As the 2013 VPL season came to a close last Saturday, the Melbourne Knights Football Club faithful gathered at Croatia House in Footscray to celebrate and aknowledge the efforts of everyone who helped the club during it’s 60th Anniversary year at the annual Presentation Night.
Joining the Senior squad at the presentation were the Under 21’s, Under 18’s and the Senior Women’s team, along with their family, friends, club volunteers, sponsors, committee members and supporters.
The evening was an opportunity to reflect on a remarkable season both on and off the field. It was at the same venue, which felt like only months earlier, that the Knights kicked off their 2013 season campaign with a pre-season dinner, outlining their desire to play finals football and the big year ahead, with the club hosting the 39th Croatian Soccer Tournament and marking its 60th Anniversary with an extravagant Gala Ball.
Knights President Ange Cimera spoke of the great passion, hard work and dedication everyone involved with the club showed throughout the year. From all the players and coaching staff right through to the sponsors for their generous support and the countless volunteers that worked tirelessly behind the scenes.
“We had two committees this year… one looked after the football operations and the 60th Anniversary celebrations while the other was dedicated to putting on the tournament. They all did a tremendous job and I thank each and every one of them from the bottom of my heart,” said Cimera.
“On the park, coach Andrew Marth and assistant Frank Juri? did well to get the seniors into the finals as we set out earlier in the year, but unfortunately we went out in straight sets, bowing out to South Melbourne in front of a VPL season high crowd at home a couple of weeks ago. At the end of the day we finished in 2nd place during the home and away season and played semi finals football,” he continued.
“Our U21’s had a difficult season as they worked with the senior squad by fielding players and never quite getting a stable squad of their own but they did us proud at the tournament, winning the Division 1 title for the club for a record fourth consecutive time. The side was predominantly made up of our U21’s as our Seniors were still committed to finals football.”
MC for the evening was Šime Pin?i?, assisted by Melbourne Knights’ newly crowned Miss Croatia Australia & NZ Marija Jelini? who presented the players with their trophies.
The Under 18’s were up first, fielding two teams… For U18 (West) it was Reuben Quinn-Walters (Best and Fairest ), Caleb Mikili? (Top Goal Scorer) and Anthony Deži? (Players’ Player) who received the individual honours.
For U18 (Purple) the individual awards went to Jacov Buljan (Best and Fairest) and Max Radman (Top Goal Scorer).
In between presentations, the guests were served dinner and were entertained by ‘Grupa More’ who performed throughout the night.
The U21’s were up next with coach Željko Gagula praising his boys and presenting Anthony ?uzel (Best and Fairest ) and Nicholas Jur?i? (Top Goal Scorer) with their individual awards.
With the Women’s team it was coach Tony Kol?eg who introduced his players and congratulated them on an outstanding season. The women’s team who were only recently promoted from Division 3 to Division 2 this year, narrowly missed out on another opportunity for promotion by falling short in the last game of the year to North Geelong, ending the season with a very respectable 3rd place.
Natalie Vukovi? was awarded Best and Fairest while Catherine Siki? took out the Top Goal Scorer award. The girls also presented their coaching staff with a little token of appreciation.
Last but not least it was the Senior squad that was called up to receive their trophies but not before coach Andrew Marth had a few words to say. Speaking on behalf of the club, committee and assistant coach Frank Juri?, Marth thanked his playing group and highlighted the fact that it was one of the most successful seasons the club has enjoyed since the mid 90’s. Finals football was the aim from the outset, but he was proud of his players for finishing 2nd in the home and away season, emphasising that a Grand Final birth was just out of reach.
It was the first time since the glory days of the 1994/95 season that the club won 5 games in a row, kept 4 clean sheets in a row (9 for the season), and to top it off, it was the first time since 1979 that a Melbourne Knights player has taken out the VPL Gold Medal Player of the Year award which was recently awarded to Marijan Cvitkovi?.
Another notable mention for the club at the recent VPL awards was the award for ‘Best Football Image’ which went to Knights Secretary and Photographer Melinda Cimera!
The individual awards were presented to Ben Surey (Best and Fairest), Andrew Bariši? (Top Goal Scorer) while Chris May was voted the Players’ Player of the Year.
To finish off the night, Paul Šari? on behalf of the United Croatian Clubs of Australia & NZ presented President Ange Cimera with a small momento in recognition for his many years of service for the club and for being the longest serving President.
Once all the formalities were out of the way, ‘Grupa More’ continued to keep the dancefloor alive by entertaining the guests well into the night.
The Melbourne Knights would like to thank all of their players, coaches, team managers, volunteers, sponsors, members and supporters for a great year!
Photo (L-R): Senior Men’s Award Winners – Ben Surey (Best and Fairest), Andrew Barisic (Top Goal Scorer), Chris May (Players’ Player of the Year)