Experienced defender Adam Tong has spoken of the heartbreak he and his team mates experienced over the final weeks of the 2017 season. A superb second half to the home and away series had Inglewood United collect twelve wins from thirteen games, propelling them to the top of the National Premier Leagues ladder.
Inglewood ventured to Floreat Athena on the final day of the season knowing one more victory would bring the league trophy to Hamer Parade for just the first time since 1996. Hamza Hina’s classy first half finish brought that a step closer to reality only for the dream to be shattered when Floreat conjured a late equaliser.
“It was one of the hardest things I have experienced in football,” Tong said. “Grown men simply could not hide their emotions. It was an experience we all shared together. What you saw (after the Floreat game) shows how much we believed in ourselves and the team, and what it means to be part of this Club.”
“If someone had said ‘it will again come down to the last game of the season for the title’ I would have laughed at them. There was not one ounce of doubt in my mind that we would lose the title … I thought we had it in the bag. But it wasn’t to be and Floreat’s 87th equaliser was extremely tough on all the lads.”
There was little opportunity for Inglewood to dwell on what might have been with the Top Four Cup series coming along the very next week. “I felt we could still get the trophy that the Club deserved,” Tong said. Unfortunately, Inglewood would bow out of the finals race with successive losses to Bayswater City and Perth SC.
“Against Bayswater we could have been one or two goals clear after 60 minutes but we came undone. And same a few days later against Perth, it could have been three-nil to us. But that’s how football goes sometimes - you can be the better team then the opposition get one chance and you’re chasing the hunt.”
Silverware may have eluded Inglewood again in 2017 but Tong isn’t ready to give up the chase. The imposing defender intends to spend the next couple of months recharging his batteries in readiness for this first pre-season under coach Andy Keogh. “2018 season will be a fresh start for everyone,” he commented.
“Andy will have a full pre-season to get the boys into shape and build on what he has already taught the lads this year. I’m sure whatever squad Andy picks it will be a focused, determined and hard-working side. But more than that, there’s an incredible togetherness between the players that makes me proud to call them my family.”