Common goal takes team to the top

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Meadowbank United’s first division men’s side is revelling in the glory of claiming its first ever South Canterbury Football League title. In a two-horse race between Meadowbank and Northern Hearts, the team from the south side of the Waitaki River came out on top after Hearts was unable to record the four-goal win it needed over West End to snatch the title from Meadowbank’s grasp.
Hearts could only manage a 1-1 draw at Aorangi Park in Timaru on Saturday, which saw Meadowbank secure the title by a two-point margin, much to the delight of Meadowbank stalwart and captain Darrell White. White, a centre back who is in his sixth season at Meadowbank, said it was a moment to savour.
“It’s amazing. Every year we’ve had a go at it, obviously, and probably been a bit too inconsistent. But this year the consistency’s been there … it’s a really good thing for Meadowbank.” He put the side’s success down to having a common goal.  “I guess just being a team. Everyone had the same goal and we all get on really well, just doing what we have to do, I guess.”
Meanwhile, coach Simon Willetts admitted to being a little on edge on Saturday as he waited for the final result between Hearts and West End. “I was pretty nervous, actually. There was a couple of guys who went up and watched the game, so they gave me the odd text. I was pretty rapt overall.
“The guys have committed well and their work rates are really high, which is really good. We’ve taken on a new field structure and the guys had a wee bit of doubt about it to start with, but I asked them to stick with it and they have.” He said the team’s ability to find the back of the net this season, which Willetts believed had been an issue for Meadowbank in seasons prior, also contributed greatly to their title win. When asked who he felt had stood out during the side’s campaign, he was reluctant to name names. “I think we’ve done well across the board. I hate picking out players _ but across the board we really played well.” Willetts praised White for his “level-headed and calm approach”, Sullivan Martin for his goal-scoring ability and young players Caleb Roberts, Tom Prestidge and Paul Holmes for their efforts. “It’s a big team effort and we couldn’t have done it without each player.”
While it is league champion, he said Meadowbank would not be presented with the silverware until after the conclusion of the South Canterbury Cup, which begins in a few weeks. However, the team will get together and reflect on their success this week. “We’re looking forward to this Saturday. We’ll get together and have a bit of a celebration.”