Wolves and Wildcats prowl
NORTH Coast Football battler club Woolgoolga is proof that every lane has a turning.
The Wolves put a forgettable 2014 out of sight and out of mind by breaking through for an emphatic 4-2 victory over newcomers Grafton United at Rushforth Park.
More encouraging for young players is the win means they have now won two in a row, once the 1-0 defeat of Orara Valley in last year's final match is taken into account.
Icing on the cake was provided by the women's team who edged out Coffs Lionesses 2-1 to deliver a rare premier league double.
The club's spurt of success comes on the back of a newly released report showing the value of grassroots football.
The report notes that football is already by far the most popular participation sport in NSW, with more than 365,000 registered participants, encompassing a player base 22% larger than all the other football codes combined.
Yet, according to David Eland, CEO Northern NSW Football, the game is suffering more than most sports from a lack of funding for community infrastructure.
"Woolgoolga is a classic example of a vibrant, growing club that is unfortunately hamstrung by lack of facilities to accommodate this growth," he said.
"Highest on the priority list for Woolgoolga is additional lighting and drainage, estimated to cost $120,000.
"These improvements would ensure safety for players and allow for games to be played at night, as well as facilitate a growth opportunity.
"Similarly, Rushforth Park in South Grafton urgently needs another full size field, plus amenities, canteen and referees change rooms to cater for player numbers."
With two rounds down in men's premier league, it's hoped a closer competition is developing with no runaway results occurring.
Perennial favourites Coffs United and Sawtell did have comfortable wins but tight tussles involving Boambee, Urunga, Maclean and Northern Storm delivers hope for a better season ahead.
The exception to that rule may come courtesy of Boambee Eagles who blitzed Urunga Raiders.
The Eagles' display of excitement and precision in the 2014 decider against Coffs United was nothing less than awesome and the women seem to be in the mood to not let that form slip with a combined goal record of 10-2 from two matches already.
On that account, the grand final replay this Saturday on the Lionesses' home pitch deserves top billing as game of the round.
NCF PREMIER LEAGUE RESULTS
Maclean 2 Northern Storm 2
Grafton United 2 Woolgoolga 4
Sawtell 5 Westlawn 1
Boambee 2 Urunga 3
Coffs United 4 Orara Valley 0
Coffs Coast bye
Woolgoolga 2 Coffs United 1
Northern Storm 2 Grafton United 2
Urunga 1 Boambee 6