When Western Pride youngster Corey Lucas saw his free-kick sail into the Northern Fury goal on Saturday night he not only scored his third goal in four matches but completed a transition between two generations of Ipswich footballers.
When foundation player Lincoln Rule left Pride in the summer to return to Ipswich Knights, it left the club without a designated set-piece and penalty specialist.
Little did Rule know he found his own replacement several months earlier when he asked friend and Western Spirit defender Lucas to trial with Pride in the off-season.
Lucas was signed for his defensive abilities but scored a penalty on his PlayStation® 4 NPL debut and another a week later before his dead-ball heroics in Townsville last weekend.
The 20 year-old said he was only selected for dead-ball duties a day before the start of the season.
“We all had a bit of a go at taking them and my kicks paid off,” Lucas said.
“I only took one penalty at Spirit and missed but I used to take penalties at school a lot,”
It was at Ipswich Grammar School Lucas first met Rule and they soon found a common passion in football.
“He was five years older but I became good mates with him through football coaching,” Lucas said.
“Football at Ipswich Grammar School got pretty big while I was there, and for the term and a half it was you lived and breathed it.”
Rule would go onto to join a newly-created Pride squad dominated by Ipswich footballers such as Peter Drager and Jay Kitching, while Lucas trialed for the club’s under 18 team before focusing on cricket commitments.
Lucas said Rule and Drager were an inspiration to younger Ipswich footballers.
“Every time you picked up a Saturday Queensland Times they were the boys on the back page, even when they were originally at Knights” Lucas said.
“Then when Lincoln had a month trialing at Brisbane Roar (in 2014) it shows us how good the development pathway in Ipswich is.”
Lucas’s path back to Pride saw him spend two seasons at Ipswich community club Spirit, culminating in a Capital League Two Grand Final appearance last season.
The central defender, who was also a junior at both Knights and Ipswich City Bulls, said all of the Ipswich clubs and schools played an important part in developing players like himself and Rule.
“Then if Ipswich kids want to progress to the Brisbane Roar youth system they now want to be playing at an NPL club,” Lucas said.
“And thankfully Pride is right in our backyard.”
Words: Garry McKenzie
Photo: Chris Simpson
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