Western Pride players and supporters celebrate their 2017 NPL grand final victory at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
Western Pride players and supporters celebrate their 2017 NPL grand final victory at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.

See where Pride’s champion team is now: Terrific inspiration

OF the many motivational forces, past glory can often be one of the most powerful.

That's why Western Pride's current senior men's team will have plenty of added incentive in Saturday night's latest Football Queensland Premier League duel with Sunshine Coast.

It was three years ago this weekend when Western Pride players, coaches, officials and supporters savoured the club's historic first grand final triumph in the National Premier Leagues Queensland competition.

Euphoric scenes were savoured on that unforgettable night after goalscoring ace Dylan Wenzel-Halls broke the deadlock with a super free kick. His sensational strike, a move he had perfected for months before, secured Pride a 2-1 victory over Moreton Bay United.

Only seconds had remained in the match at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.

Western Pride's historic 2017 NPL grand final victory as reported in The Queensland Times.
Western Pride's historic 2017 NPL grand final victory as reported in The Queensland Times.

The incredible Pride performance ended a 31 year drought in one of the city's most historically important sports.

The last time an Ipswich representative soccer team won a major grand final was when Coalstars beat North Star 2-1 in the 1986 Brisbane Premier League grand final.

Preparing for Saturday night's encounter at the venue where history was made, current head coach Andrew Catton was happy to see that milestone remembered.

"I'm sure it will be at the back of some of the boys' minds,'' Catton said.

"It was unreal.''

Acting captain Nielen Brown was the only member of the 2017 side still in the senior team.

However, a number of former Pride juniors - like Aidan Norris and Jacob Advaney - are still at the club progressing their careers. They have also shared in past youth successes at the Ipswich club.

"Even the ones that weren't around (in 2017) are certainly very aware of what the club achieved, which was important,'' Catton said.

"It's something that drives us along to get the club back to where it was.

"It's important to acknowledge that history.''

Former Western Pride operations manager Dan Burnell has done a fantastic job compiling a list of where the 2017 champion team players, coaches and key personnel are now.

Burnell is one of the most professional and club-minded people in Ipswich football, qualities he displayed during his successful stint at Western Pride.

Pride's starting XI for the 2017 grand final

Max Davison (goalkeeper - no current club): He finished his Fire Technician apprenticeship and bought his first home in April this year. Davison and his partner are expecting a baby in January. He's been enjoying time off football to rehab knee and ankle injuries.

Hayden McHenery (right back - now with Peninsula Power): The New Zealand-bred footballer signed at Brisbane City in 2019 before joining Peninsula Power. He finishes uni at the end of 2020.

Cam Crestani (centre back - now Peninsula Power): The dependable defender stayed with Pride during 2019 when the side was relegated. He later signed with Peninsula.

Will McFarlane (centre back - now with Lambton Jaffas - NNSW NPL): Gold Coast-based McFarlane moved to northern NSW and signed at the Jaffas for 2019. The team came second that season, knocked out in the semi-final. McFarlane's plastering business is going well. His first home is being built this year.

Delors Tuyihime (left back - now with Eastern Suburbs): After playing for Pride in 2018, he joined Moreton Bay in 2019 for half a season before needing ankle surgery. He graduates with a Bachelor in Education (Secondary) next year.

Jesse Rigby (captain and defensive midfield - now Brisbane City captain): The 2017 grand-final-winning leader signed at Brisbane City the following year where he was named captain, a role he continues at the club despite the myriad of coaching changes.

Adam Endean (right midfield - now with Gold Coast Knights): He signed at the Gold Coast Knights in 2018 to play closer to home. The classy midfielder suffered serious injury, ruling him out for most of 2019. His rehab is complete and he's enjoying playing again.

Sam Fitzgerald (left midfield - now semi-pro in UK lower leagues): Fitzgerald returned home to the United Kingdom to reunite with his partner shortly after the 2017 grand final celebrations.

Joe Duckworth (attacking midfield - now with Brisbane Lions): The former Ipswich Grammar School student stayed with Pride in 2018 when the team finished third. He won Player of the Year and Players' Player that season. The spirited clubman joined Lions in 2018 where he shared in the team's success winning the NPL and making the semi-final before Lions lost the NPL National Finals grand final to Wollongong.

