Hurlstone Park ready for Cottam Cup battle

Published Fri 08 Sep 2023

Hurlstone Park Wanderers AA Men’s side will look to etch their names into the history books this weekend as they do battle in the Cottam Cup Grand Final.

The oldest continuously played for knockout competition silverware in Australia, the Cottam Cup has been contested since 1907 and Wanderers will hope to triumph for the first time in their history and emulate the success of fellow Football Canterbury club Inter Lions FC in 2018.

Wanderers’ campaign began in May, and since then they have steadily progressed through the rounds, most recently defeating fellow Football Canterbury side Enfield FC in the semi-final to book their place in Saturday night’s decider against Brighton Heat at Melita Stadium.

After an undefeated regular season campaign in the Bill Brackenbury Cup, Wanderers fell to that very same Enfield side in the Grand Final, and despite that disappointment club President Rosalie Viney said the Cottam Cup was a fitting high for the team and club to finish on.

“It’s exciting to have a final like this coming at the end of the season,” she said.

“It was a highlight regardless but to have it scheduled after our local season ended really gives us something to look forward to.”

Six Football Canterbury teams entered the competition, and to have two in the semi-finals is an indicator of the strength of local football in the association, according to Viney.

“[It’s great], the fact that a number of the teams from the BBC competed in it this year,” she said.

“It’s a way of showing how strong our competition is, that we’ve got really good players, that we can attract great players in the future, and it demonstrates that Football Canterbury is a powerhouse in grassroots football.”

Head Coach Mark Brown has steered the Wanderers side through the campaign despite a host of injuries throughout, with the side down to 11 or 12 players on more than one occasion throughout the year.

But according to him, it’s that whole squad effort that has been the backbone of their success in 2023.

“We have a big squad but sometimes we’ve down to the bare minimum, and we’ve still managed to get through,” Brown said this week.

“It’s been a squad effort for us to get this far, and that’s what we emphasise. Some people will miss out this weekend but it’s the group that has got us to this point and not just a supposed ‘best XI’.”

His side have been bolstered by support from within the club though, including an U/14’s who have effectively ‘shadowed’ the team throughout the season according to Viney.

Junior teams supporting seniors is not an uncommon sight around grassroots clubs, but being able to watch their club mates excel and succeed is important for demonstrating to those juniors what they can achieve within their own club says Brown.

“You want them to progress, not only to enjoy it, and they want to be able to see what they can achieve by staying at the same club,” he said.

“It’s possibly driven by coaches and managers, but once onboard I think they’ve probably enjoyed it, and if we can encourage any other teams to do well it’s great.”

Hurlstone Park’s clash with Brighton will kick off at 7:30pm on Saturday at Melita Stadium, and as for Brown’s view on the contest itself?

“We’re pretty excited. Anything we enter we want to try and win. We’re not going into it with any fear. “

Match Details | Cottam Cup Grand Final

Brighton Heat v Hurlstone Park Wanderers

Melita Stadium

7:30pm – Saturday, 9th September