ONE game every team wants to win = grand final. Second best, the local rivalry.
In the Valley, it’s the blokes on the wrong side of the river.
So here it was, the last-placed but ever improving Nambucca Strikers versus the also on the up Macksville Stingers, placed fourth and surging. North Coast Football men’s 3rd division.
A fair crowd had gathered for a sport which has grown legs in the Valley in recent years – especially for brothers on brothers.
The Stingers started strong as is their want, and had a few early opportunities, including a shot denied by the cross bar.
The Strikers – at least earlier in the season – would have folded their tent quicker than Custer as the Indians arrived.
But not this mob. They fought and counter-attacked – making the most of rare opportunities.
Against the run, goal machine Riley Hayden went for a mad run down the left and scored. An upset – and the lads in red were very upset – became a possibility, as the Strikers came into their own.
But the Stingers – a team becomingly more comfortable at winning – stayed staunch. And a dottie saw them level going into the break.
Cries of “don’t drop your heads, Heads” when the score was level was resonant of a team with one win and lacking confidence. Flipside, the Stingers backed themselves and pressed with intuitive swag.
Another penalty – enough cards in the game to befuddle a Bridge player – saw Macksville go 2-1.
A third soon after, sealed the result.
Yet the game never felt dead, as mates from both sides of the bridge tested.
For the Stingers, Quinton Threadgate was typically busy though was guilty of overplaying his hand on occasion, while Brodie Bartlett was a menace up front and BJ Melouney was ever dangerous down the right flank though mostly contained by Tom Robertson with some vigorous tackling.
Tim Wilkes generalled the back as ever and Jack Rogan was a rock and standout whenever Nambucca ventured.
The Strikers were led well by Jason Forbes in midfield, Ben Honeybrook had another cracker between the sticks, while Buster Faulkner had a blinder and Nick Hickey was white hot in the second half.
Enjoy the gallery.