PICS: Goats' Steve Ball calls it the end of a stellar career
RUGBY UNION: It was not the perfect ending for Gladstone Rugby Union Football Club stalwart Steve Ball.
But he left the field one last time on Saturday night knowing that he had left everything on the field.
It was just unfortunate Ball suffered a neck injury and concussion 65-minutes into the game at Marley Brown Oval with the score at 27-17.
Ball's team was also knocked out of the Rugby Capricornia premiership race by Rockhampton Brothers 46-17 in what had otherwise been a successful season.
"I'm a bit disappointed at the moment and it was just niggling injuries which had also started to affect my life outside of football," Ball said.
He has donned the Goats' jersey for the past 14 seasons and had no intention to play on this year.
"What occurred at the start of the season was that we were struggling for numbers and had a few phone calls from coaches," Ball said.
Always to put the team before himself, Ball committed one final time to put his body on the line.
"I ended up playing eight, nine then 10 games and then the whole season," he said. Ball was taken to hospital by ambulance and the game was halted for 30 minutes.
Thankfully Ball's injuries were just muscular and he suffered concussion.
"It happened in a tackle and there was no malice in it at all," Ball said. "It's footy and these things happen." Brothers got on top after the half-hour stoppage in play.
"Sometimes teams come out a bit disconnected after a delay in play and that's what had happened," Ball said. Ball said there were three highlights which stick in his mind.
"The two premierships in 2006 and 2015 and playing against the Classic Wallabies were definitely the highlights for sure," he said.
Ball said he was not sure if he would commit to coaching. "I don't work in Gladstone which makes it hard and it's not on the immediate horizon," he said.
Goats' second rower Seamus O'Connor said the team had come from a long way back from forfeits because of lack of numbers, to a shaky start this season, to then finish high on the ladder.
"I am definitely proud of the team though given we started the season with 11 people, looking like folding and losing the first game 80-3 to becoming second on the table and getting as far as we got," he said.