GRAND finals are reserved for the last two standing, and it was fitting that those contesting the North Coast Football 3rd division deciders had been the standout outfits of 2018.
In the women’s, it was the Macksville Stingers v Bellingen Victory, while in the men’s spirited rivals Northern Storm and Woolgoolga Wolves locked horns.
There were no fairytale outsiders in the Big Dance at the manicured pitch at Coffs International Stadium today – just a battle of champions like the epic boxing slugfest of yesteryear when Hitman Hearns and Marvellous Marvin went at one another like donkey kong.
In the women’s, it was the Stingers who came out raging, as the Reds posted their first from a corner barely seconds into the match.
The Victory settled though, and levelled 10 minutes later, as Bellingen capitalised on a beautiful through ball.
The contest ebbed and flowed but just before half-time, Macksville made good from another corner to go to the break 2-1.
But Bellingen weren’t going away, and made it all-square again early in the second, after the Reds lost their bearings at the back.
Macksville dug deep, and after a long period of sustained pressure, they bagged their third and the winner.
Macksville goal scorers: Paige Usher-Kinnear, Lilly Borg and Jo Walsh.
While the women’s was an epic, the men’s was helter skelter – and the pace and the unusual early spring heat led to a second half goal-fest.
The Wolves and the Storm are two very different sides – the former a team on the grow with a number of talented youngsters, while the men from Korora are chisel hardened and more seasoned than nuggets from The Colonel.
The Storm led 1-nil at the break, and could well have added more only to fritter their chances in the final touches.
After the break it was all Wolves, and Woopi pounded away – but the Storm held staunch.
Against the run of play, it was the older, wiser heads who added a second – and that sucked the wind out of the young wolfpack.
A couple of minutes later, the Storm chipped over the keeper for their third, and then added their fourth from a dottie.
Woolgoolga never gave up, and pushed their best on field, Luke Beresford, forward, while birthday boy Noah Pilon also started to menace. The ambitious strategy was duly rewarded as they bagged a goal to set up the final scoreline.
At the presentation, the Storm captain noted the Wolves had towelled them up when they first met – “so we knew we had to get better, because we don’t like losing”. He added that he looked forward to watching Woopi’s Gen Next develop, predicting a number of them would go on to be Premier League footballers.