Securing the IGA NPL NSW Mens 1 Grade 20s Premiership title is not an easy task.
And for the Grade 20s it is a rare find for a team to soar to the front of the pack.
As is the nature of the Grade 20s competition, very few points often separate the sides; a win can put you right near the top, a loss on the other side of the spectrum.
But for the Northern Beaches side, the story is quite different.
For the majority of the season, Manly United have battled between first and second position and for five successive rounds now, have led the pack.
Their solo goal against Sydney Olympic FC in round 20 did not merely seal the match, but rather sealed their season victory. With sixteen wins now to their record they are sitting on a notable 50 points, eight ahead of second place with two games to go.
They say experience is the key and maybe in some instances it is.
But as Manly United have stepped onto the field this year with one of the youngest squads in the competition, half the players able to qualify for the 18s side, they have proven that energy and tenacity can go a long way.
If the 2014 FIFA World Cup hasn’t proven it enough, the best football teams aren’t the ones that win games based on one player, but rather from the dynamic effort of all eleven players and in most cases, more.
Manly United have been one of the most complete teams in the competition, demonstrating a strong force across the entire park.
There is their side’s highest goal scorer and key attacking outlet, Dejan Pandurevic, with ten goals to his name.
There is the twin threat of Christopher Arditti in midfield and striker Thomas Morrissey, who combined have scored 10 goals.
There is the magnificent composure and poise of Aidan Hancock. His exceptional tackle against Bonnyrigg’s Delor Edosomwan that denied them a crucial goal in their match up in Round thirteen is one to be remembered.
There is goalkeeper and Tonu Liiband who has had a remarkable record in goals, conceding only fifteen in the season so far, the lowest in this seasons grade 20s competition.
And of course at the top, running the reigns is coach Louis Dimitropoulos, who has been heavily involved with the Manly club for eleven years now and had his debut for the Grade 20s side this year.
The proud coach himself always thought his side would come near the top.
“The team as a whole are very strong across the board and everyone has contributed in their own way.
“I was always confident that I had a good bunch of boys and some real talent”, Dimitropoulos said.
While the other sides battle it out in the final two rounds as they look for the remaining spots in the top five, Manly United can relish in the fact that their hard work and drive has pulled off.
But they won’t be putting away the football boots anytime soon as they still have the Championship title in their sights.
“Our main focus was to win the Premiership. The boys are now aiming on getting as many goals as possible in the final matches and then refocusing for the final series”, Dimitropoulos said.
And if their season so far is anything to go by, they are in dazzling form heading into the finals.
-By Anneliese Scenna