Small school players kick a big goal
By GREG WHITE
THEIR town may be just a small dot on the map now the highway has shifted west but the youngsters from Raleigh Public School have made a big noise across New South Wales.
With more than 100 schools across the state eliminated, it was down to Raleigh, Iona Primary and Bedgerebong in the finals of the Small Schools State Football Knockout.
The Raiders had already made a clean sweep of their North Coast engagements.
A 9-1 win over Eungai in the opening round was followed by a 7-0 romp against Harwood Island.
Eureka was a tougher test but Raleigh came home 2-1 victors, putting them into the three-cornered showdown at Moorebank Sports Complex at Hammondville.
After a desperate semi-final tussle with Iona, the Raiders clinched a memorable title win against Bedgerebong in the grand final.
"They are a fantastic little team," school principal and team manager Geoff Lean said proudly.
"We took away a squad of 18, with five girls included, and after a really tough semi they won the final.
"Our pride in them is enormous, especially when you remember many other schools have elite sporting programs.
"But we have these wonderful little players in our favour."
When the Coffs Coast Advocate paid a visit to inspect the spoils of victory, the Raleigh Raiders were still buzzing with excitement.
Team members Kale Teece, Joss Guyer, Elizabeth Spears and Jemara Imrie wrote an account of their adventures with coach Barry Paff and the support team, and instead of our writers telling the tale, it's over to you, kids.
"We woke at 6.30 and went down for breakfast ... a healthy meal, ready for the big day.
"First game against Iona and all pumped and ready, captain Kale (Teece) led us onto the pitch.
"Just before half-time Kale took a free kick which curled under the keeper's arm, then Jack Rann slid in and tapped the ball in the goal.
"Iona kicked back for 1-1 and we were worried because they were champions and winning on corners, but nobody had given up hope.
"Jemara Imrie passed off Kale who gave Patrice Jutzi a through ball which he easily put in the net for 2-1 to Raleigh.
"Everyone was exhausted as we walked off to shower and relax for our next game, which was not as hard.
"We scored three goals by half-time but were suddenly caught by surprise when Bedgerebong scored after the break...then again for 3-2. "The match ended and we walked down for the presentation. "Our captain went up to take the trophy and called out the players names.
"Then we travelled home!"