Harry Dorrough had never coached a football team prior to 2017; but on Sunday, his fresh-faced group of third graders will line up in a do or die semi-final and have pledged not to go down without a fight.
After a consistent season, Dorrough’s Third Grade Mens side, which consists almost exclusively of first-year players, have earned their chance to compete for the ultimate prize. Despite only sneaking into the finals in 6th spot, this is not a side to be underestimated.
The closeness of this outfit is their major strength according to their gaffer, who was unsure of what to expect heading into this season.
“We are a lot closer than most teams. We go out together, we encourage each other to get to training and we make sure that everyone keeps their heads up when we take to the field together.”
“I didn’t expect anything really. I didn’t know much heading in and I didn’t know many of the boys either, so it was a new experience for me as well especially being so young. Where we’ve ended up is pretty impressive and it’s a major credit to the players.”
The Stags will face Lithgow Thistles on Sunday in a sudden death semi-final, and their 19-year-old coach is confident the quality of his midfield will inspire a win for the students.
“The three in the midfield, Jacob Tuxford, Russell Homer and Tom Murray are probably the best in the competition at holding the ball up, passing and getting the ball where it needs to go. Everyone has played well – especially Phil Tuilau at the back and strikers Jack Rindo, Alex Kuhnel and Darius Benzy.”
“Going into the game, we will win it by frustrating their midfield, holding the ball, keeping possession and not allowing them to settle on the ball.”
The Stags have faced Thistles twice already this season, winning one and losing one in the process. Most recently, they recorded a 4-3 victory away from home – a win from which they will take confidence heading into this must win clash.
Their achievements are all that much more impressive considering Dorrough, who was a member of the Second-Grade Red side that fell just short of a grand final appearance last season, has never coached before. He believes that those who are hesitant in taking on the mantle, should dive in and give it a shot.
“Give it a go. It’s hard but it’s rewarding. You really go out and give it your all, when you try your hardest it’s the best thing for you.”
Dorrough’s men will play for their lives at Proctor Park on Sunday against Lithgow Thistles. Kickoff is scheduled for 11am.