The Battle of Byron Shire in soccer grand final
HISTORY is set to be made when Byron Bay and Bangalow clash in the Far North Coast Premier League soccer grand final at Richards Oval, Lismore tonight.
Pointscore and Anzac Cup winners Byron have the opportunity to win a first ever treble with a victory tonight, while defending champions Bangalow could go back-to-back for the first time in their history with a win.
To do so Bangalow would have to snap a winless streak against Byron Bay that stretches back eight years to 2009. Coincidentally, Byron Bay coach Damon Bell coached Bangalow that day.
Tonight is the first ever grand final contested between two sides from the Byron Shire; it's the first time a Lismore side hasn't been involved in the final since 2001.
Both sides are at full strength for tonight's clash with golden boot winner Sam Shepherd returning to the Rams' line-up following a trial at A-League club Central Coast Mariners.
The sides met just two weeks ago, where Byron ran out 3-1 winners in the preliminary final. The Rams also claimed a pair of 4-0 victories over the Bluedogs in the regular season.
Byron coach Damon Bell said his side won't shy away from the favourites tag and are confident ahead of tonight's clash.
"We deserve to be favourites; we scored 11 against them this season and only conceded one, we've beaten them three times, not that that means anything in a grand final,” Bell said.
"We want to win the treble, everybody's keen, everybody's focused, we trained well during the week.”
"There's a few guys who have been around long enough and really want to win the treble, the guys that played in 2005 and 2006, the first time Byron won the grand final.”
Bangalow coach Neil Fuller said all the pressure is on Byron Bay.
"We're enjoying the occasion, this year's a little bit different than last year. I don't think myself or the team feel any pressure whatsoever, this time last year was pretty nerve wracking,” he said.
"We've made the grand final two years in a row. It'd be amazing if we take that extra step and win it, the pressures all on Byron in my opinion.”
"If we can take our game against them to the level we did for probably about a third of the semi for the whole game we can get a result, on their day Bangalow can beat anyone.”
Kick-off is from 5pm.