Ipswich Grammar claim their first Uhlsport Cup in 15 years
LAST season Ipswich Grammar School's First XI did not win a game.
This season, they completed the GPS Premiership-Uhlsport Queensland Cup double with a comprehensive 4-0 win over Brisbane rivals St Laurence's College.
The team defeated Brisbane Grammar School 3-1 to take the GPS Premiership in June.
Thursday's result capped what has been a remarkable turnaround for the Ipswich school's football team, from easy-beats to dual champions inside 12 months.
With IGS director of football Andrew Catton also taking the coaching reigns this season, it would have been easy for him to take credit for transforming the team.
Instead, he simply facilitated the change. It was one led by the players, and Catton said they should be proud of themselves.
"The first time we got them together, I sat them all down and asked them what culture was in their eyes," the Western Pride coaching staff member said.
"They came up with a few different words or values they stood for, and I gave them ownership over it. From there they've bought into everything we've tried to achieve.
"From the first training session we told them pretty clearly what we expected of them.
"There's been a lot of transformations in the way they go about it.
"The boys have worked very hard, we've developed a really good culture amongst our group based around their effort and willingness to work for each other and their school.
"I knew whichever 16 players I put out there each week would get stuck in and do their best, and they did that once again (against St Laurence's College)."
With the bulk of last year's First XI retained, Catton enlisted the help of IGS football alums Joe Duckworth and Mark Fancourt to turn the school's football fortunes around.
It meant nothing was unknown to the squad of 26 entering this season, and that experience was another key reason for their success.
Now the bar has been set, Catton expects the players set to stay-on with the team next year to again lead the culture push.
"We're lucky that we have five or six lads in the squad that weren't in grade 12, so they've gotten to experience this," Catton said.
"Two of them were starters in key positions. They've picked up some valuable experience and we'll look forward to them stepping up as leaders next year."
Of this year's outgoing class, Catton labelled captain Alex Parsons "one of the best captains I've ever had". It is high praise from a coach who has spent more than a decade in top-tier coaching, including stints with two NPL clubs.
"His leadership and the way he leads by action, I can't speak highly enough of him as a young man, he's been exceptional," Catton said of the Western Pride-listed player.
"We play him as a striker but he can play anywhere across the front. He's a very impressive young man, and I think he has a future in the game if he keeps working hard.
"I know how desperately he wanted to win, and he scored two goals (in the 4-0 win). His last touch of the ball as an IGS player was a goal, and I know that meant a lot to him."
Catton also sounded out goalkeeper Nick Milner and youngster Will Orford as likely candidates for future football honours.
Milner, already impressing with the Brisbane Roar Academy, has also spent time with the New Zealand under 17 squad. Orford meanwhile flew out for Germany at the weekend to trial for a Bundesliga 2 club. The results, both on the park and off, provide a stunning endorsement of the IGS football program.
Ipswich Grammar First XI Squad1- Nicholas Milner 2- Benjamin Button 3- Benjamin Barratt 4- Jarrod Hyslop 5- Jamie Cameron 6 - Murray Thistlethwaite (VC) 7 - Jacob Advaney 8 - William Orford 9 - Alexander Parson (C) 10 - Guiliano Marconato 11 - Wilfred Kouakou 12 - Lucas Priaulx 13 - Aidan Norris 14 - Darren Barton 15 - Jackson Bray 16 - Ju-Ho Lee 17 - Griffin Trevett-Lyall 18 - Finley Smart 19 - Benjamin Piper 20 - Xavier Townsend 21 - Flyn Park 23 - Lewin Smart 24 - Cooper Nichols