By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
SAWTELL Scorpions under 17s boys coach Greg Kenny firmly believed that his team from the small North Coast town was capable of becoming State champions during a moment reflection yesterday.
"To be honest I probably always knew that they were up to that level," the victorious coach said.
"Right through the under 10s, 11s, 12s, 13, 14s this team was winning the competition and were minor premiers but didn't participate in the Champion of Champions."
It was the knowledge of how good his young charges were and the thought that the team could create something special that drove Kenny to set the State championship as a goal for his team.
"It was about three-quarters of the way through this season when I thought the idea of winning the Champion of Champions was a realistic goal," Kenny explained.
"I was putting it out there for the boys that I didn't expect them to just get the minor premiership or to just win the grand final.
"It was a target that the team had a good chance of reaching."
Fact is, it was a game against the Orara Valley Dingoes at the start of August that convinced Kenny that his suspicions were in fact genuine.
Played at the International Stadium, the Scorpions put on a display that showed this team was second to none.
"Orara were coming third at the time and we had a draw against them in the first round," he added.
"Looking back it was probably the best game we played all year.
"To be perfectly honest it was a hard fought, close game but the guys put on a special performance to win 6-0."
Defeating last year's State champions AC United 5-1 in the opening round this year and then the strong Epping YMCA in the semi's only reinforced the team's and Kenny's resolve for the title.
"After the semi, the guys that we talked to from the other team said that we'd beaten the two best teams in the competition and that we were a good chance of winning it," the coach recalled.
"The team we played in the final said that they 'came here thinking that they'd win it'.
"They thought that they were playing against a country team and that they were a big city team who were head and shoulders above the rest."
Going into the sheds at half time trailing 2-0, the Arncliffe Aurora suddenly realised what Greg Kenny had known all along.
This team was more than just a group of footballing cowboys from the country.
The Sawtell Scorpions were a well drilled, skilful and enthusiastic side worthy of the title they now so proudly hold: 'State Champions'.