The interruptions caused by COVID-19 finally began to fade with people from the Great Southern embracing the return to sporting normality with open hearts in 2022. Participants and supporters in the region enjoyed the highs and lows of sport together in an eventful year for all involved. From the befitting elation of the long-suffering Albany Sharks faithful as they reached a maiden Great Southern Football League grand final, to the heart-breaking loss of a brave WA Country side at the Hockey Australia Country Challenge held in Albany, the Advertiser takes a look back at another immensely eventful and significant year of sport in the region. January - Royals win their first ADCA Twenty20 title in an enthralling grand final against Mt Barker. - Roy Rogers wins second straight $100,000 TABtouch Fitzpatrick Plate. - Holly Watson aboard Mini Winnie wins $100,000 TABtouch Mt Barker Sprint for trainer Quenten Jackson handing Watson her first major feature race victory. - Young star Teague Valli scores his first century, blasting an unbeaten ton for Albany and Districts Cricket Association at junior country week cricket in Perth. -Albany speedway driver Jason Batchelor claims his first State title in dramatic fashion. February - Albany and Districts Cricket Association star Nathan Crudeli is named in the WA Country Cricket Board’s senior country week all-stars team. - Albany and Districts Cricket Association finals start early in a bid to complete the 2021-22 season without any complications from COVID-19. - Emu Point duo Matt Mitchell and Jon Sharpe along with Albany’s Craig Hitchcock and Mt Barker Golf’s Paul Garbellini are selected in the Country All-Stars side for the Bowls WA Men’s Country Week Championships. - The Belt-Up Country Cup is won by the Albany and Districts Cricket Association after their dominant grand final performance against the WA Invitational XI in Narrogin. March - Mt Barker exact grand final revenge on arch-rivals Royals, claiming their first Albany and Districts Cricket Association A-grade title in nearly 20 years. - Albany’s women’s side fall heartbreakingly short of a championship title at the Basketball WA Country Championships, losing to Karratha 1 by eight points. - Barking Owls secure their third Albany Basketball Association men’s A-grade title in front of limited spectators. - Barking Owls are awarded the Albany Basketball Association women’s grand final after Sonics Blue are forced to forfeit due to player shortages caused by COVID-19. - Great Southern Football League announces umpires will be paid more money in the 2022 season, in a bid to help retain numbers and recruit new people to the job. - North Albany junior Declan Mountford joins the West Coast Eagles as a COVID top-up player and receives a stunning late call-up to make his debut against North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium. April - Royals midfielder Taylah Orzel wins her first Great Southern Football League women’s best and-fairest award. - Railways claim their first Great Southern Football League women’s premiership against Denmark-Walpole at McLean Park. - Trainer Adam Durrant creates Albany Cup history after winning the long-running race for a record seventh time. - Highly touted Albany teenager Lucas Ravenhill is selected to represent WA at the AFL National Under-16s Championships May - Albany teenager and Polonia striker Connor Bunce is named in Australia’s 14-man Pararoos squad that competed at the International Federation of Cerebral Palsy Football World Cup in Spain. - Albany jockey Natasha Faithfull enjoyed the most successful day of her career, riding five winners at the Kalgoorlie Boulder Racing Club. - Talented Albany fast bowler Bryce Jackson earns a full contract with the WA men’s side for the 2022-23 domestic cricket season. - Dedicated football volunteer Tracy Blaszkow is recognised for her outstanding efforts towards sports administration, winning the 2022 Mike Stidwell Medal. - Great Southern basketball stars Keely Berry, Evan Delbene and Billy McRae are selected to represent WA in the Australian Junior Championships. - Albany pair Natasha Faithfull and Steve Wolfe claim the top honours at the Great Southern Racing Awards. - Former Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan is announced as a marquee signing for Albany’s Twenty20 tournament, the Southern Smash. June - Albany surfing veteran Paul Dupuy caps a dazzling weekend by claiming the 2022 Wavefest open men’s crown. - Albany-raised Parris Laurie calls time on her AFLW career after four seasons at the West Coast Eagles. - Albany surfing star Elijah Medling clinched his maiden WA bodyboard title. - The Albany Sharks made history in the GSFL, claiming their first win over Royals in a league fixture as all three powerhouse Albany clubs lose in