There’s only one place this Sunday where you’ll find a bunch of good looking boys at their athletic peak running around in short shorts and knee-high socks…
That’s right, it’s the NEAFL Grand Final week and our local boys at the Southport Sharks Football Club have done us all proud by earning themselves a home game at Frankhauser Reserve, Southport.
The Club has come a long way since finishing 9th in last year’s competition, with a new coaching team largely to credit for the turn around.
Jarrod Field, the General Manager of Football Operations at the Club, encouraged any locals with a free Sunday afternoon to come support the team, stating that the game holds a lot of pressure for the boys coming into draft season, with a larger scale audience at the venue as well as online through the live stream.
So without further ado, let’s meet some of the team…
The Team Captain “Bozzo” assured us that they’re feeling confident for Sunday (and not only in our ability to spot that signature moustache all the way from the spectator seats).
For Boston, the most rewarding thing about being Captain this year has been “coming from where we were last year, and now being in the Grand Final. It’s obviously a great feeling to be in the dumps and now all of a sudden getting the rewards… and hopefully we will on Sunday.”
After playing the last 2 years for Sydney University, Manteit is new this year to the Southport Sharks, and he’s excited to play in the Grand Final with them.
As a team we’ve been working on our pressure and our tackling. As an individual, I’m just trying to perform consistently, contribute to the team as a leader, and trying to direct the younger players in the group.
- Michael Manteit
According to Manteit, the final training sessions in the lead up to the big day (or “dress rehearsal before the last dance” as he calls it) has been pretty standard to other weeks. They’re feeling confident coming back from a 37-point win against Aspley last week, and are focusing on just playing good football.
Cadbury says “there’s a glass and a half of full cream milk in everyone”. Well there’s definitely no shortage of “full cream Wilk” on the playing field, with Wilkinson scoring an impressive total of 33 goals throughout the season.
Wilkinson, who plays in the forward line, said that the team has built a strong mindset this year, which may be what has set them apart from other teams.
We didn’t have a dramatically better team [than previous years], but we’re stronger in the mind and stronger off the field which led to better performance on the field.
- Tom Wilkinson
Wilkinson expects the biggest challenge this Sunday will be in competing against an AFL side. “We’ve played AFL sides during the year and beaten them. The way we play shouldn’t change… we don’t want to be intimidated by them,” he said.
It’s the first senior Grand Final for Filewood, who was bumped up to the senior list at the beginning of last year right before undergoing a knee reconstruction.
It was a pretty devastating time. It was hard. I didn’t think I was even going to get back this year, because I’ve had a few setbacks with getting back too quickly. So I was in doubt about getting into Southport this year… But I got my chance late in the season up in Darwin to play with the sharks. I made the most of it.
- Cody Filewood
Filewood reckons that the biggest challenge on Sunday will be not overthinking the game. “Obviously the intensity is going to be through the roof. But if we do all the basics right, the rest will take care of itself.”
Jumping back into NEAFL level football after living abroad for 2 years was a massive achievement for “Reevesy”, and he feels lucky to have played with Southport every game this season.
He stated that the Club’s atmosphere is one that motivates the team to be their best, with a family culture that transitions into the way they interact on the field.
There’s a good feeling amongst the group this week at training and in the Club. We’re all excited to go in and play a Grand Final obviously, but we’re also excited to be doing it with our best mates.
- Ethan Reeves
He anticipates that Sunday will be a "4-quarter battle", but is confident that the right mindset will see them finish on top.
The Southport Sharks will face off against the Sydney Swans in the first ever home Grand Final this Sunday, 1pm at Frankhauser Reserve, Southport.
Good luck to the whole team! We’re looking forward to hearing the victory song when the full-time siren rings…
Photos: TJ Yelds (neafl.com.au)