The big-name players bring the fans to Lismore
FANS from far and wide enjoyed Lismore's latest taste of big-time football - and there could be more to come in the future.
A healthy crowd of 5132 enjoyed Sunday's trial match between A-League foes Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Heart at the city's Oakes Oval.
The turnout was more than 1500 up on last year's pre-season contest between Heart and Western Sydney Wanderers at the same venue.
Daniel Bannerman, who travelled up from Coffs Harbour for the match, said the appearance of Socceroo star Harry Kewell had been the main attraction.
"My son wanted to see Harry," he said. "That's why we drove two and a half hours.
"It was great to see him play in the flesh. I just wish we could have met him."
Lismore's Ray Dawson said Kewell's appearance for the Heart had also been a big attraction.
"We had our kids Youtubing him before the match," Mr Dawson said.
"I think it's great for the young kids here that they get to see players like him."
Lismore's Justin Fenwick said the match had important benefits for the region.
"I think it's good for tourism reasons and for the local community as well," he said.
"It's definitely been a great day."
Mathew Townsend, of Ballina, said he hoped the game would generate further interest in the sport across the region.
"There are a lot of local people who play soccer," he said. "I think it was a good experience for them seeing these teams come to the local area.
"The difference between metropolitan and regional areas has to be smaller. We have to get events like this here.
"Maybe people might not want to go crazy cheering for a Queensland side like the Roar, but it is great they are here."
Lismore City Council tourism services co-ordinator Mitch Lowe estimated the match would generate between $200,000 to $300,000 for the local economy.
He also hoped that Lismore could become a settled destination for A-League clubs playing pre-season fixtures in regional centres.
"We had over 700 people from outside the region attend the match, of which some would have strayed overnight or made it a day trip," Lowe said.
"Both clubs were happy with the facilities and the community spirit shown by everyone.
"We will get back into discussions over the next two weeks about possible future fixtures."