Adelong footballer Nathan Wright couldn’t have asked for a better season playing with the Tumut Eagles in 2020.
The striker, who plays for the under 14s Black team, led his side to Football Wagga Wagga (FWW) grand final glory on Saturday, scoring a hat trick and being named man of the match in Tumut’s 3-1 victory over the Wagga United Swifts.
A week earlier, Nathan scored two goals in extra time, as his side knocked off Henwood Park Hawks for a place in the decider, which contributed to his competition-high 19 goals for the season.
Following the grand final win, the 13-year-old was then named the under 14s FWW player of the year, following in the footsteps of Tumut footballers Daniel Castle and Nico Canteros-Paz, who won the same award in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
The humble youngster said it was nice to have a big hand in the result, but put the praise back on his teammates, who made his scoring opportunities possible.
“It was pretty good to score three, but I couldn’t have done it without the defence and my halves working with me, who were Kai, Paddy and Liam, and my first goal wouldn’t have been possible if Ronan didn’t give me that good through ball,” Nathan said.
“With our defence, they did really good this year, they stuck on their players and didn’t argue with each other and they were really positive and our mids and attack were really strong.”
Nathan said it was good to be recognised as the player of the year, although a little unexpected.
“This is my first player of the year award; I didn’t expect it, but it feels pretty good,” Nathan said.
Coached by his father, Rockie Wright, the junior Eagle said it was good playing under his father, who was both tough and fair on the playing group.
“It’s pretty good. He is a bit tough, but he is a good coach and shows the same toughness on everyone in the team,” Nathan said.
Junior Eagles bring home the trophy
The Tumut Eagles under 14s Black side has lifted the Football Wagga Wagga (FWW) under 14s premiership trophy, after a stirring 3-1 victory over the Wagga United Swifts at McDonalds Park on Saturday.
Youngster Nathan Wright scored all three goals in a man of the match performance for Tumut and was ably assisted by a talented bunch of Eagles.
Wright’s first goal came via a through ball from Ronan Crain; his next then saw him running through and scoring a nice goal, before finally finishing off by blasting home a long-range free kick.
The result is huge for the Eagles, who have again proven they are more than capable of mixing it with the best from sides from Wagga Wagga and surrounds.
Rockie Wright, who is the father of Nathan Wright, was coaching the team for the first time, and was certainly a proud dad but an even prouder coach when discussing his side’s grand final win.
“I’m very proud mate, very proud,” Wright said.
“I knew the guys could do it; I know Nathan was able to finish off those goals, but I really feel like there were 13 good players out there. It was definitely a team effort.”
The Eagles coach said he knew very early on in the season they would need to beat the Swifts in the grand final, and was happy to see his talented bunch of players do their best to win a grand final.
“It was very special but it was also very nerve racking for me,” Wright laughed.
“I said to them at the beginning of the season after our first game playing against the Swifts, I said we would be playing them in the final.
“We knew they were that good and I immediately saw the potential in our team after that game and we showed that on the weekend.”
Wright explained that it took a big effort from every player involved, and thanked the three under 13s players who played up week in, week out.
“It was a big effort from everybody; I was so proud of everybody and especially Will Haley, Jiemin Shang and Brodie McDonald, who played up each week and made sure we had enough numbers,” Wright said.
“I feel like I’ve added 12 kids to my family, I always looked forward to going to practice and matches with these guys and hopefully they did too.”
Unfortunately, the Eagles under 13s, who made a remarkable late run to make finals and grand final under the guidance of Mick Howell, were downed 4-2 by an unbeaten Lake Albert in what was another gutsy effort.
Seamus McMahon scored both of Tumut’s goals, and the visitors did their best throughout the match, but just ran into a team that was a little better on the day.
Eagles junior vice president Sandra Howell was very pleased with both sides and their efforts during the season and on the big stage.
“We are very proud; the Tumut Eagles have had at least one team playing grand finals in recent years, and most of the years we have had two,” Howell said.
“It’s good for the club and good for the kids. It’s so special for the kids to win a grand final, or just even play in one; they don’t come around every single year.”
Howell said playing at McDonalds Park made the day even more special for the Tumut youngsters.
“To play at McDonalds Park is really nice; it’s different with the grand stands and there was a guy talking on the microphone and calling out their names as they run out onto the fielf. It’s really exciting for the kids,” Howell said.
The club administrator praised FWW on the season and the fact they were able to hold a final series at all, after a later than usual start due to Covid-19.
“It was a pity that we had two wash outs, but other than that, it was a very successful season,” Howell said.
“You have to give credit to Football Wagga who put that season together; a lot of other codes didn’t get to play or have finals, so complements to them.”