink another rocket for the big cats.
The Panthers 2-1 lead going into half time may have deflated the Bears but if it did, they refused to show it.
Coming back onto the park – and this time, playing with the wind at their backs – the Bears appeared to redouble their efforts.
They were rewarded for this soon afterwards when Taylah Berlin potted a shot past the Panthers’ goal keeper to secure their much-needed equaliser.
After that, it was on for young and old as both sides pounded one another’s defences and tried in vain to launch a successful attack on their opponent’s goal.
In the end, it was Courtney Thompson who secured the match for Barambah with a blistering missile right across the Panthers’ keeper’s head.
While Nanango tried desperately to equalise again, they were unable to improve their position before the final whistle sounded.
The win delighted the Bears, who had unsuccessfully faced off against the Panthers in the 2016 and 2017 Grand Finals, and left captain Elle Mollenhauer beaming.
But she paid a warm tribute to the Nanango side for a “really great game” that had forced the Bears to draw on all their reserves and dig deep to win.
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In the Men’s Division match that followed, Wests faced off against Barambah in a game that quickly turned into a mirror-image of the earlier one.
Barambah – once again – were first to score when Brendan Kelly found the back of Wests net seven minutes into the match.
But only a few minutes later, this feat was equalised by Wests after Steven Wheeler returned the favour.
And when Wests captain Thomas Carroll took a free kick a few minutes further in and sank a rocket into Barambah’s net with clinical precision, spectators who’d seen the earlier game could be forgiven for feeling a strong sense of deja vu.
However, it was not to be.
The Bears ramped up their efforts to dominate the park but were unable to cut through Wests’ defence, going into half time with the scoreline at 2-1.
The second half didn’t change things at all.
The Bears spent the remainder of the match launching furious attacks on Wests, while Wests spent the majority of their efforts defending their narrow lead.
This was so pronounced that most of the second half was played in Wests’ half of the park, with the reds only making an occasional sortie towards the Barambah goal.
So by full-time, the score remained locked at 2-1 and Wests deprived Barambah of adding a second 2018 Grand Final trophy to their case.
After the match, Wests captain Tom Carroll praised Barambah for overcoming many difficulties the side had faced during the season, while Barambah captain Pacey Clegg thanked Wests for an excellent game that had stretched his team about as far as they could go.
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The Junior Soccer competition also wound up on Saturday, with the top teams in the Under 12/13 and Cadet age groups battling it out for honours.
In the U12/13s, the Lowes Petroleum Barambah Bears defeated the Blacks Electrical Redbacks 3-1, with Player of the Final awarded to Danny Young from the Bears.
And in Cadets, the Conpak Earthmoving Redbacks defeated the Local Search Bears 3-2, with Player of the Final awarded to Harrison McLaughlin.
Many junior players from Kingaroy and Barambah will now go on to compete at the Joeys Mini World Cup which will be held at Hervey Bay on October 1 after running for the past eight years at Inverell.
They will be competing against players from Toowoomba, Hervey Bay, Bundaberg, the Southern Downs Football Academy, Maryborough and Coffs Harbour, as well as a team flying in from Frankfurt, Germany.
South Burnett players will also take part in an Open Women’s competition at this year’s Joeys.
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Summer Soccer Sixes – a social competition for players who like to stay fit in the off-season, as well as those who like to play football in a non-competitive environment – is expected to start on the second weekend in October.
The Summer Sixes usually run for seven or eight weeks until early December, then resume for a second mini-season after the Christmas-New Year break until the local competition resumes.
More details about playing times and venues are expected to be announced within a month.
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Football South Burnett will be holding a community meeting at Kingaroy’s Town Common Hall on Sunday, September 16, to discuss the future of football in the South Burnett.
The meeting will be facilitated by Football South West Queensland.
Football South Burnett president Troy Schultz said the meeting was open to anyone – players, coaches, referees or parents – who have ideas about future directions that junior and senior football could take.
He is hoping for a good roll-up and many positive suggestions about the local competition.
The meeting will get under way at 1:00pm