Several hundred players and supporters of the beautiful game made the long trek up to Lions Field in Pender Harbour, the only field on the Coast that remains playable rain or shine, to contest the first Sunshine Coast Men’s Soccer League year end tourney in three years. Thankfully, the weather defied predictions and the weekend was played in fine conditions while predicting the winner was just as difficult in a year with every team capable of beating any other when at their best.
The regular season’s runaway champions, Mr. Greenup, went in as a good bet only to fall in the opening match 1-3 to the ever-dangerous Chiefs. The Chiefs, with a slow start to the season due to COVID disruptions, made a late charge with the similarly surging Halfmoon Bay FC, only to see HMB beat them in the last game of the season to tie on points and take second place on head-to-head results. HMBFC made it a run of six wins in a row with a 2-1 victory over The Butchers in game two of the day.
Newly minted team Trashers looked to be the new threat to take it all, only to come up against a Mr. Greenup that had re-found their form resulting in a 4-2 Mr. Greenup win. That was before a fresh, young, and speedy Pender Harbour Bananas showed they were the surprise package of the weekend, outrunning a tired and banged up HMBFC in a big 5-2 win. Chiefs next showed that their long wait between games didn’t diminish their intent to take it all with a 2-0 result that knocked Trashers out of contention. Bananas followed up to stake their own claim as contender with a decisive 3-0 squashing that relegated The Butchers to the Beer Cup.
Sunday opened with a fast, intense, and tightly contested semi-final battle that saw Halfmoon Bay FC knock out the Chiefs, winning 4-3 in the only penalty kick shootout of the weekend after neither team could find the net in regular time.
The second semi also looked it could go to penalties but Bananas proved they were ripe and ready, winning 1-0 as Mr.Greenup slipped out of the tourney.
The coveted Best Of The Rest Beer Cup was up for grabs next and as it’s the only cup that comes cold, full, and ready to drink. The Trashers showed their thirst, bringing out their stars missing on Saturday, to trash the Butchers 3-1 to take it.
The Championship Final looked it was going to be another tight, low-scoring affair, with HMBFC countering their injuries and Bananas speed with rolling subs and veteran savvy until it finally paid off with a goal with 15 minutes remaining. Pender charged back with several close chances before HMB sealed it as the clock ran down, to take their first SCMLS Tourney Cup since 1999, sparking wild celebrations at ending their long years of drought, and capping a fantastic weekend of football by all.