JUST two seasons ago, Griffith City’s under 17s were as far away as possible from a grand final berth, earning just a single point for their efforts.
Now they face the defending premiers Hanwood FC in the decider on Sunday, with coach Craig Brooker backing the young side to take the fight to the title holders.
“We think it’s going to be very tight, Hanwood are a quality team and they have already beaten us once this year so they know they can do it and all of the other games have been very close,” Brooker said.
“And really it will come down to who grabs their chances better, because if how close the competition has been this year is any indication, we’ll have to really earn it.
“Half of the side aren’t 17 yet, I’ve got 14, 15, and 16-year-olds but I don’t think that will affect them, they’re pretty confident on the back of having a pretty good season.”
Hanwood FC have not taken the easy route to get through to the biggest game of the year, with a heart-stopping golden-goal win against Wests Soccer Club last round giving the boys in blue and white a chance to defend their title.
Because of the extra miles in their legs in the last fortnight, Hanwood’s Jason Bertacco said he and fellow coach Ryan Pastro will taper off their side’s preparation.
“We’re going to try and keep the week pretty much normal as possible, the boys have had two extra time games in the finals so they’ve done it the hard way,” Bertacco said.
“We probably played better in the first semi than we did last week, but luck fell our way and we hung in there when Wests peppered us.
“And that was probably the biggest positive for us to come out of last week, that we stayed strong defensively.
“So we’ll have a light week on the track, and we have a few injured boys at the moment so the final team is undecided but we have some boys from the club’s premiership winning under 15s ready to step up if we need them as they have been doing all year.”
A big weapon for Griffith City will be 2012 golden boot winner Pat Rose, however the side will be without defender Fletcher Josling who will line up for the Griffith Swans under 17s in their Riverina Football League grand final at the same time on Sunday.