Rivals do battle for cup
CROSS-TOWN bragging rights, psychological warfare and the small matter of silverware - this year's Tursa Employment and Training Anzac Cup men's Open A clash has plenty at stake.
Ballina Seahorses and Tintenbar-East Ballina Strikers go head-to-head in Thursday's grand final with more than the result on the line.
Tintenbar player-coach Dwayne Smith will go up against his former side, while several players will also be lining up against former teammates.
Experienced Smith, who will pit his wits against his fellow wily counterpart Chris Layland, admitted he was expecting the unexpected.
Ballina is just another team. They have earned their right to be in the final. I will be honest - anything could happen.
"A lot of our boys will want to prove themselves, but we have to stay focused and let our football do the talking."
Both teams are in a positive mood after having decent early-season campaigns and securing grand final berths.
Smith has enjoyed the competition in recent years, taking both Ballina and Lennox Head to grand finals.
A host of Strikers players will go up against their former club, having joined Smith at his new club.
Now in his second season with the Bar, Smith is determined to ignore the derby hype and concentrate on securing victory.
"Ballina is just another team," he said. "They have earned their right to be in the final.
"I am really pleased with the boys so far this season. They are a great bunch of guys. I think we are the underdogs (but) I am quietly confident."
Wily coach Layland, who was appointed during the pre-season, said he was also expecting a lively affair.
"It is going to be interesting," he said. "The Ballina fans are pretty vocal in support of their teams.
"I am really pleased with how the boys have taken things on board this season. They understand I have been trying to change the style of football and been receptive to that."
Layland said the winning club should also have the "psychological edge" for the FFNC first/second division campaign, which is now cranking into gear.
Five cup finals take place at Lismore's Oakes Oval this week in the men's competition and the women's Callan McMillan Shield.
Action kicks off on Wednesday night with the B division final of the women's tournament between Goonellabah and Lismore Workers (6pm).
Alstonville and Bangalow contest the A-grade final at 8pm.
Anzac Day action kicks off at 12.15pm with the men's open B final between Nimbin and Bangalow.
The Ballina derby is at 2.30pm, before the men's premier division clash between Lismore Thistles and Byron Bay follows at 4.45pm.