Tigers spring final surprise
"I CANNOT retire like this."
That was defiant Trent Stanna's declaration after the Byron Magpies fell short in their bid for grand final glory in the South East Queensland/Northern Rivers Division Four South AFL competition.
The Magpies went into Saturday's decider as favourites but were left crushed as opponents Tweed Coast Tigers claimed a shock 17-point win.
Stanna, who turned 34 yesterday, said the heartbreaking loss had forced him to reconsider retirement plans.
"It means I am not retiring," he said.
"I was going to hang up my boots but I will have to play on now.
"I think my family were looking forward to (me retiring), but it is hard when you come so close and see such a strong bunch of players just miss out.
"Hopefully we can all stick around and have another go next year."
The match at Ballina's Fripp Oval was a tight affair with the Magpies fighting back from an early deficit to lead by one point at three-quarter time.
The Tigers however played brilliantly in the final quarter to claim a thrilling 9.5 (59) to 6.6 (42) win.
It was a tough loss for the Magpies who had won the minor premiers flag in comfortable fashion.
"I think they got the momentum in the fourth quarter," Stanna said.
"It would have been great to have given the people who were not on the field and have supported us so well this year something to celebrate.
"The (post-match) beers certainly won't taste as nice now."
In contrast, Tigers' Paul Lathoruras was jubilant after the win that was greeted by wild celebrations among the Tweed Coast contingent and their supporters.
"This is better than marriage," the 41-year-old said.
"They had a younger team and they thought they could take us but the old boys pulled through.
"What got us through? Ticker, we wanted it more than them, I think.
"I've been playing Aussie Rules for 30 years. Now I can retire happy."
Ashley Gemmill capped off his superb season for the Tigers by kicking four goals.
Jay Campbell booted three for the Magpies.
Kane Bullock, Luke Henschke and Zeke Hower were among the standouts for the Magpies.