THE Stags have a point to prove.
That’s what their captain Aaron ‘Swanny’ Swanson says ahead of their grand-final clash against Yerrinbool in Bowral tomorrow afternoon.
The skipper had a strong message for the Highlands Association when he talked to the Post on Wednesday night.
“I think we made a pretty good statement to beat Exeter 5-0 last weekend,” he said.
“I think that pretty much said everything that we needed to say. We’re back, we’re fit and we want to win it, regardless of whether people think the Highlands stuffed us around a bit, we want to win it and we’ll do it.”
It’s been a dramatic rise for the Stags this season.
After not coming close to making the finals last year, the Stags of 2014 have been a consistent force in the Highlands Premier League competition.
They have led the competition for most of the season, and were pipped to the minor premiers post by Exeter in the final round, only due to the round being called off due to weather.
The Stags then reaped their revenge on Exeter the following week and destroyed the minor premiers by five goals.
The side is now confident going against a notoriously aggressive Yerrinbool.
“They’re pretty physical, but we can be pretty physical if we need to be,” said coach David Jones.
“My guys are a really fast team, with a lot of fitness and are very athletic, we like space on the field. But if we have to get down and dirty we don’t mind a bit of a scrap.”
The Stags will field a near fullstrength squad, with experienced defended Ben Stevo being forced to miss the decider due to suspension. Utility Hayden Thurbourn enters the side as a replacement.
Captain Aaron Swanson is also expected to play to his full potential after returning from injury last weekend where he played just over half a game.
“When Swanny’s on the field I’m a lot more confident,” Jones said of his skipper.
Jones says he’ll be looking for Swanny and his fellow striker, Jason Broadbent, to run around the aging Yerrinbool backline.
Broadbent is currently the Stags leading goal scorer and will be looking to make his mark tomorrow afternoon.
“I guess it’s only right for me to score in the final right?” Broadbent said with a grin.
“Last year me and Swanny were in the race for the golden boot, he was in first grade, I was in second and he went overseas and I nipped him by two goals. This year I’ve nipped him by three unless he puts on a spectacular performance.
“But if I have to set him up for four goals so we win 4-3: I’ll be happy to do that.”
Kick-off in the grand-final begins at the David Woods Field in Bowral at 2.30pm tomorrow afternoon.
Aaron Swanson- Captain / striker Inspirational leader on the pitch. Has had a stop start season with a dodgy hamstring. His ability to open up the defence and score goals will have the Yerrinbool defence worried. Got through last weeks match unscathed and picked a goal.
James Saul- defender Known as the human chest, he is the coolest player on the pitch. Nothing phases him and no one is surprised to see him casually jog past 5/6 players at a time.
Ben Stevo- defender Will be sorely missed in the grand-final. He has been an absolute rock in defence as well as popping up with a few goals as well, most experienced player on the team and it shows the way he reads the game.
Chad Cosgrove- defender One of the longest serving Stags and although not the most creative, he is always reliable, never shies away from a challenge and provides good delivery from long free kicks.
Edan Wheelden- midfielder Stamina, calmness and creation. He has been a workhorse for the team as well as poking a few handy goals in. Even when “flat” a vital link in the Stags team.
Jake Mutton- midfielder Possesses loads of speed and a great cross. On his day is impossible to stop down the flanks and a tireless worker.
Ryan Gardner- midfielder Whatever he lacks in skill he makes up ten times in heart and determination, forever running and talking, he goes into everything 100% and isn’t scared to have a shot.
Scott Damini- midfielder Been missing most of the season with injury issues but is back at his best just in time for finals. Comfortable with ball at feet and a hard worker off the ball.
Jason Broadbent- striker Blessed with loads of speed and a killer finish, he makes any defenders job a nightmare. Hits a goal a game as well as his fair share of assist, he will be vital for tomorrow.
Rick Eddy- goal keeper Big part of Stags history, as well as a safe set of hands at the back. Hasn’t had a great deal to do this season but when he has, he deals with it well.
Tommy Sansom- mid/def Can run all day, will hassle any attacker to breaking point and will play any position on the park, very versatile and a handy player.
Brodie Mitchell- midfielder Very composed and strong on the ball. Reads the game well and can pick a pass when required.
Jarrod Twaddle- midfielder A box to box midfielder, runs all day, talks all game, contributes to the team in every way, already has one man of the match in his bag in a final and could very well get a second.
Jeremy Muttonmidfielder/ striker Very athletic, which means he is another that can fill holes in the team. He always has an impact on the game with his pace and finishing.
Richard Gilsen- striker Known as Irish Messi, when defenders see him shape to shot they know what’s coming, strong on the ball, hard working and when he shoots he normally scores.
Frazer Owen- midfield Old fashion midfielder who goes in hard and wins a lot of challenges. He works really hard for the team and won’t shy away from a big challenge.
Hayden Thurbourne- utility A player that can be utilised in any position and stand out. Skillfull, fast and a good reader of the game makes him the perfect player to fill any position.