There is a part of me that, even down by 5 points with time out on the clock, felt certain we would win. And there is a part of me, right now, that still can't quite believe we have actually done it!
First off, I want to send my commiserations and honest, heartfelt gratitude to Thrushy and everyone involved with the Wests Scarborough Premier Grade team. Losing a Grand Final is a very difficult emotional rollercoaster, one we experienced in 2021. I really hope you are proud of what you have achieved this year, and thank you for bringing everything you could on Grand Final day.
A massive thank you to RugbyWA Community. Simon Taylor, Jason Marrable, Michael Lordan and everyone involved with the running of the competition this year, and for your efforts in organising all the logistics on Saturday.
I want to raise a glass to Pally President Justin Petersen, VP Damien Wilson, Carl Greenwood and the entire committee at Pally. A huge part of our success this year is due to the fact we have an ambitious, energetic committee that has given me the tools to build the rugby program at Palmyra. Justin has put up countless requests from me to put in place policies, procedures and structures that raise the standards of the club and he has followed through on all of them. I also know how central he was to the Grand Final bid and organisation, so I want to thank him again for crafting what was certainly one of the greatest days in the club's history.
To Jordan, Coops, Kyle and all the RugbyWA Referees this year, thank you for your service to the game. We couldn't do any of this without you. I think we can agree I have got my sideline sprays down to a respectable level now?
I have to extend thanks also to Simon Cron, Hodgo, Chris Goodman and everyone who engages with Club rugby at the Western Force. Crono, you told me you have an "open door" policy with Premier Grade coaches and you have absolutely followed through with that. The outreach from the Force to community coaches and the opportunities for learning has never been greater, so thank you. Lets hope we can see more club players graduate from Premier Grade into Super Rugby.
To Praveena Natasha Pradeep, Layla Wright, Maddi Gallagher and Heather Marie. Thank you for taking care of us this year. Seeing those blue shirts trot onto the field when a player was in distress made us all feel safe. And thank you for tolerating me when I was less than kind with you in the heat of a game. The hug afterwards always calmed me down. I really appreciate you guys.
The Pally Faithful, the Palmy Army, the best supporters group in WA rugby. Thank you for your EXTREMELY patient (32 YEARS!) support. The Siddons Family, the Smirk brothers, Macca and so many more. We aren't lacking for characters on the sidelines.
To Steve Benson, the best manager I have ever had. Thank you for your total devotion to this team. Thank you for picking up chairs off the Cott Golf Course. Thank you for getting the Gatorade mix just right. Thank you for 24 team lists, 127 tries recorded and for all the little touches of class you added along the way. You were a huge reason we won this year.
To my fellow coaches. Chris Heiberg, thank you for all the work you have put in over the past few years. You laid the foundation for our success with your insane attention to detail and genuine care and concern for the forwards. Colin, you added a touch of class, variety and subtlety this year to our group. I also want to mention Jack Lloyd, who put the building blocks for this in place many years ago.
But I want to extend an especially large thank you to Daniel Whiston. An absolute class act, you've embraced not only the coaching at Palmyra but the club as a whole. You've been an intelligent, calm, crucial addition to this club. We genuinely could not have done this without you. Thank you for always speaking your mind, even when it disagreed with mine. I loved working with you this year.
Paula, I know how much time together you sacrificed and how much extra work you did this year. We did this together. I love you.
And I want to recognise Ash, Tenecia, Corey, Natasha, Emma and all the PallyWAGs who give us the freedom to chase an oval ball a few times a week.
Finally, to the players. I said to you at the beginning of the year, I thought you are a special group. Turns out we were right. You are the first Premier Grade champions from Palmyra Rugby Club in 32 years! The first time we played in the new home jersey, I challenged you guys to put your own mark on the club, to put some history into that new shirt. You certainly did that. I want to thank Sabastian Siataga and Tyron Law for leading the team this year with intelligence and energy. I want to thank Taya Brownie, Jack Grooby, Kilipati Lea, Rewita Biddle , Lenny Valleyé, James Little and Rhys Morgan for trusting us to follow their rugby dreams a long way from home. And to our former Pally juniors, guys like Leighton Short, Piersen Kennington, Jackson Pugh. How cool is it to know that at 7AM on a Saturday there is a 4 year old running around at Tompkins who one day will lift that Shield above his head, now that you guys have shown the path.
I know there were times I was demanding, and you probably copped a serve or two you didn't really deserve. But the scary thing is......you guys, the club, us ....we are just getting started.
Thank you for trusting me with some of the best years of your life. I hope Saturday, and what you guys have achieved, is a memory you cherish for a long time.
5 minutes into extra time, at home, the crowd going wild. And a 21 year old kid coming off double hip surgery, who started the year in 3rd grade, kicks the winning points to win the clubs first Premiership since 1991.
What's more Pally than that?