BEST MATES: Gympie Cats premiership coach and acting captain/best-on-ground Scott Stiefler have capped off a remarkable first year together.
BEST MATES: Gympie Cats premiership coach and acting captain/best-on-ground Scott Stiefler have capped off a remarkable first year together. Josh Preston

How a band of 'misfits' became AFL champions

Gympie Cats belt out club song after winning AFL Wide Bay Premiership: The Gympie Cats belt out their club song after winning the 2018 AFL Wide Bay Premiership.
Gympie Cats belt out club song after winning AFL Wide Bay Premiership: The Gympie Cats belt out their club song after winning the 2018 AFL Wide Bay Premiership.

Aussie Rules: The Gympie Cats are premiers for season 2018!

What a year it has been.

Our year has had a number of obstacles along the journey. We had to overcome suspensions, injuries, travel and off-field controversy to get the job done on grand final day.

It was no easy road to victory and I strongly believe that was one of the key components of why we were victorious; the boys were not only physically conditioned for the occasion but more importantly they were mentally ready for the challenge.

Regardless of the weekly mud being thrown our way, our boys were not going to let this opportunity pass.

As coach, I've never been so proud of a group of men.

We were branded a band of misfits, a couple of battling teams that had a genuine dislike for each other. We were judged from a perception based on outside noise, a club that was never going to work, let alone win a premiership.

They were wrong.

It was an us against them mentality. We took the constant hits and relished in the challenge to keep fighting forward. 'Keep them coming', we would say, it's only going to make us stronger, tighter and more determined to win big games of football. Our drive was immense, our focus was intense, we had one goal in mind - to silence the critics.

And win the flag we did.

Our season is a remarkable story and worthy of a documentary based on unity and team success against the odds.

This one will be spoken about through time. The boys have taken nothing and turned it into something really special in the space of a year. Full credit to the lads, they deserve every bit of praise.

Every player contributed during the course of the year, it was a well-balanced effort from all the players involved.

Our leadership group of Lanze Magin, Scott Stiefler, Tim Ellingsen, Jack Cross, Jesse Lawrence and Bronzen Rowlands all stood up in the defining moments.

That to me shows character and ticker.

Our recruits gave us fantastic service throughout the year, Linton Congram was a huge asset in the ruck come finals time. An absolute war horse with a never say die attitude.

Other recruits in Hayden Graham, Beau Ridgway, Brad Forbes, Dylan Murray and Troy Cunningham all played a part in our team success. All having fantastic years.

Club men like Jordan Tucker, Tom Martin, Kimba Rowlands and Kade Kent all turned it up a notch when the time was needed with tough and strong moments on grand final day.

Liam Hennings plays his heart for every minute of every game. His effort is not underestimated inside our walls.

Dean Rawlins and Rob McLeod were brilliant. Two unsung heroes who are very important to our system and structures.

The speedsters of Daniel Hare and Chris Langfeldt were big improvers every week they put the guernseys on.

Jack Hayes, 17, and Henry Hamilton, 16, are now premiership players as school kids.

Those two boys were outstanding. I'm proud of what both of them were able to achieve.

Well done to all 22 men, who all played a part in our premiership success and a special mention to our suspended captain Lanze Magin.

We couldn't have done it without him.