What a year 2020 has been! It's been, what the majority of people will call, a year to forget.
But the residents of the Nambucca Valley have a reason to remember and celebrate the year 2020: the Nambucca Valley Lions are into the North Coast AFL Grand Final.
The boys secured their place in the big dance during the long weekend as they hosted and demolished the Northern Beaches Blues, 13.4 (82) - 2.3 (15).
The first 10 minutes of the game felt like it could of gone either way, the Blues gave it their all, desperate to get themselves into the Grand Final for a second time in two years.
But a half time speech by coach Leif Stuart gave the Lions the fire they needed to put the Blues to the sword and they were untouchable in the second half of the game.
The boys met for the first time in December last year - a light training session, followed by a couple of cold ones, kickstarted the Lions' campaign.
Each player's commitment to the club saw the Lions reborn at a senior level. And their first win at the first game of the season put the boys on the hype train and generated an electrifying buzz within the club.
Now, in what has seemed like an eternity since that first meet in December, the boys are staring down the barrel at the Grand Final.
The club is fired up and so should you be, people of Nambucca, so cancel all of tomorrow's plans, buy yourself a $10 ticket to the Coffs Harbour stadium and come roar with the Lions as they fight for glory!
Tickets can be purchased here at https://www.eventbrite.com.au/d/online/north-coast-afl/ Game starts at 2pm.
Carn the Lions!
Grand Final match preview by AFL North Coast's Paul Taylor
In the blink of an eye, the 2020 season is almost over.
None of the reigning premiers have qualified for the Grand Finals, five clubs will be represented on the big day, and we have two new teams (Nambucca Valley in Reserves and Northern Beaches in Women's) that are appearing in a Grand Final at the first attempt.
This is a great sign that the strength of our senior competition continues to grow, which is an amazing achievement in this most challenging of years.
The program for the day is:
10:00am Under 17: Sawtell Toormina Saints v Grafton Tigers
12:10pm Women: Coffs Harbour Breakers v Northern Beaches Blues
2:00pm Reserves: Nambucca Valley Lions v Coffs Harbour Breakers
4:00pm Seniors: Grafton Tigers v Sawtell Toormina Saints
The Reserve Grade Grand Final features Nambucca Valley Lions against Coffs Harbour Breakers.
The Lions have been a revelation in their return to the competitive fold after an eight-year absence.
That they have gone through the season undefeated isn't a surprise considering that they have three members of the recently announced Team of the Decade in Leif Stuart, Aaron Clarke, and Jimmy Angel, plus recent senior grade players in Aaron Boatfield and Joe Drage.
However, very few teams win flags off the back of four or five players only, and it's the depth that the team possesses that has been key to their success.
Former Victorian Jake Hare has dominated matches, Haydn Suridge brings athleticism in his first year in the code, and Jacob Welsh offers plenty of goals up front highlighted by his six-goal bag in the Semi.
In their last incarnation, the Lions won two Under 18 titles but are yet to claim an open age crown. This year could well be the one that sees the duck broken.
The Breakers Reserve Grade side has made it to this stage of the season on a number of occasions but is yet to get its hands on the Premiership Cup.
Even in his forties, Brad Giri is one of the smartest footballers going around and offers plenty of threat up forward, but his entry to the match could be delayed due to his role as Women's coach.
Aaron Crolla adds grunt to the midfield and is always a threat with a long bomb. Josh Hunt is both fit and fast and will relish the wide open expanses of the Stadium, especially as the game goes on and opposition legs grow tired.
Whilst many players in the club have juggled their time between the open age grades, Brayden Coad, Will Buckingham, Cody Woods, Rohan McMahon and Cooper Patricks have been the mainstays that coach Benny Watson builds his team around.
Nambucca comfortably won both clashes this season between the two teams so the Breakers know they have their work cut out if they are to prevail in the biggest match of the year.
Only time will tell who will be crowned kings of AFL North Coast Reserves. Will you be there to see it?
AFL North Coast will also be livestreaming the match from 2pm. You can tune in via this link.