NRRRL final could be biggest ever
NORTHERN United star fullback Roy Bell has urged local supporters to get behind the Dirawongs as they close in on a maiden Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League premiership and hopefully a grand final crowd record.
Bell, a former South Sydney NRL player, believes the decider against Lower Clarence at the Maclean Showground on Sunday has the potential to pull the biggest crowd at a local grand final.
“We're pretty pumped up,” he said while meeting with Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell this week.
“We'd like to think we'll get a big crowd. We've been told by some older blokes in the club that one of the biggest crowds was the Casino and Kyogle grand final in 1990.
“We have people coming from everywhere. That is one thing about Aboriginal people, when there is football on they travel anywhere in the State to watch it.”
Northern United are holding their annual knockout carnival on Saturday and hope the teams, some of which have relations in the United side, will stick around and support the Dirawongs.
To beat the record they will have to pack them into the Maclean Showground.
NRRRL president Robin Harley believes the two biggest grand finals up here in the past 30 years were at Kyogle and Mullumbimby.
“The 1983 Kyogle v Lower Clarence grand final at Kyogle had a huge crowd and that record stood for many years,” he said.
“In 2004 when Mullum played Brothers at Mullum there was a $34,000 gate and no-one has got near that.”
It was estimated that between 4000 and 5000 people jammed into Les Donnelly Field that day as Mullum claimed their first premiership in three decades.
“We don't know how many we'll get down at Maclean but I suppose it would be nice to get 5000,” Harley said.
“Grand finals are funny games because generally speaking the clubs who play in the 18s and reserve grade disappear afterwards with their supporters.
“I guess it would be fair to say we would hope 5000 as a wish-list but either way it will be a great day.
“I'm confident everyone will be there to watch some great footy in a great end to the season.
“The mere fact we have two clubs with the majority of the players Aboriginal guys may even swell the numbers a little more. It could be one of the great grand finals.”
Northern United will host a fan session tonight just before training at 5.30pm at Clifford Park, Goonellabah.
Anyone who wants to come along and meet the players is welcome.