NAMBUCCA schoolboys Taj Northfield and Will McKinney are only at base camp in their fledgling football careers – though they’ve already snagged a place in local history.
The youngsters were part of the North Coast Football Under 13 side which competed for the first time this season in the Northern NSW NPL Youth Competition.
Oh, and they won it too – besting the powerhouse Newcastle clubs along the way.
The journey to premiership glory included a 5-1 dismissal of the Emerging Jets in the semi-final and then a 3-nil shutout of Edgeworth Eagles in the decider.
This was the first year North Coast Football has contested the premier league youth comp across various ages, so the achievement of the new boys on the block is significant.
It’s also a fitting filip for the lads who have travelled to Coffs Harbour three times a week for training – plus the miles spent in the car every other week for the home and away season with Newcastle being the ‘away’.
The North Coast boys finished the regular season in third place before going into giant-killer mode in the finals.Taj, 12, a right wing and Macksville High product, and Will, 13, a right centre back and Nambucca Heads High School student – are no strangers, having both played the game locally since the age of five.
While participation in the premier league precludes players from turning out for their club, Will’s background is with the Nambucca Strikers while Taj has worn the bright red of Macksville as well as the Strikers colours.
In the grand final, Will admitted there were some butterflies.
“I was nervous and very excited, but when the whistle went I just focussed on the game,” he told the Guardian.
Taj: “I was just so happy to be there. We had the desire but we were also lucky to get there. Now I just want to work towards being successful in the years to come.”
And there’s no recliner chair for laurels for either lad in the off-season.
“We just have to keep working and improving on the little things,” Will said.