Mitch Bird (right striker - now with Eastern Suburbs): Bird left Pride midway through 2018 and signed at Peninsula Power, making the semi-final in the 2019 season. He moved to Easts this year and ruptured his ACL. Bird recently had surgery. He is still recovering. His landscaping business is going well.

Dylan Wenzel-Halls (left striker - now with Brisbane Roar): The Ipswich product signed a professional A-League contract at Brisbane Roar, which has since been extended. He was the leading goal scorer during his time in the National Premier Leagues competition.

Western Pride's incredible 2017 NPL grand final celebrations on a night that will be long remembered in Ipswich.
Western Pride's incredible 2017 NPL grand final celebrations on a night that will be long remembered in Ipswich.

Grand final bench

Kaykay Kamara (defender - now with Springvale Whites Eagles in Victoria NPL2): Kamara joined Nanawandie City FC in Melbourne in 2018, before linking in 2019 with Springvale Whites Eagles in Victoria. He currently coaches U13 boys in the NPL. Kamara is also completing his Bachelor of PhysEd and Sport Science at the Victorian University.

Gabby Hawash (midfield - defender, now with Redlands United): Hawash played in Pride's 2018 semi-final before signing briefly at Brisbane Strikers before returning to Pride midway through the 2019 season. He signed at Redlands this. Hawash recovered from a serious ankle injury. He is also assistant coach with former Pride player Jordan Manning at Redlands.

Jacob Minett (midfield - now Centenary Stormers): "Bulla" stayed with Pride during 2019 when the team was relegated. He launched his highly successful JBM 1on1 coaching business, assisted by 2017 grand final-winning teammates Alex Parsons, Adam Pengelly and Dylan Wenzel-Halls.

Dan Hall (midfield - now Central Coast Mariners in National Youth League): Hall headed to the Central Coast in 2018 where he currently captains the NYL side. He is close to winning an A-League team professional contract.

Jordan Lambi (striker - now with Centenary Stormers): The former West Moreton Anglican College student signed at Stormers in 2018. He graduated with a Masters in Dietetics Studies last year. Lambi is working in a private practise and trying to stay injury free.

Justin Weier (goalkeeper - now with Southside Eagles): He was part of Pride's 2018 first team before heading to Southside Eagles. He graduates this year with a Bachelor of Advanced Finanace and Economics.

Injured members of 2017 squad

Nielen Brown (midfielder - now stand-in Western Pride captain): Brown is the only player to have stayed on at Western Pride for all seasons since the 2017 grand final. He was recognised with a valuable leadership role in the current team.

Barasa Thomas-Remijo (striker - now with Springvale Whites Eagles in Victoria NPL 2): Thomas-Remijo stayed on with Pride for 2018 and part of 2019. He then signed with the NPL2 Victorian club. Football has cancelled in Melbourne due to COVID-19.

Extended NPL squad (U20 promoted players)

Salomon Lukonga (now with Redlands United): He stayed on with Pride for 2018 and 2019, before signing a first team contract for Redlands United this year. He continues making headway in the design and fashion world, as charitable as ever.

Andy Pengelly (now with Peninsula Power): The highly regarded footballer signed with Brisbane Strikers for 2019. He won the NPL Queensland Goloden Boot and played in the FFA Cup semi-final. He signed a pro contract in Singapore for 2020. Pengelly returned home due to COVID and signed for Peninsula Power.

Josh Wilson (now with Ipswich Knights): Wilson played in Pride's 2018 semi-final before signing at Brisbane Strikers last year. He attended the New Zealand national team camp for the U20 World Cup and resigned at Pride until the end of 2019. Wilson moved to the Knights this season.

Alex Parsons (now with Brisbane Roar NPL): The former Ipswich Grammar School student played in the 2018 semi-finals with Pride before the club was relegated last year. He signed at the Central Coast Mariners in 2020 on a National Youth League contract. He is at Brisbane Roar in the NPL squad.

Jordan Manning (Redlands United head coach): After sharing in Pride's second grand final win in 2018 with the club's under 18s, he graduated with a Bachelor of Exercise Sport Science. In 2019, he became head coach with the Brisbane Roar Academy U16s leading them to the grand final. The coach groomed by Pride mentor Graham Harvey was also an Athletic Development Coach with Brisbane Grammar. He began his Masters in Sports Coaching. This season, he is Head of High Performance with the Brisbane Roar Academy and head coach with Redlands United in the NPL. Manning is the youngest NPL head coach appointed in Australia.

