A DAY that started in disappointment ended in triumph for new Baxter head coach Kevin “Squizzy” Taylor on Saturday.
In a classic David and Goliath tale State 4 Baxter defeated VPL1 Langwarrin in a dramatic finale to the 2024 Steve Wallace Cup at Lawton Park.
Baxter became the fifth club to lift the trophy that commemorates a local football legend and the lowest ranked club to do so.
But a half-hour before the 1pm start to the annual event Taylor could be heard bellowing his disapproval over the dressing room arrangement.
“Bloody ridiculous!” he roared as he paced up and down inside the Langwarrin clubrooms.
“Two clubs sharing the same dressing room with 40 bloody players and coaches crammed in there when the biggest room in the joint is bloody empty.”
Clearly the Baxter gaffer wasn’t a happy man.
But fast forward just over six hours later and nothing could wipe the smile from Taylor’s face as Alistair Wallace presented Baxter with the spoils of an historic victory.
By now Taylor was in a conciliatory mood and was quick to thank organisers and hosts.
“Despite my frustrations early in the day, all credit to Tanya (Wallace), Alistair, James Bretnall (Langwarrin president) and all involved at Langwarrin for putting together a great day, which is essentially the showpiece of football in the local area,” Taylor said.
“I’m absolutely delighted for the squad in picking up a piece of silverware this early in the season.
“We have only had three full sessions and they have very quickly taken on board some of the principles we want to instil.
“Our workrate in very trying conditions was second to none and the lads reaped the rewards.”
In the Cup final Baxter drew first blood when former Langwarrin striker Liam Baxter used his body well to hold off a defender.
That allowed Dylan Murchie to pick up the loose ball and cut in from the left before curling a right-foot shot into the far corner of goal.
As expected Langy dominated possession especially in the second half as a tiring Baxter managed to hold the home side at bay.
Langy should have made more of set-piece opportunities but Archie Macphee, Charlie Fry and Luke Adams couldn’t capitalise.
That was until Adams headed home from a Tom Youngs corner.
The match finished at 1-1 and penalties decided the issue.
Baxter keeper Jarrod Nardino saved attempts from Rogan George and Youngs while Tom Hawkins, Brodie Taylor, Daniel Taylor and guest player Josh Hine scored for Baxter who won the shootout 4-3.
The Steve Wallace Plate was run concurrently with the Cup and Somerville Eagles, the highest-ranked Football Victoria team, proved too good for the opposition.
Mark Larner’s men won their Group B qualifying games in style beating Mount Eliza 4-0 and Langwarrin Bayside 6-0.
They faced Rosebud in the final after the ‘Buds won a bizarre penalty shootout against Seaford United and Mount Martha who had drawn all their Group A qualifying games 0-0.
Both Somerville and Rosebud looked leg-weary from the get-go in muggy conditions and the Eagles came close in the first half but failed to make their chances count.
Somerville again looked threatening in the second period but it took an error from Rosebud keeper Kai Robinson to help break the deadlock.
The youngster miscontrolled a back pass allowing Corey Riddle to tap the ball into an empty net and make it 1-0.
Somerville’s continued pressure was rewarded when a Conor Mcfall free-kick was headed home at the back post by Tom Simmons to clinch the 2-0 victory.
The day drew a huge audience and all credit to Langwarrin for conducting an open draw in both the Cup and Plate.
That decision appeared to energise the annual tournament and it’s expected that other clubs will again be invited to host the event in coming years.
In State 2 news Skye United is on the lookout for a new senior assistant after Peter Natsis resigned to take up a similar role at VPL1 outfit Kingston City.
Natsis had been at Skye for the past two seasons.
“I’ve left Skye United with a heavy heart but I’ve been given an opportunity at Kingston to work with Peter Tsolakis and Con Tangalakis,” Natsis said.
Skye drew 0-0 last Thursday night against Casey Comets at Comets Stadium.
The local club also announced a $10,000 sponsorship agreement with Eview Real Estate.
Skye president Daren Jones and vice-president Stuart Lawrence were presented with a cheque on behalf of the company from Cameron McCullough.
In State 4 Chelsea beat Boronia 2-0 at Esther Park in Mooroolbark on Saturday.
English striker James Stinson scored both goals.
The former Sunderland youth striker and defender Jake Ross are the first signings of the Gus Macleod era at Chelsea.
Stinson played for English Universities in the 2017 Home Nations tournament in Scotland.
He arrived in Melbourne in September 2022 but injury sidelined him last season.
“I was looking for clubs in the south-east bayside area as I’m hoping to settle down there,” he said.
“I messaged a few clubs and Chelsea was proactive and got back in touch straight away and I went to training and really enjoyed it.”
In State 5 news Rosebud has released its pre-season fixtures with all of its friendlies at its Olympic Park headquarters.
Here is Rosebud’s schedule:
Friday 26 January, v. Docklands Athletic, Olympic Park 7.30pm
Wednesday 7 February, v. Chelsea, Olympic Park 7pm
Saturday 10 February, Australia Cup
Friday 6 February, v. Lyndale United, Olympic Park, 6pm & 8pm
Friday 1 March, v. West Point, Olympic Park, 6pm & 8pm
Here are some upcoming friendlies:
Tuesday 23 January: Mount Martha v. Old Peninsula, Civic Reserve, 7pm.
Wednesday 24 January: Baxter v. Peninsula Strikers, Baxter Park, 6.45pm; Frankston Pines v. Chelsea, Monterey Reserve, 6pm & 8pm.
Thursday 25 January: Langwarrin v. Boroondara-Carey Eagles, Lawton Park, seniors & U23s, 7:30pm; Seaford Utd v Skye reserves, North Seaford Reserve, 7.30pm.
Friday 26 January: Rosebud v. Docklands Athletic, Olympic Park 7.30pm
Saturday 27 January: Skye Utd v. Monash Villareal, Argyle Reserve, 1pm & 3pm.