Pride 'as strong as ever' despite state league setback
AFTER enduring this season's "emotional rollercoaster'', Western Pride general manager Pat Boyle was standing strong.
He was ready to fight on knowing that Western Pride's male and female junior football programs were in excellent shape despite Saturday night's massive disappointment.
After seven years in the National Premier Leagues Queensland competition, the Western Pride men's team was relegated for the first time after battling gamely to draw 1-1 with FFA Cup national competition quarter-finalists Brisbane Strikers.
Although the Pride team preserved their unbeaten record at Perry Park, it wasn't enough to lift them into the safety of 12th place on this year's state league table.
A second string Brisbane Roar Youth team briefly gave Pride hope in the later game, equalising against Mackay Crusaders at Bundamba.
But the 1-1 draw in that encounter shattered Pride's hopes of being guaranteed a spot in next year's NPL competition. The enormous effort of the 2017 NPL grand final champions was over.
"This club has given me some wonderful, wonderful times and will continue to in the future,'' Boyle said, reflecting the resilience in the Ipswich club.
"I received a lot of messages during the week from all different parts of the community saying 'typical Pride were not giving up'.
"The team went right down to the last game whereas teams from other entities would have curled their toes up halfway through the year.''
After going 1-0 up against the Strikers, the outlook was positive for Pride.
Despite the Strikers netting an equaliser before halftime, the Pride players fought relentlessly until the final whistle.
A massive contingent of club supporters of all ages attended the final game of the season.
"In terms of the pride in Pride, you could never question it,'' Boyle said.
"We as a group are so proud of all the boys, all the staff, all the kids that came out and supported the men's team. It was just unbelievable.''
With head coach Terry Kirkham confirming his decision to leave the club, Boyle said Pride had begun its search for a new mentor to guide the team in next year's Queensland Premier League competition.
"The biggest key now is we just focus on getting straight back up there,'' Boyle said.
"Our junior program is flying along nicely and the kids are developing as footballers very nicely, both on and off the field.
"The future of the club, both male and female, is in very good hands, so we just aim to keep improving.''