Byron plays for love of the club, not the money

IF Byron Bay wins the Retravision Northern League grand final on Sunday, it will be for their club, not for the money.

With eight players in the first-grade team to meet Grafton Ghosts having come through Byron Bay juniors, coach Nathan Cross said the club's knockers had no grounds to accuse them of chequebook recruiting.

“It's always been that we were labelled the silvertails, and that we always try to buy the competition,” he said.

“There was a stage in the late 1990s and early 2000s where the club was very strong and the club did spend significant amounts of money on players.

“But this year it's a case of all these boys wanting to play together and create something special.”

The club's financial prosperity stemmed from an annual windfall from hosting the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival.

But with the festival moving to Belongil Fields this year, the club's income is believed to have dropped by up to $120,000.

“Money was very tight,” Cross said.

“We had to come up with a team that wanted to play for little money.

“That's why it was such an enjoyable year – we're all Byron Bay juniors just having fun playing footy.”

Tom Merrit, Lachlan Flannery and Alex Butchies have played together with Byron Bay since Under-12s.

Michael Chapman, Eli Colby, Josh Rogers, Michael Lambert and Cross himself are also Red Devil products.

But Luke Bomford has been around the longest.

The interchange second-rower first played with the club as a six-year-old and has played with the club every season except two, for the past 20 years.

“It's good to see they've all stuck around as mates and now it's all paid off,” he said.

“We hang out on the weekends and what not and catch up off the field as well.

“We're sort of pretty close.

“No one's getting paid. They say that Byron is the club that pays all the players. This year everyone's stuck together as mates and we're all playing together.

“There is no hierarchy. We're all at the same eye level. No one is better than everyone else. We're all there for each other.”

Cross said Colby's rise into first grade this season was more proof of the strength of the club.

“He played reserve grade all last season,” Cross said.

“This season he's been one of our best players.”

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