Pride shined bright at the 2017 Northern Pride Presentation night. Despite their unlucky season, the boys picked up their spirits, let down their hair and showed us how to party. As I walked through the doors of the Brothers Leagues Club I could hear the cheers emerging from the top of the stairwell. I had to pick up my jaw from the floor as I walked into the room filled with well-fitted suits on tall, muscular physiques. 

I could be forgiven for forgetting I had a job to do as I sat at my table along with five burly men and their WAGS.  I was seated beside young football star Connor Jones,­­ 21. The hooker for the Northern Pride is the youngest player on the team and said he signed with the Pride because it was a great opportunity to further his career. “Pride had such a rich history of success and I wanted to be a part of that,” Connor said. “I felt like it was the best move for me.”

Conversation rarely veered off the topic of their dress code for the following day’s celebrations, Mad Monday. The boys had organised costumes from Bay Watch to Toy Story’s Buzz Light Year and Woody. The formalities began as CEO Greg Dowling and coach Ty Williams announced the awards for the evening. Attention was on the stage as the usually rowdy players were engrossed in the stories of the good old days. Nathan Wales was announced as the Most Improved player and said: “It was an absolute honour and privilege to be recognized as part of the Northern Pride Team, a team that represents a region I grew up in and am so proud of.”

Rookie of the Year went to Troy Kapea, Best Back went to Jordan Biondi-Odo, Best Forward went to Darryn Schonig and taking out two awards was Graham Clark with Best and Fairest and Player’s Player 2017. Proud Team Captain Ryan Ghietti ended the night with some positive vibes. “I feel very privileged to be captain of this great club. The footprint of the Northern Pride is huge, so to be leading this group is a great honour,” he said.