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The Rock-itt : October 2009
"Finals Football", that's what we wanted and that's what we got. A severely depleted Manly United team with more injuries than a Rabbitoh's night out had a minor Grand Final semi to play against Marconi Stallions on their home patch. Saturday night 29th August after 90 minutes we were still level at 0-0, they had bested us in the first half but the second half had been all Manly. After an extra time plus penalties game at Bankstown the week previously and a Tiger Turf Cup Final that went to extra time just a week earlier the last thing this team needed was another marathon. Spencer Prior was still there for extra time though he did look like Elastoplast was sponsoring him for the game, we just hoped the sticky tape would last through extra time. Marconi's Al Halifi, the ref must have been buying a hamburger when his offside goal finished Manly's season! Unfortunately Marconi's Iraqi International Al Halifi, from what appeared to be a clearly offside position scored the goal that made the difference in the late stages of the first half of extra time. Understandably, Manly were devastated and tiredness set in, Spencer Prior's taped up legs finally gave in and Marconi added a flattering second at the games death and our season was over. Marconi went on to beat minor premiers, Sydney United in the major semi final to earn a Final place against Sutherland Sharks out at Penrith. The Sharks, already Tiger Turf Cup Winners were 4-1 victors on the day and added the major Premiership to their excellent season tally. Some early news for next season is that Spencer Prior has decided that it's time to hang up his boots and will not be part of the Manly United campaign in 2010. Spencer Prior in a Manly United shirt, alas not to be seen in 2010. It has been great having Spencer involved this season; his experience gained over a long and very successful career at the highest level of our sport has been a major help and inspiration for the rest of the Manly team. It has also been a joy for the spectators to see him play in the New South Wales Premier League. He will be missed. Manly Head Trainer Phil Moss has immediately started to organise the team for next season and he will have a real challenge as amongst others who will depart the Club during the close season are Ashley Ryan, who is heading overseas to try his fortune, and Josh Sama this season's top goal scorer. Part of Spencer Prior's job at Manly was as assistant to Phil Moss and that position will be taken by Craig Midgley in 2010. As reported last month, Craig is to undergo surgery on his hamstring which will be done on October 7. He is very keen to play a full part on the pitch for MUFC in 2010 as well as assisting 'Mossy'. Richie Williams' Grade 20 side finished sixth in the League, missing out on a Finals berth on goal difference to Marconi Stallions. The 20's had a good year and were the victims of the injury crisis in First Grade, many of their players having to move up a Grade to come to the rescue, leaving the cascading effect of players from the 18's and 16's all Ashley Ryan getting physical at Blacktown, he will be hard to replace for 2010.