THE Golden Boot award was a little more than a consolation prize for Oxley Vale Attunga captain Mitch O’Keefe after Saturday’s grand final loss.
O’Keefe has been one of the most potent strikers in the premier league in recent years but the award for the leading goal scorer had eluded him until now.
“It’s the first year I’ve won it,” he said.
“I’ve been close a couple of times before but didn’t finish on top.
“I didn’t have too many chances at all today, a couple of headers and that’s about all.”
The grand final loss overshadowed any personal achievements.
To lose both first and second grade deciders meant it finished a lean year for the Mushies.
“It wasn’t our best year,” O’Keefe said.
“We didn’t get the club championship or any minor or major
“All we got was the Golden Boot in first grade.
“I’d trade the Golden Boot for a major any day.
“To win the major would be much better.”
O’Keefe said it was a “terrible day”, especially for those involved in both games.
“I feel sorry for Matty Dunn,” O’Keefe said. He played in both games and lost both of them. He’s only 17.
“It’s experience and now they have played in finals they know what they’re like. They know what it feels like to lose and they won’t want to do it again.”
But they fought hard in first grade despite going 2-nil down in the first half.
After getting it back to 2-1 the Mushies could have at least forced extra time but couldn’t find an equaliser.
“It was hard fought, very fiery,” O’Keefe said.
“It wasn’t just a grand final but a big local derby.
“It’s good to see two Tamworth sides make the final.
“It hasn’t happened since 1999.
“Even with this new conference system to dig deep and get two Tamworth sides in the grand final and one in the reserve grade is very good.”
And of the two, Tamworth FC proved too good on the day.
OVA was chasing TFC for most of the year and despite a good end to the season by the reigning champions, it was the minor premiers who took the title this time.
“FC are a great side,” O’Keefe said.
“They were minor premiers in both grades and they’ve been the side to chase all year.
“To be honest, we struggled a bit.
“We’d beat the top sides comfortably and then lose to the side coming last.
“Imperials showed that.
“We couldn’t beat them and they were second last.”