Wildcats Complete Clean Sweep in 2009
It was a year of change down at Wildcat land with many senior personnel, and some of the bigger personalities of the club in recent times, departing the London scene. Rivals saw 2009 as the year to take the mantle of London’s leading club from West London. How wrong they were.
The traditional pre-season trip saw the Wildcats take on the Stockholm Dynamite in sunny conditions in Sweden’s capital. Despite the locals possessing a 220cm giant nicknamed ‘Madszilla’, the Dynamite were no match for the Wildcats. There were several memorable performances off the field, with Shaun Truscott’s Monk costume the pick of the bunch.
The pre-season ‘ANZAC Cup’ got the ball rolling for the club for the season proper. Played in very warm conditions, the Wildcats went unbeaten all day, including a thrilling 2 point semi-final win against Wandsworth. The final was played against the North London Lions, with the Cats victors by 15 points. Adam ‘Golden Tan’ Hall the player of the day as judged by the umpires, with other notable performances by Paul Konderenko, Matty Ryan, Al Carlson and Dave O’Neill.
The home and away season saw mixed results for most of the year for all three teams. The Wildcats started strongly, only to suffer a mid-season form slump. Some severe, and season ending injuries to some key players gave opportunities to others to step up. The highlight during the regular season was the Wildcats gutsy 16 point win over a previously undefeated Wandsworth on their own turf in Round 6. Pete O’Connell, Dan Nankivell, Andrew Pettigrew, Leigh Bourke, Baz Malone and coach Justin Main were the standouts.
Having surrendered second place on the ladder, and the double chance, after the final round of matches, the Wildcats entered the final series with all the work ahead of them. The Cats were too strong for North London in the elimination final, with the class of Nick Ingall, Dan Nankiville and full-back Shaun Truscott showing. This setup a semi-final clash with the Putney Magpies for the chance to face Wandsworth in the Grand Final. With confidence high, the Wildcats produced a real team effort in defeating the Magpies by 56 points.
The Grand Final against Wandsworth was always going to be a classic. Wandsworth had their tails up having already claimed wins in the early games. The Cats shot out of the blocks in a dominant first quarter, only to be reeled in by a determined Demon’s outfit. In a see-sawing last quarter, where the lead changed more than 5 times, the Wildcats eventually claimed their 6th straight premiership victory by 7 points. Sam Chapman led the way with a superb performance, assisted by captain Dan Nankivell, Warwick Fenner and 17 year old local talent, Lewis Brackstone.
The Shepherds Bush Raiders were gunning for an incredible 9th straight Conference Division premiership in season 2009 and fell just short at the last hurdle. Going through the year with only 2 defeats, the Raiders were in prime position to again claim the silverware, but encountered a fast and skilful Demon’s side in the Grand Final, going down by 14 points. The team certainly did the club and the jumper proud however, and will be sure to bounce back again in 2010 with some added venom.
The Ealing Emus also had the chance to go back-to-back, but like the Raiders, fell agonisingly short in the Grand Final against the South London Demons in the Social Division Grand Final. The final margin of 24 points didn’t tell the true story of the match as it was really an arm-wrestle throughout. Despite the Grand Final loss, the Emus still had an enjoyable road-trip to Nottingham in the middle of the season and once again, showed the true spirit of the Social league.
It would also be remiss not to mention the Brit Cup victory by the Wildcats EU contingent, played at Reading in early July. With a superior blend of youth and experience, the Wildcats went undefeated all day and overcame the Putney Magpies in the final by 8 points. 16 year old ‘Big George’ was awarded the player of the day.
2009 also saw the Wildcats lose two club favourites. In a shock to all of those involved with the club, Simon ‘Umpy’ Drury tragically died in November 2009. Known as the Wildcats best and favourite goal umpire, Umpy was also a life member of the club. A memorial evening held his favourite establishment, the Three King’s, a moving photographic tribute was played in honour of Umpy, with his parents and sister also present having just flown in from Australia.
Alysson Swayne also passed away tragically in late October 2009 whilst on a short break away from London with boyfriend, and 2009 Emus coach, Ryan Lapish. A prominent member of the Wildkittens, Alysson will always be remembered for her warm and caring nature and her ability to light up a room with her smile.
Both Umpy and Alysson will be sorely missed by the Wildcats community. It is testament to the Wildcats communities both in London, and back in Australia, that such tremendous support was shown to the families involved, and also each other in difficult times.
2010 promises to be another bumper year in the Wildcats history with lots to look forward to.
2009 Wildcats Honour Roll
President: Peter Romanis
West London Wildcats
Senior Coach: Justin Main
B&F: Dan Nankivell
Best Finals Player: Dan Nankivell
Coaches Award: Sam Chapman
Derek ‘Kanga’ Shaw Award: Lewis Brackstone
Brit Cup Award: Paul Avery
Shepherds Bush Raiders
Coaches: Craig Marshall & Shaun Truscott
B&F: Matty Ryan
Best Finals Player: Luke Faull
Coaches Award: Dan Trueman
Coach: Ryan Lapish
B&F: Patty Kearins
Best Finals Player: Matt Neville
Coaches Award: Wayne Smith
Best Clubman: Shaun Truscott
Life Member Inductees: Ciaran Merrigan & Jonathan Boyle