31 years on, Ipswich eyes historic grand final feat
WHEN reliable Western Pride defender Will McFarlane takes to the Ipswich field tonight, he'll have some added encouragement ringing in his ears.
Apart from being in a focused team, McFarlane has some wise words from his father Alan to urge him on.
"Dad was so composed,'' Will, 22, said preparing for the NPL state league grand final against Moreton Bay United.
"He said to believe in yourself and play with your teammates and good things will come.''
Older Ipswich football fans who have seen Will play for Pride would probably have noticed similarities in his attitude, work ethic and approach to his father.
Alan, who was also a centre back, played for Coalstars when the last Ipswich-based team won a major grand final.
That was in 1986 when Coalstars beat North Star 2-1 in the Brisbane Premier League decider.
During Al's 10 years at Coalstars, he became club captain and was one of Ipswich's most dependable defenders on his way to being named Bill Bookman Cup Player of the Year in 1990, 1992 and 1995.
The 1986 grand final win at Perry Park was a fantastic moment in Ipswich football history.
Al is delighted his son has a similar opportunity to savour the experience, this time at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
Although based at the Gold Coast and president of the Coomera Soccer Club, Al was pleased with Will's development since joining Western Pride last season.
"He's had a really good year,'' the proud dad said.
"There's a lot of driving and dedication from the Gold Coast but it was the right move.''
Three decades after his dad's grand final milestone, Will is approaching his first senior grand final with confidence but plenty of respect for Moreton Bay United.
"It's been a pretty consistent season so far,'' Will said, having played 21 matches for the Ipswich club.
"We've been getting a lot of clean sheets and the boys have really come together.''
That included last weekend's memorable 3-0 semi-final win over Gold Coast at Palm Beach.
Pride's regular backline of McFarlane, Cam Crestani, Hayden Mchenery and Delors Tuyishime have been rock solid in the second half of the season, providing a terrific platform for the team's speed men up front.
Will said having a player like former Roar footballer Cam Crestani alongside him provided additional experience and "brought that little bit of extra professionalism and leadership to the group''.
That also frees up Pride's fleet-footed wide defenders Mchenery and Tuyishime to make attacking runs.
Will grew up on the Gold Coast. His twin brother Thady plays right fullback for Coomera in the Gold Coast Premier League competition.
That provides some McFarlane family challenges getting to watch the boys play football at weekends.
But Will appreciates all the support he receives, especially having been coached by his dad during his junior years.
"My parents come and watch every game,'' he said.
Under the watchful eye of astute head coach Graham Harvey, the Pride players have maintained a calm and collected approach gaining more valuable experience in the state league competition.
"Graham's got us just to be patient and our chances will come,'' Will said.
"We don't need to rush because we have that confidence in our ability.''
That's why it's business as usual for Will and his skilful team-mates heading into the grand final.
"It's going to be very exciting but you don't want to change too much in the process because we've been doing so well,'' he said.
And having been a successful footballer with strong Ipswich ties, Al wished the whole Pride team well tonight.
"To achieve what they have achieved, at the age they are, is absolutely brilliant,'' Al said.
"When I grew up, I think the average age of grand final teams was high 20s. The game's changed a little bit but to their credit, the boys are playing some really good football.''