Footy finals time
By STEVE SPINKS
WHILE their senior AFL counterparts still have a number of weeks to go before finals time, the Far North Coast Junior AFL played their grand finals at Bangalow on Sunday.
With a record crowd on hand at Shultz Oval, spectators were treated to two high quality matches.
In the Under-12s decider, Byron Bay completed the perfect season by remaining undefeated after knocking over Lismore 12-8-80 to 5-5-35.
However, the high-flying Magpies didn't have it all their own way.
During the first quarter Lismore, led by player of the grand final Brad Hoffman, really rattled Byron.
But the black and white machine responded well to the challenge and clicked in the second quarter to run away with the match and the premiership.
To the put the icing on the cake, Byron player Matt Lodge was named as the Under-12s best and fairest for 2005.
Runner-up was Ballina's Nikko Roberts.
In the Under-14s grand final, the Brunswick Bulldogs knocked over Lismore in impressive fashion by 64 points.
The Bulldogs scored 11-11-77 with the Swan 1-7-13 only able to kick a solitary major with some brutal Brunswick defence dominating the play.
The Bulldogs star was Adam Oehlman who was voted best on ground by the umpires.
However, the best and fairest player for the Under-14s came from Byron Bay with Luke Saltmarsh awarded the honour.
Lismore's Angus Graham was the runner-up.
The matches wrapped up a great year for Far North Coast juniors.
"We're building in numbers," FNCJAFL president Greg Ryan said.
"We started five years ago with four clubs with about 30 members each.
"Now nearly all of the clubs have 100 players each.
"We're hopeful of having two more clubs join the competition next year."
Casino and Murwillumbah are the two clubs interested in playing in the 2006 competition.
The highlight of the year, besides Sunday's grand finals, was the combined Under-8s playing during the half-time match of an AFL match at the Gabba between Brisbane and Collingwood.
Another highlight will be when the senior Summerland AFL hold their finals in the coming weeks.
The Under-12s premiers, Byron Bay, will take on the best of the rest of their comp in the preliminary final of the seniors in a curtain-raiser.
The Under-14s premiers, Brunswick, will do the same in a curtain-raiser to the grand final.
n The Under-8s and Under-10s also played on Sunday morning in an Auskick game.
The emphasis on the younger age groups is participation and not competition.