It is the first time in the thirteen year history of the Premier League Hockey competition – formerly known as Western Premier League – that a single club has won both men’s and women’s Grand Finals.
Lithgow Panthers went into the match as distinct underdogs for the men’s decider at the Cooke Hockey Complex, Bathurst, given they had lost three consecutive games to the minor premiership winning St Pats, but they fired when it mattered to take out the men’s Premier League Hockey Grand Final 5-2 over St Patrick’s.
It capped off a massive day for the Lithgow Panthers club, the women’s side having earlier prevailed 4-2 over Bathurst City in the Women’s decider. That result was not as much of a surprise, even though City were the first into the Grand Final, Panthers’ women had lost just one match in the 2014 Season having amassed 80 goals for and only 20 against during round games. For the Panthers men it was win number nine from 13 grand final appearances, while it was the second premiership from four attempts for the women.
It was a double that surprised many, including Premier League Hockey president Adam Hurford. “Lithgow, to be honest with you, I thought they were both underdogs in my eyes,” he said. “But they both came out and showed why they are the premiers now. They played very well, both sides threw the ball around really well.”
There was great disappointment for St Pats and City players, and many Bathurst followers of the sport were left shaking their heads in disbelief but plenty of cheers and fist pumps from the Panthers and their many supporters who travelled to Bathurst for the big day.
For Panthers, the accolades did not cease after their captains and coaches accepted the Grand Final trophies, with four of the six 2014 Western Premier League Award recipients also going to Lithgow Panther players. Best & Fairest of Men’s Comp went to Dave Marshall. Top Goal Scorer of Women’s Comp was awarded to Abby Wilson, and the man named as Most Valuable Player of the Grand Final was Ron Charlton while the female equivalent MVP went to Mahala Williams.
Coaches Graham Muir and Greg Banning had nothing but praise for their respective Panther sides, citing the Club’s proud history and focus upon the team and comradery on the pitch, with acknowledgement that every player contributes to a win. The Lithgow Workies have also been able partners through their ongoing support and sponsorship and all players and officials are looking forward to the Panthers Presentation Night at the Workies on Oct 31st.