League player hopes for big finish
By ADAM HICKS
RICKY Oxley started his playing days with the Mullumbimby Giants by helping clear the ground for the club.
More than 20 years on, the prop forward hopes to retire with a premiership when the Giants take on the Ballina Seagulls in the Retravision Northern League grand final on Sunday at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina.
But win or lose Oxley will prove that old footy heads don't retire they just move into coaching.
"I've been playing for the Giants since I was 10. I'm 32 now. I can still remember sitting on the back of a tractor picking up sticks when they built the club," he said.
"It will be hard to walk away no matter what (the result in Sunday's final). Definitely it will be even harder to retire if we win.
"I've always played football. I've never not played. I don't know how I'll go.
"It's in my blood, it's in my brain, it has been my life." But the big man is ready for new challenges.
"I've been coaching in the junior league and really enjoying that," he said.
Oxley has steered the Giants' Under 10s' side to a grand-final berth against the Ballina Seagulls which will be played today at Red Devils Park, Byron Bay.
"The kids are ecstatic. It's their first big season with finals and they made it to the grand final," Oxley said. Still a key player in the Giants' success, Oxley said he is just getting too old to keep taking the knocks.
"After a game things get sore. It used to be just on Monday. Now it's Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday."
Although confident that hanging up his boots is right, Oxley hasn't ruled out a cameo appearance next season.
"I just love the club," he said. "I'd hate to see it not do well and if they were ever struggling (for players) I'd always come out.
"I wasn't going to play this year, but they were short of numbers and they asked me to play." As it's already been said, old footy heads never quit &