SPINE-TINGLING MOMENT: Past and present Western Pride players and supporters unite to celebrate the team's historic triumph in Ipswich this season.
SPINE-TINGLING MOMENT: Past and present Western Pride players and supporters unite to celebrate the team's historic triumph in Ipswich this season.

Thanks for making our city great

OPINION

HAVING just come up for air after another massive fortnight of winter grand finals, I have to say how thankful I am for all the support.

Ipswich is fortunate to have so many dedicated coaches, captains, officials, committee people and volunteers willing to help us at the QT deliver comprehensive and consistent sports coverage.

It works both ways as highlighted by the 83 hour week I put in before the Ipswich rugby league and hockey grand finals.

However, when you receive such tremendous feedback it makes the extra effort worthwhile.

The 20 page Rugby League Ipswich grand final program we produced was one of the best we've delivered, thanks to some colourful, well researched and locally relevant stories contributed by my incredible rugby league-mad colleague Joel Gould.

Between us, we managed to put the massive feature together in under 26 hours at the height of Ipswich's football fever.

Thanks to preparatory work by people like Brendon Lindsay, Katrina Brown and Rachel Williamson it was possible to somehow stitch it all together.

 

The Goodna Eagles raise their hands as victors after the A Grade final siren.
The Goodna Eagles raise their hands as victors after the A Grade final siren. David Nielsen

The response we received on grand final day was amazing, showing how important regional newspapers like the QT remain today.

As someone who gets out and about many weekends, I also tip my hat to key people in other tradition-rich sports like football, hockey and basketball.

The historic soccer success of Western Pride effectively triggered this year's memorable surge of grand final euphoria.

Seeing the Pride players deliver such a valuable result for the city was as satisfying as it gets.

Pride general manager Pat Boyle is as proud of Ipswich as anyone. The like-minded team of people around him deserve the highest praise for their commitment to the sport.

That was especially the case after Pride initially lost its National Premier League's Queensland women's licence for next season before the massive groundswell of support had that strange decision reversed.

Beating Moreton Bay United 2-1 in the thrilling men's state league grand final showcased why Western Pride is one of the region's most progressive sporting clubs.

While many Ipswich people will treasure the Ipswich Jets' 2015 state league rugby league victory in Brisbane, there's something special about winning on home soil.

To be out on the Briggs Road Sporting Complex field among thousands of elated fans was one of the most pleasing experiences in my 32 years covering sport for the QT.

If you didn't get a tingle down your spine after Pride's last-gasp victory that night, you must have been engaged in a winter hibernation.

The victory was also a reward for hard-working volunteers like Garry McKenzie and Darryl Kitching.

Across the fence at the Ipswich Hockey Complex, it was also thoroughly enjoyable in recent weeks being part of the annual junior and senior grand final days.

Ipswich's hockey fraternity are among the most helpful people you would hope to meet.

Led by president Margret Mantell and her committee, Ipswich hockey deserves a massive wrap for its efforts.

 

The skilful Wests' A grade hockey team celebrate winning the A Grade hockey grand final.
The skilful Wests' A grade hockey team celebrate winning the A Grade hockey grand final. Rob Williams

Regional coaching director Sam Spry is also a quality person to deal with, as are club coaches like Brent Nicholls, Megan Bool, Mark Eleison, Phil McLeod and Jamie Burns.

You are always made feel welcome at the hockey, something I appreciate.

A mixed emotion though came from watching long-serving Wests' player/coach Greg Walker just miss out on winning a deserved A Grade grand final. It's people like Walker, from a loyal Ipswich sporting family, that make this city so great.

Back to satisfying moments this winter season, and it was tremendous having the Goodna Sapphires claim the Queensland Premier League South East Queensland netball grand final.

While my hope was to see the Sapphires and Ipswich Flyers meet in the title decider, the Flyers can also be proud having reached the preliminary final this year.

Representatives from both netball centres were extremely helpful, especially captains Emilie McInally and Robyn Walsh.

 

THINKING AHEAD: Ipswich Force head coach Brad George guided his new-look team to another state league basketball playoff series.
THINKING AHEAD: Ipswich Force head coach Brad George guided his new-look team to another state league basketball playoff series. Sarah Marshall

Before the latest glut of grand finals, it was a delight working with so many other terrific people throughout the winter season, including Ipswich Force women's basketball head coach Brad George.

George is one of the many regional teachers who keep sport ticking along like clockwork. Most importantly, they are readily available to provide valuable information for stories.

In wrapping up, there's far too many people to mention individually in today's column.

However, it's timely to pause for a moment and say thanks to everyone who goes the extra mile for Ipswich sport and helps us at the QT share your highs and lows.

Now, who's ready to lead the way during summer sport?



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