Lions roar on finals weekend

Centrals Centrals Reserves

By Trevor Jackson

GAMBIER Centrals Soccer Club took the game to another level on the weekend, claiming five of the eight premierships up for grabs in the Steeline Cup.

In fact, the Lions contested seven of the eight grand finals across all grades, an impressive effort overall.

The club claimed the men’s Senior and Reserves titles, along with the Under 13 girls, Under 16 girls and Under 12 boys titles.

The performance was not lost on long-time club member and president Shane Dycer.

Firstly he said the Steeline Cup is an important part of the season, despite now presenting as a pre-season competition.

“The cup itself has been around for a long time and Steeline sponsor it now,” Dycer said.

“It used to be played throughout the season with the final at the end of the season or mid-season.

“Now it is played at the start of the season so we have two separate competitions, which is our cup comp and our premiership comp.

“It has been around for probably 40 years, so it is fantastic to win it.”

As for the individual team performances, Dycer said it was just a great day for the club.

“It is the first time for a little while we have captured the senior men’s and reserves titles the same year, which was great,” he said.

“We are rapt with that.

“You are only as good as your reserves and we have been down around the third or fourth mark in our reserves the last couple of years.

“When we have had the injuries in the firsts we have struggled in the finals because we haven’t had the depth.

“Right now I believe we have half a dozen guys in the seconds who would play for any team in the league in the first 14.

“That is a credit to the coaches – we have fantastic numbers and the club has worked hard to attract and retain players.

“Our Under 12s continued on with the cup win and after a season off due to COVID last year, I think that makes it about six in a row, which is a great effort from all those different kids.

“It is the inaugural Steeline Cup for the women’s and girls competitions with the amalgamated league, so it was good to win the Under 16 and Under 13 girls titles.

“We were runner-up in the senior women’s final – we led at half time and went down in a close one against United.

“We also lost the Under 14 boys final – Blue Lake was a little bit too strong after our guys were 2-0 up at half time.”

Dycer suggested while International had been the benchmark in the senior men’s competition for many years, historically Centrals had performed well across the grades.

He said looking back to 2005 before the women’s competition, it was another solid performance.

“In 2005 we were in four cup finals and won four when there was no women’s competition,” Dycer said.

“Winning five over the weekend is a new benchmark, but now there are eight to win.”

Those extra women’s games add much to the club, with solid performances to stand alone.

“Our women’s and girls’ program has been ridiculously performed,” Dycer said.

“This is our fifth year in the competition with the girls and our senior women have won two of the four titles and lost the other two grand finals.

“Our Under 16 girls have been similar and our Under 13 girls, which only started last year, tied for that title and have been dominant so far this year.

“It is a great growth for our club and our region.”

As expected, on Sunday night the whole club celebrated.

Dycer said the celebrations increased when it was announced a government grant had been approved.

“We received $192,000 in the state round of grants to improve our change rooms and our unisex girls’ facilities, which topped off a great night,” he said.

Steeline Cup results – Men: Senior men – Centrals 5 d International 2 ; Reserves – Centrals 2 d Apollo 1; Under 17 – Blue Lake 3 d Apollo 2; Under 14 – Blue Lake 4 d Centrals 2; Under 12 – Centrals 4 d International 2.

Women: Senior women – United d Centrals 4-2; Under 16 – Centrals d International 4-0; Under 13 – Centrals 10 d International -1.