Comag Matamata Swifts rounded out their 2017 Loaded WaiBOP Premiership campaign in the best possible manner, pummeling Old Blues from Tauranga 6-2 to lift themselves to second in the league.
The star of the show on Saturday was leading scorer, Chris Walker, who helped himself to five of the six goals for his best personal haul of the season.
The end of season feel translated to an incredibly open match and the fastest of starts. Old Blues opened the scoring through ex-Swift Andy Cooper, Walker replied, then Cooper scored again to see the hosts lead 2-1 within a crazy first five minutes.
Walker snared his second to draw the Swifts level midway through the half before putting Matamata into a half time lead after completing his hat trick inside 30 minutes with a superb solo effort.
Matamata missed a penalty not long after the restart, but Walker was back on task just before the hour mark grabbing his and the Swifts’ fourth of the game.
Brad West smashed the ball home after some top work by Dayne Willemsen for Matamata’s fifth, then Walker completed the scoring with five minutes left to give the Swifts one of their best results of the season.
This was the perfect way for Matamata to end their season, rounding out a run of eight wins and one draw from their final nine games.
By finishing second the Swifts improved on their 2016 finish by one spot. Both the last two champions, Ngongotaha and Cambridge, went on to win their Northern Region Football League promotion play-offs and Matamata must now realistically look to emulate them in 2018.
But that’s for the future. The team will now reflect on an, at times, up and down season that finished on a huge high in the league and also included a run to the final 32 of the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup, New Zealand’s national knock-out cup competition.
Coach Paul Richardson has moulded a team of solid experience and exciting young players which promises more during the seasons ahead. Veteran captain, Scott Parsonage, has now played more than 230 games for the club, with only Swifts legend Ewan Scott sitting ahead of him on 277 appearances. Walker, Willemsen, West, Jamie Baxter and Glen Carmichael all provided solid goal hauls, while youngster, Reuben Wigelsworth, demanded a starting positon with his performances over the second half of the season.