With Football Wagga Wagga pushing their first week of the Pascoe, Gardiner and Blake Plate finals up one week, Tumut’s senior teams are in action at Rawlings Park on Saturday and Sunday.
In the Pascoe Plate, Tumut have a chance to progress through to a preliminary final, but must beat Lake Albert at Rawlings Park on Sunday.
The Eagles are in safe hands though, with the unique father-son duo of Matt and Jay Casey given the job of shoring up the Eagles defence, with Matt playing at keeper and Jay coming off the bench to play in the backs.
Matt, who at 45 years of age, is a longstanding veteran of the club and has previously helped Tumut to Pascoe Plate wins in 2014 and 2017, playing alongside his eldest son, Jarrod Casey in both games.
This time, the keeper will combine with 16-year-old son Jay, with the family hoping to emulate the same success.
“I’m pretty proud; I guess it’s every parent’s dream to play with your kids,” Matt said. “Jarrod was 15 and 18 when we won, and it would be good to win one with Jay too.”
Matt said Tumut had the talent and depth to push for both Pascoe and Gardiner Plate glory.
“It’s been a very good year; there is good competition for places in the side and you could substitute any of the ressies (reserve graders) into firsts,” Matt said.
“It has been a really strong side on both fronts; sometimes we just haven’t shown that in our results.”
“We can win the Plate; we would have won the (Pascoe) Cup if results had gone our way, but we just couldn’t score earlier,” Matt added.
The Caseys weren’t part of the club in 2019, and the return of the talented keeper has certainly seen more chat in defence.
“I am very vocal, as many people will tell you, and I tell everyone where they should be or what they should be doing; or at least what I think they should be doing,” Matt laughed.
“Everyone likes a good talker at the back, someone who gives them some direction and lets them know where they should be.”
The proud dad admitted he could be a little tougher on Jay though, who generally plays at left back.
“I probably expect more out of him, only because I know what he is capable of,” Matt said.
With the Eagles finding good form late in the season, Matt said it was just a matter of the playing group adjusting to a new style of play under coach, Dylan Piper-Bye.
“It has been a big change, starting from training, right through to game style and play. It has been completely different to what Matty (Lopez) was implementing,” Matt said.
“Dylan has a different format, which I probably like better, and i guess everyone is accustomed to it now.”
Jay, who made his first-grade debut earlier this year, has also found his rhythm with the new style of play, scoring two goals in last weekend’s 6-1 victory over Wagga United.
The youngster, who played NPL representative football in Victoria last season, said he felt prepared for his first full season of senior football after playing down south.
“It’s a good competition and nice and physical,” Jay said. “Down in Melbourne, it kind of prepared me a bit more because the blokes and competition down there is a bit more challenging to what it is up here.”
Jay said playing with his old man was good, especially after his older brother and father tasted success 2014 and 2017.
“It’s good keeping it in the family and playing with the old man, hopefully we can win another Plate,” Jay said.
Saturday and Sunday loom as big days for the club, and while first grade is guaranteed of a second week of finals regardless of their result against Lake Albert, the lower grades are playing sudden death football here on out.
Tumut’s Gardiner team play Junee, who they only beat two weeks ago, while their Blake squad will be forced to contend with Tolland.
Plate finals draw
Blake Plate 4.40pm: Tumut v Tolland
Gardiner Plate 1pm: Tumut v Junee
Pascoe Plate 3.30pm: Tumut v Lake Albert