Ageless Ceccoli on the IPL’s big stage again

TALISMAN: Fury skipper Alvin Ceccoli has played in his fair share of grand finals in recent times. Picture: GEORGIA MATTS

TALISMAN: Fury skipper Alvin Ceccoli has played in his fair share of grand finals in recent times. Picture: GEORGIA MATTS

Alvin Ceccoli has heard it all before.

Every season the jeers from opposing fans in the crowd are just as loud, but the 42-year-old continues to go about his business.

Why would he have any reason to change?

For the best part of the last decade in the Premier League, Ceccoli’s formula has been working. The veteran Fury defender has appeared in more grand finals than he can count in recent times –with his fair share of success too – so a little banter here and there is the least of his worries.

“I take it with a pinch of salt,” he says ahead of another grand final appearance on Sunday.

“I don’t take it personally but I do savour that moment when I don’t say a lot. When the tables turn I like to give it back. It’s all in good fun. It’s too be expected given my career and what I have done.

“I always joke with my teammates that I don’t mind all the heckling that I get as long as we win, otherwise I’ll heckle you guys.”

In truth, the heckling is a mark of respect for Ceccoli as a player. The former A-League title winner might be “well and truly into his forties”, but remains one of the league’s premier defenders.

And he hopes that to continue for years to come yet.

“I have committed to play next year and I think I still have three or four years left in me. Maybe five years,” Ceccoli, who has won five grand finals since 2009, said.

“At this point I am feeling good.”

Ceccoli admits he didn’t always have such a positive outlook for the future during a campaign he rates among the ‘toughest’ he has ever played while in the Illawarra.

While Kemblawarra might have added yet League Championship crown, their road to Sunday’s decider against Albion Park White Eagles has been far from smooth sailing.

“We have been scrapping through,” Ceccoli said.

“Sometimes we were only having nine or 10 fit players to choose from. 

“The good thing about it is we have been able to rely on our youth players and they have helped us out dramatically this year.

“We scrapped through and won the League, but it has probably been the most difficult season ever playing down in this so you can only imagine how many sleepless nights Luke [McGuire] has had.”

For Ceccoli and McGuire, only one more sleepless night remains. On Sunday, they’ll face-off against a rampant White Eagles squad on the biggest day of the season. 

Park beat the Fury a fortnight ago to qualify for the decider and haven’t been lost in the league for close than three months.

Ceccoli wants that flawless record to change.

“The way I look at it, every win you have is closer to your next loss,” he said.

“When that happens, we don’t know. They have a lot of guys who have grand final experience, with Vaughan Patterson losing a few and I think [Bryce Daenell] has lost his last three. 

“They will have other players who haven’t played in this situation before so it is all about who rises to the occasion on the day.”

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