March 28, 2019
The Barambah Bears received a mauling from Nanango’s Panthers in the first round of this year’s local football competition when it kicked off last Saturday.
The two sides met at the Wondai Soccer Fields for separate Men’s and Women’s Division competitions.
The women’s sides launched the season, and the honour of drawing the first blood fell to the Panthers when veteran Raegan Campbell sank a rocket into the Bears’ nets six minutes into the match.
After this, spectators watched an arm-wrestle until slightly more than mid-way through the half, when Campbell found a second hole in the Bears’ defence and potted her second of the day.
This could have given Panthers a commanding 2-nil lead by the break, but Sarah Kemp struck back for the Bears just before the whistle to set the scoreline at 2-1.
In the second half, it was Panther Alex Psarros who struck first, finding the back of the Bears’ nets two minutes after play resumed.
Her effort was followed by Raegan Campbell nine minutes later, and then by team mate Jo Downie a few minutes after that.
But the lady Bears refused to let their heads drop, and Sarah Kemp showed fine form when she sank a second goal for the northern side not long afterwards to bring the final scoreline to 5-2.
In the Men’s Division match that followed, the broad pattern of the women’s match was repeated with a few variations.
This time, it was Barambah who drew first blood when Nathaniel Cerezo found the back of the Panthers’ nets 14 minutes into the match.
This gave the Bears a lift, and it lasted two-thirds the way through the half until Panther Harry Sterling repaid the compliment, then repeated his effort six minutes later.
This gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead going into half time, the same as the earlier game.
In the second half, though, things were much tighter, with the Bears successfully blocking every assault from the southerners and the Panthers refusing to allow their opponents to break through their defences, either.
This stalemate lasted right through to the last third of the second half, when Panther Damien Copas finally found a hole in the Bears’ line-up and shot a bullet past the goal keeper.
Sadly for the Bears, they had no response to make before the final whistle sounded.
In Kingaroy, home sides Wests and Gunners faced off for the first time this season and for spectators who packed the terrace seating, the overall pace of things was slower.
In the Women’s Division, Wests and the Gunnettes appeared to be very evenly matched.
In 90 minutes, neither side managed to find their opponent’s goal in a game that produced a nil-all draw despite some spirited playing from both teams.
Given that Gunnettes came within a whisker of playing in last year’s Grand Final after several years’ cellar dwelling below Wests, the result is probably heartening for both sides.
For Gunnettes, it should give the purples confidence the skills they showed in the latter part of last season are still there to call on, and could propel them up the ladder if they maintain discipline.
And for Wests, the day has shown they retain the ability to fend off the biggest improvers in last year’s Division … just add persistence and practice.
In the Men’s Division match that followed, Wests got the glory of the first Tom Alford Oval goal this season when veteran Thomas Carroll shot a screamer past Gunners’ goal keeper just three minutes into the match.
His effort gave the Gunners a shock and the red-and-blacks a lift, and this lasted until near the end of the first half when Gunner Adrian Watt found the back of Wests’ net, then repeated the feat seven minutes later.
This put the score at 2-1 in Gunners’ favour going into the half-time break, and that’s where it stayed.
In the second half both sides ramped up their defences, but failed to pierce their opponent’s lineup despite many attempts.
As with the Women’s teams, the day’s play seemed to indicate both sides are pretty evenly matched at the moment, and this is something each team can draw heart from.
The real test will come this weekend when Gunners and Wests face the northern and southern teams, respectively.
Both the Bears and Panthers have much different playing styles, and both field formidable squads.
After taking out the Toowoomba Football League’s premiership in 2018, the South Burnett will not be fielding a team in the competition this year.
Sources told southburnett.com.au the decision had been made after a number of last year’s South Burnett United players decided to pull out in 2019 due to family or work commitments.
In addition to a rigorous training schedule, the TFL competition had involved extensive travel.
The local competition, by contrast, demanded a lower time commitment.
And after a year of travelling to far-flung parks in the Brisbane Valley, Darling Downs and Western Downs, the appeal of playing on local fields was too strong for some to resist.
The removal of so many players to the TFL had led to last year’s 2nd Division being axed, so there were early hopes that one positive spin-off of pulling out of the TFL was that it could be revived.
But sadly, this dream appears not to have materialised … for this year, at least.
While some teams had sufficient numbers to put together a 2nd Division squad, not all of them did.
And rather than subject one team to the discipline of playing both 2nd and 1st Division games on match day – and spectators to the dismal football that is an inevitable result – the idea has been set aside for the time being.
A gala dinner to celebrate 40 years of South Burnett football will be held at Kingaroy Town Hall on Saturday, April 6.
The South Burnett’s regional football competition began in 1979 as an all-male affair, with teams representing Kingaroy East, Kingaroy West, Nanango and Wondai.
It was joined by women’s teams in 1980, and has continued in an almost unbroken fashion ever since.
The dinner is being organised by veterans of those early years, but anyone with an interest in the game is very welcome to come along.
The evening will kick off with a “Meet and Greet” in the Town Hall forecourt at 5:00pm, with free drinks and canapes.
This will be followed with a sumptuous buffet dinner, dessert and coffee prepared by JC Catering along with entertainment from local band Risa, and a cash bar will be operating all night as well.
Organisers promise they’ll have some interesting history about football that was being played in parts of the region shortly after WWII, and the first-ever broadcast of a six-a-side Grand Final in 1977.
Tickets for the reunion dinner are $65 per head and can be booked online.
On the reunion weekend, four games will be played on Sunday at Tom Alford Oval in Kingaroy at 9:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm and 3:00pm.
Barambah v Nanango
Wests v Gunners
At Tom Alford Oval, Kingaroy: Wests v Nanango
At Wondai Soccer Fields: Barambah v Gunners