Port Kembla duo out to finish on high

FINAL CHARGE: Port Kembla players Chris Smith and Matt Werakso will retire after the Illawarra Premier League decider against Bulli on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Robert Peet
FINAL CHARGE: Port Kembla players Chris Smith and Matt Werakso will retire after the Illawarra Premier League decider against Bulli on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Robert Peet

The sun is on the horizon but it hasn’t set yet.

It won’t until Sunday afternoon. Not until Port Kembla’s Chris Smith and Matt Werakso have one final title crack.

The Zebras’ veterans will retire after the club’s grand final stoush with Bulli, but have one box still to tick at Crehan Park.

And they couldn’t think of a better way of hanging up the boots than with one of the competition’s most coveted pieces of silverware in their possession.

“We have kind of come out of nowhere and a championship would cap it off,” Werakso said.

“It would be absolutely sensational. I spoke to [Noel Spencer] during the week and he was able to finish with a grand final win.

“It would be great to do this with this bunch of lads and for Port Kembla because it’s a great club.”

Werakso contemplated retiring throughout the campaign.

He started his career with Lysaghts as a 16-year-old before moving to America to play at Christian Brothers University in Memphis.

The defender has played at Port since 2012 after moving back from the United States with his wife Christina.

Residing in Marrackville, the couple are expecting their first child later this year.

It was a major contributor in Werakso’s decision to call time on his career.

“We have been going back and forth for a little bit but it makes it easier with Chris Smith doing it,” Werakso said

“We have been a doing it for a while now so why not finish it with a grand final.

“I have got my first baby on the way so with family and work commitments, and travelling down from Sydney as well [the time was right].”

While Werakso spent some time overseas, Smith has been an Illawarra Premier League mainstay for the past 15 years.

By his own admission, the goalscoring wizard has had ‘more clubs than Tiger Woods’ during that time.

After starting his career at Fernhilll, Smith has had extremely successful stints at both Dandaloo and Albion Park White Eagles.

He scored the winner for Park in the 2008 grand final against Port Kembla and has continued to be an attacking force in the region’s top competition.

“I have been lucky enough to play in a lot of grand finals and have met a lot of good people along the way and that’s what I am going to take away most,” Smith said of his career.

“Even today I could around to so many of those mates places and it’s no dramas at all.

“That’s the best part about it.”

Smith said his ailing body was a key reason behind his decision to retire.

“It’s getting too tough to do it,” he said.

“When your taking painkillers to go to training, it’s not really a smart move.

“I also want to spend time with my girlfriend [Melissa] which is a good trade off.”

Port will be without key defender Will Mobbs on Sunday after he was sent off last weekend. Cameron Morgan is also set to miss the game through suspension.