Nerang Soccer Club’s top players will wear black arm-bands in this Sunday’s FFA Cup opening game as a mark of remembrance and respect for former coach and long-time Eagles family figure, Chris Payne.
Chris coached the Mighty, Mighty Eagles for the latter half of the 1981 season and again took the top job and reigns in 1982 – entering again as underdogs into the fierce and physical Brisbane leagues.
This Sunday as our same Mighty Eagles take to the field once more for their opening FFA Cup clash against Burleigh Bulldogs, our players will don black armbands as a mark of respect and honour to the memory of Chris and the other not-forgotten fallen Eagles he now joins.
The story of Payne’s Eagles is the stuff of legends, it’s pretty much folklore, part of the fabric of the club … and so it goes:
Nine games into the ‘82 season, the team under Chris sustained yet another 2–3 loss, this time to Brighton, registering a 4 draws and 5 losses record which sent them to the bottom of the table and left all within the camp carrying nought but a grim face and outlook.
In the hearts of all Eagles is, and always has been and always will be, the fortitude and strength to never give up, never concede to what we face and to always play to finish the game … and that’s exactly what happened next!
With 13 games of the regular season remaining, Payne’s Eagles turned the tide and unleashed a series of great victories over their northern foe, taking down top dogs and slicing through their opponents – remaining unbeaten from that point on and all the way to the end of the ’82 season, soaring triumphantly to a 4th place finish and bagging a coveted finals spot.
Thundering into the semi-final, a gutsy win over Grovely saw the Eagles catapult into the first of three back to back preliminary finals against Kingsridge.
The Eagles again took flight under Payne, inspired and confident, taking out the preliminary finals.
Against all odds and early-season expectations, Nerang had landed themselves in their first Grand Final since 1976.
The Grand Final was scheduled at Brisbane’s infamous Perry Park, for 10:45am on a very wet and rain-soaked Sunday.
On this day, the Eagles of Nerang were set to face off against Brisbane’s mighty Grange Thistle, a slick team of playmakers whose only loss in the entire season so far had ironically been to our Nerang Eagles, earlier on in the second round of fixtures.
The rain continued to belt down in the morning resulting in both curtain-raiser games, including the Grange-Nerang final, being postponed to allow the State League final to be played out as Townsville had already flown in and the Queensland Soccer Federation of the day couldn’t afford to reschedule them.
On the following Wednesday evening, Chris Payne led his Eagles out onto the field one last time, and for one last moment they spread their wings and mustered everything they had to take on the hungry top-dogs that stood before them.
In a game so very befitting the legacy, the legends and the life of the Nerang Eagles Soccer Club, Payne’s team won the Grand Final and brought the trophy back to Nerang!
An incredible performance in goal from Nerang goalkeeper Bruce Oxenford earned him the Man Of The Match award, and it was a single goal from Peter Curtis that sealed the 1-nil victory to the Eagles over a team who would eventually leave as a dejected and disappointed Grange Thistle outfit.
Such were the legends of our club and our great players and coaches who paved the way before all of us nowadays.
Chris Payne was based in the USA however he had returned to Australia again at Christmas just past, and when visiting he made time to catch up with Nerang Soccer legends of the 1980s – Ray Duck, Derek Smith, Alan Shaw, Gerard Hall and Leigh Jackson – for an enjoyable afternoon of fond memories and reminiscing.
It with extreme sadness and a sense of great loss that we share the news of Chris’ passing after he suffered a heart attack last Monday and passed away.
RIP Payney, another good man lost.
FFA CUP Opening Round
Nerang Premier League VS Burleigh Premier League
Sunday 3rd March 2019
Kick off 4pm at Nerang Soccer Club
Free entry, bar and canteen open all afternoon into the evening
Come support your Eagles and pay your respect…