IT’S been four years in the making, now Barnstoneworth United are the Orange District Football Association All Age A grade champions.
After emerging in the Western Premier League in 2012, the Barnies boys have been regulars in the ODFA top grade since the WPL disolved, featuring in three of the four finals series since 2013.
But never have they won a big-time game.
Now Mitch Jacobs’ side is a champion outfit, having knocked off favaourites Waratah FC in the big dance, 2-1 with young Max Drion firing home two cracking goals to secure the come-from-behind title win at Bernie Stedman Field.
“It’s huge for us,” Jacobs said.
“This will really give us some momentum leading into next year too. This is the furthest we’ve ever made it through the competition.
“We’ve made finals before but haven’t won anything. It’s massive.”
Jacobs said there’s a friendly rivalry developing between both his side and Waratah FC, a unit long considered the ODFA’s benchmark side after previously being one of the WPL’s best teams as well.
“I think if you’re not from Waratahs you definitely like to see them lose,” Jacobs laughed.
“We were definitely the underdogs. In the lead up, I think half the team believed we could win and the other half wasn’t so sure. That made it tough, but as the game wore on you could tell, I think we wanted it more.”
That self doubt would have been amplified by Justin Splitoff’s opening goal, nothing more than a cross that floated over the head of young keeper Joe Kay.
But Max Drion soon lifted his side a gear, finding the back of the net on two occasions before the Barnies’ defence held firm to secure the title.
His first winner from long range after a through ball from Jacobs a match highlight.
Jacobs said depth was the key to his side suceeding, with Saturday’s decider kicking off without three of their four best players in Luke Massotti, Sam Sutton and Niel Cummings being on the field.
While the ability of young stopper Kay putting early adversity behind him helped achieve the break-through win.
“Young Joey copped a bit of stick from the crowd after that first goal, so for a 15-year-old to regroup and play as well as he did, it’s great for him. It would have been a bit nerve racking,” Jacobs said.
“Duncan Logan was great as well. We had 16 players on the books this year which was a lot for us. Something like this will really be good for us leading into next season.”