On a hot Saturday afternoon, the West Panthers women’s side finally broke their Grand Final hoodoo, delivering a perfect send-off for Broken Hill soccer royalty George Bugeja.
The 1-0 victory was just desserts for a side that had dominated the regular season; their celebrations reflected this triumph.
The goal in the slender victory was a scrappy one. Jessica Cox, the team’s 50-goal star striker, bundled the ball over the line after a classic goalmouth scramble.
“We did this for George,” an elated West co-captain Jess Roberts told the media immediately following the match.
“St Joes were amazing today. They are always so hard to play against; it’s never an easy game against them, but it was great to be the better team on the day,” Ms Roberts continued.
Rebecca Deer dominated the midfield, leaving the St Joes players simply unable to handle her skill and physicality. Deer’s standout performance earned her both Player of the Finals and Best on Ground for the match.
“Bec always goes in hard. She is such a strong player, and she is usually rewarded for it,” the West captain said post-match.
For the outgoing legendary West coach, the win was the perfect way to bid farewell to the sport he loves.
“I am very pleased. It was a great game from both sides. We could have scored more than just 1-0; we peppered their goal for the first 15 minutes. We hit the crossbar; it went wide. We could have had six goals – but that’s the game,” Coach Bugeja said.
“The girls are overwhelmed. I don’t think I’ve seen a team so thrilled to win the premiership. We had a bit of a slump following the Knockout Cup, but we got over that and returned to where we should be,” he continued.
When asked to rank this win amongst the many premierships he had won over the years, Mr Bugeja smiled and said, “It was one of the good ones. I’ve had a lot of good memories over the years, but this is one of the good ones.”
It was the second trophy of the day for West. They also defeated St Joes 3-0 in the B Grade final. Harper Bronson stole the show, netting a Grand Final hat-trick, which included an audacious strike from halfway just before the halftime whistle, effectively killing off the match as a contest.
West 1 (Jessica Cox,1)
St Joes 0
West 3 (Harper Bronson,3)
St Joes 0