Undefeated Southern Districts take out 2010 Centenary Cup


Special thanks must go to Wollongong Council for their generous decision to reopen the fields and also to the hard work put in by Andrew Park and the Balgownie Soccer Club to ensure the grounds were playable in just two hours.  We all thank you.
After finally getting underway around 11.00am in the Plate Semi Finals it was Canterbury defeating a very plucky Western Branch 3-2 in a thriller.  Western Branch is to be commended on their fine effort to reach the Plate semis in this top class tournament.  In the 2nd semi final it was Ku Ring Gai that was successful against Nepean 2-0 and the stage was set for a Centenary Plate Final between Canterbury and Ku Ring Gai.
The Plate Final opened with Canterbury displaying outstanding football and racing to a 2-0 lead very early and with the opportunity to be the first Canterbury team to add to the Trophy Cabinet in many years, they were not to be denied and Ku Ring Gai, who had displayed such talent throughout this tournament, were racked by injuries and could not hold a rampaging Canterbury team who had raced to a 6-0 lead before Ku Ring Gai grabbed two late goals before Canterbury finished it off with another and eventually won 7-2 which was a great result for Canterbury but far from a true reflection of the talent and courage shown by Ku Ring Gai throughout the tournament.
The Cup semi finals were now decided and with three undefeated teams in Southern Districts, Gladesville-Hornsby and Sutherland with the outstanding Granville side, the stage was set.
The Centenary Cup Semi Finals were now ready to go and we saw Sutherland up against their old nemesis Southern Districts.  These two associations always produce top class matches and today?s was no exception.  Southern Districts drew first blood early and the match was always in the balance with either team a chance, however in the 2nd half it was again Southern Districts to score and put the match to bed.  In the 2nd semi final we had another outstanding match between Gladesville-Hornsby and Granville and it was the boys from Gladesville who struck first and like the first semi, the match see-sawed back and forth before Gladesville-Hornsby put away their 2nd goal to grab a 2-0 win and a berth in the Centenary Cup Final against Southern Districts.
Well, here we are, finally on a late Friday afternoon, three and a half days after it all began, two undefeated teams, Southern Districts v Gladesville-Hornsby, Southern Conference v Northern Conference, South-Western suburbs v North-Western suburbs all the ingredients for a massive game and nobody who had ventured south to Balgownie were to be disappointed.
The match began brilliantly with both sides showing why they had made the final without dropping a point.  The excellence of the football was only matched by the excellent standard of refereeing and it was obvious to all that only a breakaway, a mistake or a slice of luck was to separate these teams.  That time came when Southern Districts Stefan Pupovac stepped up to a free-kick some 30 metres from goal and let loose with a flyer which, unfortunately, the Gladesville-Hornsby defense let bounce inside the Penalty Area and it took a huge awkward bounce and left everyone stranded as it nestled deep into the back of the net.   One-nil!!
With both ?keepers proving to be the rock on which these teams were surviving as both Southern Districts and Gladesville-Hornsby relentlessly attacked each other with outstanding skill and determination from players of such a young age, it was Southern Districts again that created an opportunity from the edge of the box and with crisp and decisive passing the ball was finally laid on to Jack Mamo and he drilled an unstoppable goal into the top of the net.  Two nil and we all began to think all the excitement was over and the match had been won.
Cruelly, it was luck again which tested the resolve of the Gladesville-Hornsby lads when a speculator high into the box  appeared to have the Southern Districts ?keeper beaten only to bounce off the top of the cross bar.  With just ten minutes to go if this had slipped under the bar, anything may have happened.  Undaunted, the Gladesville-Hornsby boys continued to attack and with just two minutes remaining, were awarded a free kick well outside the box and it was Jackson Bandiera who stepped up to the mark and powered a massive shot which thumped into the netting and set the pace for a frantic final two minutes.
Despite Gladesville-Hornsby throwing everything at Southern Districts, that elusive equalizer just would not come and in fact, Southern Districts then hit the post twice in this time before the referee stood rigid in the middle of the park, called full time and the Centenary Cup for 2010 had gone to Southern Districts for the second time in the past three years and for the second time in a row for their Coach, Danny Grant who had also coached the Southern Districts team to victory in 2008.
This win in the Centenary Cup also gives this Southern Districts team the rare double as they also won the Grade 11 2009 Frank Broughton Cup.
The match ball for  Most Valuable Player was awarded to the dynamic defender from Southern Districts Joseph (Joey) Castagnella.
Firstly many, many thank you?s to Andrew Park (this man is a legend) and his fantastic committee and volunteers from the Balgownie Soccer Club, this is the 2nd oldest club in the Country and when you see these people in operation, you can see why it is still thriving.  Zoran Jovanovski and the IJFA, particularly Zoran on the final day when all seemed lost.  Stephen McCappion and the excellent panel of very good young referees and the assessors who ensured the event went off with the professionalism it deserved.
Wollongong City Council for their assistance in ensuring the tournament was completed on Friday after such unexpected and damaging storms on Thursday afternoon.
Thank you to Kim for all her assistance leading up to and during the tournament and also to Football NSW General Manager Mr Ian Holmes who, despite a very busy schedule, found the time to acknowledge the elite standing of this prestigious tournament by his presence over two days and during the presentations.  His assistance with Wollongong Council at a very crucial stage was also very handy.
Larry Grant
Competitions Manager