Western Pride players, officials, coaches and support staff are banding together at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex to help the Ipswich club avoid state league relegation.
Western Pride players, officials, coaches and support staff are banding together at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex to help the Ipswich club avoid state league relegation.

Football club's united fight to avoid relegation

"JOIN the Fight''.

It's a simple but timely call to arms motto the Western Pride senior men's football team is adopting as they battle for state league survival.

With a round of FFA Cup matches being played this weekend, Pride's top side players have a chance to reflect and refocus.

Pride were to tackle the Gold Coast Knights away on Friday night before the match was delayed due to teams still involved in the annual national knockout competition.

Pride will have to play that game at a future date, along with another catch-up match with Olympic.

However, head coach Terry Kirkham welcomes the short break for his players before they devote all their energy to retaining Pride's rightful place in the 2020 National Premier Leagues competition.

"Like everyone the boys need to get some time off as well,'' Kirkham said.

With 13 matches left for Pride to climb off the bottom of the table, Kirkham has been working seven days a week searching for the right players.

"We've got a new motto around the club now and it's called 'Join the Fight','' Kirkham said.

He's keen to unify the loyal players and attract new footballers willing to accept a state league challenge.

Kirkham's latest signing is striker Mustafi Jafari from Moreton Bay.

Jafari is a much-needed goal-scoring addition with Mitch Bird leaving the club and vice-captain Nielen Brown dealing with a quad injury likely to sideline him for 5-6 weeks.



New Western Pride head coach Terry Kirkham.
Western Pride head coach Terry Kirkham. Rob Williams

Pride's 2017 NPL grand final-winning goalkeeper Max Davison is also back guarding the net having played in the past two matches against Brisbane City and Brisbane Roar Youth.

"He went well,'' Kirkham said of the gritty custodian who has fought back gamely from a serious injury.

"A lot of the boys need to improve in various areas and he's one of them. And he's taken on board what he needs to do.''

Pride's second keeper Griffin Bambach is still on the roster having served the team with plenty of commitment this season.

Another former Pride player returning is Gabby Hawash, who was a regular during the team's two most successful seasons in 2017 and last year.

Hawash joined the Strikers at the start of this season before accepting Kirkham's invitation to return.

Kirkham is also encouraged by how midfielder Killian Flavin has settled into the side in recent games.

"He was probably our best on ground against Roar (last weekend),'' the coach said.

With captain Cam Crestani back training after arthroscopic surgery on his knee, Kirkham sees a chance for Pride to gain some valuable stability and momentum.

Centre back Jacob Minett has been working hard as acting captain.

Kirkham's focus is now on attracting more players keen to work with the loyal Pride footballers who possess the right attitude of wanting to help the team while improving their football.

"We're going to have a very busy period and we don't have a lot of time with catch-up games,'' Kirkham said.

At his seventh club in 18 years, Kirkham knows what it takes to rally in tough times.

"I've been in this position and I've seen it all before,'' he said.

"In the second half of the season, you bring some new players in . . . and we've gone and won some games and all of a sudden you get some momentum and you get to the last game and you get out of relegation.''

State of play

NPL: Friday night's Western Pride match against the Gold Coast Knights has been rescheduled due to a round of FFA Cup games.

Pride's next scheduled game is in Mackay against the Crusaders on June 1.