Club legend hopes to end finals drought

BY ALEX TIGANI

Can the Singleton Strikers end one of football’s longest finals droughts?

As we enter the most climatic fortnight of Northern League One history, there is every chance the Strikers may just book a spot in their first finals series since 2004.

Life was different back then.

The Socceroos had only appeared in one FIFA World Cup by then, the A-League was still a year away from its inaugural season and current club secretary Warren Gillespie (then 31) was still a regular in the club’s first grade line-up.

“We played the semi-final at Beresfield in 2004 and I get goosebumps just thinking about it,” Gillespie told The Hunter River Times.

“As we walked out of the tunnel there was just a sea of maroon and white and busses of supporters from Singleton.

“They scored early and then we scored with eight minutes to go but, unfortunately, they got the golden goal.”

Few have sacrificed as much time for a single sporting organisation in Singleton than Gillespie has for the Strikers.

He even featured on the bench as a teenager in the club’s famous 1992 premiership (a 1-0 victory against Stockton) and, as his career went on, knocked back offers from clubs such as Broadmeadow Macedonia.

In his 20th season as club secretary, he now wants to see his first-grade line-up return to the finals.

“It is ours to lose,” he added.

“We are hoping for a semi-final because we figure we will gain some momentum this year with no Bulls (rugby union) or Greyhounds (rugby league) playing in town.

“A spot in the finals would be special for our long-suffering supporters and committee, gaining a home semi-final would be a great way to reward their efforts.”

Only three premiership points separate the third placed Strikers from Toronto-Awaba (seventh) who they play at Lyall Peacock Field this Saturday (3pm).

The Strikers, who recently went undefeated for ten straight games, will then conclude their home and away season against the bottom of the table side Wallsend on Sunday, October 4.