File photo of a game between Australia and Italy at Oakes Oval, Lismore in 1999.
File photo of a game between Australia and Italy at Oakes Oval, Lismore in 1999. The Northern Star

Green and gold era of baseball in Lismore

ALSTONVILLE made its first appearance in Far North Coast major league baseball after a number of successful years in the lower grades in 1995.

Six teams battled it out in the top grade in 1996 - Norths, Easts, Brothers, Workers, Alstonville, and Southern Cross University entered a team comprising of SCU students, Queensland Baseball Academy, Brisbane A Grade and Brisbane Bandits (ABL) players.

Following the success of the Australian team making Lismore its training centre, the Korean Major League team, the Samsung Lions made use of the facilities at Albert Park for three weeks leading up to their season in 1996 and 1997.

The next three years saw Lismore once again become host for an international tournament with the World Youth AAA Championship being staged.

Teams from the Texas Rangers, Australia AAA, Australia AA, NSW Country and FNC Colts battled it out in the week long tournament.

In May 1998, FNC fielded arguably one of the strongest teams in its history when it took on the Australian team in a four game series.

The FNC Team boasted players the calibre of Adrian Meagher junior, Matt and Andrew Buckley, Scott McClelland, Dallas Knapp, Michael Prosser, David Youngberry and Matt Gahan.

All of them at one stage had represented Australia while the remainder had suited up for Queensland. After holding Australia to a 2-all draw in the first game, FNC could not keep up the momentum in the remaining games and were comfortably beaten but definitely not disgraced

After four long years of work by many local volunteers, the new clubhouse and grandstand was officially opened on December 12, 1998 with a double header fixture between two ABL teams.

The Gold Coast Cougars, led by local Adrian Meagher Junior played in front of a capacity crowd against the Perth Heat.

In October 1999 FNC Baseball was granted the distinction of holding one of the biggest coups in FNC sporting history with the International Baseball Challenge Series.

Teams from Australia, Cuba, Japan and Italy descended on Lismore for the four-day event.

This gave the region worldwide coverage which in turn attracted a huge increase in tourist numbers in the following years.

The 1990s continued with the FNC tradition of producing numerous state and international players.

This article is compiled from The Northern Star archives and with assistance from Bill O'Sullivan, Bob McClelland, John McKee and Geoff Baxter.

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