MICHAEL Sparks admitted he never expected to be lifting the trophy at the end of the Blowes Clothing Cup season.
On Saturday, the Orange City captain shared the trophy-lifting moment with Josh Maley, who started the season as the Lions captain before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the first game.
When Orange City downed Dubbo Kangaroos 30-16 in Saturday’s grand final, it capped off an undefeated season for the Lions.
“It’s fantastic. The looks on the boys’ faces, it means everything to them,” Sparks said.
“We’ve worked hard for it all year. It’s a great reward for a hard year.
“Undefeated season. We definitely exceeded our expectations going through undefeated. We knew we had a good side but to go through undefeated and win a grand final at home, that’s as good as it can get.”
The captain said it was the passion of the playing squad which helped them to the first grade title - the first the club has seen since 1993.
“There was a lot of desire there from the boys. It just meant so much to a lot of guys,” he said.
“A lot of the guys have been here through the tough years. There were some lean years here at City and we’ve had this youth come through from the juniors. They brought that winning culture with them.
“A great mix of youth and experience here at the moment and it’s really blended well and it’s turned into a terrific season.”
Sparks said to go through the year without a loss was a testament to the team’s efforts on and off the field.
“It’s a great reward for the boys to be undefeated, the best team all season and come away with the grand final win at home, with second grade winning as well,” he said.