LISMORES OAKES OVAL
LISMORES OAKES OVAL

Hooker League lets go Oakes Oval tradition

By STEVE SPINKS

FOR the first time in the 14 year history of the Far North Coast LJ Hooker League cricket competition the final has not been booked for the region's premier sports facility, Lismore's Oakes Oval.

Despite being held across three cricket associations - Casino, Ballina and Lismore - the final of the Hooker League has always been held at Oakes Oval.

However, with the inclusion of the Tweed teams this summer, the final will be held at the field of choice by the highest placed team in the final.

In semi-final action this weekend, minor premiers Tintenbar-East Ballina will host the fourth-placed Cudgen at Kingsford Smith South, Ballina, while the second placed Southern Districts host the Casino Cavaliers at Oakes Oval.

Should the 'Bar lose and Souths defeat the Cavs, Oakes Oval will host the final.

"We just thought it would be fairer because of the new clubs in the competition," Hooker League chairman Brett Crawford said.

"There's no reason why we have to hold the final at Oakes and we wanted to give other clubs the opportunity.

"I suppose there would be a bit more support for teams if they get to hold it at home ... imagine if two Tweed teams got into the final and had to play at Lismore."

It's a problem Far North Coast Rugby Union has wrestled with in the past couple of years.

Except for last season because of rain, Oakes Oval has been the venue for the FNCRU grand final even though the teams contesting the decider have been from outside Lismore.

It's a practical decision by the Hooker League.

Meanwhile, Crawford is happy with the way the Hooker League has gone this season.

The League grew from 10 to 14 teams with the addition of the Tweed sides amid much antipathy, especially from the Lismore clubs who initially refused to join the expanded competition.

However, the clubs seem to have moved on.

"I spoke to a few people half-way through the season and everyone seemed pretty happy," Crawford said.

"Just playing against different players has itself added more interest."

Crawford also pointed out that the finals will be contested by a team from each of the four associations involved in the Hooker League.

The Greg Chappell Cricket Centre player of the year awards function will be held at the Byron Bay Bowling Club on Friday March 28.

Besides the best player, a team of the year will also be announced for the first time which will be sponsored by Coach Cap.



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