Pre-season prediction: First
Position: Second (13 wins, 3 losses, +39 goal difference). Won grand final.
In short: They set the standard over the first half of the season – and when it mattered the most, Yoogali Soccer Club was back at its best, taking a hard-fought grand final win over arch-rivals Hanwood FC.
What went right: At their best, Yoogali SC were near-unstoppable, with an uncompromising defence, resourceful midfield and the best finisher in the league up front. They made their intentions clear early on, then delivered the goods when it mattered – on the last day of the season, when the champions are crowned.
What went wrong: YSC appeared to lose their killer touch in the second half of the season, losing the minor premiership to Hanwood in amongst some pretty iffy results. Fortunately, whatever the problem was, it was fixed come grand final day.
Best win: There were plenty of big ones but nobody in the YSC family will be forgetting the grand final anytime soon. On a proud day which saw the club win three trophies, for sheer emotion, the 1-0 victory over Hanwood was the pick of the lot.
Worst loss: YSC were outplayed in the major semi-final, losing 2-0 to HFC only a couple of weeks after surrendering the minor premiership to them. It is to their credit they were able to recover in time for the big one.
Best player: Derek McKechnie, brought to the club from Scotland in the summer, had a dream debut season for YSC and kept the champions ticking over nicely in midfield all year long. He was justifiably recognised for his efforts with the GDFA’s best and fairest award.
Leading goalscorer: It is unlikely we will ever see another season quite like Dane Ballard’s first in Griffith. Scottish striker was a bonafide goal machine, easily winning the GDFA golden boot with an incredible 33 goals. Sure, most of them came against the competition’s worst teams – but he also scored the winning goal in the grand final. He also undoubtably produced the goalscoring celebration of the year by whipping a Kit-Kat out of his sock against Yenda.
Moving forward: Yoogali SC is yet to confirm if Ballard and McKechnie will be back next year. They’re both capable of playing at a higher level, but it would be a loss for the club – and the competition – if they don’t return. Regardless, it’s hard to imagine YSC won’t be right up there again.
Grade: A. Difficult to find faults in a season like the one just gone. Yoogali SC are deserved champions.