Capital Football National Premier Grand Final
Capital Football National Premier Leagues Grand Final at McKellar Park between Canberra Olympic and Canberra FC. A fight broke out, close to the end of play. Photo: Graham Tidy
AT 38 years of age and with a young family, Robbie Schroder wasn't even going to play this year.
But Canberra Olympic coach Leo Exarhos coaxed him out of retirement, with the blessing of Schroder's wife Jess, and the veteran came off the bench to be the match winner in Olympic's 2-0 National Premier League grand final win over Canberra FC at McKellar Park on Saturday.
He struck twice in extra time to give Olympic their first premiership since 1997.
It was a fairytale finish for Schroder, who can now retire with a medal around his neck.
Two years ago, when these two teams played out a 13-goal thriller won by FC, Schroder was sent off. But redemption was sweet as he put two previous grand final losses behind him.
After a scoreless stalemate, he broke the deadlock in the 110th minute then sealed the win after two hours.
Schroder's first came after a terrible mix-up between FC goalkeeper Adam Perakovic and Ryan Keir, who had done well to shepherd the ball back to his stopper. But the pair got tangled up and the ball spilled free for Schroder to slot home.
He then finished off a fast break, with Mark Shields able to find him unmarked and only Perakovic to beat. Schroder duly smashed it home.
Olympic midfielder Hristjan Tanoski won the Valeri Medal as best on ground, although a romantic choice would have been Schroder. ''I certainly turned it around, that's my fairytale. At the start of the season I was looking to retire,'' Schroder said.
''I've got family commitments [but] I coaxed my wife into letting me do a couple of trainings and Leo's been fantastic. I couldn't have written a better script for me. Now if I retire, I go out a winner.''
It was a fiery contest that produced eight yellow cards, but looked destined for penalties until Schroder struck. It was a far cry from the 8-5 game the teams produced two years ago, along with two penalties, one red card and a streaker.
FC coach Miro Trninic said Olympic was a deserved winner, even after his team dominated all year to win its 21st league championship.
''Olympic wanted more to win, the whole team, all eleven. I've got a few players who were not on that level, that was the problem,'' he said. ''You win the grand final as a team.
''At the end of the day I can't say that we played bad, we played good, we got our chances, but we missed those chances.''
Both FC forwards Alex Oloriegbe and Philippe Bernabo were guilty of wastefulness. Oloriegbe failed to get on the end of a perfect cross from Daniel Bennett. He seemed to pull out of the header, perhaps distracted by the oncoming Angelo Konstantinou. The ball bounced harmlessly behind for a corner.
A series of failed clearances by the Olympic defence saw Bernabo unleash a volley bound for the bottom corner but Konstantinou kept it out. Moments later, an Ivan Pavlak free kick found Bernabo at the back post, but he couldn't keep his header down.
AT A GLANCE
Canberra National Premier League men's grand final: CANBERRA OLYMPIC 2 (Schroder 110, 120) bt CANBERRA FC 0 at McKellar Park. Crowd: 1956.