Devils dominant in first title win
GYMPIE rugby league came of age on Saturday after the Devils won their first Sunshine Coast/Gympie Rugby League premiership.
The historic win in front of nearly 5000 people at the Nambour Showgrounds saw the Devils put on a dominant second-half display to erase a six-point half-time deficit, to beat the Nambour Crushers 22-6 and cement themselves as the kings of the coast competition for the first time.
When the final hooter sounded emotions overflowed as hundreds of Gympie supporters raced onto the field to congratulate their heroes.
A massive scrum of supporters surrounded the players.
Players and fans embraced with joy and tears flowed as the players and coaching staff were cheered from the field.
Man of the match and Mal Meniga medal winner Darren Burns was chaired from the field and said it was the best moment of his illustrious football career.
The 36-year-old 102kg forward was playing his last game for the Devils.
He managed to score two tries in the final in what was a fairytale finish for the ex-Brisbane Bronco.
"It was great. To see the excitement on peoples faces running on to the field made it even better," Burn said.
Burns said Mal Meniga was his idol as a young footballer and winning his medal was an honour.
"When I scored those two tries the boys came from everywhere to hug me. It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. I was very, very happy."
"It couldn’t have got any better than that. I was always going to retire this year, it just wasn’t because we won the final, it was my time. It was a bonus to go out with a win and two tries," he said.
The Devils made special mention of the impact the thousands of Gympie supporters who travelled to Nambour made on the team.
They said the enthusiastic Devils crowd seemed to outnumber the home side and gave them a real lift during the heat of the game.
Gympie Devils president Scott Dodt said the crowd was amazing.
"It was very special," Dodt said.
"Half an hour before the game I looked around and saw all the blue and gold – I had tears in my eyes because of the amount of support we had.
"It was like a home crowd, the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up."
Dodt said during the game the chants of Devils and Gympie echoed across the ground.
"We didn’t just beat them on the field, we beat them on the hill, we beat them in the grandstand and we beat them with the kids running onto the field.
"I think every one will remember that day forever," he said.
"You could have robbed any house in Gympie because I don’t think anybody was home."