the same weekend. - The Great Southern Storm are crowned champions of the Great Southern Colts Carnival for the first time since 2014. - Great Southern Football League women’s stars Kaitlin Eades, Sheridan Kowald, Georgia Kowald, Lily Minter and Taylah Orze represent WA. - Lower Great Southern Hockey Association’s division one team falls narrowly short of title glory at the CBH Men’s Country Championships, losing to Bunbury in the grand final. July - Emu Point bowls sensation Matt Mitchell is rewarded for his stellar form, winning the Bowls WA 2021-22 Male Country Bowler of the Year title. - Nine Great Southern players feature in Claremont’s colts side clash with West Perth in the regional WAFL colts showcase at Retravision Stadium. - Albany Netball Association celebrates NAIDOC round with participating clubs coming together for a special ceremony and welcome to country from Menang Noongar elder Vernice Gillies. August - Nine Lower Great Southern Hockey Association players pull on WA colours at the Hockey Australia Country Challenge in Albany. - Great Southern Football League star Matt Palfrey plays for the WA Country side for the first time in a State game in Adelaide. - Queensland defeat WA 5-0 in the men’s gold medal match at the Hockey Australia Country Challenge in Albany. - Queensland claim the gold medal double after their women’s side also win the grand final of the Hockey Australia Country Challenge. - Albany surfing gun Paul Dupuy wins a national shortboard title after a sparkling performance at the Australian Surf Championships. - Former North Albany ruckman Darcy Cameron plays his 50th AFL game at a packed MCG. September - Mt Barker’s Zach Jackson and Railways’ Matt Palfrey share the Great Southern Football League’s highest honour, the Kleeman Medal. - Albany reach a maiden grand final after their historic preliminary final win over Mt Barker. - Railways claim their second consecutive Great Southern Football League premiership with a 29-point victory over Albany. - A goal in the final 30 seconds of the grand final helps Royals Saints 1 complete their Albany Netball Association A-grade season undefeated, beating Narrikup 1 by a single goal in the decider. - Polonia and Mt Barker are crowned league champions in the Great Southern Soccer Association men’s division one and women’s division one league competitions respectively. - North Albany and Spencer Park claim the women and men’s Lower Great Southern Hockey Association A-grade premierships respectively. - Denmark and Rovers win the Great Southern Soccer Association women’s division one and men’s division one cup competitions respectively while Mt Barker were women’s division one league champions and Polonia men’s division one league champions. October - Great Southern’s Declan Mountford and his Claremont side fall short to West Perth in the 2022 WAFL grand final. - Collingwood Park announce Scottish star Oliver Davidson will join the club for the 2022-23 season. - Albany young gun Tom Edwards claims the 2022 WAFL mark of the year. - Great Southern AFLW star Belinda Smith becomes the first West Coast Eagles player to reach 50 AFLW games. - A contingent of Albany Vikings return with premierships and All Australian honours from the AFL Masters National Carnival. November - Fifteen Great Southern soccer talents are selected to compete for WA at the Singa Cup in Singapore. - Sri Lankan champion Tillakaratne Dilshan is taken with the first pick in the Southern Smash draft. - Denmark-raised Tom Morrison starts his new role as a development coach for the West Coast Eagles. - Rising tennis juniors Denby Sharpe and Tea Zizek are selected to represent the Lower Great Southern Tennis Association at the Super 10s National Camp in Melbourne. - Albany trainer Roy Rogers and star jockey Damian Oliver reunite to win the $100,000 TABtouch Regional Championship final. - Outstanding Denmark teenager Isi Campbell is recognised as the Surfing WA 2022 Junior Surfer of the Year. December - Draft bolter with strong links to Albany, Kaleb Smith, is picked up by Richmond. - Rising Denmark basketballer Evan Delbene is selected in the Basketball WA State Performance Program squad for 2023. - Albany cyclist Craig Wiggins continues outstanding return to racing by winning the bunch sprint at the Devonport Criterium in the Spirit of Tasmania Cycling Tour. - Railways junior Jacob Blight trains with the Fremantle Dockers following his switch from Claremont to Peel Thunder in the WAFL. - North Albany receive five additional points under the Great Southern Football League’s player-point system ahead of the 2023 season. - Great Southern trio Nathan Crudeli, Jeremy Wood and Holly Pearce earn selection for their respective WA Country squads that will compete at the Australian Country Cricket Championships in 2023.