Lions roar into first AFL practice match against Blues
It's been a long time between drinks for the senior men's teams of Australian Football Clubs Casino Lions and Northern Beaches Blues and each is chomping at the bit.
On Saturday the Casino Lions will run onto the ground for their first game in years when they take on the Northern Beaches Blues at 2.30pm at Centennial Oval, Woolgoolga for a pre-season match.
Since they last played in 2017, the Lions have a had a few changes to navigate including playing in a different league and dealing COVID-19.
Meanwhile, in 2019 the Blues staged a similar comeback after a 13 year break and their reserves team won the flag.
The Blues were knocked out of the preliminary finals in 2020 by Nambucca, but this year will be fielding a senior men's team.
According to both clubs, the game promises to be an absolute rip-snorter.
Lions president and captain Ben Hunt who has been an integral part of the club's resurrection said the groundswell of support from the Casino community has been incredible.
"The Lions have been recruiting very heavily during the off season including coach
Rod McKey who was part of the original club," he said.
"We have some returning juniors and players from other clubs."
Hunt revealed his leadership team features former Lismore Swans Liam Fitzpatrick and Luke Judson who are co-vice captains.
"The rest of the team list is hush-hush for now at the players request," he said.
"We are not looking to show our hand, we want an element of surprise and give the Blues a good contest."
Meanwhile, looking ahead to game at their home ground at Centennial Oval, Blues club president Glen Golsby-Smith had no worries about naming his line-up.
"We have a few local boys back with their friends, a few up and coming youngsters and coach Rory Evans has been working the players hard," Golsby-Smith said.
"The squad includes the Duryea boys Evan and Fraser, Luke Simons, Liam Page and Shannon and Jarred Burow, Chris Frangos, Jye Johnston, Zaine Holder-Loberg, Mitchell Huthnance and Preston Oake.
"Saturday will be a great game and we're looking forward to a terrific season."