After a year packed with unforeseen twists and turns both off and on the pitch, the MWFA Premier League finally concludes this weekend.
Here is a final round special previewing all of the action throughout the PL, PL reserves and AL/1s divisions, headlined by two of the area’s traditional heavyweights battling it out on Cromer 1.
Premier League Grand Final: Brookvale (1st) vs Pittwater (2nd) – Cromer 1, 4pm
Reigning State Champions Brookvale will head into their final fixture of the season with confidence sky-high after a near-flawless two and a half months.
They take on a Pittwater side who were the competition’s early pacesetters, going undefeated until these two teams last met back in round 8.
A ten-man Brookvale’s 2-0 win at Grahams that afternoon proved to be an instrumental turning point in both side’s seasons.
Steven Riches’ side would then embark on a nine-match win-streak to seal the title with a round to spare, allowing them to rest some key players in last week’s 1-1 draw with Seaforth.
“This feeling around the camp is obviously really positive after finishing top of the league,” the Brookvale coach said.
“We’re all really looking forward to finishing off the season versus Pittwater.”
Riches, who stepped up to the plate as Brookvale boss ahead of the season restart earlier this year, has experienced his fair share of battles with Pittwater over the years.
“I played against them (Pitts) for the first time about 16 years ago,” he recalls.
“So I know pretty well what they do and will expect a very, very tough game as always.
“They’ve been in many Grand Finals and they know exactly what they need to do to win one.
“I’ve been on the good side and the bad side of their grand finals so they won’t be easy opponents, I know that.”
Brookvale have not won a MWFA Premier League grand final since these two sides met in a dramatic 2014 decider.
That day a brace from striker Justin Hayward inspired a 3-2 victory despite a red card to goalkeeper Luke Femia seeing veteran midfielder David Guzzo finish the match in between the sticks.
“There is probably a deeper motivation because we’ve recently fallen short of actually reaching the grand final,” Riches said.
“Yes we’ve won the league and gone on to the Champion of Champions but I think there’s a there’s a strong motivation to actually win the local final, because we haven’t been there for a few years.”
On the other hand, Adam Israel sees Saturday as the perfect opportunity for Pittwater to salvage some pride after a deflating conclusion to the 2020 season.
“We’re pretty disappointed especially considering where we were, five points clear at one point with not many games to go,” the Pittwater coach said.
“I think the loss to Brookie really took the wind out of our sails and we had a couple of disappointing draws from good positions as well.
“I feel, and I know the boys feel, that we were in a really strong position, it was in our hands, so to lose it from there was really disappointing.
“We’re looking at (the grand final) as an opportunity for a bit of redemption and to come away from something during what has been a really strange year.”
The experienced Pittwater coach also knows exactly what to expect from a club that he has fought against in search of silverware time and time again.
“They’re a very similar team and club to us, they’ve got super dangerous players everywhere,” he said.
“They know how to win, they play good football with a lot of pace.
“I think both teams on their day could probably tear each other apart so it is going to be up to who turns up on the day.
“I’m just expecting a good hit out, hopefully watching some nice football and enjoying a few beers in celebration of a long and strange season afterwards.”
AL/1s Grand Final: Forest Killarney (1st) vs Beacon Hill (2nd) – Melwood Oval, 4pm
The AL/1 competition’s two standout sides will meet on Saturday in what shapes to be a highly competitive decider.
Both sides finished the season with an identical record of only two draws and one loss.
Forest narrowly registered the best attacking and defensive records in the competition, scoring 39 goals and only conceding 9 in 13 matches.
Michael Vescio’s squad have also had the recent rub of the green against Beacon and will head into the final with plenty of confidence after late goal flurry saw them take all three points with a 3-0 win back in round ten.
Forest Killarney will be shooting for the ‘double double’ as their reserve grade side take on local rivals Wakehurst in the AL1/reserves grand final at 1pm.