The Toowoomba Tigers U 12 side began the season, as did most teams, under a cloud of uncertainty over the numbers required to participate in the competition. Directives from AFL Darling Downs meant that as pre season training began each new arrival was greeted with great enthusiasm. The Tigers had performed reasonably well in 2015 falling one game short of a finals appearance, but having lost a number of players to the U14’s and to ‘retirement’ what would unfold on opening day was anyones guess. The Tigers had assembled 12 players when news cam through that the Chinchilla Suns would work with us to ensure players from both sides had a game week in week out.
So it was a tremendous sight to see 19 players assemble for the first game of the year against Highfields. What was even better to see was the style of footy the Tigers played in securing an emphatic win. This a season full of potential began. It did not take long for the 7 Chinchilla players to find their feet with the Tigers and the team gelled. The addition of quality players from the Suns strengthened the side and the Tigers looked a complete outfit.
A feature of the year was the closeness of the competition among the top four clubs. The Tigers had a wonderful battle with all games evenly contested and while we were beaten by University and Coolaroo we certainly were in each of these games well into the fourth quarter every time we met and indeed seemed to improve with each game.
A tremendous rivalry with the Dalby Swans developed over the course of the season with each side winning their respective home games. The final round saw us meet the Swans at Chinchilla and this proved to be a great day, with the Tigers winning to record a winning season consisting of 7 wins and 6 losses (all against Coolaroo and University).
The side deservedly finished in the top four and took on the Swans again in the Elimination Final. As had been the case all year with this encounter the game was close. Indeed Dalby came out the better and led the Tigers by a considerable amount at the end of the first quarter. However, the Tigers fought hard and began to slowly chip away at the end until, with the last kick of the game, Phil Donaldson put the footy between the posts and the Tigers scored a wonderful victory. The best game of the year by far. The Preliminary final was against Coolaroo and again the Tigers were right in the contest with only four points the difference with 8 minutes to play. Unfortunately the rub if the green eluded the Tigers and we bowed out of the competition one game shy of a Grand Final appearance. Still the game was a wonderful display of intense, hard footy, indicative of the quality players in the side.
So all in all a very enjoyable year, made possible by the dedication of the Chinchilla footy club and the thousands of kilometres they travelled over the course of the season, to ensure kids got a game. A wonderful support staff including Manager Tabitha, Chief runner Craig, Chief Supporter Heather and First Aid officer Jeff ensured the Tigers took the field in great shape. A real bonus for the season was the joining with he U14’s training and I know the U12’s benefitted tremendously from the increased competitiveness at training and from playing up in the U14’s. Never has an U 12 side been so tight and together and I thank Jeremy and the U14’s for their support. This great support was evidenced by the fact that most of the U14 players came to train with the U12’s during our finals campaign. Real club spirit shining through.
2016 will go down as a wonderfully successful year both on and off the field.
On to bigger and better things next year.