It was third time lucky for Tamworth’s Garry Littlejohns as he struck National Men’s Masters Championships gold with his NSW 45-and-over 2s side.
After having to settle for silver the last two years, the Blues side also containing Guyra’s James Abbo exacted their revenge on Queensland and in resounding fashion, triumphing 5-2 in the final to be crowned Division 2 champions.
It capped off a golden seven days for Littlejohns after being part of South United’s Tamworth men’s competition second and third grade premiership success.
This years nationals, which were played in Lismore and Ballina, were Littlejohns’ third.
To win the gold this year was “nice” he said, especially by beating their old rivals.
Last year it took a shoot-out to split the two.
This year was a completely different story.
“We always felt like we had their measure,” Littlehjohns said.
“They scored first but then we scored five unanswered.
“They only scored their second with two minutes to go.”
He scored in the 24th and 68th minutes, both goals coming off penalty corners.
Normally an attacking midfielder, he played as a striker and finished with four goals for the tournament. One of their designated flickers, all four were from corners.
He said as a side they probably had a bit more strikepower this year.
In previous years they’ve struggled to score goals, but knowing they had that goal-scoring capability, they played with a bit more composure.
After turning out for NSW in their opening game on Saturday, Littlejohns made the trip back to Tamworth and kitted up for Souths in the second and third grade grand finals on the Sunday.
He was only a late call-up to third grade through injury but captained the second grade side, which finished undefeated premiers after accounting for Tudor Wests 8-3.
Third grade also prevailed over Tudors (Maroon) in extra-time.
Littlejohns, who will this weekend coach the under-15 boys As at the State Indoor Championships, was part of a strong local contingent competing at the masters but the only to bring home gold.
Matt Lobsey and Adam Bannister’s 40s 1s side won silver, Victoria scoring in the final minute to clinch a 3-2 victory.
Bannister had a strong tournament and was named in the Australian team to compete in the Trans-Tasman Masters Challenge on the Gold Coast next year.
Warren Phillpott, Mal Turner and Steve Littlejohn’s 50s 2s side also finished with silver after going down to Queensland 2-nil in the Division 2 final.
James Haling meanwhile led the 40s 3s to a 1-nil win over Queensland and bronze in Division 2, while at the women’s nationals over in Busselton and Bunbury Aleasha Brown and Fiddi Witts both collected bronze with their respective NSW sides.
Witts’ 50s side defeated Victoria 2-nil in a shoot-out after scores were locked at 1-all at the end of regular time, while Brown’s 40s side accounted for Queensland 3-nil.
Paul Topfer’s 55s and Doug Truman’s 70s men’s sides unfortunately missed out on the medals.