This year the mighty sevenths ended the season in 5th place – a competition results record of: 7 wins, 4 losses and 7 draws. The coach and players took the numbers 747 as an omen as they approached the finals. And the team really took full flight into each finals showdown as they accounted for Rovers, Tintenbar and Mullum/Brunswick on their way to the grand-final, which was played last Saturday at Dunoon against Ocean Shores. The casual observer couldn’t help but notice that the Dunoon population increased significantly on the day thanks to a huge contingent of loyal and vocal Ballina supporters. Special mention to Dan Minehan who mastered the art of playing the Viking horn!
Despite being minor premiers Ocean Shores had not beaten us during the regular season so our boys went in with a mixture of nerves and quiet confidence. The midday start on a hot day put extra pressure on Ballina as they faced a younger outfit. As expected the minor premiers, Ocean Shores showed their class by dominating the first twenty minutes of play. Despite not getting much ball the Ballina defence, lead by Captain Peter Lang, held true. Being unable to capitalise on their possession the Shores had to resort from shooting from well outside of the box and Ballina were unlucky to accidentally deflect one of these shots into their own net about fifteen minutes before the break.
However the sevenths showed their characteristic resilience as they gradually started to mount pressure on the Shores outfit before the half time break. Ballina created several scoring chances especially a well angled shot from John Black which just missed the near post. Ballina were also awarded a free kick outside of the Shores box, but our effort went astray. Reece Ryan and Adrian Leiper lobbed a few well delivered corners at that stage of the game but our strikers were unable to connect. The first half ended with Ballina a goal down with a hint of frustration, but showing promise.
However any ideas of a quick equaliser were dashed within the first minute or so of the second half as Ballina conceded a penalty after ‘keeper Brent McAlistair made a clumsy challenge on an approaching striker at the edge of the box. The Shores further capitalised on their lead a few minutes later with a nice goal from a cross into the box. At that stage the outcome looked like a forgone conclusion, and the Shores players slowed down the play looking like they had every expectation of lifting the trophy. But our Sevenths had other ideas, and they did what they have done all year, they rallied behind each other and scored their first goal following a goal mouth skirmish mid-way through the second half. Soon after Peter Lang took a sublime free kick from 35 metres out which left the Shores keeper without any chance. Suddenly the tempo of the game changed a few gears as Shores realised that Ballina were on the rampage! Our lads did themselves proud mounting several strong challenges, but against the play the Shores were awarded a free kick a few minutes before the final whistle, a long range shot which managed to drift into the net.
The Ballina team were gracious in defeat and they did their club, and home town, proud by showing such determination. It is difficult to single out any players as everyone had a go, but special mention should be given to Coach Todd Campbell who took the sevenths to within a whisker of claiming the premiership. Following the game the boys enjoyed a relaxing bus trip back to the home of our Sponsors, the Slipway Hotel, where they enjoyed team camaraderie and a well-deserved beverage, along with supporters and Club President Gary Bond. Thanks to everyone for a great year. There is always a winner and loser under these circumstances and the Ballina Sevenths displayed the hallmarks of teamwork and mateship to each other throughout the season.