A SOCCER player from Strabane has enjoyed a season to remember in Perth, Western Australia, where he has helped his team to an incredible league and cup double.
Brian Patterson and his Western Knights side sealed the All Flags State League Division One title on Saturday after a 3-1 victory over one of his former sides, Gosnells City, and earlier this season they overcame remarkable odds to win the State Cup.
“It was some achievement!,” beamed a delighted Patterson after his side clinched their second piece of silverware at the weekend.
Going into the season, the Knights were expected to challenge for the State League crown, alongside Forrestfield United and South West Phoenix, but not many would have given them a hope of winning the State Cup as well.
The State Cup is normally dominated by teams from the division above the Knights, the PS4 National Premier Leagues (NPL), which, theoretically is just one rung below the A-League.
As if attempting to win that title isn’t hard enough against semi-professional teams from a higher standard, the Knights were really up against it as they faced the then reigning NPL champions and 13-times cup winners, Perth SC, in the last eight, and the recently crowned NPL champions and McInerney Ford Top Four Cup winners, Bayswater City, away from home in the semi-finals, before coming up against Sorrento in the decider.
In the quarter-finals, Patterson and his fellow Knights defeated Ramon Falzon’s Perth side 3-1 at Nash Field, through goals from Jack Rycroft, skipper Paul Lloyd and Ben Coulter. They showed that wasn’t a flash in the pan in the last four when they came from behind, thanks to goals from Adriano Jelenovic and Lloyd, to oust Bayswater 2-1 at Finance 365 Stadium.
Those wins sent the Knights into the State Cup final at Inglewood United’s Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium, where they faced Perth Glory legend, Jamie Harnwell’s Sorrento, who were scoring for fun and riding high at the top of the NPL standings early in the campaign.
The Knights, though, showed their mettle and thanks to Jelenovic’s 69th minute goal they became the first non-NPL team to win the State Cup since 1991.
“To win the State Cup we had to beat three of the best teams in the NPL, which shows we’re good enough to compete at that level,” Patterson said.
“We seem to play better against the better teams, it suits us because you get more time on the ball. No-one gave us a chance at all because those teams were all in the top four this year, but we were confident enough and we don’t fear anyone.”
The Knights’ cup success earned them a historic place in the draw for the last-32 of the Australia-wide Westfield FFA Cup, which includes the big hitting A-League sides.
Unfortunately for Patterson and his team-mates, who were the first non-NPL team from Western Australia to qualify for that stage of the competition, they didn’t get a dream clash with Perth Glory or Melbourne City. However, they did get a tasty away tie against Gold Coast City, which sadly ended in a 3-1 defeat.
“That was some experience. We travelled to the other side of the country, it was on Fox Sports and while they were just too good on the day I think some of our younger guys were a bit overwhelmed by the whole experience,” he observed.
They soon recovered from that disappointment and have since claimed the State League title following Saturday’s victory over Gosnells. However, due to the Knights not having certain underage teams, their league success looks like it won’t result in promotion to the NPL because the club ‘does not meet the criteria set out at the start of the season’, according to the game’s governing body in Western Australia, Football West.
“I’m confident that if we were to get up we’d give it a good go but at the minute we might not get promoted,” explained Patterson, who feels more success will follow regardless of what level they play next term.
“The facilities are there, the pitch is good and we’ve shown we deserve to be there, but it’s out of our hands.
“The manager, Trim Morgan has done well to get the team together. We have a good blend of youth and experience and I don’t think we’re going to lose many players during the summer so we should be there or there abouts again next season,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, another Strabane man enjoying his soccer in Perth is Belmont Villa skipper, James McDaid, who had the honour of donning the Western Australian State Amateur team kit against touring Malaysian side, NPNG FC, recently.
Sadly, the game was abandoned due to poor weather with McDaid and the representative side winning 1-0.