Douglas United Dragons live the FNQ soccer fairytale
IT reads like pure Hollywood.
Along the way the club overcomes adversity – becomes the first team in league history to lose to Southside Fury – and bands together to make a late-season surge at the FNQ Football premiership.
That surge is halted by Leichhardt, who hold them to a 2-2 draw that all but delivers the premiership to Marlin Coast.
But the defiant Dragons get a chance to right that wrong when they book a rematch against the Lions in the FNQ Football decider.
Can Douglas United complete their rags-to-riches story or will Leichhardt stand in their way?
While we prepare to see how the final scene plays out, club president Rodney Rasmussen should be shopping the story to agents.
He even has a perfect location: Cassowary Park, the team’s home ground. Set in the middle of tall cane fields in idyllic Mossman, Cassowary Park is a baseball diamond and a Kevin Costner appearance away from being a carbon copy of the set of Field of Dreams.
But there is just one problem with this Hollywood narrative: it lacks a villain. It would be convenient to give Leichhardt that label, but it would also be grossly unfair.
With a spectator-friendly style of play, the Lions have endeared themselves to too many.
The Endeavour Park crowd will no doubt hope to see something from the Darcy Fernandez-Paul Eigl combination that has more goals (36) than half of the teams in the league (Southside, 24; Mareeba, 31; Innisfail, 33; and Stratford, 34).
Leichhardt has been a top-four constant all year and has claimed many big scalps in its 10-game streak of eight wins and two draws.
Unbeaten against the league’s top-four teams, the Lions have been the only team immune to Douglas United’s 14-match unbeaten streak of eleven wins and three draws.
Logan Marsh, the Dragons player-coach, is planning to change that. But, if a team is ultimately judged by how it performs against the best competition, tonight’s winner will be a worthy champion.
That makes it hard to spot a villain ahead of the decider. Even Marlin Coast skipper Gabby Mason couldn’t escape that point as he talked after his team’s gut-wrenching 4-3 loss to Leichhardt in last weekend’s grand final qualifier.
"I don’t think any team in the competition could honestly put their hand up and say ‘We’ve been the best team this year – we’ve consistently been the best team’," Mason said.
"It has been an open and an inconsistent league.
"And if anyone could say it, it’s probably Leichhardt.
"They haven’t lost to us or Douglas and, if they go on to win the grand final, they’ll feel like they got their justice.
"If Douglas don’t, they’ll feel ripped off, too."
In other words: for one team at least, it won’t be a Hollywood end.
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United together: Douglas United Dragons look to finish a remarkable fairytale story in taking out the FNQ's top title.