Left before final

Harrison Sawyer (striker, departed for Asia - now with Gold Coast Knights): After his impressive mid-season goalscoring stint at Pride, Sawyer signed a pro contract in the Philippines, then Hong Kong. He returned to Australia to sign a pro contract at Victorian NPL powerhouse South Melbourne before returning to Queensland.

Geoff MacIntyre (striker, returned to New Zealand - now with FerryMead Bays FC in New Zealand Premier League): He returned home to New Zealand in the middle of the 2017 season for personal reasons, His team became Mainland Premier League champions at the same time Pride did.

Corey Lucas (defender, signed with Moreton Bay and played in grand final - no current club): Lucas relocated to the Brisbane north side and signed at Moreton Bay United, playing against Western Pride in the 2017 grand final. He signed at Ipswich Knights in 2019. Talented all-rounder Lucas is now focusing on his club and representative cricket.

2017 NPL grand final-winning Western Pride captain Jesse Rigby with football operations manager Dan Burnell. Picture: Chris Simpson
2017 NPL grand final-winning Western Pride captain Jesse Rigby with football operations manager Dan Burnell. Picture: Chris Simpson

The dedicated Pride staff

Graham Harvey (head coach - now Redlands United Technical Director): The club's most professional mentor left in mid-2018 to take up an assistant coaching role at Hong Kong Premier League club Eastern Lions. He also had a Chinese FA assistant coaching role with the U16 Girls national team. Harvey returned to Queensland in late 2019.

Danny McHenery (assistant coach - no current club): McHenery, father of former Pride defender Hayden, is enjoying time away from the game with family on Brisbane's north side.

Darryl Christensen (team manager - still Pride team manager): "Daz'' remains the heart and soul of Pride's management team, having been at Pride since the club's inaugural season in 2013.

Dan Burnell (assistant coach, operations manager - no current club): Burnell assisted Pride head coach Reg Davani in 2018. He left mid 2019 for a full-time football operations role at Mackay-based NPL club Magpies Crusaders United. Burnell is engaged with two young daughters and enjoying some family time.

Josh Counsel (goalkeeping coach - no current role): He relocated to the Bayside area to accept a school principal position. He assisted Redlands as goalkeeper coach in 2019. Counsel currently enjoys family time.

Krishneel Maharaj (Under-20 coach - no current role): Maharaj continues forging a wonderful brand as a performance psychologist, consultant and speaker in the private sector. He is performance psychologist for Fiji's team at the Tokyo Olympics. He moved to Indro, enjoying time away from football.

Jason Chung (physio - no current role): He has a private practise physio business in Ipswich.

Mark Pearson (assistant physio - no current role): Pearson continued his physio work at Pride in the senior program until the end of 2019 season. After finishing uni, he is now a full- time registered nurse in operating theatres.

Jacob Pearce (sports science, head of high performance - still with Western Pride FC): Pearce graduated with a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science. He is head of Sports Science for the Western Pride senior program and supervises university interns. He works as a personal trainer in Bundamba, currently studying Level 2 Sports and Science.

Mark Delaney (program assistant - now Football Queensland covering Gladstone and Rockhampton): He moved to Gladstone in 2018 and was appointed by Football Queensland to become the Central Queensland Technical Development Manager for the zone.

The electric scene was ignited early for Western Pride's historic 2017 NPL grand final victory at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
The electric scene was ignited early for Western Pride's historic 2017 NPL grand final victory at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.

For Saturday night's game, Catton was confident of retaining the same squad that upstaged Logan 1-0 last weekend.

Captain Adam Sawyer is out of his knee brace but still a couple of weeks from returning.

Griffin Trevall-Lyall is also injured with a broken bone in his foot.

Young gun Dylan Vit is another player being monitored.

"This week is pretty important for us,'' Catton said.

"After this week, we have some catch-up games and other things (including a looming midweek clash with Mitchelton).''

But Saturday's 6pm main encounter is a chance for the 2020 players to be inspired by past Western Pride deeds.

Pride's under-18 and under-20 sides play in the curtain-raisers from 2pm.


FQPL: Saturday (6pm) Western Pride v Sunshine Coast at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.