Lion King 2: Casino Lions to join the Nambucca Valley's in AFL North Coast competition

Lion King 2: Casino Lions to join the Nambucca Valley's in AFL North Coast competition

The AFL North Coast Senior Competition is set for a third consecutive year of expansion with the Lismore Swans and Casino Lions opting to join the League from the 2021 season.

Of course, this means there will now be two prides in the jungle, after the Nambucca Valley Lions reentered in style this year.

Community Football Manager for AFL North Coast Paul Taylor said Nambucca was consulted before Casino was welcomed into the League and that the club was more than happy to have another lot of Lions on the prowl.

The one proviso is that Casino's jerseys will need to be substantially different from the Nambucca Valley's - possibly white or yellow in line with the Brisbane Lions' heritage or Indigenous round guernseys.

"And of course when they play each other we'll have to refer to them as Nambucca and Casino rather than the Lions and the Lions," Taylor said.

Lismore and Casino entering the League brings the overall number of clubs to eight in what will be one of the biggest seasons of local footy in 2021.

And with both Nambucca and the Northern Beaches Blues indicating that they will field a side in the First Grade next year, that could effectively double the grade in 2021.

Casino Lions huddle

Casino Lions huddle

The Casino Lions are re-forming for the 2021 season, having last taken to the park in the 2017 season. Casino President Ben Hunt said there was a lot of excitement around the town about the club's return.

"We've decided to return to the competition after a long time away based on a groundswell of support from local players and businesses. We're looking to rebuild a club with a very prestigious history and return to AFL glory in the coming years.

"The vibe around the club and the players is exciting being able to compete again after such a long time away from the competition. It's great being part of a very diverse competition and being able to grow AFL in the area."

Lismore Swans

Lismore Swans

The Lismore Swans formed in 2001 from a merger of the Goonellabah Swans and Lismore Kangaroos, with both of these clubs being founding members of the Summerland League back in 1984. The Swans have competed in their various guises in the Summerland/Northern Rivers competition every year since 1984 but club President Laura Cahill says the time is right to make the move south.

"The movement to a NSW based league will give us the scope to engage with players in our broader regional area, and allow us to participate in a competition that's better suited to our vision and values at this point in time.

"The Lismore Swans are looking forward to the opportunity to participate in the AFL North Coast competition. We are really excited about developing some new healthy rivalries with the existing North Coast teams."

Paul Taylor welcomed the new clubs and said that the local competition is in an extremely positive growth phase.

"It's incredibly exciting to have two new clubs joining the competition in 2021 and we can't wait to see them in action. This will mean that our Senior Competition has doubled in size in just three years, which is a fantastic reflection of the hard work of all involved in the competition and comes off the back of five years of growth in Junior footy.

"The collaborative approach adopted by our clubs during this time has been a key factor in the growth as its encouraged others to take the punt.

"The inclusion of Lismore and Casino extends what was already a big region and creates additional challenges, but the existing clubs were keen to see them join and have indicated that they'll look at innovative solutions to overcome the challenge of travel. With the way that clubs have worked together in recent times I have no doubt they'll pass the challenge with flying colours."

In addition to the new clubs joining the fold in 2021 the signs are already positive for growth in team numbers in all grades of the Senior Competition based on the interest being fielded by all clubs.

The AFL North Coast 2021 season gets underway in April.

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