The Cairns Post

Great eight sends Ward off a winner


WE all knew how good this Edge Hill United team was, but nobody – not even the Tigers’ coaching staff – had any idea of the eight-goal blitz which occurred on their biggest day of the year as they farewelled a pioneer and beloved club legend.

The Tigers were chasing their second treble in Premier Women’s history, their first since 2015, as well as the completion of an undefeated 2021 Premier League campaign.

And a perfect farewell for outgoing coach Jo Ward, an integral member of not only Edge Hill United’s women’s team but the club, and the wider football community, as she and her family prepare for a move to Ipswich.

While the yellow and black had the home-field advantage, they came up against the might of Brothers Townsville, a club which has dominated the NQ Premier League for years, and has set a high standard for just how successful a women’s program can be in regional Queensland.

Back-to-back Crad Evans winners in 2018-19, Brothers were the team Edge Hill United beat in the correspond­ing fixture last year, in Townsville, and this was a chance for the Brethren to gain some measure of revenge.

Brothers did travel without several key players due to injury and unavailabi­lity – that combinatio­n of reasons contribute­d to their grand final loss to MA Olympic a fortnight ago – but this Tigers team has been switched on since the first whistle in March, let alone Saturday.

So when the Tigers banged in eight outstandin­g goals – four via Siobhan Macken and two each for Shelley Macauley and young midfielder Louise Fowler – nobody quite knew how to react, though nothing could wipe the smile from Ward’s face as she presented every member with their winner’s medal, then received the silverware.

The game, which crowns the best club in North Queensland every year, was over as a contest by halftime when Edge Hill United led 4-0, thanks to three headed goals to Macken, plus a smart shot by Macauley.

“Incredible. The girls were amazing again, like they have been all year,” Ward said. “An incredible way to end the season. They really deserve it.

“You never expect that sort of scoreline and we didn’t know what to expect from Brothers.

“We know that they would come here and be physical and put it to us, and they did.

“The scoreline … we know we have plenty of goals in us,

but they pushed us, they made us work for it, but the girls were up for it.”

Jen Devine scored Brothers’ sole goal from a long free kick in the 72nd minute.

Brothers coach Steve McNaughton refused interview requests after fulltime.

Macken was phenomenal up front. She finished with four goals, and while she could have had more she chose to give her teammates their own chances.

Jo Whately was unlucky not to score, while Taryn Knight, who performed so well for the club’s reserves this year and was a late inclusion, had a handful of chances to bag her own.

But you simply can’t go past Macken’s quartet.

“She was amazing but the delivery from Lou from the corners, the delivery from the wingers, put it in the perfect spot and she rose to the challenge,” Ward said.

“Her headers are incredible, they always have been, but she made them count.

“She put them into the back of the net.”

For Ward, who is now the first woman to captain and coach Edge Hill United to the treble, it was the perfect farewell from the club which has been her second family and home for so long.

But even Ward, as she watched her team leave the

field bound for the dressing room for the last time, could not believe what her team accomplish­ed, and the manner in which the players did it.

“I’ll let it sink in over the next few days,” Ward said.

“I knew the girls had it in them, but I didn’t know they could put together a performanc­e like this – like they have every week.

“It’s amazing the concentrat­ion they have, the consistenc­y they have. I’ve never seen a team be so consistent in the bigger games. That’s just incredible. I feel amazing.

“I’m proud. I feel really privileged just to be part of it, and to finish on such a high as a coach … it’s a privilege.”

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 ?? ?? Edge Hill United celebrates winning the 2021 Crad Evans Shield at Tiger Park. Siobhan Macken (centre, left), Shelley Macauley (middle), and Louise Fowler (right) shared the Tigers’ eight goals between them. Picture: Emily Barker
Edge Hill United celebrates winning the 2021 Crad Evans Shield at Tiger Park. Siobhan Macken (centre, left), Shelley Macauley (middle), and Louise Fowler (right) shared the Tigers’ eight goals between them. Picture: Emily Barker

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