Summerland AFL gets another chance
By DARREN MONCRIEFF
THE record of the Summerland Australian Football League (SAFL) in inter-league football competitions is poor.
Five years of trying to topple the strong North Coast AFL came to nought.
Last year's effort at Inverell in a three-way, round-robin series against the North Coast and Tamworth leagues also amounted to nothing.
But their match at Fripp Oval, Ballina, today is perhaps the SAFL's best chance at reversing the trend when they come up against a young Tamworth AFL side whose average age hovers around 21.
The Tamworth regional side's coach Dick Gleeson said the decision to go with a young side was more to do with giving those players an opportunity to play representative football than anything else.
"We've picked a side full of blokes who wanted to play and we're happy with the side we have," Gleeson said.
"Our key areas are covered ? full-forward, centre half-forward, the centreline. We're fast on the wings and the flanks so we're shaping up all right."
Gleeson said there was much to like about his side. "Our style of play is to just back ourselves, try to minimise the mistakes and don't do anything silly," he said.
"Basically, I've given them free licence to run and bring each other into the play.
"We have no set game rule or plan ? although a dry track would be nice. If we can do that I think our blokes will handle themselves well."
Gleeson said the Tamworth side's running game and skills were their strengths.
"We might be inexperienced but we plan to keep the play wide, open it up a bit and move the ball quickly," he said. "We're not an overly physically strong side, but they're good young footballers.
"These kids will step up and play rep footy for years." While neither Gleeson nor SAFL coach Ron Meldrum know anything of each other's sides, Gleeson said that shouldn't be a problem.
"After the first quarter you have a fair idea of the opposition," he said.
"I don't think that's a bad thing because most likely they don't know anything about us so we're both in the same boat."
There was one change to the SAFL line-up announced on Thursday, with Nimbin Demons' Chris Frangos coming in for Byron Magpies' Joe Ryan.
Meldrum said he was confident the boys would come together as a good team today.
"Players from previous campaigns who are playing today have a desire to win," he said.
"We've never won an inter-league carnival so this is a good chance to correct that."
The game starts at 2.30pm.
SUMMERLAND AFL: Matt Gardner, Shaun Hartley, Sam Kennedy, Ben Plummer, Gavin Plummer (Ballina Bombers), Shem Aitken, Tim Caldwell, Shaun McQueen, Crispin Myers (Byron Magpies), Jack Hatfield, Nick Heyward, Shaun Holland, Somin Howard, Ben Layton, George Massa, Doug Perich, Wes Seewald, Josh Suffolk (Lismore Swans), Will Alexander, Chris Frangos, Josh Mapstone, Billy Walker jnr, Zden Novak (Nimbin Demons). Coach: Ron Meldrum.
TAMWORTH AFL: Mark Curran, Glen Northway, Anthony Reid (New England Nomads), Alex Dasey, Peter Dunlop, Joe Kimmince, Alex Walker (Inverell Saints), James Molony, Carl Shave (Tamworth Swans), Glen Northway (Nomads), Richard Crafter, Steve Mullane, James Russ (Muswellbrook Cats), Colin Daye, Daniel Flint, Andrew Hawkins, Pete Prendergast (Tamworth Kangaroos), Mark Burrow (Narrabri Eagles), Scott Hardy (Gunnedah Bulldogs). Coach: Dick Gleeson.