There is nothing quite like the atmosphere at Magic Park on game day. The crowd is large and loud and among the fans are a mixture of youngsters thrilled to be watching their favourite players in action as well as lifelong fans with decades of footballing passion behind them.
Magic have a younger side than most but they have risen to the challenge in 2023, placing second on the table before winning their way through to the grand final to challenge the Lambton Jaffas at Edgeworth’s Jack McLaughlan Oval this Saturday.
Leading the way up top for Magic is vice-captain Jayden Stewardson, who has been at the club for eight years and cherishes every moment he plays in the red and yellow.
The 23-year-old striker has drawn comparisons to former gun Magic frontman Chris Berlin – tall, athletic, strong, and a sharp eye for goal. When Stewardson’s not scoring goals, he’s working his tail off to either assist goals, make space for his teammates or win the ball back for his side.
Stewardson never shies away from a challenge against the strongest and most physical defenders the competition has to offer.
The Magician and his teammates will line up opposite a Jaffas side with far more grand final experience this Saturday, but the vice-captain declared they were ready for the challenge.
“I think we’re a force to be reckoned with,” Stewardson said.
“We play a good brand of football and training is really exciting, in that there’s a lot of competition. We don’t take any game for granted and we push through. We’re constantly learning as a group and I think we can go far.
“I was really proud of the group against Charlestown because it was something different for us. Instead of beating them by goals, we had to beat them by being a great football side. Game management is a massive key, and learning as a group how to manage a game is super important. We did that on the weekend and I was really proud of the group for that.
“I love the group we have here. I’ve never played in a tighter-knit team. Everyone is there for each other and have each other’s backs. We are constantly learning and I’m so proud of the younger boys who are starting to get a game now and are showing what they’re made of.
“I think this group will stick together next year and I think we’re going to start building something special here at Broadmeadow. I’m proud of the fact that we have a group here that can win games, and I think we can keep doing it for a long time.”
The way that Stewardson approaches every game is something he believes will be crucial for everyone to adopt on Saturday in order to boost Broadmeadow’s chances of beating Lambton in the decider.
“Showing up is going to be massive, as in physically,” Stewardson said.
“We are a smaller team than them, so if we show up physically and show we’re there early, it will go a long way. By doing that, you draw more fouls, which means set pieces, which means more goals.
“We need to put 100 per cent on the line. I know myself; I try and do that every time. Our boys are really going to need to get in there and get stuck in, and I think if we do that, we’re a huge chance.
“Lambton are obviously a quality side. I think Josh Piddington being out is a massive loss for them, but you’ve got Topor-Stanley back there who’s won an Asian Champions League and played a tonne of games in the A-League. But he’s not going to scare us. We’ve got the football ability to counter that.”
Stewardson said that he was proud to not only represent Broadmeadow Magic, but also to play under a club legend in coach John Bennis. Bennis will coach the first grade side for the final time this Saturday, and Stewardson and his teammates are determined to send him out a winner.
“I played here in the junior club and came into the senior setup here at Magic Park at 17,” Stewardson said.
“The club means everything to me. It’s pretty much like a family. The people here look after you like it’s your second home. It’s been a great club for me.
“John Bennis has been my coach for a few years now through the younger ranks and he’s always looked after me. There was not a question of whether we’d play good football under him. I knew from the start of the year he was going to bring a positive attitude into the group, and he has certainly done that and got us to the grand final, so credit to him.”
Stewardson will help lead his side on Saturday evening against Lambton for the championship.
Find out all match day information for this weekend’s grand finals here.
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