West Side Monarchs’ Bruce Grobbelaar, left, gets set to clear the ball during the men’s soccer final Friday at Wellington Street Sports Complex. — Star photo by Gary Kean
CORNER BROOK Bruce Grobbelaar wanted to win that game as badly as anyone else on the field.
The former Liverpool FC great has accumulated plenty of hardware throughout his legendary career, including English Premier League championships, FA Cups, League Cups and a European Cup.
But he still desired that Corner Brook Molson Senior Men’s Soccer League crown.
“I’ve been in the game 30-odd years,” he said Tuesday night, with a few days to reflect on his West Side Monarchs 1-1 (4-2) loss to the Steers Insurance Curling Rangers Friday night at Wellington Street Sports Complex. “To let in a goal in injury time and then lose it in penalties, everybody is as sick as each other.”
It looked as if the Monarchs were about to shock the league and dethrone the Rangers, but everything fell apart in the 91st minute, a scene Grobbelaar can still replay clearly in his head.
“We just got caught ... two defenders got caught with one man, one man was free and the ball bobbled through to him,” he said. “Any other game, the defenders would have cleared that, but it happened, the guy (Rangers’ Kevin Lasaga) took it well and buried it.
“Penalty kicks,” he added with a chuckle. “You might as well get a coin and toss it.”
Grobbelaar came out on the wrong end of that “coin toss” every time against the Rangers, as they converted on all four of their chances. But, like he said around the same time he debuted this season with the Monarchs, anyone who can shoot a soccer ball can score, even on an ex-Premier League keeper.
“Playing against under-18s, even the kids can make you look like a fool,” he said. “Anybody who has got the ball in front of me is a threat. That’s how I played the game all my life.”
The 55-year-old rookie said the league was basically what he expected, but wasn’t without its surprises. Particularly the way in which the Monarchs were eager to listen and learn from his guidance.
“They’re a great bunch of guys and, from the way they were to where they got to, it was a good step up,” he said. “Had that season been longer, they would have been much better to cope with the onslaught from the Rangers, when they had us on the ropes in the second half.”
After propelling the Monarchs to their first championship game since 1994, not only does Grobbelaar plan on being back with the team next season, he’s hoping to be patrolling the nets for them even sooner. He’s interested in the indoor league getting back up and running this winter on the artificial turf in the Pepsi Studio.
“Yeah, why not?,” he said of playing with the Monarchs in an indoor league. “It’s the same surface.”