Lismore?s Gava Roars back into town

By Steve Spinks

Lismore's latest professional soccer player, Todd Gava, just laughs and shakes his head.

He still can't believe that later this year he could be marking superstar striker and former English Premier League veteran Dwight Yorke.

After all, Yorke was one of Gava's childhood heroes.

But marking internationally renowned strikers is just one of the perks of the job if you're a defender in the Queensland Roars' new A-League squad.

"It would be great to mark him (Yorke)," laughed Gava.

"I'd love to give him a bit of a kicking."

It will be back to the future for Gava this Sunday when he returns to Lismore's Oakes Oval as part of the Roar side that will take on the North Coast All Stars in a trial match.

The last time he played on Oakes Oval he led Italo-Stars to Far North Coast premiership glory with a pulsating penalty shoot-out victory over Southern Cross University.

He's also played on Oakes as part of previous North Coast All Stars outfits that challengedthe Queensland Roar's earliest incarnation in the former National Soccer League, the Brisbane Strikers.

After the 2000 grand final win, Gava headed to the Queensland Lions who played in Brisbane's XXXX League.

The defender stayed on when whispers of a new National Soccer League set up with the Queensland Lions was being mentioned as a possible Brisbane franchise.

The fact that he won three consecutive player of the year awards for the Lions in 2002, 2003 and 2004 didn't hurt when the Roar were announced as the A-League's Brisbane team.

Gava missed the Roar's only serious match to date when the Queensland team was downed by glamour club Sydney FC ? the club Yorke will join next month ? in the first round of the World Club Challenge in Australia.

"I watched that match from the grand stand, unfortunately," Gava said.

"It was a tactical move by Miron (Bleiberg - coach) because he thought a taller defender may be a bit more suitable.

"I had a chat with Miron after the game and he said I'm definitely in his plans and hopefully I'll be on the park in the starting XI.

"But Miron's the type of coach who likes to keep you guessing."

Gava believes one of the major differences between professional and amateur soccer is injury management and prevention.

There almost isn't a day when Gava doesn't immerse himself up to his neck in an ice bath.

"The first time I was told to do it I said 'You're kidding'," he laughed.

"It's not the best when it's 11 degrees after training at night and they want you to have one ... they're terrible.

"But when you wake up in the morning it's a big difference." So how does Gava think the All Stars will stack up against the Roar on Sunday?

"I've been on the other side of the table so I know how the All Stars guys will be feeling," he said.

"I've seen their line-up and it's not a bad team."

Who knows, the Roar may find a few more prospects to join Gava and his team-mates in Brisbane after the match in Lismore on Sunday afternoon.

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